Author: Andre Norton
Andre Alice Norton (born Alice Mary Norton, February 17, 1912 – March 17, 2005) was an American writer of science fiction and fantasy with some works of historical fiction and contemporary fiction. She wrote primarily under the pen name Andre Norton, but also under Andrew North and Allen Weston. She was the first woman to be Gandalf Grand Master of Fantasy, first to be SFWA Grand Master, and first inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.
Norton started out writing juvenile historical fiction and adventure, and then moved into fantasy and finally science fiction. Again and again in her works, alienated outsiders undertake a journey through which they realize their full potential; this emphasis on the rite of passage continued her association in many readers' minds with young adult fiction, although she became a best seller to adults.
In most Norton books, whether science-fiction or fantasy, the plot takes place in the open countryside, with only short episodes in a city environment. Protagonists usually move about singly or in small groups, and in conflict situations they are more often scouts, spies or guerrillas rather than regular soldiers in large military formations.
As could be expected of such characters, they tend to be resourceful and capable of taking independent initiative. In some books, protagonists are introduced already in possession of such characteristics. In others the protagonists (often young) are thrust into situations where they must develop them quickly, and invariably succeed at it.
Many planets in the books are Earth-like places, where humans can live without special protection, and have extensive flora and fauna which are described in considerable detail and often have substantial bearing on the plot. Airless planets and ones with unbreathable atmospheres are sometimes mentioned in passing, but are virtually never the main scene of a Norton book (an exception is Night of Masks). In many of her books, especially her mid-period and later fantasies, such as most of the Witch World series, there are settings described similarly, with ancient stone highways left by unknown civilizations, flanked by half-fallen walls overgrown with vines, and often studded with tall pillars topped by mythical shapes. These vistas are universally presented as almost vibrating with magical power. Another common setting, in both fantasies and science fiction, is of a room filled with alien super-scientific equipment, often where something evil (such as experimentation on humans or other living creatures) has gone or is going on.
A common theme in the books is the presence of sympathetically presented feudal and tribal cultures. In several books Native American tribes and their various analogues are given a chance to be more successful than they were in actual American history. (Norton often told friends that she was proud of her little bit of Native American ancestry.) Nonhuman creatures and cultures are usually presented sympathetically, with human protagonists sometimes supporting them against oppressive human authorities. In contrast, several books present technological and mechanized cultures as negative or even positively evil.
With her 1965 book Year of the Unicorn (third in the High Hallack spinoff of her Witch World series), she used a young woman as the protagonist, which was at the time uncommon for American works of fantasy.
An important role in Norton's books is often given to animals — both ordinary terrestrial ones, such as cats (with whom she had much personal experience — see List of fictional cats#Andre Norton) and exotic fictional ones, whose characteristics are meticulously worked out. Many of Norton's animals are highly intelligent without being anthropomorphic, acting as virtually full partners to the human protagonists and in many books forming telepathic links with them.
from Wikipedia. More at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andre_Norton