Saturday, February 16, 2013

Author Influences: Andre Norton

I was in my early teens when I first read anything by Andre Norton. I'm pretty sure it was Spell of the Witch World.

I'd already been thoroughly corrupted by Robert A. Heinlein (whom will be our subject in the near future), and my taste in science fiction and fantasy were well-established by Heinlein and Tolkein. I think what drew me to the book was the sci-fi label attached to what was, on the cover, a fantasy type scene. What I found inside exceeded all my expectations. It was later that I learned the series was considered the pinnacle of her work, and for good reason. The mixture of science fiction and magic was blended with masterful skill, and the stories took my mind to this other world where the Old Ones still lurked in the High Places in the hills of High Hallack. If you haven't read this, put it on your list now, before you dot another "i", Bob Cratchett!

The next of Miss Norton's works I picked up was this one:


Dread Companion stands out today as one of my favorite books from one of my favorite authors. Norton's heroes and heroines are human and therefore flawed. They make mistakes, and are forced to overcome themselves as well as whatever evil forces are arrayed against them. Norton was always full of surprises. Her characters had depth and warmth that made them stand out and live inside my head. And isn't that what we as writers want for all our readers?

Another one that I really enjoyed was Storm over Warlock:


One of the best blends of hard sci-fi and mysticism I've been blessed to read. Norton's magic systems are pretty predictable, I'll be free to admit. The more powerful ones are all women, and there are other similarities throughout her entire volume of works. But her stories were all so enjoyable, I never really cared to pick nits about it. After all, Louis L'Amour said he only wrote eight stories. He just changed the names and horses, changed locales and settings, and titles, and most people never noticed.

I want to encourage everyone to pick up the above titles and others of Andre Norton. Her works always stood head and shoulders above many of her contemporaries in sheer quality of story, and they deserve to be carried on her her posterity as influences on writers for generations to come.


  1. My first Andre Norton book was Catseye, and it hooked me from the start. She was ahead of her time.

  2. Catseye was the first book of hers I read. Love it.