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Engdahl, Sylvia Louise

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1933-    ) US author, employed in the field of computer programming 1957-1967. Her novels, though marketed as juveniles, appeal as well to adults for their intelligence and humanity. The Elena sequence – comprising Enchantress from the Stars (1970) and The Far Side of Evil (1971) – is perhaps her best-known work. The first describes, with suggestive analogues between traditional and technological versions of crucial events (to a savage, all technology is Magic), the early career of Elena, who is in the Anthropological Service and must protect the "primitive" culture of one planet from a technologically more advanced culture from a neighbouring world. Engdahl's second Young Adult series, the Noren sequence – comprising This Star Shall Abide (1972; vt Heritage of the Star 1973), Beyond the Tomorrow Mountains (1973) and The Doors of the Universe (1981), all assembled as Children of the Star (rev omni 2000) – also displays characteristics of the Planetary Romance, the planet in question this time being a totalitarian Dystopia. The societal design in these books, set on a planet with an imposed Religion, takes, not unusually, the shape of a pyramid, with benign but hidden representatives of an alien race ruling the world; more surprising is Engdahl's refusal to dismantle – once that structure has been exposed, after the time-honoured pattern – this hierarchy. A later series, the Flame sequence comprising Stewards of the Flame (2007) and Promises of the Flame (2009), focuses on the moral dilemmas of a medical doctor abducted to a colony planet (Colonization of Other Worlds), problems also faced by a Starship captain, in dealing with an isolated population with Psi Powers. [JC/PN]

Sylvia Louise Engdahl

born Los Angeles, California: 24 November 1933






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