Andre Norton 1912–
(Pseudonym of Alice Mary Norton; has also written under pseudonym of Andrew North) American novelist, short story writer, and editor. Although she began her literary career by writing historical novels in the 1930s, Norton turned to science fiction in the 1950s and it is in this genre that she has made her most significant contribution. She is generally regarded as one of the foremost writers of "space opera", and is certainly one of the best-selling women authors in the field. As a teenager Norton planned on a career as a history teacher; she eventually became a children's librarian and a professional writer. Both her early interest in history and her library training in research have played significant roles in her writing. Norton extensively researches each of her books, using folklore, legends, history (especially Greek and Roman), archeology, anthropology, and the occult in her fiction. Her careful scholarship is evident in her work, which is frequently praised for its convincing, detailed backgrounds. Norton's first novel, The Prince Commands, was accepted for publication before she was 21. She continued to write primarily historical fiction until the 1940s, when she turned to adventure and spy stories. An espionage novel, The Sword Is Drawn, was given an award by the Netherlands government in 1946 for its portrayal of that nation at war. Although she had been writing science fiction sporadically for some time, it was only after she had edited several science fiction anthologies that Norton found a publisher for her first science fiction novel, Star Man's Son. The success of this book and Norton's subsequent titles helped to open the field for other writers. She aims most of her fiction at a young adult audience; however, her work is also read by a considerable number of adults. Strong elements of fantasy and magic color much of her science fiction, and she has written some pure fantasies. Norton's universe is menacing, with the lines of Good versus Evil clearly drawn. Ambiguity has little place in her vision, and her characters are either heroes or villains. For this reason her works have been likened to Westerns, and her moral certainty has led some critics to consider her pompous or didactic. Although her vision is of a hostile universe, Norton is essentially an optimist, and her protagonists are given the courage and resourcefulness to prevail against tremendous odds. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 1-4, rev. ed., and Something about the Author, Vol. 1.)
For those who like a pirate story and a mystery, "Scarface" is a fine one, well written, with plenty of action…. A map of the West Indies would have been a useful addition. And why will authors continue to make their people talk in hard-to-pronounce dialect when no young person likes to read it? As one boy said to me: "I spend so much time figuring out how the words sound that I lose sight of what they mean." Luckily, only a few of … Norton's lesser pirates drop "h's" all over the deck. (p. 6)
Margaret Ernst, in New York Herald Tribune Book Review (© I.H.T. Corporation; reprinted by permission), September 12, 1948.
Merritt P. Allen
Older readers will compare this well-written and -plotted story ["Scarface"] with Howard Pyle. It has humor and atmosphere and action that never falter. Even the minor characters are sharply drawn. It is "strong meat." There is no softening of the brutality and coarseness of the "men from the sea." To older boys and girls and to adults it will probably emerge as one of the outstanding adventure stories of the year. (p. 37)
Merritt P. Allen, in The Saturday Review of Literature (copyright, 1948, by The Saturday Review Co., Inc.; reprinted with permission), October 16, 1948.
Ralph Adams Brown
The story [of "Scarface"] has a complicated and suspense-filled plot. The action is fast and the characterization is excellent. The historical background is accurate. All combine to produce a top-notch story. One of the tests of a good junior novel is the difficulty the youngsters have in getting the book away from their dads. This one should produce a genuine tug-of-war—it is that good. (p. 4)
Ralph Adams Brown, in The New York Times Book Review (© 1948 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), November 14, 1948.
Alice M. Jordan
[Scarface] is a vigorous, exciting story dealing with the days when the islands of the West Indies were infested with fearless, bloodthirsty pirates. In particular, it tells about the course of events by which a boy captured in infancy, ill-treated and enslaved by one of the evil and most daring of the "Brothers of the Coast," solved the mystery of his identity. The story has full share of brutality in the tradition of such tales, but it holds to the history of the period and will be eagerly read by young people. (p. 42)
Alice M. Jordan, in The Horn Book Magazine (copyrighted, 1949, by The Horn Book, Inc., Boston), January-February 1949.
Ellen Lewis Buell
Although "Star Man's Son: 2250 A. D." is not science fiction in the strict sense (no space suits or other alluring gadgets) it ought to interest any young reader who has cast a speculative eye upon the future. As a picture of America approximately two centuries after an atomic war it is grim and thought-provoking even if on second thought it isn't wholly convincing. It's a little hard to believe that descendants of a picked group of scientists could have been reduced to quite such a primitive life as is described.
Granting this doubtful premise, however, this is a robust story with a serious theme…. Fors' adventures with nightmarish beasts, his encounters with other wandering tribes, his friendship...
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H. H. Holmes
["Star Rangers" is] an imaginative and moving historical novel. This is a historical novel of the collapse of a decadent Galactic Empire; but it obtains its powerful effect by restricting its action to a small area of the surface of one planet and to the problems of a group of spacemen, abandoned by the empire they had lived only to serve. No cut-and-dried star hopping here, but oddly all the more impact of the awe and wonder of space—as the ocean may have more meaning to a castaway than to a trans-oceanic plane passenger. The plot involves a surprise that should not be mentioned here—an old theme, but one I've never seen so well handled before. In all, an excellent book for the new science fiction reader, and...
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Learned T. Bulman
An excellent fabrication of old and new science-fiction ideas, "The Stars Are Ours!" is based on the theme that man's desire for personal liberty can overcome all adversity. Some readers may feel the ending is incomplete, and that too much happens in too few chapters, but even they will agree that this is a rip-snorting adventure tale.
Learned T. Bulman, "Ad Astra," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1954 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), August 29, 1954, p. 18.
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["Yankee Privateer"] is a full-length tale of historical intrigue with more than enough action for one volume as the author invents one hair-raising catastrophe and escape after another, with a tempo that increases rapidly from a moderate beginning….
Among unusual scenes of action Plymouth's Old Mill Prison with its fully described regime stands out particularly.
This is not the best of this author's stories, which are very good indeed, but it is excellent historical adventure, noteworthy for its interpretation of privateering from American, British, and French angles. (p. 14)
Virginia Haviland, in New York Herald Tribune Book Review...
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Two highly diverting offerings from André Norton will not disappoint those who have come to appreciate her flair for the unusual…. ["The Time Traders"] combines some fact with much fantasy to produce a believable result. Time travel is not new in science fiction, nor is the anti-social hero a particularly fresh type, but in Miss Norton's skilled hands the story of Ross Murdock's adventures in the past … makes fascinating reading.
Time also is an important factor in "Star Gate" …, in which Miss Norton again demonstrates her superb talent for creating and sustaining a world of foreign moods. Gorth is such a world … torn by a struggle between good and evil. Miss Norton has captured the flavor...
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As always, Miss Norton writes an exciting story for SF readers. This reviewer was annoyed by the fact [in The Beast Master] that the author has merely rewritten a cowboy-and-Indian story in an alien situation and with the addition of SF terms and trappings: the herds, rustler nesters, trail drive, fights in the frontier saloon, plains natives, etc., etc. are all there. However, perhaps this will not bother teen-agers who have not read westerns. Also, the conclusion is the least convincing of any of this author's books, but even so, this is better than much current SF. (p. 2)
Elaine Simpson, in Junior Libraries (reprinted from the September, 1959 issue of Junior...
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"The Beast Master" might easily have been just another Western played in futuristic terms. Miss Norton, however, endows the story of a homeless, revenge-driven man with her own inimitable touch, blending an acute sense of primitive mystery with still another of her well-conceived foreign worlds. The result is a compelling and compassionate tale. (p. 32)
Robert Berkvist, in The New York Times Book Review (© 1960 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), January 31, 1960.
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Richard M. Buck
This boys' adventure story of Rebel scouts in the Civil War [Ride Proud, Rebel!] is undistinguished, with pedestrian style and prosaic dialogue…. Little dramatic conflict, tension, or suspense, and scant character development will not attract many readers. Attempts to set Southern dialect into type are unsuccessful; the "suhs" and "heahs" are distracting. Not recommended. (p. 1996)
Richard M. Buck, in Library Journal (reprinted from Library Journal, May 15, 1961; published by R. R. Bowker Co. (a Xerox company); copyright © 1961 by Xerox Corporation), May 15, 1961.
[Judgment on Janus] is "a science fiction...
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In her latest two S-F concoctions [Andre Norton] shows the varied possibilities of inventiveness within her genre. [Quest Crosstime] is a political, villains-and-good-guys adventure, earthbound, with ingenious development of time-travel…. Particularly imaginative are the pictures of worlds, like E625, in which crucial alterations of events change the future altogether, so that the United States never comes into being, pre-empted by a part-Mayan, part-English civilization. This intriguing adventure will lure girls into S-F fandom since the lead characters are mind-linked twin girls…. (p. 636)
Whereas adventure is paramount in Quest Crosstime, atmosphere dominates The X...
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Of the two most recent Andre Norton novels, The X Factor and Quest Crosstime, The X Factor begins with the most promise; but it fails to fulfill that promise….
While this novel might have held "a mirror up to nature," it avoids a most significant issue for the adolescent: how is a man to come to terms with his physical makeup in his own culture? Moreover, Norton relies on the cliche that the physically handicapped possess some special affinity for, and sensitivity to, the natural world. Here this cliche is dressed out as "thought projection." Neither the science, which borders on mysticism, nor the slow-moving action will make this novel appeal to younger readers....
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Margaret A. Dorsey
With Miss Norton's usual skilled writing, solid construction and sympathetic characters, [Operation Time Search] is a pleasure to read and to recommend. It begins when a government project's attempt to break through to an alternate world accidentally projects photographer Ray Osborne thousands of years back in time. In this distant era, Atlantis is a powerful but evil nation, now at war with Mu, whose people worship the purity of the Flame…. There is little here of the provocative speculation, insight or satire which characterizes the best adult science fiction, just a good moralistic adventure story (with a slightly surprising end) in which the righteous Murians are pitted against the evil rulers of...
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It is sometimes unfair to describe an author's writing in a single phrase. However, Andre Norton's stories, more easily classified than many, might be called "romantic adventure"—akin to tales of island castaways, cowboys and indians, and knightly quests. Her heroes are of epic size; her books, filled with action, peril, and mystery, are rich with complex and colourful descriptions of settings, characters, and societies.
Certain themes occur in story after story, There is the "beast master" theme, a quasi-symbiotic relationship between men and animals that involves some kind of direct mind-to-mind communication. There is the "space-opera," often involving a galactic empire (or two). There is the...
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Margaret A. Dorsey
After several gripping opening pages in which Dane Thorson, assistant cargo master of a free trader spaceship, awakes from attempted poisoning in unknown surroundings, [Postmarked the Stars] lapses into standard cosmic cops and robbers…. There's less to the plot than meets the eye, as the last half of the book consists mainly of repetitive captures and escapes; also, the characterizations, dull and two-dimensional, do not live up to the standards of Miss Norton's other books. This book is not likely to win her new readers, and will only disappoint her many fans. (p. 1947)
Margaret A. Dorsey, in School Library Journal (reprinted from the May, 1970 issue of...
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The prolific Andre Norton's science fiction adventures tend to be full of sound and fury, the narrative lines going around in circles rather than forward to a satisfying conclusion. In "Ice Crown" …, we are again in the far future with a young female protagonist (a welcome change) who goes with her archeologist uncle to investigate prehuman remains on the planet Clio. They discover the medieval culture thereon to be an artificially conditioned one, set up by long gone, off-world dictators and maintained by planted machine controls. Strictly against orders, the girl gets involved with local dynastic squabbles. Characterization, plot and logic are too often sacrificed to keep the action going. (p. 47)...
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A skillful intertwining of unlikely elements—folklore and spacelore, sorcery and science—generates an engrossing adventure [in Dread Companion]…. Despite its elaborate setting, this science-fiction fantasy boils down to a suspenseful and satisfying teen-age romance…. (pp. 483-84)
Diane Farrell, in The Horn Book Magazine (copyright © 1970 by The Horn Book, Inc.), October, 1970.
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Miss Norton's contributions have ranged from virtually pure SF to almost equally pure fantasy. [Dread Companion] leans heavily toward the latter and is somewhat below her usual high standard…. Miss Norton's skill at style and characterization give the book readability and interest, but the plot has a murky vagueness at times. However, female protagonists are rare in juvenile SF, and even a below-average Norton is better than much of the SF//fantasy floating around today. (p. 64)
Elizabeth Haynes, in School Library Journal (reprinted from the December, 1970 issue of School Library Journal, published by R. R. Bowker Co. A Xerox Corporation; copyright ©...
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Andre Norton is a prolific author and like most prolific authors, she has her off-moments. Regrettably, Ice Crown appears to have been written in one of them. This story of Roane, the efficient but love-starved girl from an advanced world who becomes embroiled in cloak and dagger work among the aristocracy of the primitive planet Clio, could have been a good one. But after a promising (if extremely compressed and allusive) start, it drags its weary length out … without ever really convincing the reader that what is happening matters very much. Except where Roane is facing the antagonism of her own people, and the conflict of loyalties and ways of thinking comes into sharp focus, I was simply bored—no...
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Sheryl B. Andrews
In [Exiles of the Stars,] the sequel to Moon of Three Rings, [Andre Norton] continues with the story of Krip Vorlund, a Free Trader in some future eon, who through shape-changing entered into the body of a wild animal and then, being unable ever again to regain his original form, was forced to claim as his own the body of a Thassa named Maquad. As in the first book, the Thassa Moon Singer Maelen is integrally bound to Krip although she no longer wears the guise of a woman, having been condemned by her people to take the body of her animal-friend Vors when her own body was broken and dying…. The story is told in the first person by Maelen and Krip in alternating though not ordered sequential chapters;...
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John Rowe Townsend
Although [Andre Norton's] fantasies and historical stories have merit, it seems to me that the science fiction is the most interesting part of her work and the basis of her reputation.
Miss Norton's science fiction books are, in the main, 'space opera': stories of galactic and inter-galactic adventure. This is the category of science fiction which is least likely to be found acceptable by the literati. Space opera is associated with pulp magazines, and is apt to be written off on superficial inspection as wild, undisciplined stuff, all about clashing fleets of spaceships, battles with bug-eyed monsters, death and destruction by ray-gun: action of meaningless violence in settings which are spatially...
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Four boys experience individual adventures in space and time when they explore a deserted old house. Attracted to a jigsaw puzzle lying on a dust-covered table, each boy obeys an irresistible urge to put the puzzle together. As the last piece goes into place and completes one of the four dragons pictured on the cover, each boy is suddenly transported to another time and place, where he bears a different name and identity, and becomes deeply involved in a dangerous adventure…. Legend, fantasy, and historical and contemporary situations are interwoven in [Dragon Magic]. Despite the wealth and range of dragon lore and legendry, the story has clarity and immediacy; and the values of courage, loyalty, and strength...
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C. S. Hannabuss
Readers have rightly come to expect excitement in science fantasy of the 'sword and sorcery' type, and from [Androids at Arms] they will not come away unfed. (p. 150)
Yet readers have come to expect structural efficiency in Andre Norton's science fantasy, and from this book they will come away confused. The plot poses two questions: 'Will Andras win back his throne in the real Inyaga?' and 'Is he android?' In the effort to answer the second, the first is rather forgotten. The first 150 pages, obediently developing the title, continuously revolve around question one. But Andras's journey into the future is one way, so that the climax exists exclusively in the future Inyanga: it is...
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Alice Mary Norton is a strange phenomenon in sf. The whole structure and setting of her stories is thirty years out of date. It's as if you took all those raging blood and thunder stories in science fiction of the late thirties and the decade of the forties and combined them into, say, a Sunday edition of The Galactic Times. You would have plenty of headlines and loads of stuff to fill pages and pages of your newspaper. But, what about that little 'human interest' story for the Sunday supplement or the long quiet piece about everyday life you need for a filler on page 96? Well, Miss Norton has striven mightily over the last two decades to fill in all those little byways that must be in the background of...
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[Breed To Come is] above-average science fiction dealing with the effects of evolution on a polluted world deserted by humans and dominated by "the People" (highly intelligent cats), the Barkers (dogs), the Tusked Ones (pigs), and their common enemy, the Rattons (rats). As they become more intelligent, physically refined and acquire the knowledge man left behind, the animal races face the problems of their former masters: greed, hostility, fear and doubt. The dreaded return to earth of four humans triggers a chain of events which makes men and animals search their souls for answers to moral questions shared by all intelligent creatures. The story is well written and absorbing. (p. 82)
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The two acknowledged masters of mainstream SF for young readers are André Norton and Robert A. Heinlein. Despite their almost parallel careers and their comparable status, their achievements have wide differences in style and manner. André Norton's strength lies in atmosphere. She gives a tangible quality to the most improbable invention by clothing it in vividly imagined detail, and her highly charged style—admittedly a little hard to digest in large quantities—evokes with equal success the terrors of darkness and the blinding glare of light. Hers is an astonishingly complete vision; she describes the topography and the sociology of new worlds as if from the life, giving them a kind of actuality rather like...
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S. William Alderson
Star Born! The title itself is something of a pun on the two groups of the story: those born on Astra and those borne to Astra.
The events are told from two different viewpoints: on the one hand by a colonist—a descendant of a small group of fugitives from a 1984 life on earth—and on the other, by a member of a party of explorers from the now liberated earth. Andre Norton uses this alternation of narrators to give a broader view of events, but also, more important, to sustain suspense in a way which could not be done by straightforward narrative.
The story tells what happens when the party of explorers lands on Astra during the culmination of a war...
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Andre Norton's [The Crystal Gryphon] is an outright tale of sword-and-sorcery….
To tell this story the author has plunged fully into the epic world of Tolkien and [William] Morris, of archaisms and Teutonic phrasing, of birthings, healcraft, wife-right, ensorcelling and signs of the Power. It is a world where chance and coincidence operate on the hero's side, so that miraculous escapes and helpful finds are designed to show that fate rather than luck is at work…. This is an outstanding fantasy of the kind which works on symbolic as well as narrative levels, and one of the most carefully and consistently presented works this author has given us in recent years. (p. 179)...
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Ziantha, a highly-trained telepath, makes a 'foray' or mind-search into the times of the Forerunners, an ancient race which predates her own era. While spying for the Thieves' Guild, an interplanetary organisation, she comes across a mysterious stone which magnifies her mental powers and drags her into the personalities of two Forerunner females, each facing a great crisis in their own time….
With its casual references to terms like 'sight distort', 'nightsight', 'psychic energy', 'chewing gratz' and 'veeps', [Forerunner Foray] certainly assumes an acquaintance with SF conventions, and takes for granted that we understand what Ziantha is about with her mind-searching…. The story has a more...
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Kathryn A. Litsinger
SF fans and animal lovers will relish [Iron Cage, a] tale about a new breed of cats that inhabit an outer galactic planet. Initially, the creatures befriend humans who have escaped from the cages of the "Big People," but the plot comes full circle when a space ship brings visitors who intend to cage and study the animals…. The only jarring note is a prologue and epilogue which uses a modern day parallel—abandoning a house cat about to deliver kittens in the town dump—to didactically point up the moral. Though not as fast paced as Norton's Forerunner Foray … nor as involved with scientific data as Breed to Come …, this is still interesting and complex enough to rate well above most...
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S. William Alderson
In The Zero Stone, Murdoc Jern … inherits a ring, set with the inscrutable 'zero stone', from his murdered father and is himself caught up in the rapids of interstellar intrigue, drawn on—sometimes literally—by the stone and its secrets…. Andre Norton constructs a mystery from this dull, pitted, grey stone suggestive of the proverbial mountain out of a molehill, building more and more props into the book as it progresses. Initially, the 'present' is dappled by memories of the 'past' and the events leading up to Murdoc's father's death, but by the end everything is very much in order, firmly steered along the pre-set channels of the story and the close of the book is, itself, a 'break for the ads.'...
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[In Lavender-Green Magic a] family of black children is drawn from a here-and-now situation in "Sussex," a community obviously north of Boston, into a mysterious colonial past connected with the Dimsdale estate…. Herbs account for many threads in the plot: For the children who take turns sleeping on it, an herbal pillow becomes the means of transport to early Dimsdale; they learn more of the curse put upon the Dimsdales after finding—in the center of an herb-garden maze—the house where two sisters used to mix their herbal brews. The witchlore and herbcraft, superimposed on a family situation, is skillfully worked into the plot, although there is a certain amount of light moralizing. The author succeeds...
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Donald A. Wollheim
In lists of leading science fiction writers such as might be compiled by academics or fan experts, it is probable that the name of Andre Norton would be missing, whereas such writers as Robert Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Arthur C. Clarke, John Brunner and others would be certainly present. Yet if these list compilers would take librarians and booksellers into investigation, they would discover that the name of Andre Norton would be right up there in any top ten list.
Why then would they have omitted her in their original off-the-top-of-the-head listings? It would be for a number of reasons. For one, Andre Norton has but rarely graced the pages of the standard science fiction magazines. Her novels are...
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The impression that a regular reader of Andre Norton's books might have is that of growing pessimism. From light hearted adventure stories like Star Rangers and Sargasso of Space, she has gone to books like Dread Companion and Dark Piper that give the feeling at the conclusion that it is best not to see or even guess what lies ahead.
While Miss Norton has never seemed too comfortable in the here-and-now, it seems that now the future that once beckoned has become another area for distrust. Even the latest Solar Queen story, Postmarked the Stars, is more subdued and grim in tone. The Patrol, a largely unsullied organization, comes in for its lumps in The Zero...
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The Jargoon Pard belongs to that section of André Norton's writing which she calls "sword and sorcery"…. André Norton has always adopted a consciously archaic, literary style for this kind of story and in this one she has I think overdone it; inversions, archaisms, tortuous formality hold up even the highly dramatic opening scene and make the complex plot unnecessarily hard to follow. The chivalric note, the idea of personal honour is strong in the book but over and above this element there is something that seems still more important, the idea that man is distancing himself from the animal kingdom in which so much of his ancestry and aptitude rests. Kethan's changes from man to beast and back to man are...
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Andre Norton's style is not to everyone's taste. She writes sentences like "Hunger was a discomfort within Sander" and "The creatures hopped rather than walked as might men, yet they were not slow." But she is a superb story-teller with a narrative pace all her own. [In "No Night Without Stars"] she tells the tale of Sander and Fanyi, a young man and woman in a post-nuclear-holocaust world who team up to seek the dangerous knowledge of the Before People.
Unlike some writers of S.F. juveniles, who pile sensation on sensation for fear of losing their audience, Norton slowly unfolds a succession of images that first intrigue and finally engulf the reader. To reach their destination, Sander and Fanyi...
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As an adventure story The Crossroads of Time must rank with the best of André Norton's work, with its tremendous variety of landscape and atmosphere and its fast, forceful plot. She has given herself an almost limitless power of narrative as she describes Blake's sojourn on one alternative world after another, and has taken every opportunity to bring colour, action and thought to a multiplicity of scenes. Above all she has knit the practical and the philosophical brilliantly in describing how a courageous but untaught young agent adjusts himself to known and unknown worlds and peoples. (p. 2823)
Margery Fisher, in her Growing Point, March, 1976....
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All André Norton's old skills are here [in Iron Cage], but they are here used to make explicit a theme, the important potential of animals, which has been implicit in many of her books from the beginning. Jony, of human origin, who has been nurtured on an alien planet by creatures of about stone-age intelligence who have developed from bears, throws in his lot with them and defeats the attempts of visiting men to colonise what has become to him his home planet. Some adult readers will share—and perhaps be surprised to share—my shock at a human being's choosing to bring disaster on an expedition of morally quite normal men; but few will deplore a plea for greater concern for and understanding of animals....
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S. William Alderson
It is difficult to believe that Outside shares the same author as Knave of Dreams, for it is a very slight book, a mixture of When the Machine Stops, Survivors and many similar stories. It is loosely, but overtly based on the Pied Piper theme, though it is the children first, rather than the rats, that the Piper is taking, leading them to a new freedom outside the dying, machine-controlled city originally built to protect humans from the effects of pollution and radiation. That is all! No real plot, little excitement. It might entertain a few ten-year-olds, but it would be a sad disappointment for most SF readers. (p. 39)
S. William Alderson, in...
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Kristie, [of Outside,] has lived all her life in a running-down city, completely domed and wholly shut off from the 'Outside', presumably long past devastated and rendered uninhabitable by nuclear war. She is obsessed with a desire to see the 'Outside', and when she gets there, with the aid of a mysterious Pied Piper, finds all is fresh and well again, with a small group of people planning a new and better world….
Miss Norton has suitably simplified her vocabulary, sentence structure and plot for younger readers than she usually writes for, but in doing so loses some of her considerable power of imaginative evocation. (p. 324)
Norman Culpan, in The...
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Mary M. Burns
Recognizing the real meaning of courage and tentatively establishing the mutual understanding necessary for solid family relationships are the unifying elements of a skillfully constructed time-slip fantasy. [Red Hart Magic] recreates three troubled periods in English history from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries and allows the present-day Nan and Chris to observe their historical counterparts—who were as unassuming and as seemingly powerless as they—resolve great physical or moral dilemmas. The merging of past and present values is smoothly handled, the miniature model of an old English inn serves as an intriguing and effective device for transporting the two back in time, and the central...
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Not being, in any sense of the word, science fiction, Red Hart Magic is not typical André Norton, though there are resemblances, both in theme and treatment, to a book she wrote in 1968 called Octagon Magic.
When teenagers Nan and Chris first meet they resent both each other and the recent marriage between their respective parents, both abroad. Through the agency of a model of the Red Hart Inn, near Rye, they move back in time to three separate adventures at the Inn, where they help one another, in the seventeenth, eighteenth and probably early nineteenth centuries. Interspersed are scenes at home and school, where they are severely tested by a dare to go shop lifting, bullying, and...
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Charlotte W. Draper
[Andre Norton] acknowledges that she has used the war game Dungeons and Dragons as the context for [Quag Keep]. Seven wayfarers, haunted by the memory of another world, are bound by a "geas"—an uncanny compulsion to seek out an alien force which menaces the precarious balance between Law and Chaos in their own world. The travelers wear bracelets of dice which warn them of new skirmishes with the agents of Chaos. When the companions arrive at Quag Keep, stronghold of the summoning power, they recognize the source of the spell: "[Y]ou aren't real, don't you understand that? I'm the game master." Chance is double-edged, however, and the Seven exert their own power over him. The landscape and its...
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[Crossroads of Time] is a well-written introduction to the concept of parallel worlds. It becomes slightly sidetracked when Blake is forced into his overlong ordeal through worlds not really connected with the plot, and Blake himself spends a lot of time being bewildered (though understandably so). However, the action and tension remain constant, and the settings are fascinatingly exotic. This 1956 novel displays its Cold War era origins in its gloomy succession of time-lines in which Earth has always been destroyed in a nuclear or similarly castastrophic war; but this supports Blake's resolution to keep the same fate from being brought by Pranj to our own world. There is an equally good sequel, Quest...
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