Andre Norton Gerald Jonas - Essay

Gerald Jonas

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

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 must travel across a dry sea-bed where they discover not only those mutated hopping horrors but also the rusting hull of an ancient submarine and some even more ancient stone ruins—the remains of a great civilization that perished in an earlier eon, long before the Before People existed. With this evocative image of oceans periodically sweeping over the earth and then retreating, like a vast slow tide, the author places the quest of her hero and heroine against the grandest possible background. And even when that quest brings Sander and Fanyi into the conventionally sinister clutches of a mad computer and its mechanized minions, Norton never lets the reader lose sight of the larger framework she has so carefully created. (p. 12)

Gerald Jonas, in The New York Times Book Review (© 1976 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), January 25, 1976.