Andre Norton: Gateway to Magic, Part III

Andre Norton: Gateway to Magic, Part III

The first two installments in this series are here:

Andre Norton: Gateway to Magic, Part I
Andre Norton: Gateway to Magic, Part II

As I mentioned in the first two articles in this series, I’ve read a LOT of Andre Norton. Here are just a few pics from my collection that I haven’t yet discussed. Most of these have little to do directly with Sword & Planet fiction but they still contain Norton’s patented characters and action.

1. The Last Planet, which is a variant title for Star Rangers. (Two copies here: Ace 1974 — no cover artist credited although could this be a Whelan?, and Ace 1955 — Harry Barton cover).

2. Eye of the Monster, the first Norton I ever read that I didn’t particularly love. (Ace 1962, cover by Dean Ellis). It’s quite a short book, actually described as a chapbook, and there wasn’t as much story there as I would have liked.

3. Star Born (Ace 6th Printing, 1979, cover credited to Gino D’Achille, although it looks like a Frazetta to me). Strong story.

4. Sea Siege (The cover has the line, “Author of Judgment on Janus,” which was likely the reason I spent hard money on it because I loved the Janus book so much. Fawcett 1980, cover by Ken Barr). I certainly wasn’t disappointed in this one. Exciting tale.

5. Garan the Eternal, DAW 1972, with an awesome cover by Jack Gaughan, which looks like it could have been on one of the Dray Prescot books. This is basically an S&P story (2 stories linked), although there aren’t any swords except on the cover, which means it wasn’t my favorite tale by Norton. An earthman named Garin Featherstone flies his plane into a mist and ends up in another world where he becomes Garan the Hero. This book also contains a short story of Witch World. A good read.

Star Gate. Published by Ace, 1971, with a cover by John Schoenherr. I always particularly liked this cover. This is a very good book. When the movie Stargate came out, I suspected it was influenced by this work, and maybe it was, although the “gates” here are not described in any detail. However, I strongly suspect the work influenced my favorite Star Trek the Original series episode, which is called “Mirror, Mirror.”

In Norton’s book, a young man named Kincar s’Rud passes through a star gate into an alternate universe where he finds people who he knows, except that they are evil versions of themselves. That’s just what happens in “Mirror, Mirror,” when Kirk, Bones, Scotty and Uhura exchange places with evil alternates of themselves in the mirror universe.

I thought I was the first to realize this connection, but as I was reading some other reviews of the book I found that “Derek,” a long time friend of mine on Goodreads had a similar observation quite a bit earlier than I did. Derek and I have usually agreed on our reviews on that site.

One other point about the book, I think it fits the Sword & Planet mold in general, although the world Kincar travels to is an alternate version of his own. It certainly has some sword slinging action in it, and although Kincar is not from “Earth” officially, we learn that he was born in a city called “Terranna.” Terra, of course, is an oft-used name for Earth.

Charles Gramlich administers The Swords & Planet League group on Facebook, where this post first appeared. His last article for Black Gate was Andrew Offutt’s Greatest Contribution to the Genre: Swords Against Darkness.

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Steve A Oerkfitz

I read a lot of Norton as a teen back in the sixties. Ace made them easily available. How they would hold up now Idon’t know. They all had a YA vibe to them.

Charles Gramlich

I like the term “YA Vibe.” I’d definitely agree with that analysis

John E. Boyle

Norton cut her teeth in the YA market in the 1940s and she kept some of the same ideas as story threads throughout her career. I’ve found that while some of her books no longer interest me (the Janus books, for example), others are still good reads, such as The Last Planet and Star Gate.

Andre Norton was one of the greatest saleswomen SF&F has ever had because she knew how to speak to those on the outside looking in. If you find that her books no longer thrill you, try giving them to your children or grandchildren. Her work might be right up their alley.

Charles Gramlich

I gave some to my son when he was young, although he generally liked the Robert E. Howard stuff much more. I’m saving other Norton’s for my grandsons, who are only 5 and 2 at present but will get there.

Brian Kunde

The cover of The Last Planet speculated to be a Whelan looks more like a Vincent DiFate to me. Not totally certain, but the spaceship reminds me of his work. If not him, then the spaceship could still be the key to the artist; seems to me there were a lot of them with that distinctive look on SF paperbacks of the period.

Eugene R.

I was thinking of Chris Foss at first, and he did a number of covers for Ace in 1974. But I checked their artists on ISFDB and ran across Dean Ellis, who did a similar cover in 1974 for the Ballantine Books edition of Larry Niven’s A Hole in Space:

comment image?w=694

Charles Gramlich

Looks like you’ve nailed it

Charles Gramlich

It could well be Difate. I’m not a great judge of art, although I have seen that style spaceship in various places.


Like Eye of the Monster, The Last Planet cover is also by Dean Ellis.

Charles Gramlich

Thumbs up

William H. Stoddard

Terranna was a city founded by people from Terra, so the name’s not accidental.

Charles Gramlich

For sure, a clue to the peoples’ origins.

Rich Horton

Garan the Eternal is two linked novelettes or novellas (plus the two (not just one) WW short stories), and the first story is actually the first in-genre SF/Fantasy story Norton published, “The People of the Crater”. It appeared in the famous magazine Fantasy Book, edited by “Garrett Ford” (Willam and Margaret Crawford), under the name “Andrew North”. That’s the same magazine (though not the same issue) in which Cordwainer Smith’s first story appeared — so Fantasy Book is where two major SF writers had their genre debuts — both writing under pseudonyms.

Norton apparently remained somewhat close to William Crawford, as the second Garan story, “Garan of Yu-Lac”, was partially serialized in Crawford’s later magazine, Spaceway, and the first edition of Garan the Eternal was a hardcover from Fantasy Publishing company.
Garan the ETernal cover by Morris Scott Dollens

Charles Gramlich

I first read people of the Crater in a book called Swordsmen in the sky

Jim Pederson

These days, I’ll buy any older sci fi or fantasy novel of 200 pages (or less) if it has an interesting write up on the back and an interesting cover. I’ve picked up a lot of Norton’s works throughout the years and I’ve enjoyed about half of those. I would have picked up most of what you show above based on the covers alone, especially the 1955 “The Last Planet” – very cool.

Charles Gramlich

Yes, I enjoy those old covers very much too

Joe H.

The Star Born cover is definitely D’Achille (although yes, he’s channeling his inner Frazetta) — some other printings have a cover that’s slightly less cropped and you can see the initials GD down in the corner, and I found an auction catalog that credits it to him.

Again I’m reminded that I need to read _so much_ Andre Norton.

Charles Gramlich

Cool. Thanks for the link and information. i definitely like that cover

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x