Friday, January 20, 2012

Forgotten Books: The Time Traders - Andre Norton

When I was a kid, Andre Norton books were everywhere. Every school library and every public library had what seemed like dozens of them. Plus the paperback editions of her books were plentiful and easy to find. During that era, her name was as synonymous with science fiction as those of Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke.

I read a bunch of those books, too, although I was never as big a fan of Norton's work as I was of those other authors I just mentioned. And as time went by I stopped reading her books entirely. At least forty years went by without me picking up an Andre Norton book.

Recently I got the urge to give her work a try again and see how it holds up, so I read THE TIME TRADERS, the first in one of her many series and a book that I never read back in the old days, at least that I recall. It has an interesting set-up: young Ross Murdock, who's in trouble with the law, is given the choice of taking part in some top-secret government project or being subjected to an ominous-sounding "Rehabilitation". Naturally Ross goes with the top-secret project and soon finds himself part of an American time travel experiment in which agents are sent back into the past to vie with Soviet Russian agents for alien technology that shouldn't exist in Earth's past.

I've always liked time travel books, and this is a good one, packed with adventure as Ross and his fellow agents deal with the hardships of life in ancient Britain as well as carrying out an espionage struggle against the Russians. Then, to complicate things even more, the aliens show up . . . and they aren't happy.

I thought the writing in this book was a little bland – I always thought Norton's work, though it was written for a primarily young adult audience, could have used a little more grit – but the ideas are intriguing, the pace rocks right along with a considerable amount of action, and Ross Murdock makes a likable hero. The whole thing is pretty dated but still enjoyable. I probably won't drop everything to read more Andre Norton books right away, but I don't think it'll be another forty years before I read one, either. (For one thing, I'd be nearly 100 years old!)

10 comments:

Rick said...

Thanks. I was wondering about those and picked up the Time Traders on my Kindle. I haven't gotten to reading it yet. I'll give it a try.

Bill Crider said...

I loved Norton's books when I was a kid. Haven't read one in years, though.

Randy Johnson said...

The Time Trader series was a favorite when I was young. Haven't read the originals in about that long. She did return to the series in the last years of her life, with co-authors, and i enjoyed those.

In the originals, the fourth book, KEY OUT OF TIME, had a cliff hanger of an ending, With Ross Murdock and Gordon Ashe lost in the past of a planet. They resolved it in the first of the new books, three I think it was(it's been about ten years since I read them).

George said...

When I was a kid, I was a huge Andre Norton fan. I loved the cover on THE TIME TRADERS hardcover. And my favor cover of an Andre Norton novel is the sequel to THE TIME TRADERS: GALACTIC DERELICT (with the EMSH artwork).

Charles Gramlich said...

Love this one. Norton was a such a big part of my childhood.

beb said...

I've always placed my lack of interest in Heinlein to the fact that I've read Andre Norton first. I didn't think Heinlein was that great of a writer or that great an SF writer. Opinions will differ on this point.

I read her stories up through the eighties when they seemed less interesting. Her's 50s work is excellent, especially Catseye and Galactic Derelict.

Richard R. said...

My Norton reading was primarily of the Witch World books, but I did read a few others, not this one though.

Stephen Burridge said...

What a pleasure to see this book discussed. Along with "Star Rangers" and "The Stars Are Ours!" it was one of my favorite Nortons when I was very young. maybe I should try one of them again.

RJR said...

James, my early SWci-Fi reading also included Heinlein, Silverberg and Norton. (Then I discovered Zelazney and, oh my!)

RJR

Upcoming4.me said...

I remember I loved reading it!

I didn't have a clue she had so many books! Look at the list:

http://upcoming4.me/component/k2/item/8741-andre-norton

It's mental.