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The Witches of Karres by James H. Schmitz

The Witches of Karres (original 1966; edition 2005)

by James H. Schmitz

Series: Karres (1)

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9161813,960 (4.01)39
Title:The Witches of Karres
Authors:James H. Schmitz
Info:Baen Book (2005), Edition: 1st, Mass Market Paperback, 394 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Witches of Karres by James H. Schmitz (1966)

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English (17)  Italian (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
A book for older children I enjoyed back in the day (i.e. the 60’s), first discovered in the library and later with my own Ace paperback. Revisited on Kindle and still good kid-friendly fun, though at my age the pulp fiction elements stand out a bit more. Now reads like a prototype of PG rated movies like Star Wars (before it got dark) or Guardians of the Galaxy, although unlike the movies it is of course blessedly unselfconscious. Although it takes place in a sci-fi universe, it’s more akin to fantasy – definitely not hard SF. Even discounting the “Sheewash drive,” trips from one planetary system to another take about as long as a cross country trip in an RV. However, the SF background allows Schmitz to avoid the Renaissance fair/Tolkien elements of fantasy that can be off putting to adults.
It’s amusing that coffee and cigarettes are still part of the morning ritual 300,000 or more years from now, when earth is now a dimly remembered legend. Probably re-engineered to bring out the klatha power.
Maybe today some might detect a hint of pedophilia – there seems to be an expectation that Goth will marry Captain Pausart when she “comes of age.” Schmitz is probably aware of this; after all, the Captain’s initial dilemma regarding Maleen has to do with the legal and social ramifications of returning to his home planet of Nikkeldepain “with a pretty girl-slave,” where human trafficking is outlawed. Some of the narrative construction could be read as a workaround to the potential sexualizing of the witches. Although under age pubescent Maleen (14 yrs) initiates the Captain (played by Colin Hanks?) into the Karres community, she is moved offstage early on and assigned a fiancé. Middle sister Goth (prepubescent, about 9?) takes over for much of the book. This could potentially be even more problematic, but any implicit sexuality is deflected to the mature charms of the nefarious ship chandler Sunnat of Uldune and the gun totin’ Empire agent Hulik do Eldel (Goth is unconscious when she shows her stuff). Not that there isn’t resistance the other way; it’s Goth who punishes Sunnat, and one of her talents is the ability to shape shift into a mature female. On the other hand, if the Witches universe can ignore Einstein, it can ignore Freud as well.
I love Schmitz’s Dickens-like ability to coin memorable words and names for his universe: I still remember grazeem – it would make a fine call to order when the president is announced -- relling (has a kind of Madeline L’Engle echo) -- Laes Yango and his Sheem Robot, Megair Cannibals, the Leewit. Of course Goth didn’t have the association in 1966 with the term for a certain morose attitude associated with kids today; when she’s awake she’s bright eyed and bushy tailed even if she looks like a weasel. ( )
1 vote featherbear | Feb 17, 2017 |
This reprint of the 1966 classic is a thoroughly enjoyable and hard to put down book. When Captain Pausert of Nikkeldepain rescues three children from slavery, he has no idea what he is getting himself into, nor does he realize they are witches from the proscribed and mysterious planet of Karres. All of the major characters in this novel are very engaging and the adventure Schmitz crafts for them is as fresh today as the best of any current books in this genre. Read this book! ( )
  DLMorrese | Oct 14, 2016 |
It's true space opera, with a naive Captain who gets double timed by his fiancee and goes on one hell of a ride. I read when it first came out in 1966 and found a copy in a thrift store. There's plenty of interesting characters, such as an animated robot that goes on the warpath, the three Witches of Karres which are young girls with amazing powers, the Captain himself who is related to the witches though he doesn't know it, and other amusing characters. This type of space opera was prevalent in the Analog/If/Amazing/other magazines in the 1950s, 60s and 1970s. Easy read. ( )
  kaki5231 | Sep 11, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Schmitz, James H.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexander, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Briemen, Reindert vanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, KurtCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Velez, WalterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zinggeler;, JeffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is dedicated to a very good little witch named SYLVIA ANN THOMAS.
First words
It was around the hub of the evening on the planet of Porlumma when Captain Pausert, commercial traveler from the Republic of Nikkeldepain, met the first of the witches of Karres.
"...and there you can stay without food or drink until the Holy Man comes in the morning!" he continued immediately, in the taut voice of a man who has gone through hysteria and is sane again. The captain realized he was addressing the Leewit.

"Your other Holy Man didn't stay very long!" the diminuitive creature piped, also ignoring the captain. Apparently she had not yet discovered Maleen behind him.

"This is a stronger denomination - much stronger!" the store owner replied, in a shaking voice but with a sort of relish. "He'll exorcise you all right, you little demon!"
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 044189853X, Mass Market Paperback)

Captain Pausert, master of the old pirate-chaser Venture has finally found his niche. Unlucky in love and unsuccessful in business on his home planet, he seems to have a knack for selling job-lot cargoes around the fringes of the Empire. In fact, he's so far ahead of the game that he even finds time for the occasional heroic act. Like rescuing three poor child-slaves from their abusive masters. And then discovers he's broke again, wanted by the authorities and at odds with the most malevolent force in all of space. For Pausert hasn't rescued any ordinary put-upon juvenile slaves but three of the legendary witches of Karres complete with awesome psi powers...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:43 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Captain Pausert, a freelance space trader, gets more than he had bargained for when he frees three slave children from their masters, only to discover that the seemingly harmless little girls are three of the notorious Witches of Karres.

(summary from another edition)

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