Andre Norton Margery Fisher - Essay

Margery Fisher

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

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 far more than a device to hold the attention and further the plot. (pp. 2709-10)

Margery Fisher, in her Growing Point, October, 1975.

The moral of this well written science fiction story [The Iron Cage] is strong; man must come to terms with himself and the animal world if he wishes to avoid the indignities and suffering he now inflicts on his own and other species.

This is a valid message but it is unfortunate that the author found it necessary to present such a disturbing picture of birth. A cat thrown out by thoughtlessly cruel humans gives an agonising birth to her kittens. A woman, experimented upon by a futuristic "higher species", forcibly impregnated by a "mind controlled" stud male and like the cat discarded, gives tortuous birth to her twins. The woman's name—it should have warned me—is Rutee!…

The monsters and advanced machinery of science fiction appeal to many children as fantasy—machine age fairy tale well outside the scope of reality. Birth is real life, and described cruelly as here may well cause distress, not perhaps at the reading but if related to birth within the family. (p. 413)

The Junior Bookshelf, December, 1975.