Star Born: One of Norton’s more exciting adventures

Star Born by Andre Norton science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsStar Born by Andre Norton science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsStar Born by Andre Norton

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.

Star Born by Andre Norton science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviews STAR FLIGHTAstra 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.

Published in print in 1957, audio in 2021. When Raf Kurbi’s Terran spaceship burst into unexplored skies of the far planet Astra and was immediately made welcome by the natives of a once-mighty metropolis, Kurbi was unaware of three vital things: One was that Astra already harbored an Earth colony — descended from refugees from the world of the previous century. Two was that these men and women were facing the greatest danger of their existence from a new outburst of the inhuman fiends who had once tyrannized Astra. Three was that the natives who were buying Kurbi’s science know-how were those very fiends — and their intentions were implacably deadly for all humans, whether Earth Born or Star Born.

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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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