Monday, August 29, 2011
Daybreak - 2250 A.D., by Andre Norton
There was plenty to do while I waited. Nearby, in other old storefronts, were the dime store (where I bought toys and candy), the drug store (where I bought comic books and cherry snow cones), the grocery store (where we bought cheese and crackers for lunch when I went to my father's shop on Saturdays), and the public library.
At the library I soon discovered the Science Fiction and Fantasy section, against a back wall, and spent most of my time there. There were only a few Science Fiction books in my school library (Lester Del Rey's Attack from Atlantis and Robert Silverberg's The Time of the Great Freeze, for example). At the public library I got to read Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Clifford Simak, and the wonderful juveniles written by Jean and Jeff Sutton. I also discovered Andre Norton, author of the book pictured here.
The cover of this book instantly caught my attention. Just look at the title: Daybreak - 2250 A.D.
This was the 1960s, and things were happening fast. Men were going into space, nuclear weapons were still a raw nightmare, society was rearranging itself. We spoke in capital letters of The Year Two Thousand. If all of this had happened in a decade, the next millennium (!) would be completely unrecognizable. What amazing things might happen by 2250? Most of the Science Fiction I'd read until then had been set in a nearer future, but this book promised to plumb Deep Time.
And what about the picture? A man with a giant cat. I grew up surrounded by cats, and loved them. I had often imagined adventures with faithful cat companions: A boy and his cat, both possessing unappreciated skills, setting out into the world, ready for anything.
Finally, the cover reminded me of the Doc Savage magazines I knew my father had read when he was young. He grew up on a farm, poor, during the Great Depression. He got pulps like Doc Savage from a neighbor, who read them and passed them along. My father was a great story-teller, and I had vivid pictures of what it had been like then. In a small way, it felt like reading this book was a step toward being more like him: Larger, more confident, more capable.
This was Andre Norton's first published novel. Born in 1912, she had intended to become a teacher, but had had to drop out of teachers college to support her family during the Depression. She worked for many years as a librarian, and during this time she began writing.
In the book a young man, Fors, is rejected by his people because of perceived shortcomings. He and his hunting-cat, Lura, set out across a post-apocalyptic world to prove their worth. Along the way, they unearth treasures from the distant past.