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Star Born, by Andre Norton
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Ace
Published: 1957
Review Posted: 7/25/2013
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

Star Born, by Andre Norton

Book Review by Edward F. McKeown

Have you read this book?

Star Born is the exciting sequel to The Star Are Ours. After a nuclear was, a small band of Free Scientists breaks free of the Dark Age being imposed on the shattered Earth by Pax. In a sleeper starship some fity humans escape across space to a world they name Astra to disappear from the pages of human history. They find freedom, but not paradise, on a world that also has fallen from war. The remnants of two native species, the peaceful mer-folk, and the survivors of 'Those Others' a xenophobic race with high technology sporadically battle on Astra. The human colonists seek only to live in peace but of necessity align with the mer-folk.

Star Born begins with Dalgard, a descendant of Dard Norris, the protagonist of the first book. He travels with Sssuri, his 'knife brother' of the mer-folk. Dalgard is on his first journey of exploration, a rite of passage he must endure in order to become a full adult member of his tribe. The Free Scientists retain their desire to explore Astra though their technology has disappeared in the four generations that the Terrans have lived on Astra. Dalgard bears a knife and bow and more resemblance to a Native American than to the original spacers. Yet he carries the scientific method with him and while technology has been impossible to preserve knowledge has remained. The Terrans are not regressing but developing in different ways. The Mer-people who appear to have been genetically engineered and developed by those others from an animal species are limited telepaths. Each generation of humans has been better able to communicate with the mind touch, extending it to the animals of Astra as well.

Centuries pass and back on Earth Pax falls, and is replaced by a democratic government. Hyperdrive is discovered and Earth launches its first starships. One of these, the RS10 ( a rather unimaginative name I felt) carries with it Raf Kurbi, young loner, the pilot of the flitter a small atmospheric craft for exploring whatever new world they find.

Dalgard having his ancestors wanderlust and curiosity is heading toward one of the deserted bases of 'Those Others' while the humanoid Others are similar in appearance to humans, their minds are so alien that contemplations of their color-coded communications have driven humans near mad. The science of Those Others has been put aside by the colonists and ignored by the mer-folk whose hatred of their former masters knows no limit.

Dalgard and Sussurri head for the base only to find that it is deserted no longer. Those Others have returned in a globe airship to loot their old labs for weapons and devices. Over their heads comes the RS10 landing at this critical moment in Astra's history. Against the odds, RS10 comes down on Astra but its landing is very different from the landing of the original Free Scientist Colony ship. They land on the continent of Those Others, meeting them almost immediately. The natives and the humans are wary of each other, none more so then Raf, whose distrust of the aliens is immediate and visceral. Unfortunately it is perceived as mere prejudice by his captain, a sin in the new society that fought free of Pax, and he is initially disregarded.

Those Others however cannot conceal, even it occurred to them to do so, their true nature, imperious, xenophobic and contemptuous of all life not their own. While the humans travel with Those Others learning some of their astonishing technology and visiting their ruins, they are horrified to watch an attack by the globe ship on a group of furred mer-folk. The humans are unsure if the mer-folk are animals or people but the chilling brutality begins to tell on them.

Meanwhile Dalgard is stalking the expedition of 'Those Others'and Sussurri has returned to warn the colony and the tribe. Dalgard is captured by Those Others, who are alarmed and astonished to find a human in alliance with the mer-folk. While they are confused by his appearance, they are viscerally disgusted by his friendship with their slave race/ Dalgard is taken to the arena in the depleted city of 'Those Others' to be thrown to dinosaur-like beasts with a merman prisoner.

Dalgard has been using his limited telepathic powers to call for help. He is shocked when he contacts not a mer-person or a colonist but Raf. The young pilot, the embers of his distrust of Those Others now fanned to bright flame, intervenes to free the pair bringing an open break with the Starship and Those Others.

Raf and Dalgard find a mer-folk tribe nearby preparing for a hopeless attack. But with Raf's weapons and explosives perhaps it is no longer so hopeless. It all turns on Raf. If the Globeship and its warehouse of weapons and recovered treasures are destroyed then it may be that the rise of Those Others, degenerate and few in number can be checked.

Raf and Dalgard face to choices, to support each other in a way that the visiting starship had no wish to participate in. And beyond that lies a greater choice, RS10 has not come to stay. Dalgard fears that reestablishing a tie with Earth will end the evolution of the Terrans into Astrans. Must they follow the same path of science and technology as the Earthmen or should they continue on the path that they are on. Two young men, two choices and a world in the balance.

Read it and find out.

Pros, Andre Norton's clear writing and engaging characters, usually young people seeking to find their way in life, becoming the adults who will lead in their worlds. Colorful descriptions even in the smaller details make the ruined cities and countryside of this new world very vivid.

Cons- The YA and Boy's Own quality gives the book a slightly dated feel as does Forbidden Planet's all while make crew of the C57D. An update of this would make one of the leads female for a more interesting story. The RS10 is probably the least developed part of the book and the starship crew sometimes seems both a bit cluless and underdeveloped.

For all its shortcomings there is really nothing wrong with the charming tale of otherworld and its unexpected friendship between these too little more than boys.
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