The Wandering Warriors (collection)

by Alan Smale and Rick Wilber

Two award-winning writers take us on a romp through time, space and Ancient Rome as The Wandering Warriors tells the alternate-history story of a 1940s barnstorming baseball team that’s led by a fictional version of retired baseball player and spy Moe Berg and finds itself transported from rural Illinois to Ancient Rome in 210 AD, just after the death of famous emperor Septimius Severus.

The Romans, who the writers tell us actually played a game called “small ball,” put the captured team to work teaching the sport of baseball to the gladiators for a major Colosseum event that turns into an over-the-top, life or death finale that includes some baseball hijinks, a wild ride through Rome in a careening team bus, a hint of romance, and some viciously good hitting and fielding from two princes fighting for control of the Empire while their mother, the Empress Julia Domna, mourns her husband’s death and fears for her sons’ futures even as she takes up the game herself. As the princes and their mother play their hearts out to please the Roman crowds, the ballgames turn into a citywide riot threatening the lives of all concerned.

Will the Wandering Warriors make it home? Will Julia Domna escape the fate her evil son has in mind for her? Will the rattletrap team bus make it way through time and space and Roman roads back to Illinois? Will Chicago White Sox owner Grace Comiskey show up to make an unlikely offer to the team’s best player? These questions and more are answered in The Wandering Warriors.

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Smale (Clash of Eagles) and Wilber (Rambunctious) assemble a rollicking trio of time travel tales that combine rowdy historical characters and lively sports scenes.... The tales are united in their whimsy and grit, making this a rousing series of adventures.

Publishers Weekly

Wilber and Smale [are] two literary tricksters who present for your reading pleasure a fantastical romp featuring two cultures nobody but Rick and Alan had ever thought to let clash: barnstorming baseball players and Imperial Romans. You will believe in doubleheaders in the Coliseum. You will marvel at gladiators flailing at curve balls. And you will be tickled by the historical celebrities who taking part in America’’s Pastime. Fun is hereby decreed.

James Patrick Kelly

winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards