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Judith Tarr on The Golden Age of Andre Norton

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Andre Norton Android At Arms-small Andre Norton-Star Born-small Ice Crown-Andre Norton-small

Covers by unknown, Gino D’Achille, and Paul Alexander

I’ve been enjoying Judith Tarr’s detailed and enthusiastic Andre Norton reread over at Tor.com. So far she’s covered…. whew, so many novels I’ve lost count. 70? 75? Seriously, it’s a lot.

The fact that there’s a science fiction writer with 70+ novels worth talking about is astonishing in itself. Andre Norton was a genre onto herself in her heyday, roughly 1952-1998, but very little of her work remains in print. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth seeking out for modern readers. In last week’s post, “Agency and Mind Control in Andre Norton’s Ice Crown,” Judith makes a case that the Golden Age of Andre Norton was 1962-76, and she may have a point. Anyway, who’s going to argue with someone who’s read 72 Andre Norton novels in a row?

Now that I’ve read and reread a wide range of Norton novels from the Fifties to the early years of the new millennium, I’ve concluded that, for me, her “golden age” ran from the early Sixties through the mid-Seventies. Her official “Golden Age of SF” books of the Fifties have a distinct retro charm, and her later works kept on trucking for decades, delivering the patented Norton themes and settings and the occasional new one — and then there are her many collaborations with younger writers, some of them truly fine. But from about 1962 until about 1976, she wrote the novels that spoke to me most clearly and influenced my own writing the most.

I managed to miss Ice Crown at the time (1970). It hasn’t displaced any of my favorites from the period. But it’s classic Sixties/Seventies Norton.

The strong female protagonist, the overt feminism (so different from her all-male Fifties universes), the attempts at deeper characterization — it’s all there. Along with some of her patented themes and settings: alienation, psychic powers and mind control, political intrigue, and the just about inevitable subterranean adventures. Norton did love her caves.

Read the complete article here, and check out all 72 installments (so far) in the Andre Norton Reread at Tor.com. Here’s the back covers for the novels above: Android at Arms (Ace Books, 1973), Star Born (Ace, 1978), and Ice Crown (Ace, 1981).

[Click the images for Golden-Age sized versions.]

Andre Norton Android At Arms-back-small Andre Norton-Star Born-back-small Ice Crown-Andre Norton-back-small

Our previous coverage of Andre Norton includes over 25 articles:

The Sioux Spaceman
Secret of the Lost Race
Sargasso of Space
Grand Masters’ Choice, edited by Andre Norton
The Beast Master and Lord of Thunder
Everything’s Coming up Aces: All the Covers of Galactic Derelict
Galactic Derelict
The Last Planet 
Velvet Shadows
Return to the Witch World: The Crystal Gryphon by Fletcher Vredenburgh
The End of the Story: Sorceress of the Witch World by Fletcher Vredenburgh
To The Dark Tower He Came: Warlock of the Witch World by Fletcher Vredenburgh
Year of the Unicorn by Fletcher Vredenburgh
Three Against the Witch World by Fletcher Vredenburgh
Witch World by Fletcher Vredenburgh
Kirkus Looks at Andre Norton’s Young Adult Novels
A Point of Transition: Andre Norton’s Witch World by Matthew David Surridge
Andre Norton, Michael Moorcock and Appendix N: Advanced Readings in D&D
Star Soldiers and Other Free Kindle Books at Amazon.com
To the King a Daughter by Andre Norton and Sasha Miller
The Omnibus Volumes of Andre Norton, Part One
The Women of Andre Norton’s Witch World by Violette Malan
Andre Norton: Are Her Men Really Women? by Violette Malan
Lore of the Witch World by by Fletcher Vredenburgh
Frontier Guard, Robot Ships, and Rascal Traders: Rich Horton on Space Service
Birthday Reviews: Andre Norton’s “The Gifts of Asti” by Steven H Silver
Andre Norton Wrote Scarface

See all our recent Vintage Treasures here.

7 Comments »

  1. I have a shelf I call “Blackgate inspired purchases”

    The only Norton book i have there is Huon of the Horn. But I haven’t read it.

    I used to keep a list on my phone of vintage paperbacks to look for at half price books. I need to add some of these to the list.

    Andre Norton is one of those authors where they are so prolific its hard to know which one to read first so you end up not reading any.

    Comment by Glenn - November 26, 2019 10:16 am

  2. I started buying a lot of the old “D” and “F” series Ace paperbacks in the early 1960s. We had four Readmore stores in my hometown (don’t know if they were a national chain; they sold books, magazines, newspapers, even pizza), and all of them kept older paperbacks on the shelves. I picked up LOTS of Andre Norton (and Andrew North) at those stores: the first four Witch World books, the Time Traders books — probably a good two-three dozen, all of which I still own. I’d been reading her for several years before discovering she wasn’t a male. I read “The Stars Are Ours” just before starting high school, and it still ranks as my all-time favorite of her books.

    Comment by smitty59 - November 26, 2019 2:03 pm

  3. Andre Norton was one of my favorite authors for a long time; I could never get into the many collaborations that made up a large part of her output in the latter part of her career. But the early and mid parts of that career are full of great stories.

    Glenn: May I suggest you just grab one and take a look? Norton wrote historical fiction (Shadow Hawk is quite good) as well as SF and Fantasy, you’re sure to find something you’ll like. Huon of the Horn is a good place to start.

    I somehow missed Ms. Tarr’s review of Norton’s work over at Tor. Thanks for the heads up!

    Comment by John E. Boyle - November 27, 2019 3:07 am

  4. > I have a shelf I call “Blackgate inspired purchases”

    Glenn,

    Oddly enough, so do I!

    >Andre Norton is one of those authors where they are so prolific
    > its hard to know which one to read first so you end up not reading any.

    I know what you mean. She had several big sellers in the 50s, but she never had a huge bestseller the way most of the later giants of SF (Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein) did.

    Her biggest novels seem to be WITCH WORLD, STAR MAN’S SON, and STAR BORN.

    Comment by John ONeill - November 27, 2019 3:55 pm

  5. > I started buying a lot of the old “D” and “F” series Ace paperbacks in the early 1960s.

    Smitty,

    The D-series is still my favorite. Mostly for the covers, which were gorgeous! They really fired my imagination when I first discovered them as a teen.

    Comment by John ONeill - November 27, 2019 3:59 pm

  6. > I could never get into the many collaborations that made up a large part of her output in the latter part of her career.

    John,

    Same here. From what I understand though, many of them sold very well.

    In the 90s and 2000s she collaborated with Sherwood Smith, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Lyn McConchie, Sasha Miller, Rosemary Edghill, Jean Rabe, P. M. Griffin, A. C. Crispin, Mary H. Schaub, and others.

    Anyone out there know if any of those volumes are worth a look?

    Comment by John ONeill - November 27, 2019 4:05 pm

  7. Glen & John,,
    Not quite up to a whole shelf yet, but I certainly have a Black Gate inspired wish list.

    Of the collaboration books, I have yet to pick up her Trillium contribution, with Bradley and May.

    Comment by Tony Den - November 29, 2019 10:20 am


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