“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme”
— Attributed to Samuel Clemens
The American Time Line runs through seven stations in what used to be called “the past.” Eras connected by the trains of the Time Line aren’t points in time any more, they’re places, and they’re very different from the “canonical history” of the Line’s 22nd-century founders.
At Crisis Station, for example, history runs as normal until 2007, when people from the future arrived and bought up all the sub-prime mortgages. At Black Station, the future arrived 13 years ago, prevented the Great Depression, and equipped the city with a cloud of bullet-proof utility fog. The Time Line opened up Knickerbocker Station a year ago, in what used to be 1907, shortly before the Knickerbocker Panic and the birth – and the theft – of Emily Gallagher’s illegitimate child.
That’s where Ruth Hunter, comes in. She’s the daughter Emily will never have, a private investigator from Black Station, where the night air smells of utility fog and vaporized good Samaritans. The Chicago Outfit’s got ray guns and flying cars now, and they’ve switched their racket from running booze to smuggling people. They’ve got Emily’s kid, and now they’re after Emily and Ruth.
Recovering Emily’s baby means going up against Johnnie Magician and his whole Outfit. Worse, it means Ruth has to go to her family for help.
THE CENTURIES UNLIMITED is a time-travel/noir family saga about trust and flying gangsters.
Changes in the English spoken since 1900 come from come from Words on the Move by John McWhorter and his “Lexicon Valley Podcast,” as well as http://public.oed.com/aspects-of-english/english-in-time/twentieth-century-english-an-overview/
Black Station’s food comes from http://www.foodtimeline.org
Knickerbocker Station’s geography comes from http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/illinois/txu-pclmaps-topo-il-chicago-1899.jpg
More general historical and economic facts come from Capital in the 21st Century by Thomas Picketty, The Third Coast by Tom Dyja, End the Depression Now and The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 by Paul Krugman, The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley, Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington, The Souls of Black Folk, Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell, Factfulness by Hans Rosling, and Enlightenment Now by Stephen Pinker.
The inspiration behind this book belongs to The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton, Noir by Christopher Moore, The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Reverend Desmond Tutu, and of course, the PBS series “Dinosaur Train.”