April book log

I’d put off doing the monthly book log roundup because I was hoping to have reviews of individual books to link to, but reviews did not happen last weekend (because I turned out a couple of thousand words of WIP instead) and won’t be happening this weekend (because the flat is a mess of unfiled books and papers beyond even my slobbish tolerance and I’ll be spending the day cleaning and tidying). So herewith the list of books read in April. You will note a certain theme. This is because I downloaded everything by Norton which was available on feedbooks, and have been enjoying myself working through them.

All by Andre Norton, all available as legal free downloads from Project Gutenberg and mirrors such as feedbooks:

Plague Ship and Voodoo Planet, the second and third titles from the Solar Queen series about a young trainee spaceman aboard a Free Trader spaceship. The first two Solar Queen books were major comfort reads for me when I was a kid, so I was a little bit worried about whether Plague Ship would stand up to scrutiny [mumble] years on. But it’s still enormous fun. Voodoo Planet is novella length, and one I’d only read once or twice before. Good read, although I think wouldn’t have hooked me the way the first two did if I hadn’t already known the characters. Now I want to go and read Sargasso of Space and Postmarked the Stars again. :-)

Ralestone Luck, a 1930s pulp novel which was contemporary fiction in its day and period fiction now. Two brothers and a sister, almost the last of a titled family descended from an English aristocrat who turned pirate and fled to the New Orleans area. The once-wealthy family fell on hard times a couple of generations back, but the siblings feel that if they can find the Ralestone Luck, luck will return to the Ralestones. It was apparently the first novel she wrote (though the second published), and it shows. It’s definitely Norton’s style, and the writing is competent enough for it to be readable, but it *is* a 1930s pulp YA with some flaws in the execution. There’s a touch of white privilege which made me twitch, probably the more so because I don’t expect that from Norton. I’m glad I read it, but I’m also glad I didn’t pay to read it.

Started the Time Traders series. In April I read The Time Traders and Galactic Derelicts, and started The Defiant Agents (the only one I think I’ve read before). Since then I’ve finished The Defiant Agents and Key Out of Time, completing the original series of four books written in the 1950s and 60s. (Another three books were added forty years later, and are shown as co-authored — context suggests that they’re probably share-cropped titles rather than genuinely co-authored. I’d still be willing to read them if I came across them, because the share-cropped and authorised fanfic material in Norton’s worlds which I’ve read has generally been very good.)

The Time Traders sequence is set very firmly during the Cold War, and shows the adventures of a small team of government agents working on a secret time travel project, exploring through time to find the source of odd leaps in Soviet technology, and then using the technology they find themselves. Enjoyed this series.

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