Read Janus by Andre Norton Free Online
Book Title: Janus|
The author of the book: Andre Norton
ISBN 13: 9780743435536
Edition: Baen Books
Date of issue: July 30th 2002
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 896 KB
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Reader ratings: 4.3
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This is a compilation of two earlier books, Judgement on Janus and Victory on Janus. A dedication on the back cover (?by the editors? David Weber and Eric Flint, anyway) reads:
"To Andre Norton--Andre, you proved long ago that being a giant has nothing to do with physical stature. You've been taking giant steps and teaching the art of storytelling for over half a century [as of 2004], and we are among those--those many--who have been your students. It's time we told the teacher thank you."
It's been so long since I first read the Janus books, it's hard to remember how they first impressed me, though I do remember that I sought out the second volume almost at once.
Though they are (mostly) set on the same world (called Janus by the interlopers because...well who knows how first-in scouts think? They have a LOT of time to study mythology), the books are not quite as insulated as the changeling Iftin seem to think. The 'settlers' are 'Sky Lovers' who have deliberately turned their back on 'worldly' things--but who still traffic with off-worlders in exchange for laborers (which laborers they obviously don't intend to allow to breed, since only males (and only human males, at that) are imported, and marriage with Unbelievers (and nobody not born of the original colonists qualifies) is evidently forbidden), and for things they can't make or grow themselves.
The 'settlers' on Janus purchased the planet outright from one party to a war--then when that party lost the war, they got clear title. But all this is predicated on there being no 'native' stock. If a 'native' intelligent species can prove prior title, all bets are off (apparently). The 'settlers' will have to yield to a prior claim and go somewhere else, or that's the theory, anyway.
But apparently there are no indigenous peoples on Janus...or are there? Who are the green monsters who haunt the forest (NB: it's a temperate deciduous forest, by the way--limited underbrush, as with all climax forests with very large trees, except around the edges.), never seen but in glimpses?
For old readers of Norton, it's far from evident where this story is going at the start. As with many of Norton's stories, Judgement on Janus begins in the Dipple on the pleasure planet of Korwar.
The Dipple, for those unfamiliar with the background, started out as a refugee camp during the great war which finished (at a guess) about twenty years before the novel's 'present'. When the war ended, those who had places to go went there: but those whose homes no longer existed, or had been traded away in peace negotiations), were left behind in the Dipple. All sorts of people were swept up in the flight from war zones. Among them were the recently widowed Malani Renfro, from a tropical ocean planet, and her then toddler son by a Free Trader (with whom she had, in defiance of the custom of the time, traveled: so that Naill, being spaceborn, can't say how old he is). The Free Trader himself (Duan Renfro) had been killed in a space battle he was accidentally caught in.
At the beginning of the book, Naill is driven to desperate heroism in search of hallucinogens to give his dying mother at least the last few days of her life free of pain and sadness.
The drugs don't come cheap, and so Renfro hires on as draft labor, to be sent to a world he knows nothing about. Technically, he's not a slave: more like an indentured servant. There's always a chance that any of the laborers might be able to buy free. Then again, there's the chance they might not make it to the destination, but will die in cold sleep on the journey. And since places with good conditions don't need to buy laborers, the chances of a successful buy-free are low to nonexistent. The wager is only for the desperate.
Arrived on Janus, Renfro finds that the conditions are neither the worst nor the best he could expect. The 'garthmen' of Janus are a grim, joyless, and inbred sect, and mean to stay that way. They and their laborers are to grub, dig, kill, and strip the forest, to grow crops (which will almost certainly die out within a generation or two, since forest soil is NOT rich--forests are bootstrapping communities, wherein the canopy supplies the lower levels: and any nutrients that make it into the soil are almost immediately leached back out by the trees. They can't be turned into farmland without a continuing clearing and movement every generation or two). Which may be one of the reasons the garths are encroaching on what was once virgin forest. And on what wasn't untended land at all, but the citadels of a sylvan civilization.
The laborers have, if anything, less hope of lenience than the volunteer colonists; the Sky Lovers are at least members of the unhopeful farms and communities, but the laborers never can be: and they also won't be able to leave, or to leave any children they might father with a better life.
But there is, it turns out, one escape: the forest. The 'settlers' being firm believers in demonism, daren't take to the woods. Their only interest in the forest is extraction: to destroy it and use its resources, as long as they last. A good indication of their recklessness is that at one point, girls from a garth come to pick the berries from a forest bush...before the bush itself is uprooted and killed.
Naill has a very little familiarity with a lot of folktales. It costs him an effort to dredge up the word 'changeling' to describe what becomes of him--and of others trapped by strategically planted 'treasures'. Everyone who looks on the treasures with desire (it seems) falls prey to 'Green Sick' (this reads, by the way, as a sort of snappish satire on Earth history. There WAS a real condition called 'green sick' in more straitlaced days of constrictor corsetry. It was caused by the liver, kidneys, etc being crushed so tightly that they weren't able to successfully remove toxins from the system...)
On Janus, all (?most?) of those who survive the transformation become changeling Iftin. These Iftin have memories of people from various times in Iftin history--but those memories are incomplete at best. There's enough for people to survive and even thrive in the forest: but not as the ancient Iftin did. They live in places like the ruined towers (once all living trees, but now only one survives) of Iftcan. As best as they can piece together, there's a hope of recreating a native culture, at least enough to claim independence. And since the children of the changelings are Iftin-born, this is a remote possibility.
But where it would seem that the best plan of the Iftin is to get as far away from humans as possible at least until their numbers are up, in practice this is not possible. Until they get more 'recruits', they have to recruit from offworlders: and often from the garths. And also, some more distant territories are additionally off-limits. For the Iftin had an ancient enemy: THAT WHICH ABIDES.
The rest of the two volumes involve the renascent Iftin trying to piece together an understanding of what they need to know based on very fragmentary evidence (among the changelings, for example, there are many from the Grey Leaf Time, and fewer from the Green Leaf: but none from the Blue Leaf, the Iftin Golden Age when Iftin customs and technologies were mostly developed.
So the erstwhile Naill Renfro, now partly Ayyar of Ky-Kyc, and his first companion, Ashla Himmer (now partly the very assertive Illyle, a kind of priestess of the sort known as a Sower of The Seed), wander in search of fellowship in the sometime company of a quarrin (a large, highly intelligent owlish bird). They have encounters with apparently disembodied forces (not only the 'evil' THAT, but also the Mirror of Thanth which is ineffable, and which, despite occasional menacing gestures, resembles Glinda the Good's description of the Wizard of Oz: "Oh, very good, but very mysterious.")
In the course of the adventures of the small bands of Iftin, a fairly three-dimensional picture of the ecology of the planet (at least in the neighborhood of the ruins of Iftcan) develops. Norton was often quite good at alien biologies.
I can well remember what impressed me most at the first reading was that the Iftin are nocturnal people, painfully sensitive to light, especially sunlight. The familiarity of this, to me, was not so much one of shared pain, but also of shared hope (and partial memory) of a better world. Leaving aside the difficulty of climbing up into the tree cities, I personally would gladly have lived in Iftcan, even in the time of the Grey Leaf. I do somewhat wonder about a world in which the SUMMER nights are long (how would that be, I wonder?). And I'd wish that THAT WHICH ABIDES had been able to come to some kind of accommodation with the Iftin long since. IT seems to be highly intelligent, but somewhat lacking in innovative capacity, and to see everything in terms of a chess-like war game.
I still find that kind of thing attractive. I wish I could get some of the leaf-goggles that the Healer Kelemark developed, for those times when I, also, am forced out into the sun. But what drew me back to reread the volumes this time was the fairly limited descriptions of the kalcrok. I immediately felt the impulses of the zoologist, not despite but BECAUSE it's an apex predator and highly dangerous.
I can see how people like Kelemark got lured into becoming changelings. My immediate desire was not to hunt out more Iftin: I figured there'd be plenty of time for that. I might have been mistaken, but I reckoned that the Iftin would be around later. But in the endangered forest near the garths, there are many creatures going about their everyday (or, mostly, everynight) lives, and which are finding their home territories more and more fragmented with the encroachment of the garths--and with the uncontrolled wildfires set by the inhabitants of the garths. Somebody has to come to the rescue of the peefcrens and borfunds--not to mention conserving things like the berry bushes and the fussan bushes. But how can that be done, without a more detailed examination of the ecological interactions?
It wouldn't necessarily be a resolution if offworlders were to be banned from Janus posthaste. There's ALREADY a lot of damage done, and not only (or even primarily, outside the Waste) by THAT. With time, to be sure, the forest will retake the lost ground--UNLESS too much damage has been done to the agents of reforestation. If such a loss has occurred, there will need to be heroic efforts on the part of the Iftin...if they get the chance to do so.
There might even be a way, if the Iftin can overcome their crippling xenophobia, for offworld consultants to help in the process. But this is a big if. So far, all of the offworlders who are halfway sympathetic have had to be recruited into the Iftin in order to work with them at all--and probably even well-meaning offworlders aren't willing to volunteer their ENTIRE lives to the process. So there'd have to be some give on the part of the Iftin, as well, to achieve any kind of successful collaboration.
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Read information about the authorAlice Mary Norton always had an affinity to the humanities. She started writing in her teens, inspired by a charismatic high school teacher. First contacts with the publishing world led her, as many other contemporary female writers targeting a male-dominated market, to choose a literary pseudonym. In 1934 she legally changed her name to Andre Alice. She also used the names Andrew North and Allen Weston as pseudonyms.
Andre Norton published her first novel in 1934, and was the first woman to receive the Gandalf Grand Master Award from the World Science Fiction Society in 1977, and won the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) association in 1983.
Norton was twice nominated for the Hugo Award, in 1964 for the novel Witch World and in 1967 for the novelette "Wizard's World." She was nominated three times for the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement, winning the award in 1998. Norton won a number of other genre awards, and regularly had works appear in the Locus annual "best of year" polls.
On February 20, 2005, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, which had earlier honored her with its Grand Master Award in 1983, announced the creation of the Andre Norton Award, to be given each year for an outstanding work of fantasy or science fiction for the young adult literature market, beginning in 2006.
Often called the Grande Dame of Science Fiction and Fantasy by biographers such as J. M. Cornwell and organizations such as Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Publishers Weekly, and Time, Andre Norton wrote novels for over 70 years. She had a profound influence on the entire genre, having over 300 published titles read by at least four generations of science fiction and fantasy readers and writers.
Notable authors who cite her influence include Greg Bear, Lois McMaster Bujold, C. J. Cherryh, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Tanya Huff, Mercedes Lackey, Charles de Lint, Joan D. Vinge, David Weber, K. D. Wentworth, and Catherine Asaro.
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