Mini review: Uncharted Stars by Andre Norton
Posted January 17, 2017on:
published in 1969
where I got it: purchased used
My favorite Andre Norton is The Zero Stone. A fun space adventure story with a scifi twist (and an alien cat!), there’s everything to love about that book. So of course I had to read the sequel, Uncharted Stars. Taking place shortly after the events of the first book, Murdoc Jern has purchased his own spaceship, now he just needs to find a pilot to fly it. Already down on his luck, Murdoc can barely come up with the docking fees for the ship, let alone money for a pilot’s salary. Even worse, any pilot he hires might just be a spy for the Patrol.
He ends up hiring Ryzk, a man with his own secrets. Why is such a talented pilot wasting away on this backwater planet willing to work for pennies? A question Murdoc files away for another day, as he is too busy ensuring Eet stays out of sight and keeping Ryzk from knowing the goal of their flight plan is to find the origins of the Zero Stone.
Eet knows a lot more about the zero stones than he’s willing to share, but he does share that the stone allows him to shapeshift at will, and that if he concentrates and practices, Murdoc can do it too. After a while, Murdoc gets half way decent at holding a different face, and tries his new found skills out on Eet, turning the critter back into a normal cat. Miffed beyond belief, Eet gives Murdoc the silent treatment, and they both realize after a while they are better off friends than enemies. But can Murdoc be trusted with the supreme power of the stone?
The plot felt very episodic, with the characters having one adventure after another. They try to sell gems on a planet, fail and leave; they visit a secret and famous pirate base, steal a star map and are able to escape; they rescue an alien archaeologist who is forever in their debt; and other various adventures and escapes. I wonder if this novel is a fix-up of Murdoc and Eet short stories? Because that is what it felt like. Not to say this is a bad novel, I was just hoping for better because I loved Zero Stone so much.
There were quite a few things I did enjoy about Uncharted Stars. It takes place in Norton’s “Forerunner” universe, which includes a whole ton of loosely related novels and short stories. If you’re familiar with any of those stories, you’ll find a ton of easter eggs in Uncharted Stars. The story also has a really adorable twist at the end, something I never saw coming but I’m happy it was there.