Margaret A. Dorsey

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1080

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 Atlantis. (p. 134)

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Margaret A. Dorsey, in School Library Journal (reprinted from the September, 1967 issue of School Library Journal, published by R. R. Bowker Co. A Xerox Corporation; copyright © 1967), September, 1967.

Miss Norton's extraordinary imagination is again at work [in The Zero Stone] as she reels her hero from a city where they choose sacrificial victims by lottery to a ship where he is condemned as a plague victim through space sans ship where the "Zero stone" acts as a strange propellant to a planet with hidden tombs bearing the bodies of the "Fore-runner races," creatures of legend. Good sustaining action in what could be the start of a very nice series. (p. 191)

Kirkus Service (copyright © 1968 Virginia Kirkus' Service, Inc.), February 15, 1968.

By now it is a truism to say that fantasy must be anchored by a convincing and realistic background. But this can be taken further. Ideally, fantasy and reality should reach the same level of intensity and maturity. Fantasy loses its potential power if the real background, though convincing itself, is also in some senses too lightweight for it.

For this is the chief criticism to be made of Andre Norton's interesting and accomplished Octagon Magic…. [This is a] very subtle and delicate story; in which little is explained but everything explicable; in which the overtones, the implications are fascinating. The fantasy is marvellously controlled; the careful, loving use of detail reminiscent occasionally of Lucy Boston's work…. You are slid imperceptibly from one world to another, never sure how and when the transition will come. Similarly you are given no simple answers. Miss Ashemeade has all the moral severity of her generation; but this is part of her character, not merely the simplistic morality which it didactically expressed in the everyday background of school life. Here the polite introduction of the colour problem in Lorrie's friend Elizabeth is typical. So, too, is the moral for lonely Lorrie: learn to join in dear, be friendly with those with whom you haven't much in common—you will be popular in the end. All the lonely misfits sigh and wish it was as easy as that.

It is as if the fantasy world frees Miss Norton's adult sensibilities—whereas in the real world she is audience conscious and afraid of ambiguity and uncertainty. It seems a pity in this sometimes illuminating and beautiful book, like mouthfuls of porridge in syllabub. (p. 584)

The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1968; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), June 6, 1968.

One of the valid remaining distinguishing tests of science fiction is that of thoroughness, distinction in which can raise an exceptional novel above the high level now achieved by most published work in this field. [In Star Man's Son] Mrs. Norton wins high regard as the mere length of this work shows. Her situation this time is also fraught with novel possibilities since the period of her story, like that of Things to Come, is the one which follows a disastrous nuclear war…. To say much more would rob the reader of agreeable reactions of surprise but it must be repeated that Mrs. Norton's treatment is thorough in at least two ways: the implications of the initial situation are fully explored, and the episodes which constitute the plot are developed to the fullest possible extent this side of probability; there is no hint of scrappiness in the writing and this still seems a prerequisite of successful science fiction which aims to emulate the work of the classical masters in this genre. The hero-figure's environment and the characters which oppose or assist him are full of interest in themselves as well as moving the story along very capably. (p. 244)

The Junior Bookshelf, August, 1968.

In the beginning [of Postmarked the Stars] Dane Thorson wakes up with the headache the reader will have by the close. This is one of [Andre Norton's] uninhibited efforts where the plot gives up and anything goes. With more "monsters," "oozings" and "blobs" than you can shake a stun gun at…. This time Miss Norton's energy is enervating. (p. 1010)

Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1969 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), September 15, 1969.

[Dark Piper is an] imaginative eventful and fast moving tale but, while one accepts—indeed now expects—an air of unreality in a Science Fiction story, it is unfortunate that this extends so much to the characters, who do not seem to come alive across the ages and through space but retain that air of remoteness. (p. 391)

The Junior Bookshelf, December, 1969.

For at least three-quarters of its duration [Moon of the Three Rings] is hard to put down though it appears to lose a little of its fervour as the story closes. Though it could be classed as science fiction, the other-worlds depicted have not the hard, bright patina of much futuristic writing in this genre. Although the ship which takes Krip Vorland to Yiktor is the most advanced imaginable, the society which he visits is at least pre-medieval in its primitive way of life. Thus the same atmosphere which might prevail in a tale of the Great Khan is superimposed on a space-age narrative with the most startling results. Add to this the interest of a kind of sect whose mission is the practice of communication with the animal world and occasionally a metamorphosis into it and you have a sort of grand fairy tale of the interplanetary era. All the normal ingredients of the adventure story proper are here; plot and counter-plot, ambush and escape, rebellion and master-spy contribute to the action, and even the search for the long-lost sister gambit (rather than gimmick) fits dramatically into the pattern of events. It entirely commands the 'willing suspension of disbelief' upon which so many great fictional experiences depend and repays that relaxation with scarcely a pang of scepticism. (pp. 391-92)

The Junior Bookshelf, December, 1969.

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