Andre Norton

1912 - 2005

American writer

Born Alice Mary Norton, Andre Norton was a librarian for two decades before turning to writing full-time. Although she was for many years marketed successfully as a writer for children and adolescents, much of her work is as adult in theme and difficulty as most general science fiction, and starting in the 1970s her new novels and reprints alike were released primarily into the general market.

Norton's career can be roughly divided into two periods. During the first, from approximately 1950 to 1970, she concentrated on science fiction novels, most of which were gathered into individual series that are in turn part of a broadly conceived galactic superseries. From 1970 onward, following the success of her Witch World science fantasy series (begun in 1963), she concentrated primarily upon fantasies.

Throughout both periods, her most typical protagonists were young women or men who must undergo a rite of passage of sorts into a sane maturity. In so doing, they characteristically discover that the true nature of the universe lies not in what it might become, but in its history, and in the talismans and icons associated with that history.

Norton's style matured over the years, and her plots tended to darken somewhat. Nonetheless, from first to last a Norton story always displays the virtues of clear construction, a high degree of narrative control, protagonists whose qualities allow easy reader-identification, and a universe fundamentally responsive to virtue, good will and spunk.

Although her actual sales have been considerable for decades, Norton's disinclination to publish short material in the science fiction magazines and her prolonged labeling as a juvenile writer have worked to delay proper recognition of her stature. It has only recently been impressed upon the science fiction world that Norton's 100 or more books — most of them in print — are for very many readers central to what the genre has to offer.

Selected Bibliography:
Annals of the Witch World (Collection, 1994)

Central Control (1953-1955)
Company of Pax (1954-1957)
Solar Queen (1955-1993)
Ross Murdock (1958-1994)
Forerunner (1960-1985)
Janus (1961-1966)
Moon Singer (1966-1990)

Courtesy of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Copyright © John Clute and Peter Nicholls 1993, 1999, published by Orbit, an imprint of the Time Warner Book Group UK.