Norton, Andre

Tagged: Author

Initially the working name of US author Alice Mary Norton (1912-2005), but for most of her career her legal name. A librarian for two decades before turning to full-time writing, she was one of the few sf figures of any stature to enter the field via Children's SF, and, though much of her work is fully as adult in theme and difficulty as most general sf, she was for many years primarily marketed as a writer for children and the Young Adult market. In the 1970s and 1980s, however, as her work changed in emphasis from sf to fantasy and as her popularity continued to grow, new novels and reprints alike were released primarily into the general market.

Norton began to publish fiction with The Prince Commands: Being Sundry Adventures of Michael Karl, Sometime Crown Prince & Pretender to the Throne of Morvania (1934), a Ruritanian romance in which a Werewolf features; her later World War Two espionage trilogy – The Sword is Drawn (1944), Sword in Sheath (1949; vt Island of the Lost 1953) and At Swords' Point (1954) – was of limited genre interest. She came to sf proper only in 1947 with "The People of the Crater" for Fantasy Book #1, as by Andrew North, a pseudonym she used also for three novels; the story was included in Garan the Eternal (coll 1972) which, along with High Sorcery (coll 1970), The Many Worlds of Andre Norton (coll 1974; vt The Book of Andre Norton 1975), edited by Roger Elwood, Perilous Dreams (coll 1976), Moon Mirror (coll 1988) and Wizards' Worlds (coll 1989) assembles most of her relatively small output of short fiction.

Norton's mature career can, very roughly, be divided into two equal periods, the first period being of much greater interest than the second. For about two decades, starting in 1950 or so, she concentrated on sf novels, most of them gathered into series which were in turn treated as loose units in a broadly conceived common galactic superseries – an essentially traditional Future History that begins just past the Near Future, Norton having had limited interest in sf tied closely to the present time – and focuses on early phases of expansion through Space Opera conflicts generally focused around the Colonization of Other Worlds, until a Galactic Empire comes into being. An interregnum follows; and subsequently the galaxy is re-explored by a chastened humanity. Almost all of these books – with the exclusion of sequels and prequels added late in life, almost always co-signed by at least one collaborator – were written solo. The second period, which extends from the late 1960s until her death, was prefigured by the success of the Witch World Science-Fantasy sequence of Planetary Romances depicting complicated dynasties (and heightened emotions) with considerable skill. As the years passed, most of the very numerous titles produced under her name were issued as collaborations, though several published when she was ninety or more were credited to her alone. Most of these titles were fantasy, with little or no sf interest; all titles can be found in the Checklist below.

Throughout both periods, Norton's typical protagonists have been young women or men who must undergo some form of rite de passage into a sane maturity; in so doing, they characteristically discover that the true nature of the Universe lies not in what radical transformations they might witness (hence the paucity of Conceptual-Breakthrough novels in her oeuvre) but in its history, and in the talismans and icons associated with that history. The universe revealed in these numerous books – most vividly in titles like Star Man's Son, 2250 A.D. (1952; vt Daybreak – 2250 A.D. 1954 dos; vt Star Man's Son 1978), a Ruined Earth tale whose protagonist, and his Mutant cat, search for the City of the Old Ones – is a colourful, complex and rewarding environment for her typical protagonists to come to terms with; any advanced technology there deployed – Faster-than-Light space travel, for instance, and at one time or another almost every other instrument of Space Opera – serves mainly to add verisimilitude to her romantic Sense of Wonder, and to a style in which science and Technology are in fact treated perfunctorily (if at all), and are more often than not seen as inimical to humanity and its friends. Close rapport, often based on the use of various Psi Powers, might exist among people, or between human and beast as in Catseye (1961), the first of the Dipple: Janus sequence, but rarely are human beings called to shape their lives in the service of transcendent or objective goals: their quests more normally serve to enhance self-development. Norton's instincts, in other words, were never those of the natural sf author; however, in the sense that her books never violate her audience's legitimate expectations, she was always an orthodox writer.

The sf novels, mostly told against the shared Galactic Empire backdrop, are widely varied, featuring a multitude of space-opera themes and plots, along with several comparatively intimate studies of humans and Aliens and beasts, and their relationships under various circumstances. Most of these novels were incorporated into sequences, usually not retrofitted, though some are of stronger interest than others. Those of strong interest include Central Control sequence – which comprises Star Rangers (1953; vt The Last Planet 1955 dos) and Star Guard (1955) – is set six thousand years hence, when the Empire is dissolving (see Decadence) and interregnum threatens, and focuses on the last-stand centurions of the fading Space Patrol, who attempt to hold things together. The Astra sequence – comprising The Stars are Ours! (1954) and Star Born (1957), both assembled as Star Flight (2007) – involves its young protagonist in an escape from the Dystopia Earth has become by 2500 CE. The Free Traders: Solar Queen sequence – comprising Sargasso of Space (1955) as Andrew North and Plague Ship (1956) as Andrew North, both assembled as The Solar Queen (omni 2003); plus Voodoo Planet (1959) as Andrew North and Postmarked the Stars (1969); plus later titles – follows the mercantile adventures of the Solar Queen in venues bearing signs of interregnum looseness. The Crosstime sequence – comprising The Crossroads of Time (1956) plus Quest Crosstime (1965; vt Crosstime Agent 1975), both assembled as Crosstime (omni 2008) – carries its young protagonist through various Parallel Worlds in search of an elusive tyrant. The Time Traders sequence – comprising The Time Traders (1958) and Galactic Derelict (1959), both assembled as Time Traders (omni 2000); plus The Defiant Agents (1962) and Key Out of Time (1963), both assembled as Time Traders II (omni 2001); plus later works – engages its cast in a universe increasingly distressed by a complex Changewar. The Beast Master sequence – comprising The Beast Master (1959; cut 1961 dos) and Lord of Thunder (1962), both assembled as Beast Master's Planet (omni 2005); plus later works – sets in what seems a post-interregnum period a tale involving, unusually for Norton, Politics, as its protagonist, of long-ago Native American ancestry, must engage his team of "beasts" in complex conflicts on a new planet (Earth or Terra having been destroyed). The Forerunner sequence – comprising Storm over Warlock (1960), Ordeal in Otherwhere (1964) and Forerunner Foray (1973), all assembled as Warlock (omni 2003); plus Forerunner (1981) and Forerunner: The Second Venture (1985) – moves, again unusually for Norton, into a Far Future venue, where the young sole survivor of a relict culture, and a mysterious traveller from far stars, in a search for the Forerunner civilization from which humanity originally sprang. The Dipple: Janus sequence – comprising Catseye (1961) (see above as well), Judgment on Janus (1963) and Night of Masks (1966), the first and third assembled as Masks of the Outcasts (omni 2005); plus Victory on Janus (1966), assembled with Judgment on Janus as Janus (omni 2005) – engages social outcasts in Space Opera adventures focused on a pleasure planet. Further sf-inflected series are given in the Checklist below.

Though begun in the 1960s, the Witch World sequence is essentially Fantasy – often utilizing such sf tropes as Dimension gates and Force Fields but without much attempt at arguing their relationship to a fantasy universe – and lacks any connection with the shared background; it soon became both her best known series and a model for her later work. Set centrally in the matriarchal land of Estcarp, and the neighbouring land of High Hallack, on an otherwise unnamed planet, and pleasingly sensitive to Feminist issues, these tales engage personable young protagonists in Sword-and-Sorcery adventures which tend to end well. Variously connected, the series breaks into subseries, according to geography, the main two divisions being the Witchworld: Estcarp books beginning with Witch World (1963; vt Witch World 1: Witch World 1977) and ending with The Duke's Ballad (2005) with Lyn McConchie; and the High Hallack books beginning with Year of the Unicorn (1965; vt Witch World 6: Year of the Unicorn 1977) and ending with Silver May Tarnish (2005) with Lyn McConchie. For full title list see Checklist under series and also under works as editor: series; also see Checklist for other fantasy series.

Though her style matured over the years of her active participation in titles issued under her name, and her plots tended to darken somewhat, from first to last a Norton story would show the virtues of clear construction, with fields of action safely free of congested cities, a high degree of narrative control, protagonists whose qualities allow easy reader-identification and a universe fundamentally responsive to virtue, good will and spunk. Her disinclination to publish short material in the sf magazines and her labelling for decades as a juvenile writer both worked to delay proper recognition of her stature, though her actual sales were very considerable for decades. Only late in her life was it borne in upon the sf world that Norton's 100 or more self-authored books – many of them in print – were for very many readers central to what the genre had to offer. This can be also said, though with less intent to praise, of the very large number of books published after she began to experience ill-health in the late 1960s; these volumes, usually but not always identified as being collaborative, are significantly less inspired – though usually much longer – than earlier works no reader has ever doubted she wrote entirely on her own hook. Nevertheless, appropriately, she was honoured with the SFWA Grand Master Award in 1984, the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement in 1998, and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 1997. [JC]

see also: Crime and Punishment; Gandalf Award; GURPS; Hitler Wins; Longevity (in Writers and Publications); Magic; Nebula; Robert Hale Limited; Sargasso Sea; Women SF Writers.

Andre Norton

born Cleveland, Ohio: 17 February 1912

died Murfreesboro, Tennessee: 17 March 2005

works

We do not prescriptively distinguish below between works normally thought to have been by Norton alone, and later works attributed to her, whether or not "collaboration" has been acknowledged.

series

Sword

  • The Sword Is Drawn (Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1944) [Sword: illus/hb/Duncan Coburn]
  • Sword in Sheath (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1949) [Sword: illus/hb/Lorence Bjorklund]
    • Island of the Lost (New York: Staples Press, 1953) [vt of the above: Sword: hb/uncredited]
  • At Swords' Point (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1954) [Sword: hb/Richard Powers]

Central Control

  • Star Rangers (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1953) [Central Control: hb/Richard Powers]
    • The Last Planet (New York: Ace Books, 1955) [dos: vt of the above: Central Control: pb/Harry Barton]
  • Star Guard (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1955) [Central Control: hb/Richard Powers]
    • Star Soldiers (New York: Baen Books, 2001) [omni of the above two: Central Control: hb/Steven Hickman]

Astra

Free Traders: Solar Queen:

Free Traders: Moon Magic

  • Moon of 3 Rings (New York: The Viking Press, 1966) [Free Traders: Moon Magic: hb/Robin Jacques]
  • Exiles of the Stars (New York: The Viking Press, 1971) [Free Traders: Moon Magic: hb/Robin Jacques]
    • Moonsinger (New York: Baen Books, 2006) [omni of the above two: Free Traders: Moon Magic: hb/Alan Pollack]
  • Flight in Yiktor (New York: Tor, 1986) [Free Traders: Moon Magic: hb/Victoria Poyser]
  • Dare to Go A-Hunting (New York: Tor, 1989) [Free Traders: Moon Magic: hb/Victoria Poyser]
    • Moonsinger's Quest (New York: Baen Books, 2011) [omni of the above two: Free Traders: Moon Magic: hb/Alan Pollack]

Lyon Family Saga

  • Yankee Privateer (Cleveland, Ohio: The World Publishing Company, 1955) [Lyon Family Saga: hb/Leonard Vosburgh]
  • Stand and Deliver (New York: Dell/Emerald, 1984) [Lyon Family Saga: pb/uncredited]

Crosstime

  • The Crossroads of Time (New York: Ace Books, 1956) [dos: Crosstime: pb/Schultz]
  • Quest Crosstime (New York: The Viking Press, 1965) [Crosstime: hb/Yukio Tashiro]
    • Crosstime Agent (London: Victor Gollancz, 1975) [vt of the above: Crosstime: hb/David Smee]
    • Crosstime (New York: Baen Books, 2008) [omni of the above two: Crosstime: hb/Steven Hickman]

Time Traders

Beast Master

Council/Confederation

Forerunner

Dipple: Janus

Drew Rennie

  • Ride Proud Rebel (Cleveland, Ohio: World Publishing Company, 1961) [Drew Rennie: hb/W T Mars]
  • Rebel Spurs (Cleveland, Ohio: World Publishing Company, 1962) [Drew Rennie: hb/Peter Burchard]

Witch World

Witch World: Estcarp

Witch World: High Hallack (including the Gryphon sub-series)

Witch World

Witch World: The Turning (including the Secrets subseries)

  • Storms of Victory (New York: Tor, 1991) with Pauline A Griffin [coll: Witch World: The Turning: hb/Dennis A Nolan]
  • The Key of the Keplian (New York: Warner Aspect, 1994) with Lyn McConchie [Witch World: The Turning: Secrets: pb/Kevin Johnson]
  • The Magestone (New York: Warner Aspect, 1996) with Mary H Schaub [Witch World: The Turning: Secrets: pb/Kevin Johnson]
  • The Warding of Witch World (New York: Warner Aspect, 1996) [Witch World: The Turning: Secrets: hb/Kevin Johnson]

Magic

  • Steel Magic (Cleveland, Ohio: The World Publishing Company, 1965) [Magic: illus/hb/Robin Jacques]
    • Gray Magic (New York: Scholastic Book Service, 1967) [vt of the above: Magic: illus/pb/Robin Jacques]
  • Octagon Magic (Cleveland, Ohio: The World Publishing Company, 1967) [Magic: illus/hb/Mac Conner]
  • Fur Magic (Cleveland, Ohio: The World Publishing Company, 1968) [Magic: illus/hb/John Kaufmann]
    • The Magic Books (New York: New American Library/Signet Books, 1968) [omni of the above three: Magic: pb/uncredited]
  • Dragon Magic (New York: Thomas Y Crowell, 1972) [Magic: illus/hb/Robin Jacques]
  • Lavender-Green Magic (New York: Thomas Y Crowell, 1974) [Magic: illus/hb/Judith Gwynn Brown]
  • Red Hart Magic (New York: Thomas Y Crowell, 1976) [Magic: illus/hb/Donna Diamond]
  • Dragon Mage (New York: Tor, 2008) with Jean Rabe [Magic: hb/Robin Jacques]

Zero Stone

Psychocrat

Star Ka'at

  • Star Ka'at (New York: Walker Books, 1976) with Dorothy Madlee [Star Ka'at: illus/hb/Bernard Colonna]
  • Star Ka'at World (New York: Walker Books, 1978) with Dorothy Madlee [Star Ka'at: illus/hb/Jean Jenkins Loewer]
  • Star Ka'ats and the Plant People (New York: Walker Books, 1979) with Dorothy Madlee [Star Ka'at: illus/hb/Jean Jenkins Loewer]
  • Star Ka'ats and the Winged Warriors (New York: Walker Books, 1981) with Dorothy Madlee [Star Ka'at: illus/hb/Jean Jenkins Loewer]

Quag Keep

Central Asia

Trillium (for convenience all titles are listed)

Halfblood Chronicles

Cat People

Five Senses

Carolus Rex

Oak, Yew, Ash and Rowan

individual titles

collections and stories

series

Collected Short Stories

individual collections and stories

works as editor

series

Witch World

Witch World: The Turning

  • Flight of Vengeance (New York: Tor, 1992) [anth: Witch World: The Turning: hb/Dennis A Nolan]
  • On Wings of Magic (New York: Tor, 1994) [anth: Witch World: The Turning: hb/Dennis A Nolan]

Ithkar

Cat-Fantastic

individual titles

about the author

links

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