The Sioux Spaceman: Beware the Horsemen of the Stars

The Sioux Spaceman by Andre Norton

Tantor Media has published an audio version of Baen’s The Game of Stars and Comets (2009), an omnibus that contains these four novels by Andre Norton: The Sioux Spaceman (1960), Eye of the Monster (1962), The X Factor (1965), and Voorloper (1980). Each of these short novels stands alone but they are all set in Norton's Council/Confederation universe. I’m going to review them separately, because that’s what we like to do here, but it’s wonderful that they’re now available in cost-effective omnibus editions in print and audio formats.

In The Sioux Spaceman we meet Kade Whitehawk, a young man of Native American (Lakota) descent ... Read More

The Swordsman of Mars: Solid OAK

The Swordsman of Mars by Otis Adelbert Kline

A few weeks back, I had some words to say about a book that was supposedly a major inspiration for Edgar Rice BurroughsJOHN CARTER OF MARS series, particularly the first two of the 11: A Princess of Mars (1912) and The Gods of Mars (1913). The book was Edwin L. Arnold’s Gulliver of Mars (1905), and anyone who’s read it must be forcibly struck by the similarities between the two authors’ conceptions of the distant Red Planet. Anyway, today I am... Read More

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen: Horror for children

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner

Purportedly written for children but with a strong appeal for adults as well, Alan Garner's first novel, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, is a swashbuckling heroic fantasy set in the present day, and one that conflates elements of Welsh, Nordic and English mythology into one very effective brew. Though now deemed a classic of sorts, I probably would never have heard of this work, had it not been for Scottish author Muriel Gray's article about it in the excellent overview volume Horror: Another 100 Best Books. In her article, Gray describes the book with expressions such as "truly gripping," "beautifully crafted" and "a young person's introduction to horror." And now that I have finally read the book, I can heartily concur.

In The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, we meet a brother and sister named Colin and Susan (their last name is never given, nor are their ages),... Read More

Storm Over Warlock: Exciting YA SF

Storm Over Warlock by Andre Norton

Shan Lantee considers himself very lucky to be part of the Terran survey team on the planet Warlock. It’s too bad that nobody pays any attention to him. He’s the youngest and most inexperienced member of the team, so he has to do all the bad jobs that nobody else wants to do, like chasing and rounding up the wolverine scouts every time they escape.

That’s what he was doing when the alien spaceship swooped down and destroyed everyone else in the camp and that’s why Shan is the only human left on a hostile planet. He’s got no weapons and no supplies, just the two wolverines who he hopes to befriend. They’re not alone for long, though, because a man that Shan idolizes shows up to find out what happened on Warlock, and the insectoid alien Throgs arrive to claim the planet for their own. Thus begins a dangerous adventure that will require Shan to learn a lot about Warlock and a lot about himself, too.... Read More

Deathworld: Standard 1960s SF

Deathworld by Harry Harrison

Bored by life, Jason dinAlt is a gambling man, so when a mysterious stranger offers him millions of dollars to gamble with at a government-owned casino, Jason can’t resist, even though failure will probably result in his death. (It helps that Jason has some psi talents, even though they’re a little unpredictable.) After the casino episode, Jason finds that he must quickly depart the planet. When he learns that his mysterious benefactor is an ambassador of the most dangerous planet on the universe, he decides he’d like to go for a visit.

That’s how Jason ends up on Pyrrus, aka Deathworld. Due to its two moons, high gravity, and 42° axial tilt, the planet has a severe climate with dangerous tides, extreme weather changes, and unpredictable earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The only plants and animals that can survive in such harsh conditions are those that are even tougher and meaner than the environment.... Read More

Dorsai!: A badly dated affair

Dorsai! by Gordon R. Dickson

Dickson's Childe Cycle future history series is one of SF's most venerable, and is considered to be the most influential body of work in the sub-genre of military SF, whose most enthusiastic practitioners today include such familiar names as David Drake, David Weber, Rick Shelley, John Steakley, Simon R. Green, S.M. Stirling, John Ringo and many more. Yet this antique first novel in the cycle is a badly dated affair that, though rea... Read More