return to Deep Outside SFFH Awards page


Andre Norton: My Personal Note

About Us, Andre Norton, and High Hallack Circa 1999

NOTE: This page is a redirect from the long-dead link shown on our referring page. The update notes on this page date to September 2022 during my website renovation. This true story concerns one of my brushes with history, conversing directly with the great Andre Norton. JTC.

Historic Moment Like all the other award sites from Deep Outside SFFH's live years, Andre Norton's High Hallack site is long gone. So is the famous author, and so is her wonderful research library High Hallack, named for a continent in her Witch World (fantasy) series. The High Hallack Library was home to more than 10,000 texts, videos, and various other media. Attached to the facility were three guest rooms, allowing authors and scholars the chance to stay on-site to facilitate their research goals. The facility was opened on February 28, 1999, and operated until March 2004. Most of the collection was sold during the closing days of the facility.

Blue Princess At least one of my novels was on the shelves at High Hallack, as Andre Norton herself told me back around 1999. She ordered my novel *Blue Princess* put there. How did that come to be? In the late 1990s, at the dawn and genesis of the digital/electronic web publishing age, I began reaching out to some of the grand masters of SFFH. Andre Norton became the first and, at the time, only female Grand Master of SFWA's SF galaxy. She was still that when I communicated with her via e-mail around 1999.

More Info. For more info, you can visit my personal anchor site at johntcullen dot com, or visit the publishing site clocktowerbooks dot com for more info. If you want to read half of any book of mine, please visit my reading site Galley City at galleycity dot com. More info soon.

Yes, I am a lifelong SF fan. I can put that in context. I have a B.A. in English (relateds in History, Languages, Classics, Journalism, and Comparative Literature) so I have a very broad appreciation of literature. And contrary to the myopia, greed, and dishonesty of the publishing/pulp cartel, Speculative Fiction or SF (consisting of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror), is not some fringe cartoon show. Rather, as I once explained to a gasping, astonished audience at a writer's seminar, SF has been with us since the beginning of story telling.

As examples, I offered the fact that the gods and goddesses of Homer's epic poems are Fantasy, while the wooden horse (added by later ancient authors) is Science Fiction (techno-thriller, what have we). I have long relied on the great anthologist Judith Merril's (1923-1997) classic definitions that "Fantasy is a literature of the improbable and impossible, whereas Science Fiction is a literature of the possible and the probable." I should add: we must put total emphasis upon the 'science' in Science Fiction. In the 1990s, so-called techno-thrillers were a marketing category of the print publishers, as a sub-category of suspense and thriller fiction. In effect, a techno-thriller can easily breach the frontier over into science fiction (if the techno involves new gadgetry and such).

On that basis, I suggested that Daniel Defoe's 1719 *Robinson Crusoe* novel could be considered science fiction. In fact, that theme (Robinsonades, as Johann Schnabel called shipwreck or castaway tales, in context of his own 1731 adventure novel in that genre*) has lent itself to myriad adaptations including the 1964 cult classic movie *Robinson Crusoe on Mars* or the 2000 popular film *Castaway* (Golden Globe, high marks from Roger Ebert et al.). I chose to follow that very exciting trend and wrote my own SF novel *Robinson Crusoe 1,000,000 A.D.* which was a top favorite among tech-savvy readers in the early Internet publishing world (e.g. Fictionwise, hundreds of rave reviews, over 95% top ratings) but more recently seems to be baffling general readerships. I'll talk about that elsewhere soon. So anyway, Speculative Fiction is all around us. It's more than a guilty pleasure to be shamed-facedly, in whispers, referred to as 'sigh fie.' The excellent Wikipedia article about robinsonades also urges us to consider adding categories like apocalyptic fiction to the overall *stranded hero* theme. I'm thinking, among other things, of Andy Weir's 2011 SF novel *The Martian* (made into a movie soon after). Too much territory to cover, such rich and fertile ground…back to Andre Norton. Did I say her novel *Galactic Derelict* was one of the favorite and archetypal novels in my own SF writing career?

*Here's an added note: I am always tempted to add to this list of Robinsonades a true story from the first century B.C.E. regarding Julius Caesar. As a young man, maybe early 20s, he was captured by pirates and held prisoner for ransom (thus, in effect, shipwrecked) on a remote Aegean island. He charmed his captors, eating dinner and joking with them so he gained their total trust; until they returned him to his family in exchange for a ransom. Soon afterwards, Mr. Caesar returned with a Roman war fleet, took the pirates prisoner, and sat by himself in their midst, eating dinner and laughing, while they hung tortured, crucified, and dying all around him. What's that? Lost their sense of humor?

Back to: Historic Moment 1999 As Brian Callahan and I, and our team of idealistic youthful authors reveled in the new freedom of Internet publishing, I was still daily spending an hour or more in print bookstores for my pleasure, relaxation, and imagination exercises. I noticed that Andre Norton's fiction was becoming hard to find, so I inquired; clerks told me you had to special order her books because they seemed to be fading from the popular limelight. This worried me, so I contacted Andre Norton's home base in Murfreesboro, TN (High Hallack Library and all). I was in touch with a young intern from Poland, I believe, whose name eludes my memory at the moment. He informed me that Andre Norton was indeed worried about "being forgotten," the exact words. Long story short, he put me in touch with her via email. Such an honor! She was very sweet, and told me she had a new publishing contract that made her feel at ease. I had offered, worst case scenario, for Clocktower Books to step in with our e-book capabilities. She thanked me for being thoughtful, but said I wouldn't be necessary. We communicated a bit more, and she accepted a print copy of my own SF novel today titled *Blue Princess.*

The Storybook Festival, or: Pioneers Back in 1972 or so, I submitted a proposal to one of the print cartel houses in New York City for an SF novel then titled *The Storybook Festival.* The transom editor loved it and send it up to a senior editor, who politely declined. Oh well. I completed the novel (writing several careful drafts as is my habit) by 1974 under the title *Pioneers*. It became one of my first print (so-called print on demand) novels, and Andre Norton accepted it as "something new and unusual" for the High Hallack Library. So for a brief moment in time, until the library was (inexplicably, I think) dismantled and discarded by a non-respectful world after the great Andre Norton's passing.

Ray Bradbury: The Christmas Clock On a very separate but relevant note, I will mention that one of my other early heroes (Ray Bradbury) sent me a personal rave note for my dark holiday fantasy novel *The Christmas Clock* in 2008, not long before he joined Andre Norton in that great Valhalla of wonderful authors who have brought so much joy to millions of mortals. The connection in my mind is that they are the two authors to whom I, as a burgeoning young author of about 12 years old, sent fan letters and received wonderful encouraging replies. So as fate would have it, I had a chance to connect meaningfully with each of these heroes later in life. In 1999 or so, it was with Andre Norton, offering to publish her work and save her from being forgotten, which earned me a spot in the High Hallack Library for the novel today titled *Blue Princess.* With Ray Bradbury, it was his thundering encouragement for my novel *The Christmas Clock* which (as I mentioned in forwarding a copy to him) "has a bit of Ray Bradbury in it, as does much of my writing" but in fact it was intended as an homage to Charles Dickens' immortal c.1844 novel *A Christmas Carol*.

Andre Norton (1912-2005) was one of a handful of my absolute favorite authors when I was a young adolescent. I have adored her SF writing all my life. One of my all-time favorite novels was her SF novel *Galactic Derelict*, which to this day (Sep 2022 as I renovate our Deep Outside SFFH website in a much-needed overhaul) is one of the few, select face-out paperbacks on my entire-wall bookshelf in this office in San Diego, CA). Others in similar position of honor is *Starman's Son.* Both had a profound effect on me over sixty years ago when I was about 10 or 12. Also facing out are similarly ancient paperback copies of Andre Norton's *The Time Traders* and *Star Guard.* No other author commands such space (no pun intended) in my office. I've been a voluminous reader all my life. My absolute favorites include Ray Bradbury (the immortal!) and much of the now classical school of old masters in the field. I'm not writing this to talk about myself, but to indicate the exalted position in which Andre Norton stands, next to Ray Bradbury.

Her Wikipedia Page Andre Norton (opens a new page).

top - flags of Luxembourg + European Union + U.S.A.

intellectual property warning