The Andre Norton project

I started reading science fiction in the fifth grade, when I came across a book called Space Cadet, by someone I thought of for years as “Roberta Heinlein.” (I was a fast but often rather careless reader.)

It wasn’t long before I discovered Andre Norton. My school had some kind of book club. You could buy books from a catalog, and a week or so later they would be delivered at school, an occasion for much distraction and excitement. I think I acquired my ancient Ace paperbacks of Daybreak-2250 A.D. and Catseye in that fashion, although they had been published years earlier.

At any rate, I soon read as much Norton as I could get my hands on, and throughout junior high and high school acquired some of her books in paperback. I’ve read a few of them since then–a couple of the Witch World books, and a while back I found Star Guard at a used-book store.

A couple of months ago I looked into one of many boxes of my books that have been packed away for years–at least since I moved to Oregon in 1993–because I have never had enough shelf space for all the books. I was thinking about rotating some books from the storage boxes in the garage onto my shelves, and vice versa. I came across ten very old, yellowed Andre Nortons and have just started rereading them.

Yesterday it was Catseye, originally published in 1961. Today it’s Sargasso of Space (1955). It’s great fun.

I’m struck by how familiar these stories, which I loved as a young person and read over and over, feel to me now. At the same time, I’m seeingĀ  elements to which I was utterly oblivious back then.

And I’m reminded on every page of Norton’s predilection for dashes. Perhaps her dash-intensive style influenced me. Various editors, over the years, have pointed out that my mss. are liberally–perhaps too liberally?–besprinkled with the things.