“Black Trillium” is a collaboration between Marion Zimmer Bradley, Julian May and Andre Norton. These three women are oldies but goodies within the science fiction and fantasy genre. As such one might be tempted to think that this three-in-one package would create a work of wonder. However, three strong personalities can make for problems as well.
The end product has the three authors writing about one character each. Sadly, this is quite apparent to me in my role as reader. While the story keeps to its plot (I presume), the different writing styles makes me have to adjust again and again as I go from chapter to chapter. Sometimes the writing is very young in its audience appeal and sometimes I connect a bit more to it.
As the princesses Haramis, Kadiya and Anigel go on their separate journeys to save Ruwenda from the Labornok and its magician Orogastus they also have to face their own flaws and failings. In a typical younger audience hero-writing style, we are presented with three young women who face difficult challenges and overcome them in a manner that destroys the wicked, changes the hearts of brave people and brings the heroes back as saviors to their people.
A younger reader than myself might very well find this book a completely different journey to my own. Perhaps I have become too old and jaded in my reading experience to fully enjoy something so clearly intended for a younger audience.
Star Born was written in 1957 and is the second novel of the Astra series. As such, you might expect it to be extremely dated. That’s the good thing about Andre Norton. Her focus is on the characters not on technology. Not that it would have mattered in the end, not really. I found Star Born among my books and discovered that I hadn’t read it. Shocker, but a pleasant surprise.
Our two main protagonists in Star Born are Raf Kurbi from Terra and Dalgard Nordis from Homeport. Like so many of Norton’s characters a rite of passage is what starts off the book.
Dalgard is the descendant of Terran escapees. Many generations ago they came to the planet Astra. There they found a race of people who communicated through telepathy. Telepathic communication is another of Norton’s favorites. These two groups learn to live next to each other in peace and with time the Terran stock evolve their telepathic abilities to the extent that they can communicate with the telepathic creatures on Astra. Dalgard is traveling with Sssuri, a member of the Merfolk, and his knife-brother. Together they are on a journey of exploration – rite of passage.
One of the deserted bases of “Those Others” is the goal of the two travellers. “Those Others” are the ancient enemies of the Merfolk and other creatures on Astra. In olden times the Merfolk were enslaved by “Those Others” but through rebellion they managed to hit the Others hard.
Star Born switches between Dalgard’s story and Raf’s. Raf has come from Terra along with a crew. Four of them set out to investigate some ruins that they had seen during landing. It turns out that they meet up with the Others. Raf is uncomfortable about this meeting. For some reason his guard is up. When they go with the Others to explore one of the ruins, they come upon Dalgard. Now the stories blend together and we get to see what happens when two young men hold the fate a world in their hands.
The newcomers from Terra display all of the classic symptoms displayed in meeting with aliens. Meeting as described in science fiction anyways as I do not know of any real life meetings with aliens. Fear, prejudice, and violence go together it seems in such situations.
Young adults are probably Norton’s target group. Most of her books are written for them. That is clearly reflected in the language. There is no swearing, graphic violence or sex scenes. Quite refreshing in a sense. While Star Born isn’t one of my favorite Norton books, it was an easy read.
“NOTE: This title has entered the “Public Domain” and is therefore open to any publisher that wants to print it. Many “Print on Demand” publishers have started to release this title. This site has chosen to ignore these published versions and only concentrate on estate sanctioned materials.”
The Project Gutenberg has a complete version of Star Born for free – for those who are interested.
Star Born has been translated to:
German: Flammen über Astra
Russian: Звездная стража [Star Guard]
Russian (in combination with The Stars Are Ours!)Астра [Astra]
Andre Norton’s “style is clean and simple. She doesn’t digress into an examination of minutiae, of either exterior or interior worlds. With graceful economy she hands the reader the very hearts of her characters, and cleanly etches her settings – like an artist who can suggest the whole shape of an object by the thickness of the line with which she draws. The result are lean, rich stories that move.” Linda Taddeo
“The Forerunner Factor” is an omnibus containing “Forerunner” and “Forerunner: The Second Venture”. Andre Norton’s books talk about the Forerunners. They are those who went before and have left artefacts that noone understands. We desire what they were and had.
In “Forerunner” we meet Simsa, the orphan. She lives in the Burrows, the slums in the spaceport-city on the planet Kuxortal. Her looks are exotic with iridescent blue-black skin and white hair. As many of Norton’s other protagonists, Simsa has a telepathic bond with her batlike zorsal but does not truly communicate with them. The adventure begins when she gets involved with a spaceman in search of his brother. Together they end up running for their lives. Eventually they come into contact with a Forerunner artefact and, what do you know, Simsa is revealed as one.
In “Forerunner: The Second Venture” Simsa escapes captivity, crash landing on another world where life does not seem viable. She comes into intelligent life, manages to communicate with it and discovers that the Forerunners have also been there. In this novel Simsa has two goals. First and foremost she seeks to remain herself. The second is to survive without recapture.