Eye of the Monster: Colonized crocs get revenge

Eye of the Monster by Andre Norton science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsEye of the Monster by Andre Norton science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsEye of the Monster 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 and they are all set in Norton’s Council/Confederation universe. I’m reviewing them separately, because that’s what we like to do here, but it’s wonderful that they’re now available in these cost-effective omnibus editions.

Like The Sioux Spaceman, Eye of the Monster takes place on a frontier planet where an indigenous species has been subjugated by colonists. In this case, humans have colonized the planet of the Ishkurians, reptilian hominids that humans call “crocs.”

Our hero, Rees Naper, is the nephew of the man who’s been the commander of the human forces there for twenty years. The humans, who now realize that colonialism is wrong, are getting ready to withdraw. Many think there will be trouble when the human military patrol leaves, but Rees’ uncle doesn’t believe the natives are restless. He thinks the Ishkurians appreciate what the humans have done for them. Rees thinks his uncle is wrong, that the crocs are savage, and they’re just waiting for a chance for revenge. He wants to leave the planet with the rest of the humans, but he feels he must be loyal to his uncle.

The Sioux Spaceman by Andre Norton science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsIt turns out that Rees is right and, while he is away from their base, the Ishkurians attack and murder everybody, including the peaceful scientists. Now Rees is on the run, accompanied by two children he’s trying to protect. Can they evade the “crocs” and get off this hostile planet?

Eye of the Monster follows one of Andre Norton’s common story formulas — young male protagonist on a hostile planet must reach safety without being killed by savage aliens. That’s pretty much it. Descriptions, characterization, and women are sparse, and the action is nonstop (though, in my opinion, this is not one of Andre Norton’s more exciting adventures).

Credit to Norton for raising the issue of colonization. While she appears to suggest that colonialism is immoral and one of the kids chastises Rees for using the degrading term “crocs,” Rees counters that anyone who thinks it’s degrading should see what the crocs have done. I think this issue could have been handled with a lot more heft and nuance.

As I mentioned in my review of The Sioux Spaceman, Tantor Audio’s edition, narrated by L.J. Ganser, is excellent. I look forward to reading the next two books in this omnibus: The X Factor and Voorloper.

Originally published in 1962; Audio version published in March 2021. Rees Naper had never trusted the reptilian Ishkurians, in spite of the fact that many of the Terran colonists thought they had been wronged. His worst fears were realized when the Terran authorities decided to grant the Ishkurians self-government and withdrew their protective forces from the planet. It turned out that he was right—as soon as the last troops left, the “crocs” went on a killing rampage. Cut off from the remaining fortified outposts by miles of jungle and armies of crocs, Rees knew that his only chance for survival was to outwit the cunning reptiles. He had to learn to think like a croc, feel like a croc … and see through the eye of the monster!

 


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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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