Star Soldiers

~ An Omnibus for the Central Control Series by Andre Norton

 

Contains ~

  • Star Guard (1955) Published by Harcourt Brace, HC, LCCN 55007612, 247pg ~ illustrated ~ cover by Richard Powers
  • Star Rangers (1953) Published by Harcourt Brace, HC, LCCN 53007869, 280pg ~ cover by Richard Powers


Synopsis ~

Write-up from an old Amazon.com posting ~

The first starships from Earth have burst out into the universe...only to run straight into the restraining grasp of the stagnant alien federation known as Central Control. Only as interstellar mercenaries can humans go to the stars; the aliens who already dominate the galaxy allow no other recourse. But when Swordsman Third Class Kana Karr and his comrades-in-arms are betrayed and abandoned on a hostile world by their alien masters, the warriors from Earth begin a desperate but glorious march across a planet whose every sword is against them. Their actions may doom humanity's future...or lead the way to an empire of their own! Four thousand years later, galactic civilization is collapsing, and the under-funded crew of an exploration starship is forced to set down on an uncharted planet: a mysterious, abandoned world that is achingly beautiful -- and hauntingly familiar. Ranger Sergeant Kartr, telepath and stellar Patrolman, searches with his crewmates for the source of a beacon which may mean escape for them all. What he finds is far stranger: the first clue to what may become the greatest revelation in galactic history!

 

Write-up from the front flap of the 2001 dustjacket ~

CONTROLLING AUTHORITY
Andre Norton—Grand Mistress of science fiction—presents a grand tapestry of the far-flung interstellar future, in which the first starships from Earth have burst out into the universe . . . only to run straight into the restraining grasp of the stagnant alien federation known as Central Control.
Only as interstellar mercenaries can humans go to the stars; the aliens who already dominate the galaxy allow no other recourse. But when Swordsman Third Class Kane Karr and his comrades-in-arms are betrayed and abandoned on a hostile world by their alien masters, the warriors from Earth begin a desperate but glorious march across a planet whose every sword is against them. Their actions may doom humanity's future . . . or lead the way to an empire of their own!
Four thousand years later, galactic civilization is collapsing, and the underfunded crew of an exploration starship is forced to set down on an uncharted planet: a mysterious, abandoned world that is achingly beautiful——and hauntingly familiar. Ranger Sergeant Kartr, telepath and stellar Patrolman, searches with his crewmates for the source of a beacon which may mean escape for them all. What he finds is far stranger: the first clue to what may become the greatest revelation in galactic history.
The defining events of future history --- as only Andre Norton could tell them.

 

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

Controlling Authority
Only as interstellar mercenaries can humans go to the stars; the aliens who already dominate the galaxy allow no other recourse. But when Swordsman Third Class Kana Karr and his comrades-in-arms are betrayed and abandoned on a hostile world by their alien masters, the warriors from Earth begin a desperate but glorious march across a planet whose every sword is against them. Their actions may doom humanity… or lead the way to a Human empire!
Four thousand years later, as galactic civilization collapses, a crippled starship lands on an uncharted planet that is achingly beautiful – and hauntingly familiar. Ranger Sergeant Kartr, telepath and stellar Patrolman, searches with his crewmates for the source of the beacon that may mean escape. What finds is the greatest revelation in galactic history!
The defining events of future history – as only Andre Norton could tell them!
“The sky’s no limit to Andre Norton’s imagination… a superb storyteller.” – The New York Times
“One of the all-time masters.” – Peter Straub
“High adventure, fast-paced action and sustained suspense.” - Booklist

 

Write-ups from fans ~

Star Guard ~ Space opera at its finest. Terrans, newcomers to space, looked down upon by Central Control, a confederation of ET races. So the only way for men to go to the stars is a Mercenaries, either the low-tech "Archs" or the high-tech "Mechs". Kana Karr, Arch swordsman 3rd class, Alien Liason specialist. Is assigned to a Horde on the Planet Fronn. Everything went well for a while until their unit is betrayed by a group of Mechs with superior weaponry. This, of course, is against all the rules and regulations governing Terran mercenaries. The horde has to flee for their lives through hostile territory in dreadful weather seeking any allies that they can find. Can they get word back to Earth so they can be rescued? What does the future hold for one Kana Karr, Arch Swordsman 3rd Class? Read this exciting book and find out! ~ PG

 Star Rangers ~ In the last days of a galactic-wide civilization, a spaceship of the Space Patrol makes its last landing (a crash) on a planet completely off the star charts.  While exploring it, the Rangers discover an ancient city, still in working order, and the passengers and crew of a luxury liner that had been forced away from its destination by pirates to land here also.  One of the passengers had been a Vice-Sector Lord at home, and thought he should rule here too.  The Rangers disagree, as do quite a few of the passengers, who take the Patrol's arrival as a signal to topple the Vice-Sector Lord.  After the revolution succeeds, they want nothing to do with any symbols of their old life and the Patrolmen are (politely?) requested to leave.  While following the natives, who have degenerated into barbarism, the Patrol comes upon an old spaceport--also still in working order, and use it to beam in a Patrol ship carrying survivors of a destroyed Patrol Base. ~ SL 


 

Reviews ~

Kirkus Reviews ~ Issue: July 1st, 2001
   Reissue of two novels, long out of print, known collectively as the Central Control sequence: Star Rangers (1953) and Star Guard (1955). An alien collective known as Central Control runs the galaxy. Humans, too belligerent for full membership, are third-class citizens, and supply mercenary soldiers to anyone who can pay. In Star Guard, young Arch Swordsman Third Class Kana Karr signs up for an alien-contact assignment on planet Fronn and, after various adventures, discovers humanity's real agenda. Only tenuously connected, Star Rangers is a variant on the “lost legion” yarn that Norton herself, and many others, has elsewhere used to good effect. Pulpish but entertaining, the sort of material Norton cut her teeth on: should fit right in alongside the Webers, Moons, Flints, Asaros, Ringos, Drakes, etc. 

 

Review by Publishers Weekly ~ July 09, 2001

Two of SFWA Grand Master Norton's earlier novels, Star Guard (1955) and Star Rangers (1953), offered here with minimal textual changes, should be just as enjoyable to the grandchildren if not great-grandchildren of the original readers. In Guard, around A.D. 4000, humans are valued by Central Control as mercenaries, but otherwise are at the bottom of the galactic hierarchy. Kana Karr, a young swordsman investigating the mysterious deaths of some of his comrades, stumbles on a conspiracy that endangers Central Control and the human race alike. Some 4,000 years later in Rangers, the Patrol cruiser Starfire makes its last landing on an unknown but habitable planet. Three of the crew, the Rangers Kartr (human), Fylh (a birdlike Trystian) and Zinga (a reptilian Zacathan), become a sort of Three Musketeers to save the natives from the ruthlessness of other humans. They succeed well enough to eventually receive a shipload of assorted refugees and discover the secret of this "unknown" planet. The language, plot and characterization are somewhat simpler than we are used to today, but the settings come alive as well as anybody's. Moreover, Norton's handling of ethical issues, particularly the uses of telepathy and relations with nonhumans, is quite complex. This is no less remarkable when one considers that she was writing in the days when telepaths were often supermen and aliens usually depicted as BEMs.


 

Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (2001) Published by BAEN, HC, 0-671-31827-6, $18.00, 434pg ~ cover by Stephen Hickman {Black Paper Boards}
  • (2001) Published by BAEN, DM, 0-671-31827-6, $4.00, 434pg ~ cover by Stephen Hickman
  • (2001) Published by SFBC, HC, # 14229, $9.99, 434pg ~ cover by Stephen Hickman {Black Paper Boards, # 142299 on Rear of Dust Jacket}
  • (2002) Published by BAEN, PB, 0-743-43554-0, LCCN2001025926, $6.99, 471pg ~ cover by Stephen Hickman

 

View the 1999 BAEN contract