The Sioux Spaceman by Andre Norton
Published by Ace Books, Inc., 1960. Paperback of 133 pages at 35¢.
Note: This is an Ace Double book. It can be flipped over for an additional story, which is And Then The Town Took Off by Richard Wilson.
The cover: Protagonist Kade Whitehawk is wearing an ornate hawk faced headpiece, complete with massive wings, a red vest sporting the logo of Space Service, leather belt, and black pants. He’s holding a futuristic device in his hands as he turns his head to look at the slaves marching past him, connected to one another by chains on their necks. The desert landscape adds to their terrible fates. Truth be told, I purchased this book because of this cover. My father had this book when I was little and its imagery has been stuck in my head for over forty-five years. Seeing this book available for purchase, I jumped at it as I could now read the book my father had when I was so young. Needless to say, I love this cover. Overall grade: A+
The premise: From the first page, “Kade Whitehawk had two strikes against him in the Space Service. First, he had bungled his assignment on the planet Lodi. Second, he believed all creatures had a right to freedom and dignity — and having such opinions was strictly against the rules. But when he was assigned to Klor, he found the Ikkinni there — tortured yet defiant slaves of a vicious tyrant race. Right then Kade swung at the last pitch. For rules or no rule, THE SIOUX SPACEMAN knew he had to help these strange creatures gain their freedom…and that he alone, because of his Indian blood, had the key to win it for them.” I am a fan of characters looking to free others, alien worlds, tyrannical races, and underdogs, so this is looking like a winning premise to me. Overall grade: A
The characters: Kade Whitehawk is a fun character. He’s under the gun to do better at his job or be drummed out of Space Service. He wants to advance through the ranks, but is doubting himself. Being given the opportunity to deliver a bear to Klor to please one of the Styor lords there, he has a chance for redemption. However, once there his heart pulls him in an unexpected direction. He was a very engaging lead. Lik is the Ikkinni Overman, one who is tasked by the Styor to watch over the Ikkinni who are slaves. I liked that his intentions were questioned constantly, such as being a honest with Kade. It isn’t until the end of the book when his true loyalty is revealed. The Styor lords are lizard skinned humanoids that make their way carried about in carry-chairs by slaves. They are deliciously evil in classical mad Greek mode. These were fun characters. Overall grade: A
The settings: Klor is described as being eighty percent covered in water with the rest of the planet like the northern United States. This allows Kade to make his way through terrain that’s familiar to him, as well as allow some things he brings to be in territory not unlike their own. Knowing that the world is essentially Montana made the story easy for me to picture. Overall grade: A
The action: There’s not much until the last quarter of the book. Hiking through the rural settings provides dangers from flora and fauna and there’s an attempt on Kade’s life, but it’s not until his mission takes a dramatic turn does the action really tick up, with an ending that’s as epic as a classic James Bond film. It just took a while to get there. Overall grade: B-
The conclusion: The door is left open for more exploits with Kade, but Norton wrote no sequels. The ending has the protagonist in a surprising place, but he’s eager to continue with his new mission. It felt fitting. Overall grade: A-
The final line: This book was nothing like I expected, though I did enjoy it. I liked the premise, Kade, the characters that he dealt with, and how the scope of the story grew significantly by the end. This is a fun, quick read placing an Earthman in a situation where he can do his job or free an enslaved people. I’m glad he chose the latter. Overall grade: A-
To see the cover visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse
To read the review for the flip book go to https://scifipulse.net/in-retro-review-and-then-the-town-took-off/