Friday, March 30, 2012
That could be the end of my blog post today. Because, really. I blame her more than anyone for leading me into scifi/fantasy fiction. I don't recall how old I was. Young. We were at my grandparents' house where I had more cousins my age than I could count. But something had happened - the geek sign had been hung around my neck or something. I was no longer okay to hang out with. So I spent a lot of time be ditched and subsequently hanging out by myself reading horse books which had been the passion of my single digit aged youth.
Then I ran out of books.
Enter my Aunt Betty. She had boxes and boxes of Andre Norton books which she offerd to let me read. I'd read I, Robot at my father's urging and was pretty lukewarm on scifi at that point - because, of course, when you measure your age in the very low double digits, one author is completely representative of an entire genre, right? Thing is. I was desperate. So I looked through the books and I found Ordeal in Otherwhere. The story was mostly told from the heroine's point of view. It was clearly her story. And she had a telepathic cat. Sold.
I opened the pages, and I was gone. I'd wandered into an alien world where the aquatic natives were staunchly matriarchal - to the point of actively discriminating against their males. The males had banded together and gone to war to destroy the existing heirarchy. It was up to the human heroine and a Patrolman to defuse the situation and show the natives that they were stronger together male and female than they were apart. (So, too, were the humans - though the romance was only ever hinted at - never, ever acted upon on the page. Dammit.)
I read as many of those books as I could cram into our stay. Another favorite: Forerunner Foray. The Year of the Unicorn. I didn't care what whether her books were fantasy, science fiction or young adult. Andre Norton seemed to handle them all spectacularly well. I did eventually find stories of hers that I liked less than others, but even in those, the tension, the sense of danger, and the hint of romance drew me in. Interestingly enough, the series for which she is best known: The Witch World series, is my least favorite. Individual stories within the series are good, but...no accounting for taste, I guess.
Were there other influences? Absolutely. This was just the most pervasive and longest lived. I started collecting Andre Norton books shortly after we left Arkansas and I had to give Aunt Betty her books back. A few years ago, Aunt Betty's house burned down. She called me to tell me that my Andre Norton collection now beat hers. I hope that's not still true. Maybe I'll send her one...I know precisely which book to send.