Norstrilia: Cordwainer Smith's Only
Science Fiction Novel
Rod McBan is a likable teenager who has had four childhoods.
Unable to spiek or hier like normal
Norstrilians, three times he has faced the Garden of Death, and
three times the decision has been to give him another childhood
in the hopes that he would develop normally.
But this time, there will be no more childhoods.
The story begins:
THEME AND PROLOGUE
Story, place, and time--these are the
The story is simple. There was a boy who bought the
planet Earth. We know that, to our cost. It only
happened once, and we have taken pains that it will
never happen again. He came to Earth, got what he
wanted, and got away alive, in a series of very
remarkable adventures. That's the story.
The place? That's Old North Australia. What other
place could it be? Where else do farmers pay ten
million credits for a handkerchief, five for a
bottle of beer? Where else do people lead peaceful
lives, untouched by militarism, on a world which is
booby-trapped with death and things worse than
Old North Australia has stroon—the santaclara
drug—and more than a thousand other planets clamor
But you can get stroon only from Norstrilia—that's
what they call it, for short—because it is a virus
that grows on enormous, gigantic misshapen sheep.
The sheep were taken from Earth to start a pastoral
system; they ended up as the greatest of imaginable
The simple farmers became simple billionaires, but
they kept their farming ways. They started tough
and they got tougher. People get pretty mean if you
rob them and hurt them for almost three thousand
years. They get obstinate. They avoid strangers,
except for sending out spies and a very occasional
tourist. They don't mess with other people, and
they're death, death, death inside out and turned
over twice if you mess with them.
Then one of their kids showed up on Earth and
bought it. The whole place, lock, stock, and
That was a real embarrassment for Earth.
And for Norstrilia, too.
This is the only novel that Cordwainer Smith wrote. I
usually recommend it to people as an easy introduction to his
works and an engrossing story in its own right. It was pulled
together from various tales, as the introduction by Cordwainer
Smith scholar Alan C. Elms explains. The rest of the
Cordwainer Smith science fiction stories are in
The Rediscovery of Man.
My father spent time in Australia, teaching there, and
here's a family snapshot of him with some of the sheep that
sparked his imagination:
Introduction, by Alan Elms
Theme and Prologue
At the Gate of the Garden of Death
Anger of the Onseck
The Old Broken Treasures in the Gap
The Quarrel at the Dinner Table
The Palace of the Governor of Night
The Eye Upon the Sparrow
FOE Money, SAD Money
Traps, Fortunes and Watchers
The Nearby Exile
Hospitality and Entrapment
The High Sky Flying
Discourses and Recourses
The Road to the Catmaster
The Department Store of Hearts' Desires
Everybody's Fond of Money
Birds, Far Underground
His Own Strange Altar
Counsels, Councils, Consoles and Consuls
Appendix: Variant Texts
You can get Norstrilia at various places: here's a
link to the network of booksellers that sell through Alibris.com
It may be on eBay -- that
link is for the US. Here are links for eBay in the UK, Australia, and Canada. These are set for "Cordwainer
Smith," so you may see more than Norstrilia.
Of course, it's reliably on Amazon.com:
And at Amazon in the UK:
At the time I checked, the British Amazon also had several
copies of a paperback edition put out by Gollancz:
Of course, you can buy it directly from the publisher,
NESFA, but they do state on their
website that you need to allow several weeks for delivery.
(They are a volunteer organization.) I used to buy from them
wholesale and sell directly from this website, and my
experience was that it often did take a good while to get