Postmarked the Stars

~ 4th Novel in the Solar Queen Series by Andre Norton


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Postmarked the Stars

 

 

Synopsis ~

Write-up from the front flap of the 1969 HC ~

Trouble began for the crew of the free trader Solar Queen when an apparently routine call summoned cargo master Dane Thorson to collect a package for transport on the Queen's mail run between Xecho and Tresworld. What was in the package Dane did not learn till later, after he had been attached and barely managed to return to the ship, there to find a dead man in his bunk. All searches failed to discover the reason for the dead man's presence until they made the ghastly discovery that their precious cargo of lathsmer embryos had been subjected to radiation, causing them to regress genetically to monster forms.
Their only course was to land the damaged cargo outside the jurisdiction of the port until its safety and their innocence had been established. When they put down in the wilderness, however, they discovered that their monsters were not the first to have landed there. Only after Dane and his comrades had endured a series of nightmare adventures did they begin to fit the puzzling pieces together, to realize they had stumbled upon a criminal operation that involved the whole galaxy.
A new Andre Norton story is a welcome event for science-fiction fans, who will be enthralled by this tightly plotted and highly suspenseful adventure that demonstrates once more the reason for the distinguished Norton reputation.
 

Write-uo from the back of ACE paperback edition ~

Trouble started early for the free-trader Solar Queen the moment cargo master Dane Thorson collected a package for transit from Xecho to Trewsworld. What was in the package Dane did not learn until after he had been kidnapped, knocked out, and a dead man bearing his credentials had been substituted for him aboard ship.
Efforts to find out the reasons for the mysterious switch seemed hopeless until they made the ghastly discovery that their precious cargo of alien embryos had been subjected to secret radiation, causing them to regress genetically into monster forms.
Only after Dane and his fellow spacemen had endured a series of nightmare adventures on their port of call did they begin to fit the puzzle together- to realize that they had stumbled upon a criminal operation that involved a whole cluster of stars.

 

Write-up from the back of the UK paperback edition~

“…There was no-one to be seen in the cabin. He had not expected to find a driver, since the indications were that the vehicle had been there for some time, but he skidded down the broken bank to look it over, in hopes it might give him some clue to a near camp or settlement, Dane worked his way cautiously out on the rough ice that had frozen about its treads to hammer at the cabin door… when he forced that open at last, he wished he had not, for the cabin was occupied after all….”
Dane Thorson and the crew of the free trader Solar Queen, set off on a routine trip delivering a package on the Queen’s mail run between Xecho and Twesworld. But they do not know what the package contains, and it is not until they make ia series of terrible discoveries that they begin to realize they have stumbled on a criminal operation that involves the whole galaxy….
The third thrilling space adventure about Dane Thorson and the Solar Queen.

 

Write-up from the back of the Fawcett paperback edition ~

They carried their deadly cargo to the very limits of the universe.
The first shock is the body – the dead man aboard the Solar Queen bears a terrifying resemblance to the cargo master, Dane Thorson.
Then Thorson and his crew discover the secret behind their strange cargo an incredible mutation that threatens the universe with an uncontrollable new life form.
Swept up in a nightmare of adventure and challenged by a conspiracy of evil that respects no cosmic boundary, Thorson and the crew of the Solar Queen learn again the most basic law of the stars – that survival in outer space depends on the courage of the inner man.

 

Write-up from the back of the Ballantine Del Rey paperback edition ~

Special Delivery
When the body was found aboard the free trader Solar Queen, only Dane Thorson knew that the dead man had smuggled in a deadly package. But Thorson couldn’t remember…
When he finally found his missing memories, it was too late – the ship’s animal cargo had already mutated irrevocably.
Then, on the icy surface of the planet Trewsworld, Thorson and the changed animals stumbled upon a terrifying conspiracy. Suddenly they were battling greedy outlaws and mutant monsters to save the planet – and themselves.
“Fast-paced action characterizes this new Science Fiction adventure by a prolific writer in the genre.” – ALA Booklist

 

Write-ups from fans ~

The Solar Queen is working a "mail run" between the planets of Xecho and Trewsworld, the contract they obtained in exchange for the Sargol contract as a result of/punishment for the results of being declared a plague ship, and the crew's efforts to clear themselves.  During their first stop on Xecho, Dane goes off-ship for a last-minute pickup of a package.  Unfortunately it was a ruse to get a ringer on board and Dane is poisoned to prevent him from exposing the plot.  He does manage to throw off the effects of the poison and make it back to the ship just before lift-off, collapsing then into unconsciousness.  When he awakes afterwards, the rest of the crew finds the "duplicate Dane" dead in Dane's cabin.  An extensive search of the ship reveals a box giving off radioactivity fastened just under the main cargo space.  Their live cargo is subjected to this radiation causing genetic degeneration.  The lathsmers--down-producing birds, the main "cash crop" of Trewsworld--are regressed to their ferocious reptilian ancestors, while the brachs get "fast-forwarded" into intelligence.  Landing their altered cargo secretly on Trewsworld, Dane and his friends discover other altered animals have been created to cause chaos and a forced evacuation of the colonists in order for a mining company to take over.  Together the Solar Queen's crew and the settlers manage to break up the plot and destroy the monsters. ~ SL

 

It has been so long, all I remembered was that it was about the Solar Queen doing inner-system mail runs. Boring, right---No way. Non-stop action from cover-to-cover starts with Dane Thorson poisoned and half-dead barely making it back to the Queen before lift-off only to discover a corpse that looks like him in his bunk. Then the cargo of animals start acting strange and after and extensive search, the crew discover a box giving off weird radiation. They get to Trewsworld with genetically regressed birds and fall onto a plot(by a mysterious organization)to take over the planet for a rare mineral. Hunted by monsters and the criminals, they need all the help they can get to survive and report these illicit activities and clear the Queen from false allegations. Awesome book, this is going on my reread often list. If you like space opera, it don't get any better than this one! ~ PG

 

Although a decade passed for Norton’s fans between the third Solar Queen novel (1959’s Voodoo Planet) and the fourth (1969’s Postmarked the Stars), for protagonist Dane Thorson, the events of this book Postmarked the Stars, follow right on the heels of the earlier three.
Dane’s appointment as temporary cargo chief on the Solar Queen, replacing a superior on holiday, seems like it should be a good thing. All it does is paint a great big target on poor Dane. Ne’er do wells are plotting to use the ship for nefarious purposes. This becomes obvious when Dane, having set out to …. ~ JN
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Various reviews ~ For more info and other listings see Articles about Andre

1970 by C. Moslander in Luna Monthly #17 (fnz), October
1971 by Fred Patten in Science Fiction Review #42 (fnz), January
1971 by James R. Newton in The WSFA Journal #76 (fnz), April-May
1971 by T. Pauls in Son of WSFA Journal #36 (fnz), November
2015 by James Nicoll, August, 21

 

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Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1969) Published by Harcourt Brace, HC, LCCN 69018626, $4.50, 223pg ~ cover by Richard Powers {Gray Cloth Boards, Maroon End Papers}
  • (1969) Published by ACE, PB, 0-441-67555-3, $0.75, 189pg reprinted in 1972 with same numbers and price ~ 3rd printing #67556 1975 $1.25 189pg - covers by Jeff Jones
  • (1971) Published by Gollancz, HC, 0-575-00681-1, £1.20, 224pg ~ UK printing ~ cover by David Smee
  • (1980) Published by Magnet, PB, 0-416-88300-1, £0.80, 223pg ~ 2nd printing £0.95 ~ UK printing ~ cover by Tony Roberts
  • (1980) Published by Fawcett, PB, 0-449-24357-, $2.25, 192pg ~ #24354-0 1980 $2.50 ~ cover by Ken Barr
  • (1985) Published by Ballantine Del Rey, PB, 0-345-32069-7, $2.50, 192pg ~ cover by Darrell Sweet

 

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Non-English Editions ~

  • (1975) Published in Stuttgart, Germany; by  Boje-Verlag, 34-141-5110-3, 202pg ~ translation by Hans-Georg Noack ~ German title Verschwörung im all
  • (1993) Published in Poznań, Poland; by Rebis, 83-852-0270-6, 292pg ~ translation by Danuta i Piotr Tęczyńscy ~ Polish title Ostemplowane Gwiazdy [Stamped celebrities]
  • (1991) Combined with "Plague Ship" and "Voodoo Planet" ~ Published in Tashkent, by Impulse-Union, no ISBN, HC, 336pg ~ Russian title Королева Солнца [Solar Queen]
  • (1991) Combined with "Sargasso of Space" translation by S. Berezhkov and S. Pobedino ~ Published in Moscow, by Mir, 5-867-40006-9, HC, 350pg ~ "Postmarked the Stars" translation by R.J. Sololov ~ Russian title Суперкарго с "Королевы Солнца." [Supercargo of the Solar Queen]
  • (1991) Combined with "Sargasso of Space", "Pague Ship" and "Voodoo Planet" ~ Published in Moscow, by Novator, no 5-865-862019-1 and 5-865-86200-9, HC, 400pg ~ translation by A. Malina ~ cover by D. Yu Shcherbinin ~ Russian title Приключения "Королевы Солнца" [Adventures of Solar Queen]
  • (1991) Combined with "Sargasso of Space", "Plague Ship" and "Voodoo Planet" ~ Published in Moscow, by Tsentrpoligraf, no ISBN, HC, 478pg ~ cover by A. Waldman ~ Russian title Королева Солнца [Solar Queen]
  • (1992) Combined with "Sargasso of Space" translation by S. Berezhkova and S. Vitina, "Witch World", "Dragon Scale Silver", "Dream Smith" and "Amber Out of Quayth" translation by Yu Sokolova ~ Published by Alterpres, 5-874-98065-2, HC, 752pg ~ "Postmarked the Stars" translation by translation by Yu Sokolova ~ cover by A. Stolin ~ Russian title Галактический почтовый [Postmarked the Stars]
  • (1992) Combined with "Sargasso of Space", "Plague Ship" and "Voodoo Planet" ~ Published in Angarsk, by Amber, 5-883-58016-5, PB, 480pg ~ Russian title Королева Солнца [Solar Queen]
  • (1992) Combined with "Sargasso of Space", "Plague Ship" and "Voodoo Planet" ~ Published in Zelenograd, by Zelenogradskaya Books, 5-863-14005-4, HC 608pg ~ Russian title Королева Солнца [Solar Queen]
  • (1992) Combined with "Sargasso of Space", "Plague Ship", "Voodoo Planet" and "Plague Planet" by unknown ~ Published in Tallinn, by Melora, 5-797-90412-8 and 5-797-90438-1, HC, 400pg ~ translation bt A. Snezhko ~ cover by Boris Vallejo ~ Russian title Скитальцы космоса [Space Wanderers]
  • (1993) Combined with "Sargasso of Space", "Plague Ship", "Voodoo Planet", "Catseye", "Star Hunter" and "Plague Planet" by unknown ~ Published in Yaroslavl, by Nuance, 5-741-51030-2, HC, 768pg ~ cover by N.D. Shadura ~ Russian title Саргассы в космосе [Sargasso of Space]
  • (1995) Combined with "Sargasso of Space", "Plague Ship" and "Voodoo Planet" ~ Published in Angarsk, by Amber Ltd. and Moscow, by Sigma Press, 5-883-58056-4, HC, 528pg ~ cover by Bruce Pennington ~ Russian title Королева Солнца [Solar Queen]
  • (1997) Combined with "Sargasso of Space" translation by S. Berezhkov and S. Pobedino , "Plague Ship" and "Voodoo Planet" translation by A. Malina ~ Published in Moscow, by Armada, 5-763-20301-1, HC, 528pg ~ "Postmarked the Stars" translation by A. Malina ~ Russian title Королева Солнца [Solar Queen]
  • (1999) Combined with "Sargasso of Space" translation by S. Berezhkov and S. Pobedino, "Plague Ship" and "Voodoo Planet" translation by A. Malina ~ Published in Moscow, by AST, 5-237-01754-1, HC, 480pg ~ "Postmarked the Stars" translation by A. Malina ~ Russian title Королева Солнца [Solar Queen]
  • (2002) Combined with "Sargasso of Space" translation by S. Berezhkov and S. Vitina, "Plague Ship" and "Voodoo Planet" translation by A. Malina ~ Published in Moscow, by AST, 5-170-15683-9, HC, 653pg ~ "Postmarked the Stars" translation by A. Malina ~ Russian title Саргассы в космосе. Зачумленный корабль. Планета колдовства. Проштемпелевано звездами.
  • (2004) Combined with "Sargasso of Space" translation by S. Berezhkova and S. Vitina, "Plague Ship", and "Voodoo Planet" translation by A. Malina, "Redline the Stars" translation by E. Dobrokhotova-Maykova, "Derelict for Trade" translation by S. Anisimov "A Mind for Trade" translation by M. Levin, and "Plague Planet" by unknown ~ Published in Moscow, by AST, 5-170-24016-3, HC, 1136pg ~ "Postmarked the Stars" translation by A. Malina ~ Russian title Королева Солнца [Solar Queen]
  • (2004) Combined with "Sargasso of Space" translation by S. Berezhkova and S. Vitina, "Plague Ship", and "Voodoo Planet" translation by A. Malina, "Redline the Stars" translation by E. Dobrokhotova-Maykova, "Derelict for Trade" translation by S. Anisimov and "A Mind for Trade" translation by M. Levin ~ Published in Moscow, by AST, 5-170-24014-7, HC, 1132pg ~ "Postmarked the Stars" translation by A. Malina ~ Russian title Королева Солнца [Solar Queen]
  • (2014) Combined with “Sagasso of Space”, “Plague Ship” & “Voodoo Planet”, Published in Moscow by Eksmo, 9785699690169, HC, 672pgs ~ “Sargasso of Space” translation by S. Berezhkova and S. Pobedina, “Plague Ship”, “Voodoo Planet” & “Postmarked the Stars” translation by A. Malina ~ cover art by A. Dubovik ~ series: All Norton ~ Russian title Королева Солнца [Solar Queen]

 

View the original contract

View the 1978 Ace Contract

 

 

 

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