Andre Norton’s Star Born was originally published in 1957. In 2013 it was combined with the related prequel The Stars are Ours and released as Baen’s Star Flight omnibus. Now Tantor Media has published Star Flight in audio format with excellent narration by Ryan Burke. You don’t need to read The Stars are Ours before reading Star Born, but it adds some nice context and, if you purchase the cost-effective omnibus edition (I recommend the audio version!), it kind of makes sense to do so.
In the prequel The Stars are Ours, we watched scientists build spaceships and escape the totalitarian global government of Earth. One ship landed on a planet the settlers named Astra and now, generations later, we meet the humans who’ve evolved in this new environment. They’ve developed ways to communicate, sometimes telepathically, with the native species of Astra. They have formed peaceful alliances with the natives, but a threat remains. There is another humanoid species on Astra. According to the natives, those people are xenophobic and brutal. They have left evidence of their existence but who they are, where they came from, and where they are now is a mystery.
Astra is still being explored and charted by the humans from Earth. Young men are required as a rite of passage to make an exploratory trip which will add to the maps. Dalgard, a descendent of Dard Nordis (the hero of The Stars are Ours), is exploring some ancient ruins for this purpose when he is surprised to see a spaceship fly overhead. It contains explorers from Earth who are unaware that they are not the first humans to arrive on Astra. Raf Kurbi, a pilot, is one of these new humans who is sent down to Astra to see what’s up. Now there are three humanoid groups all in the same place and, of course, conflict ensues. We get the story from the perspectives of Dalgard and Raf who must discover whether they should be friends or enemies.
Star Born is one of Andre Norton’s more exciting adventures. The characters are likable (though, sadly, all male), it’s fun to explore Astra, the pace is steady, there’s an interesting mystery to solve, and the ending is intriguingly open-ended. As with so many of her stories, though, Star Born will be most appealing to a younger audience. The story is simple, linear, and easily digested. Norton gives a warning about prejudice, but other than that, there’s not much to think on here, and certainly nothing to challenge the reader.