" The things that make us happy make us wise" John Crowley, Little Big

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Key Out of Time by Andre Norton


    The Key Out of Time by Andre Norton, The World Publishing Company, 1963, Cover by Giac Faragasso

In this novel, time agents Ross Murdoch and Gordon Ashe have lead an expedition to one of the planets located from the tapes they recovered from the alien "Baldies" at the end of Galactic Derelict. Hawaika named for the Polynesian paradise is a perfect planet, a world of shallow seas and archipelagoes, a mild climate and lot of resources. In keeping with the project policy of trying to match the ancestral cultures of the colonists with the new planet their team consists Samoan and Hawaiian volunteers including Karara Trehern and her dolphins Tino-rau and Taua, who as is typical in Norton's work have the ability for low level communicate with Karara.  There is not mention that the team has been subjected to the Redax machine which was used to awaken ancestral memories in the Apache colonists in the earlier novel The Defiant Agents, possibly because that group was never heard from again. As the novel opens Ross is disgruntled with the assignment, he is having a hard time adjusting to the introduction of Karara to the hitherto masculine teams of agents. 

"“Before being summarily recruited into the Project, Ross had been a loner—living on the ragged edges of the law, an indigestible bit for the civilization which had become too ordered and "adjusted" to absorb his kind. But in the Project he had discovered others like himself—men born out of time, too ruthless, too individualistic for their own age, but able to operate with ease in the dangerous paths of the Time Agents.” (13). 

Also his relationship with Ashe is troubled, Ashe is withdrawn growing more distant and bad-tempered, consumed by his guilt for the Project leaders betrayal of the Apache colonists he helped recruit including his friend Travis Fox.

Ace edition 43672 1963 by Cover W. Strudeski


  While the Polynesians are described as colonists we again have the Cold War focus of the earlier books. Hawaika has been surveyed to look for any Baldy ruins or technology that may exist which could give the Western alliance an advantage over the Soviets. This survey was unsuccessful so Ross and Ashe are moving on the the second phase of the plan to establish a time portal through which they can view the past civilizations of the planet and possibly gather some information of use to them in the present day. There is no plan for them actually travel back in time. But of course a storm blows in and Ross, Ashe, Karara and the dolphins are all propelled into the planet's past, a world of coastal wreckers, Viking like traders and a powerful and mysterious race called the Foanna. 

One thing I should mention is that Norton's admiration for Native Americans does not seem to extend to Polynesians despite the fact that Kana Karr the mercenary hero of her novel Star Guard (1955) is of Australian-Malay-Hawaiian ancestry.

At least the following passage seems less that flattering. “all of the settlers were good swimmers. An organized hunt ought to shake the Polynesians out of their present do-it-tomorrow attitude. As long as they had had definite work before them—the unloading of the ship, the building of the village, all the labors incidental to the establishing of this base—they had shown energy and enthusiasm. It was only during the last couple of weeks that the languor which appeared part of the atmosphere here had crept up on them, so that now they were content to live at a slower and lazier pace. Ross remembered Ashe's comparison made the evening before, likening Hawaika to a legendary Terran island where the inhabitants lived a drugged existence, feeding upon the seeds of a native plant. Hawaika was fast becoming a lotus land for Terrans.”(16) maybe it's the water.

I found The Key Out of Time a reasonable sequel/conclusion to the other books but perhaps less engaging. In the 1990's three additional Time Trader novels were produced by Norton in collaboration? with other writers, I will not be including them in this survey. The original novel had the appeal of creating a new fictional world, Galactic Derelict totally shifted the focus to outer space exploration, Defiant Agents benefited from the whole dynamic of the relationship between the Project and the Apache team. The Key Out of Time was a more standard adventure novel albeit with many of the typical Norton tropes which I will discuss below. 

But what was really driven home to me in this novel was how rarely in any Norton novel can the protagonists return home. They may find another potential home or family somewhere in time or space but unlike the protagonists of other novels of the period they do not have an adventure and then return to some stable environment. To avoid dealing with the complications of extended family or controlling bureaucracies, Norton selects her characters from the ranks of orphans, loners, criminals, refugees, oppressed minorities,  the survivors of some disaster that destroyed their plant or culture, or independent traders etc.. Robert D. Lofland conducted a long interview with Norton in her home for his MA Thesis,  Andre Norton, A Contemporary Author of Books for Young People, 1960. In speaking about Norton he notes “ she feels the hero must be an orphan in order that his parents cannot interfere with his actions." Almost all the protagonists Norton selects seem to be orphans of one kind or another. 

Spoiler alert

  The Norton tropes in this novel include some level of human animal communication, competing races on the same planet, a minority cultural group and in the Foanna you have the very typical Norton element of a powerful matriarchal ruling group. SF author Arthur C Clarke created three rules for SF writing the third rule states that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." (see link below ) and certainly the powers assigned to the Foanna seem more magic than science with wands, gates, and teleportation. I think this is typical of the arc of Norton's writing as over time she morphs from a writer of SF to a writer of Fantasy and both elements are blended together in many of her novels.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarke's_three_laws 





Friday, February 24, 2017

The Defiant Agents by Andre Norton

The Defiant Agents by Andre Norton, The World Publishing Company, 1962, 
Cover by Ed Emshwiller


The Defiant Agents the third book in Andre Norton’s Time Trader series is the story of Project Cochise where the Apache Travis Fox leads a group of Apache colonists to the planet Topaz.

At the end of the Galactic Derelect the team of time agents Dr. Gordon Ashe, Ross Murdoch, the Apache Travis Fox and a technician Case Renfry have made a successful round trip on one of the recovered alien space craft. They also returned with navigation tapes for a number of other planets. While the tapes have been shared among Earth governments various factions have assembled teams to be the first to claim the planets for which they have tapes. Ashe and Colonel Kelgarries have assembled “ Three teams of recruits-the Eskimos (Inuit) from Point Barren, the Apaches, and the Islanders (Polynesians) - all picked because their people had a high survival rating in the past” (18) who will be sent to the planet whose climatic conditions most closely resembles that of their naive homelands on earth. 

Because of a security breach, Russia and the Cold War are still a major focus of the series, the US tape has been copied. Despite Ashe’s objections, he feels more training is required, 40 young Apache men and women under the leadership of Travis Fox are sent to Topaz. With them are a pair of mutant coyotes created by the US nuclear tests in the southwest. Upon arrival it is discovered that the Russia have not only arrived first but they have set up an air defence system and the Apache ship is shot down. A number of the Apache travelling in cold sleep are killed as well as the entire ship’s crew. An added wrinkle is that in a attempt to speed up the acculturation of the "modern" Apache to the new planet they have been subjected to the machine called the Redax which has awaked ancestral memories. The result is the survivors are subjected to confusing mixtures of memories of the American culture they left and memories stemming from their culture's history. This was done without their permission and the Apache realize they have been betrayed by the government yet again in the name of expediency. This also places Fox, who brought them into the project, at odds with the rest of the group. Fox’s main allies are the coyotes with whom he discovers a telepathic link. And he will need all the help he can get since he quickly discovers that the Russians using a similar technology have planted a very tightly controlled group of colonists who believe they are part of the Mongolian Golden Horde. 

I want to look at several aspects of the novel overall. We have a number of Norton themes here human animal communication, Native American characters, alienated characters or groups, mutants, a distrust of technology, a distrust of government agencies,  the cold war and shifting alliances between groups of characters.

What I find particularly interesting is what we are to take away from the concept of Project Cochise, does Norton really believe that this is a logical method of colonizing other planets. I don’t think so, I think instead Norton wants to look at the subject of racial stereotyping and racism in general.  Norton has introduced minority populations into her SF novels since her first SF work, Star Man's Son (1952) where the migrating black sheep herders are the first group to accept the mutant Fors as an equal. Fox originally abandons his university studies when a rich patron refuses to donate money for archeological projects employing Native Americans. While the time agents of the first two books train to be Folsom hunters or Funnel Beaker traders they do this only so they can move among the native populations of the eras they travel to. 

It is interesting that when a number of the Apache men, we meet none of the women, discuss their ancestral lives, the experiences are specific not generic they name specific Apache war leaders they rode with Black Knife, Cochise, Victorio, and Magnus Colorado all of whom were betrayed, captured, tortured and or killed by the governments of Mexico and the United States. So I suspect this is deliberate on Norton’s part, she wrote historical novels and westerns and was known for her research. I think that these specific figures were named to underscore the theme of betrayal that has been the lot of Native Americans by the governments of North and South America since contact and that continues into the era of this novel and indeed the present day. 

Ace 14231 cover by Ed Emshwiller

  Another thing I found interesting is that we are clearly told that this is an attempt to establish a colony but while the Apache rescue supplies from the crashed ship they have no modern weapons they have to revert to bows and arrows. The Apache leaders I mentioned fought mainly through the 1860’s to 1880’s their warriors would have had ample experience using guns. At one point when they are attempting to set a trap in the crashed ship the Apache tasked with rigging the systems points out to Fax that he graduated from MIT. So he retained his technical knowledge. Is the lack of modern weapons stereotyping or a method to control the Apache colonists. 

I found Norton’s treatment of Fox interesting, while he eventually convinces the other Apache to help him, leadership is shared. Normally in SF novels even in Norton’s you have one character who assumes the role of hero, saves the girl, defuses the bomb whatever needs to be done while the other characters hold their coat etc. Here in part due to an injury to Fox but also because other members of the group are better suited to certain tasks Fox ends up having to stand aside, to be told how things went by other Apache rather than always participate. I thought this interesting because my reading of the history of the Native Americans of Western Canada tells me this is how they operated. They had a chief for war, a chief for peace, specialists for other tasks and decisions were often made and carried out by smaller groups (societies), subsets of the larger tribe. I wonder if Norton was trying to convey this aspect of Native American society through her treatment of Fox in this novel. 

In The Book Of Andre Norton,  Daw Books 1974 in the section "Andre Norton: A Loss of Faith" by Rick Brooks, he questions whether in books like “Dread Companion(1970) and The Dark Piper(1968) that gives the feeling at the conclusion that it is better not to see what lies ahead.” (187) Norton had come to lose the optimism of her earlier work. I would say that this is not the case, racism, nuclear destruction, class warfare, refugee populations are common in her novels throughout her career, her works are considered juveniles but the optimism of Heinlein’s Space Cadet or Farmer in the Sky is often missing. Brooks seems to agree he goes on to say, “the optimism of Galactic Derelict, where the universe and its wonders had been opened to man, have in its sequel turned to dread of the weapons of the earlier galactic empire in human hands.” (189)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Philip Castle's Andre Norton covers for Tandem Science Fiction

Even though I have a ton of Andre Norton books I could
not resist these somewhat odd and colourful examples by
Philip Castle's for UK publisher Tandem Science Fiction.




Saturday, April 16, 2016

Galactic Derelict  by Andre Norton, Ace Books D-498, 1959, cover by Ed Emshwiller.


" All the classic elements are present in full measure in Galactic Derelict. It suffers not at all in being a sequel to Andre Norton's excellent Time Traders." Galaxy Magazine.

This is the second volume in Norton's Time Traders series. You could probably read Galactic Derelict without having read The Time Traders, Norton does supply  enough back story in this book to fill in the gaps. But if you are going to read Galactic Derelict first, I would suggest you stop reading now because I am going to assume you are reading the books in order. 

This volume starts with Travis Fox a young Apache range rider scouting for water holes for his brother Whelan's cattle. Travis is conflicted, he is pushing into a new area based on the traditional wisdom of his Apache mentor, an old man named Chato. He knows his brother would disapprove, Whelan has no use for traditional knowledge, he prefers to live as a member of the non-native culture, or "white-eyes" as Travis calls them. It is while exploring the desert canyons that Fox stumbles upon a group of men in the process of building some kind of scientific installation. Fox is captured by one of these men, it turns out to be Ross Murdoch, armed with an unusual sidearm. Fox is taken into camp and questioned by the archaeologist Gordon Ashe, whose name he recognizes. It seems Fox was studying archaeology at the local university until a wealthy donor threatened to suspend funding for any projects employing Native Americans. So Travis Fox's suspicions of the non-native culture seem perfectly reasonable. After learning of Fox's interest in archaeology Ashe and Ross show Fox a series of Folsom Points, 10,000 year old spear points, used by an early Native American culture. After examining the points Fox can distinguish between  
10,000 years old points and identical modern copies. Upon examining the Ross's handgun he is amazed to find out that it is even older that the genuine Folsom points. It seems Travis Fox is a time guesser. This ability, a check of his archaeological credentials and his experience as a Native American rancher and hunter result in Fox being offered a place on the Project Folsom One. It seems that Ashe, Murdoch and Fox are going to be disguised as Folsom Hunters and sent back in time to locate the remains of the same type of alien spacecraft discovered by the Russians in bronze age Europe in The Time Traders. Soon the team is off, encountering Folsom hunters, saber toothed tigers, dire wolves, mammoths, active volcanoes and several crashed spaceships along the way.

The Beast Master, Harcourt Brace & Co., cover by Richard M. Powers


 Norton has always included minority characters in her stories. In 1959-1960 she wrote three novels with Native American protagonists,  Galactic Derelict in 1959 with Travis Fox an Apache, Beastmaster in 1959, with the Dineh (Navaho) character Hosteen Storm and in 1960 The Sioux Spaceman, with Kade Whitehawk a Sioux. In the passage below Norton mentions a Native American ancestor, which may explain some of her interest in native culture and characters. 


"My family history in America begins in 1634. Although we are the last of the Eastern branch of the Norton family line, I heard several years ago from a family member in one of the Western branches. She told me that my uncle, who was a great deal older than my father, had five daughters, and the last one of these had just celebrated her one hundredth birthday. It is unfortunate that mother's history was never documented. We know that there had been an Indian marriage way back. Mother's mother had three brothers who had served in the Civil War, and her fiance was killed in the Battle of Gettysburg."


from DAYS OF WONDER
A conversation with Andre Norton
by John L. Coker III 

http://www.andre-norton.org/tangent/hhint.html







The Beast Master cover Ed Valigursky, The Sioux Spaceman cover Ed Valigursky

I thought this was a good sequel to The Time Traders, it is not a repetition of the earlier book, the is plot are quite different with Fox becoming the main character. There is lots of action, some interesting twists and it is certainly not predictable. With the addition of Travis Fox, Norton also expands the range of the story adding a level of complexity that will resonate through the next two volumes in the series.

Spoilers

It is interesting that in both books in this series, time travel is simply a mechanism  allowing the team to encounter aliens and space travel. In Galactic Derelict after locating the alien ship Fox, Murdoch, Ashe and the technician Renfry are accidentally launched into space, while the ship, following some preset course takes them on a tour of several alien planets. This theme of stowaways on spacecraft, intentional or otherwise is a common one in SF and Norton handles it well.

Monday, April 4, 2016

New Arrivals, Thanks Jan

As mentioned in my Site introduction the collection that forms
the basis for this blog consists of my own collection and that
of a friend who is downsizing her books. A few weeks ago she
mentioned she had found additional titles, today she dropped 
them off. Wow, what can I say, these are lovely, they will be 
real highlights in the collection.

Thanks Jan.


The Zero Stone, Viking Press, 1968
Jacket Painting by Robin Jacques 


Uncharted Stars , Viking Press, 1969
Jacket Painting by Robin Jacques
sequel to The Zero Stone 


Ice Crown, The Viking Press, 1970
Jacket Painting Laszlo Gal


Gryphon in Glory, Atheneum, 1981
Jacket painting by Jack Gaughan


Tales of the Witch World, A TOR Book, 1988
Cover art by Mary Hanson-Roberts
Cover design by Carol Russo
Maps by John M. Ford


Daybreak-2250 A.D., ACE Books, 1952 (13989)
This was the first Norton book I discussed, under
the title Star Man's Son. This cover illustration is
similar to the original ACE cover, I would say
the depiction of Lura is better here, but Fors does
not look like a teenager. Both covers are uncredited. 


Redline the StarsA TOR Book, 1993
Cover art by Martin Andrews
A collaboration continuing the adventures 
of the Solar Queen.

The Magestone, Warner Books, 1996
Cover design by Don Puckey
Cover illustration by Kevin Johnson
A collaboration continuing the Witch World series.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Time Traders



The Time Traders by Andre Norton, The World Publishing Company , Cleveland and New York, 1958, Cover by Virgil Finlay.

Since Andre Norton first editions can be a bit pricey
I have an ex-library copy that lived in several school libraries in Harrisburg, PA. As is obvious from my posts I love real books, not just the contents, e-text etc. but the books themselves as physical objects with a real history. I can look at a book like this and wonder how many little geeks have turned these pages before me marvelling at the adventures of Ross Murdock and his partner Gordon Ashe as they become time traders. I like to think that many of them took this copy off the shelf because of the wonderful
Virgil Finlay dustcover. The Time Traders, is the first of four books in the the Time Traders series. These books do not end in cliff hangers. but they should be read in order. The other titles are Galactic Derelict, The Defiant Agents, and Key Out of Time.


A number of science fiction authors, including Andre Norton, began producing collaborations with other authors based on existing works later in their careers. For example wikipedia mentions three other titles as part of the Time Trader series, I typically do not read these collaborations and will not consider them when discussing the series.


 Ross Murdoch is a trouble maker, a career criminal despite his relatively young age. So it is no surprise that he finds himself before the courts yet again. However this time he has gone too far and Ross faces being turned over to the dreaded Rehabilitation Service, unless he chooses to volunteer for an unnamed government project. So Ross agrees, planning of course to escape at the earliest opportunity. However this may be more of a problem than he expected. Major John Kelgarries of the project immediately whisked Ross off via atomjet to a camp located in a mysterious snowy location.




Ross is immediately placed in a locked cell/room, here one wall appears to disappear and he witnesses a  projection of a bronze age wolf hunt, or is it?       Once this ends a power failure occurs which unlocks the door. Looking for potential escape routes Murdoch ventures into the dark corridor,only to encounter a heavily bandaged man crawling down the corridor, Kelgarries appears and Murdoch learns the bandaged man is Hardy, an agent injured in a previous mission. It is at this point Murdoch meets Gordon Ashe. 

" The newcomer's brown skin was starling against the neutral shade of the walls. His hair and brown were only a few shades darker; but the general sameness of colour was relieved by the vivid blue of his eyes." p. 25 

The machine has sorted them and assigned Ashe to be Murdoch partner, it is at this point Ashe tells Murdoch that this is Operation Retrograde. They then go to the mess hall were Murdoch encounters a number of the other staff, 

" One pair were clearly Oriental: they were small, lean men with thin brackets of long black mustache (sp) on either side of their mobile mouths. Yet he had caught a word or two of their conversation, and they spoke his own language with the facility of the native born. In addition to the mustaches, each wore a blue tattoo mark on their forehead and others of the same design on the backs of their agile hands.
 The second duo were even more fantastic. The color of their flaxen hair was normal, but they wore it in braids long enough to swing across their powerful shoulders, a fashion unlike anything Ross had ever seen. Yet any suggestion of effeminacy certainly did not survive beyond the first glance of their ruggedly masculine features." p. 27


The Ace editions have equally wonderful covers by Ed Emshwiller.

It is in the mess hall that Murdoch meets another new recruit, Kurt Vogel who immediately begins to fill him in on a few more details about Project Retrograde.

" "So they have not yet briefed you? Well, a run is a little jaunt back into history-not the nice comfortable history such as you learned out of a book when you were a little kid. No, you are dropped back into some savage time before history-" That's impossible!" "Yes? You saw those two big blond boys tonight, did you not? Why do you suppose they sport those braids? Because they are taking a little trip into time when he-men wore braids, and carried axes big enough to crack a man open! And Hodaki and his partner... Ever hear of the Tartars?" p.37 

Vogel also tells Murdoch that the base is located near the north pole and tomorrow Murdoch will be taped, a procedure that makes it impossible for him to leave the base without setting off an alarm. Vogel who can somehow avoid the alarms enlists Murdoch in an escape attempt that very night. So under cover of darkness the two men steal a snow cat. Vogel is able to navigate the minefields and they set off keeping the cat on a predetermined course for a rendezvous with some of Vogel's friends. While Vogel sleeps Murdoch come to realize that these friends are probably Russians (the dreaded Reds of all cold war era fiction) and once they rendezvous, one Ross Murdoch will become superfluous. After a struggle he subdues Vogel and heads back to base. On route they are intercepted by forces from the base who take charge of Vogel and send their own men to the rendezvous point. A large explosion occurs and Mr. Vogel is sad. Later Kelgarries asks Murdoch why he came back and he says 

" Because I don't like the line-up on his side of the fence" p.47 

and with that Ross Murdoch is introduced to the details behind Project Retrograde. It seems that after some initial success with Sputnik and later Muttnik, neither side has really been able to move into space successfully. However lately Soviet technology has made several huge leaps, leaps that do not seem to be based on a logical progression but come out of nowhere. The west begins to suspect the Soviets have been in touch with an advanced civilization. Then as Kelgarries explains they learn that 

"In a way it's another world, but the world of time-not space. Several years ago we got a man out of East Berlin. He was almost dead, but he lived long enough to record on tape some amazing data, so wild it was almost dismissed as the ravings of delirium. But that was after Sputnik, and we didn't dare disregard any hints from the other side of the Iron Curtain. So the recording was turned over to our scientists, who proved it had a core of truth.

"Time travel has been written up as fiction; it has been discussed otherwise as an impossibility. Then we discover that the Reds have it working_""
p.49 


Further more they seem to be bringing this new technology not from the future but the past. The west now has it's own agents who travel into the past disguised as natives to find the Russian posts. Both sides are quite circumspect avoiding the obvious hinge points of history and concealing their technology as much as possible to avoid changing the future. And it is this need to operate clandestinely, that requires the recruiting of people like Ross Murdoch, as Kelgarries states, 

"That is a question to which our psychologists are still trying to find the answer, my young friend. It seems that the majority of people of the several nations linked together in this project have become too civilized. The reactions of most men to given sets of circumstances have become set in regular patterns and they cannot break that conditioning, or if personal danger forces them to change those patterns, they are afterward so adrift they cannot function at their  highest potential. Teach a man to kill in war, and then you have to recondition him later.
  "but during those same wars we also develop another type. He is the born commando, the secret agent, the expendable man who lives on action. There are not many of this kind, and they are potent weapons. In peacetime that particular collection of emotions, nerve, and skills becomes a menace to the very society he has fought to preserve during a war. He is pressured by the peaceful environment into becoming a criminal or a misfit.
 "The men we send out from here to explore the past are not only given the best possible training we can possibly supply for them but they are all the type once heralded as frontiersman. History is sentimental about that type-when he is safely dead-but the present finds him difficult to live with." p. 51 

While this passage may seem a fairly standard SF trope, the man out of his time, I have quoted it at length as it will become an important part of the plot in the later books. It is a this point Murdoch actually becomes part of the project. Which is just as well because no one who learns of the project can leave the base of the foreseeable future. 

And so Murdoch become a travelling traders, part of the Funnelbecker culture, Ashe has already visited this period and established an identity. This culture was selected because they were a group of peaceful traders who were expanding throughout Europe during the period the team wishes to investigate. And thus our heroes enter the past.

As someone who studied and worked in archaeology for a number of years, I can attest that the Funnelbeaker culture was discussed extensively when studying European prehistory. But don't take my word for it. I quoted Joan D. Vinge in my introductory post and I enjoyed her comments so much I will repeat them here.

" Most people don't think consciously about their role models; they absorb the attitudes of individuals and works they admire unconsciously. In that sense, a writer's work is far more important than the apparent critical response to it, which is why the influence of Andre's work in greater than many people realize," Talking about her personal experience she also says " (For my own part, Andre not only got me started reading sf, she also led me to a college degree in anthropology, because her novel The Time Traders evoked Northern Europe four thousand years ago so hauntingly that it made me obsessed with European prehistory. While doing a term paper on the Beaker Folk, I was convinced that I had found and studied some of the same source material she must have used for the novel.)"

The Vinge quotes from "Andre Norton: The Mother of Us All" by Joan D. Vinge

http://www.andre-norton-books.com/index.php/about-andre/articles



 Dated Plots. One of the first things I wanted to discuss regarding this series is something I wonder about regarding a lot of literature as a whole. When does it date, people are happily reading about Jane Austen's heroines or Doyle's Sherlock Holmes but do they continue to read potentially dated genre literature in the same way? Some years ago when tensions between East and West were largely forgotten, the wall was down and glasnost was all the rage I gave some duplicate Norton novels to my niece's sons, they were about the same age I had been when I started reading them. As I handed them Sea Siege, another book set in the cold war era, I thought for a minute and said your parents case explain the cold war if you have any questions. But I do wonder about books so clearly of their time. At the same time I was reading Norton, I read and enjoyed my parents Helen MacLinnes novels, a favourite was Neither Five nor Three, a 1951 thriller about communist infiltration in the worst spirit of the McCarthy era. Another favourite author was Alistair MacLean, my father in law enjoyed him as well. His best known work became the movie Ice Station Zebra, (the book is way better), but would young people read these books today. Will a series like Norton's Time Traders be as popular to new readers as her Beast Master series, which because it is set in space after the destruction of Earth does not date as badly, beats me. I hope so because there is a lot here to enjoy. I agree with Vinge that Norton does a good job of evoking the landscape and people of Northern Europe. I also think that Ross Murdock, his partner Gordon Ashe and some of the other time travelers we meet in the subsequent books are much more interesting people that the cardboard cutout "Lensmen" types we meet in a lot of the science fiction, especially the books intended for the young adult market. I thought it was interesting that Norton acknowledges the technical accomplishments of the Soviets and has the west playing catch up. I also found the discussion of the problems in integrating soldiers back into society really interesting for a novel written in 1958 long before post traumatic stress disorder (PST) associated with military service was as well known as it is today or mentioned much in genre literature Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey clearly has it, Heinlein's Starship Troopers clearly don't.