Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Star Born by Andre Norton

Right from the start 'Star Born' was an enjoyable read- chapter one has space refugees, stoic merpeople, giant lizards, an ancient evil civilization, and telepathic bunnies! Andre Norton is somewhat respected in Sci-Fi circles, so I did a little research on him. Well, it turns out 'Andre' was actually Alice Norton's pen name, and then later she legally changed her name from Alice to Andre. This lady wrote about 300 books, most which involved swords or lasers or laser swords in some fashion. I will definitely be picking up some other books by her.

Star Born is a book about race relations and the follies and misunderstandings associated with them. Kind of. A human ship lands on a planet, home to three races- mutated exiled humans who had come generation before to escape a dystopian style regime, the fur covered mermen who allied themselves with the exiles and predominantly communicate with their minds and an ancient race of slave masters who are pretty much evil to the bone. The newcomers make contact with the slave masters first, and are sickened by the way the evil bastards are trying to exterminate any mermen they see, primarily with flame throwers and shit. Once the slavers had ruled this planet, but a nuclear war had devastated their population, which is similar to what happened to the iron fisted regime on Earth. The mermen live in peace on the string of islands, living in fear of their once malevolent masters and alongside the near human telepath mutants of Homeport.

The chapters switch off between Delgard- one of the exiles and a 'knife brother' with one of the mermen, and Raf- a pilot for the newcomer humans who develops sympathy for the mermen early on.The root of this story is about race, as the four races have different ideologies and cannot come to a peaceful agreement with one another. This point is dulled by the slavemasters being an out and out evil race, but I suppose you can't expect a conflicted villain out of a pulp novel. Towards the end the already shaky alliance between the space explorer newcomers and the ancient aliens is broken, as it is obvious they are stockpiling weapons to kill off the sentient merpeople. There are some battles with spear throwing merpeople. There are ray guns. This is a pretty cool book for 1962.

Some people will have trouble getting past the typographical and grammatical errors- Star Born is chock full of sentences like ' He closed the hatch behind. Them.' and typos including 'Warrier.'. Personally, I found these errors to be a little charming, this isn't high brow literature after all. I rarely wish a book to be longer, but at just 180 pages and a fun setting, Star Born could have used a bit of padding. An enjoyable book for fans of the genre, but still not the classic I am searching for.

Cover Price: 35 cents!

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