Excerpts from Reviews of
Sylvia Engdahl's Books
(Click on the links to review sources to read the full reviews if they are still online.)
- Enchantress from the Stars (First Elana novel, 1970)
A Newbery Honor book. A new hardcover edition was published in 2001, and a new paperback edition in 2003.
- The Far Side of Evil (Second Elana novel, 1971)
Although it has the same heroine as Enchantress from the Stars, this novel is not a "sequel" - it is
completely independent and is intended for an older audience. An updated
hardcover edition was published in 2003, and a new paperback edition in 2005.
- Journey Between Worlds (1970)
A romance enjoyed by both YA readers and adults. An updated hardcover edition was published in 2006, plus a
paperback edition in 2007.
- Children of the Star (Omnibus edition, 2000)
An updated one-volume edition of the trilogy, which was issued in both hardcover and paperback as adult SF although the three
books of which it consists were originally published as YA novels. A new paperback edition was published in 2012.
- Flame duologies
These have older adult characters and mature content, and are not appropriate for middle-school readers.
- Anywhere, Anywhen: Stories of Tomorrow (1976)
An expanded ebook-only edition, containing 3 stories from Universe Ahead (which consisted mainly of reprinted stories)
was published in 2011. It includes all of Engdahl's short fiction in addition to original stories by other authors.
Enchantress from the Stars
Description and ordering information
A 1970 Junior Literary Guild selection
A 1971 Newbery Honor Book (American Library Association)
Winner of the 1990 Phoenix Award (Children's Literature Association,
given annually "from the perspective of time" to a book published 20 years
prior to the award date)
Finalist for 2002 Book Sense Book of the Year in the Rediscovery
"...Not just a novel for young adults but also one of the finest sf
novels ever written--a classic of the genre. The only possible complaint
one can make is that, after finishing it, you will likely find yourself
disinclined for a while to pick up anything else in the genre for fear
it will, as it were, taste of ashes. In sum, it is almost impossible to
convey how good this book is. Please just read it."
--John Grant, InfinityPlus, May 2001
"...Now reissued in an elegant new edition ... this novel is science
fantasy at its best, using the setting of an imagined world to challenge
our thinking about our own world. Both thought-provoking and thoroughly
--Terri Schmitz, Horn Book, September 2001
"Engdahl's thoughtful and enjoyable story has been republished for a whole new
generation to discover. The story has a subtle allegorical premise that is still
valid even after all this time. Engdahl successfully weaves a beautiful story
from the perspectives of three distinct civilizations at three different levels of
technological maturity.... Both an enchanting coming-of-age story and a compelling
moral lesson that teaches respect for other cultures." --Sierra Phillips,
Barnes & Noble Editorial Review, March 2001
"A beautifully rendered novel with high intelligence, captivating character, and cosmic soul.
In many ways, Sylvia Engdahl's writings are the logical successors to Heinlein's derring-do
tales of gifted individuals making a difference in human exploration of other worlds. But
Engdahl's pace is more leisurely, reflective, and the tapestry she weaves may well outlast
Heinlein's.... Although Elana is young, this is a novel for adults of all ages." --Paul Levinson,
Amazon.com, May 24, 2004
"This poignant yet triumphant story examines powerful ideas about humanity through
a beguiling blend of science fiction, fantasy and romance." --Wendy Betts,
Notes from the Windowsill,
"This is a wonderfully complex story that weaves together three different narratives,
exposing three different levels of cultural development. Walker's new edition of this
long out-of-print title now has a gorgeous cover by Leo and Diane Dillon." --Tracy Wynne,
Book Sense 76: Science Fiction and Fantasy Rediscoveries, November 2001
"I read this in one day and loved it. I can see why it was an award-winner years ago,
and I am glad that it has been re-released so we can all enjoy it again." --Thea Nichols,
Spotlight on 2002 Book Sense Book
of the Year Finalists, March 27, 2002
"A brilliantly told, thought-provoking story." --Bill Mollineaux,
Bill's Best Books, ALAN Online, February 2003
"Sylvia Louise Engdahl's 1970 classic isn't just well written. It is also a deeply moving work
that seeks to answer questions we may have about our own innate morality and future prospects....
The book goes far beyond the normal sci-fi/fantasy literature it has been so unfortunately paired
with. Rather, it is a deeply moving and deeply felt story that reaches for the Big Questions and,
on top of that, is an enjoyable read." --E. R. Bird "Ramseelbird",
Amazon.com (top-100 reviewer), April 23, 2004
"A classic book that has not lost anything over the years.... Highly recommended."
Children's Literature, November 2003
"I was completely engrossed and awed by Enchantress ... its complexity and insight
truly shows the dexterity of an able writer.... Simply marvelous." --Roxanne Feldman,
Fairrosa Cyber Library of
Children's Literature, April 2003
"This book is a masterpiece.... The set-up is captivating, but the writing
is exquisite.... The story is bigger than itself, having repercussions into
many different areas, from the power of love to the problem of pain. [It is]
complex enough to provide fertile ground for discussion for high schoolers."
Sonderbooks, October 2001
"Enchantress from the Stars ... retains its vitality more than
twenty years after its publication. The complex consideration of the
ability of myth and science to provide explanation and meaning retains its
relevance as the notion of the universe expands."
--Kathy Piehl, "The Peril and Power of Love in Sylvia Louise Engdahl's
Enchantress from the Stars" in The Phoenix Award, Alethea
Helbig and Agnes Perkins, eds,. Scarecrow Press, 1996.
"This fine story works well on several levels -- the surface's exciting plot itself
... the anthropological exploration of how cultures evolve and how belief in either
magic or science can be both helpful and limiting, and -- at the deepest level --
the theme of the necessity of hope, love, and self-sacrifice to the significance
of human existence." --Gladys Hunt and Barbara Hampton, Read for Your Life,
"...An original and charming exercise of one of science fiction's finest
prerogatives, getting into other skins and seeing through (literally) alien
eyes... Girls who like their fantasy realistic, or an aspect of magic to
their realism, should enjoy this one."
--Ursula LeGuin, New York Times Book Review, 3 May 1970
"...Readers will find fascinating symbolism--and philosophical parallels to
what they may have observed or thought. The book is completely absorbing and
should have a wider appear than much science fiction."
--Horn Book, April 1970 (Also listed in Horn Book's
"An involved and provocative science fiction story for thoughtful readers."
--Booklist, 15 July 1970
"...A rich work of science fiction that suggests some interesting
philosophical questions for thoughtful young readers."
--Notable Children's Books of 1970, Booklist, 1 April 1971
"An unusual sci-fi story which should appeal to thoughtful readers....
Three different civilizations at three levels of development are sensitively
shown, and the book raises some questions about the responsibility of a more
advanced people for a lesser one, and about the steps the human race must go
through in its struggle to raise itself above the basic savagery in human
--School Library Journal, May 1970
"...So human and endearing and told so movingly by the young heroine that it
all seems wholly credible.... A very exciting story of dedication and peril,
and a runner-up for the 1970 [sic] Newbery Medal."
--George C. Stone center for Children's Books, December 1971
"The author manages, successfully, to keep several balls in the air at one
time. Her presentation technique is unusual and effective.... No jarring
scientific discrepancies arrest the story's development. And its allegorical
nature, though obvious to the thoughtful reader, does not intrude into the
space that ought to be occupied by the central story."
--Elementary English, May 1971
"...A serious and thought-provoking novel, not SF for the sake of electronic
gadgetry.... Combined with this is an adolescent love-story that is no
romantic nonsense; it is realistic and moving. The story is full of drama and
suspense, and is very well written. Other science fiction stories [for young
people] recently published seem all to pale in comparison."
--Times Literary Supplement, London, 20 September 1974
"Of all the scientific speculations explored in fiction, perhaps the most
stimulating are those that deal with some form of future politics....
Sylvia Engdahl has given us a new masterpiece in this line with Enchantress
from the Stars. It is an extraordinarily ingenious novel with a fascinating
--Sunday Telegraph, London, 1 September 1974
"Sylvia Engdahl's Enchantress from the Stars is a much more
sophisticated book: a book about people, not gadgets or lizardoids.... The
huge themes of love, respect for individuals and for cultures in all their
diversity, colonialism, the responsibilities of power, and the effect of
self-confidence on our ability to do things, are subtly embodied in the
action. This is a fascinating novel, likely to appeal to a thoughtful 14 or
15 year old rather than to younger readers."
--The Teacher, London, 4 April 1975
"...Exciting, 'in depth' science fiction ... well worthwhile for the better,
--Catholic Library Association, March 1971
"Miss Engdahl has done a beautiful job of telling the same story in three
different styles from three different viewpoints, keeping each distinct and
coherent and the overall story consistent and exciting. Recommended."
--Luna Monthly, July/August 1971
"This is an imaginative and exciting book, an engaging cross between the
genre of science fiction and fairy story, which has justly won recognition as
a runner-up for the 1971 Newbery award.... The story unfolds to an exciting
climax which has surprising depth, containing as it does the concept of a man
born out of his time and that magic may be truly the power of trust and of
--Delaware Valley Advance, 1971
"If you like a book that has an air of mystery and suspense about it, a
book that builds in interest and intrigue to a might wave, run, do not walk,
to your nearest pencil and write down this name.... An absorbing story you
can't put down."
--Library Treasures, KLYX-FM, Houston
The Far Side of Evil
Description and ordering information
"Engdahl's faith in the importance of space exploration and the questions
she poses about the nature of 'progress' and the dangers of well-intentioned
intervention will amply reward the careful reader." --Terri Schmitz,
Horn Book, September 2003
"Fiction doesn't have to be profound, just entertaining. But every once in a long while,
a novel comes along that is both.... [It] speak[s] to the very place of humanity in the
universe, and what we need to do to attain and claim it. In an age in which terrorism
has threatened our ways of life in unexpected ways, Engdahl's probing story, and the
recommendation it contains, are especially relevant. Originally published some three decades
ago, this new edition, revised by the author's deft hand, is even better." --Paul Levinson,
Amazon.com, May 2004
"The Far Side of Evil is published as a book for young adults, but it's really
more for adults or older teens. Like all good science fiction, [it] is about ideas
and makes you think deeply ... a gripping and thought-provoking story."
Sonderbooks, April 2003
"This is an interesting, complex read that will appeal to science-fiction
lovers 14 years and older." --Christopher Moning,
"... A surprising, haunting, poetic book ... full of provocative
philosophical and psychological questions as well as tense adventure and
--Commonweal, 21 May 1971
"... Gripping psychological science fiction ... the relationship between the
heroine and her sophisticated, unbrutish interrogator is beautifully balanced
and adds another dimension to a story which is already multi-faceted."
--Times Literary Supplement, London, 19 September 1975
"... Contains good characterizations and some thoughtful concepts about our
own world, set in a skillfully written SF plot."
--School Library Journal, 15 April 1971
"... An intriguing, provocative story relevant to situations in today's world."
--Booklist, 15 May 1971
"The author has a direct, forceful style of writing that sparks the reader's
--Publisher's Weekly, 31 May 1971
"This is a thoughtful and engrossing novel..."
--Chicago Daily News 10 July 1971 (syndicated column)
"Elana's efforts to uphold the rules of the Service without revealing
her alien identity is an exciting, fascinating tale."
--George G. Stone center for Children's Books, December 1971
"The best science fiction story that we have read this spring..." --The Catholic
Voice, May 13, 1971
Journey Between Worlds
Description and ordering information
"Journey Between Worlds is a beautifully-written, heartwarming, and scientifically
plausible novel. What's more, it's quite a lot of fun ... the sort of thing that's
easy to devour in one sitting, and though short, it will leave you satiated afterward.
On the other hand, now that I'm done with it, I want more." --John Joseph Adams,
Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, April 2006
"Engdahl's return to the spotlight is long overdue ... Journey Between Worlds' theme
of a human manifest destiny in space is by no means juvenile.... The veracity that Engdahl
brings to Melinda's fantastic adventure is pure sci-fi sense of wonder.... In a low-brow teen
marketing world that seeks to mold young women into juggernauts of mass consumption it's
totally refreshing to witness the idealist spirit in this novel that is a fun read for younger
audiences and an inspiring, hopeful and entertaining tale for older readers as well." --Carlos Aranaga,
"For some reason the public -- aside from a select group of aficionados -- largely ignored Engdahl's
work, and it's only within the past few years that it's been rediscovered as the treasure trove it
is.... [Journey Between Worlds] is a beautifully written coming-of-age novel, as Melinda comes
to realize that the proper place for the past is in the past, and that the future is something she
wants to be a part of. Engdahl pulls you right into Melinda's life to make this an unforgettable
and completely engrossing novel." --Fantasy Magazine No. 3 (Wildside Press)
"The book seems to me as fresh as when I read it as a child ... the story line remains
solid and the themes still seem relevant today. What a thrill to see Engdahl's novels
back in print!" --Kim Peterson,
Reader Views, April 2006
"Characters are human and believable ... Ms. Engdahl presents a story that touches
both the heart and mind." --Cy Korte,
Paranormal Romance Reviews, April 2006
"As an adult, I found Journey Between Worlds captivating and thought provoking. There's
much more to this book than romance or a coming of age type of story, but instead the concepts
it holds are what make it appealing. It certainly made me think." --Dorine Linnen,
"A must-read for all future space pioneers who wish to persuade their friends to join them in
making that future journey between the worlds of the known and the unknown. I highly recommend
it." --Marianne Dyson,
Reading Space (National Space Society), September 2006
"Sylvia Louise Engdahl's futuristic romance is truly out of this world, her imagination
remarkably accurate. An excellent book for teen and mature reader alike!" --Phyllis
Book Cafe, April 2006.
"The book feels as fresh and interesting as any near-future novel I have read. . . . A very accessible
story for readers who are interested in space colonization as well as readers who enjoy stories about
personal growth and relationships." --Anna Creech,
Blogcritics, August 18, 2007
"Until I finished Melinda's story, I had no idea that the story was written thirty-six years
ago.... The characters, settings, and events all seem just a short distance in the future....
There is a touch of romance entwined in this emotional story. Don't miss it!" --Tracy
Table Reviews, August 1, 2006
"This is a wonderful sci-fi romance for young adults. Its light-hearted first-person
stream-of-consciousness narrative is engaging, and Melinda is a winsome sprite who
comes of age quickly because of her life-changing adversities." --Dolores Parsons,
Adult Romance Writers, April 2006
"I would recommend Journey Between Worlds to any teen looking for a thought-provoking
read. . . . Both Melinda's problems and the issues raised by the colonization of another
planet will give readers much to ponder long after they've finished reading." --Lynn Crow,
Teens Read Too,
"I loved Melinda's voice -- it was fresh and original and genuine.... I found it easy
to relate to her. And to her world." --Leila Roy,
Bookshelves of Doom, June 23, 2006
"Readers are instantly drawn to Melinda, who is portrayed realistically ... we can all
sympathize with her. If you've been trying to get your daughters to read [science fiction]
to no avail, try this for a little lighter reading. You may be surprised how much they like it."
--Anise Hollingshead, Book
Loons, April 2006
"Journey Between Worlds is an intriguing tale that delves into the emotions of a young
Melinda at a pivotal point in her life.... This is a truly thoughtful and inspiring novel."
Love Romances, August 2006
"Due to deep character development recommend this to older teens and young college
students... Melinda's insightfulness will certainly win the hearts of those wanting a
coming-of-age story with substance." --Amanda Rodriguez,
Brave & Brass Book Blog,
August 9, 2006
"Journey Between Worlds is an exploration novel of self and place. Melinda starts out
thinking she understands the universe and her place within it. But new concepts, locations,
and people have a way of kicking over our conceptual sand castles..." --Paul Haggerty,
SFRevu, August 2006
"I really felt like Melinda was growing and changing, that she was a real person telling me a
story.... I was in love with this book from the beginning. I hadn't read much science fiction
in a while, since I find a lot of it focuses too much on space battles. But this was a great book
that looked at humanity in a classic science fiction way, exploring how humanity reacts to the
stars." --Cassie Richoux,
July 22, 2007
"The heart of Journey Between Worlds is the belief that exploration is necessary to
the human spirit, as well as to mankind's ultimate survival. Engdahl wrote about this same
theme in her other YA books, in ways I personally find more compelling -- but there's nothing
wrong with also delivering the idea with a bouquet of roses." --Wendy Betts,
Blog from the Windowsill, June 16, 2006
"The feminist movement was blossoming amongst the baby boomers when this story was written,
and its influences can be seen if you look. But it's also a bigger story about defining one's
individuality in a new frontier, one where new cultures wait to evolve in frontier domes."
--Ken Murphy, Out of
The Cradle, December 4, 2006
"Journey Between Worlds is a fast-paced, futuristic romance that will appeal to teens
... a satisfying read, and a step above the typical teen romance." --Kendra Patterson,
Reader at Heart, August 29, 2006
"A tale of futuristic pioneers, Journey Between Worlds showcases the unpredictability of
life ... a highly entertaining, quick read that young science fiction fans will enjoy." --Angela
Romance Readers Connection, September 2006
"Journey Between Worlds is part sci-fi tale, larger-part romance. Readers who like gentle
love stories should enjoy this book.... Romantics will also enjoy the way that Melinda's love for
Alex helps her change, and the happy, heartening ending." --Cheryl Rainfield,
Teen Books that Have Something to Say, September 2006
"It's a can't-put-it-down read, especially if you believe in soul-mates." --Jacqueline Lichtenberg,
"The power of the story is really in the strength of the characters.... There's more here for YA readers
who are wondering if it's okay that they haven't made up their minds what to do with their lives and
are searching for a character to identify here than for hard sci-fi geeks." --Dragonwomant,
Fantasy Book Spot, February 27, 2007
"I love this book, as I love all of Sylvia Engdahl's books. I like her heroines. They are people I'd like to be
friends with. They are faced with difficult decisions and rise to the challenge." --Sondra Eklund,
Sonderbooks, August 8, 2007
"The teenage me would have eaten her own hand to get a ticket to Mars, but it still all sang
merrily in tune with my thirteen-year-old self. Honestly, a book hasn't made me feel this goofy
and happy in ages." --Altariel's Booklog,
August 10, 2006
"Sylvia Louise Engdahl's unusual SF novels are idea- and character-driven, and Journey Between Worlds
is no exception.... There may not be much action, but Engdahl's well-realized vision of Mars is a
compelling reason to read the book."
--Jennifer Mo, Rambles, May 5, 2007
"Sylvia Louise Engdahl skillfully suspends the reader's potential disbelief and provides sufficient descriptive
setting to make this world believable, possible, and wonderful." --Annie,
The Romance Studio,
November 18, 2007
"I'm not a big fan of science fiction, but this book was pretty good ... I would recommend it to many
people." --11-year-old reviewer,
Flamingnet Book Blog, August 6, 2006
"This book ... has one of the most well developed story lines and characters that I have ever
had the opportunity to read.... Journey Between Worlds, a true classic, is sure to be a
success in its republication!" --Amanda Roberts,
Reviews Today, May 25, 2006
"Deftly blending scientific possibility, suspense, and youthful emotion in the
first-person narrative, the author has projected a plausible picture of the
post-twentieth-century world--a world where pioneers on Mars are envisioned as
a continuation of the endless chain of settlers who have been moving to new
frontiers ever since the human race began."
--Horn Book, October 1970
"The 'Journey Between Worlds' is not just between Earth and Mars; it is also
between youth and adulthood, and between comfortable, ingrained mental
patterns and processes and true thought and openmindedness. For all this, the
trip to Mars is the catalyst or pivotal factor; and the author has made a
strong and meaningful statement about the reasons for continued efforts in
space exploration. Pretty much a girl's book, I hope it won't be read just by
science fiction fans. It's good writing and good reading."
--Luna Monthly, November 1971
"...An exciting space fiction novel. Young adults will find not only
adventure here in good measure but a satisfying love story as well."
--Catholic Library World, April 1971
"...Absorbing science fiction ... Intensive first-person
characterizations and a love story one can really care about."
--Wichita Falls Times, 10 January 1971
"Capable characterization of an adolescent, imaginative, convincing details of
the future and exciting setting make a total adventure."
--Elementary English, February 1972
Children of the Star
Description and ordering information
"The small press, Meisha Merlin, does remarkable work in re-publishing
science fiction. It is to be especially appreciated for this re-publication
of Sylvia Engdahl's 'Children of the Star' trilogy, here for the first time
in one volume.... [The novels were first] marketed as young adult books, but
there is nothing juvenile about them.... Engdahl tells an important and
pertinent story, a parable about the ethical uses of mythology. The book, in
style as in substance, is a kind of Old Testament of another time and
place.... Under what conditions is it justifiable to keep people in
ignorance? Should knowledge ever be sequestered? Who can decide what is good
for other people? Is it legitimate to use religion to control a population
at risk? Engdahl opens all these questions and more in these novels, which
read quickly; the writing is plain and direct, the only lyricism in the
stunning liturgical language she invents."
--Roz Spafford, San Jose Mercury News, 4 June 2000
"You will almost certainly come away enriched from Children of the Star,
but at the same time you'll probably find the experience in some ways
to have been a gruelling one--this is not an easy read, in any sense of that
term. Which is perhaps another way of saying that it's an extremely good
InfinityPlus, July 2001 (This review contains major spoilers -- read
the book first!)
"It all comes together beautifully. The Doors of the Universe is a riveting book....
These books explore big ideas about mankind and faith and survival. They also tell
a wonderful story of a young man trying to save his people and trying to live for Truth....
I highly recommend this trilogy for anyone who likes science fiction even a little bit."
Sonderbooks, February 2003
"What I loved about these books (and Engdahl's others) is that she pulls no punches
-- her characters must struggle with genuinely difficult questions, though they are often
quite young, and at times have to make exceedingly painful choices." --Mary Ann Mohanraj,
"Once again, Engdahl creates a believable and thought-provoking piece of SF/fantasy that doesn't
fall to the usual ray-guns-or-dragons cliches. The questions raised about freedom in this book kept
making me pause in the middle of a page, thinking deeply about what was being shown in the story....
For fans of originality/intelligence: There's plenty." --E. A. Solinas,
(top-10 reviewer), May 31, 2001
This Star Shall Abide
(Published in the UK as Heritage of the Star)
Description and ordering information
Winner of a 1973 Christopher Award (given for "affirmation of the
highest values of the human spirit")
"Individual characters and the society as a whole are credibly developed and
suspense is well maintained in an above average science fiction tale for which
a sequel is planned."
--Booklist, 15 May 1972
"...The story is noteworthy for its dramatization of the crucial meeting of
man, science and the universe."
--Horn Book, June 1972
"Tension-filled, beautiful and haunting."
--Commonweal, 17 November 1972
"This is not the electronic-light-flashing-exterminate-him-thing from outer
space type of science fiction. It is an allegory which poses one of the most
heart-searching dilemmas of the human race, perhaps in the C.S. Lewis
tradition. I mean Perelandra rather than Narnia.... This is a thought-
provoking book distantly related to Lord of the Rings and The Glassbead Game,
and may appeal to a similar readership."
--The Junior Bookshelf, London, December 1973
"...Both logically and consistently suspenseful.... This Star will
Abide a good deal longer than most here today, gone tomorrow sci-fi."
--Kirkus Reviews, 15 March 1972
"An excellent plot and remarkable character development make this tale of the
future highly satisfying and thought-provoking."
--Top of the News, American Library Association, January 1973
"Superior future fiction concerning the fate of an idealistic misfit, Noren,
who rebels against his highly repressive society.... Although there is little
overt action, the attention of mature sci fi readers will be held by the
skillful writing and excellent plot and character development."
--School Library Journal, 15 May 1972
"The concept of the culture is imaginatively and convincingly detailed, the
story line moves with brisk momentum, and the characters have solidity."
--Bulletin of the center for Children's Books, University of Chicago,
"...A powerful novel for any science fiction buff, but especially written
for the teenager.... Technology, truth, knowledge and freedom are words
given new meanings and could offer opportunities for today's reader."
--North American Moravian, June 1972
"I read this, fascinated, right to the end. The sequel that Miss Engdahl
promises might benefit from a reduction in soul-searching, but I'm sure it
will be worth reading."
--Christian Science Monitor, 4 May 1972
"This is more than an exceptionally fine book about outer space. It is a
wonderful book, perhaps telling the subtle story of many faiths. Watch for
this for awards in 1973."
--Fresno Bee, 12 November 1972
"In another superior and thoughtful science fiction novel, the author has
created a believable civilization ... on a far-off planet in a far-distant
time.... What happens to the hero Noren when he forces admission to the inner
city makes for fascinating reading. Happily, a sequel is expected soon...."
--Chicago Daily News, 2 December 1972
"Imaginative, carefully created science fiction."
--Dallas Times Herald, 17 December 1972
"...The depth of insight Noren is required to reach pushes this story
beyond most current writing for young people."
--Provident Book Finder, Scottsdale PA, 12 November 1979
"An excellent work of fantasy. So many of our human needs and qualities are
examined by this adventure that one cannot fail to be affected by reading it.
It would certainly make a non-lover of fantasy think again about trying the
genre.... The characters of this work are well drawn and evoke pride from the
reader who shares their dreams and struggle."
--Maine State Library, May 1980
Beyond the Tomorrow Mountains
Description and ordering information
"Andre Norton fans will definitely be interested in the books of Sylvia Louise
Engdahl. The present book [on a preceding list of 20 recommended as the best
original novels of 1973] is a sequel to This Star Shall Abide which I
unfortunately missed when it appeared. I'll try to make up for it by not
missing any more."
--Locus, Issue 153 (1974)
"Engdahl has carefully worked out the social structure and ecology of a
scientific society that has been transferred to a planet without metals.
What's more, she wrestles with deeply adult problems of an apparently
meaningless universe and of a people's right to know facts that may destroy
everything they hold dear."
--Psychology Today, August 1973
"More than most science fiction writers for young people, Engdahl's books are
concerned with individual motivation and ethical conduct; the writing style is
often heavy and therefore the book moves slowly, but it offers depth and
provocative ideas for the mature reader who wants more than just action."
--Bulletin of the center for Children's Books, June 1973
"The well-developed characters will interest many young adolescents whose
thoughts and questionings are similar to Noren's."
--School Library Journal, 15 September 1973
"Introspective readers will identify with Noren and his doubts and sense of
despair while the general science fiction buff will appreciate the further
experiences of Noren within the credibly developed society on a planet unlike
--Booklist, 1 June 1973
"Engdahl's science fiction I cannot praise highly enough. Anyone truly
interested in books of philosophical and moral depth for young people should
fix her name in his mind.... The questions posed are not easy, the answers
are rarely pat, but surely in a time of moral, social, economic and ecological
crisis they are extremely relevant."
--Provident Book Finder, Scottsdale PA, March-April 1974
"In a tribute to the intelligence of teenagers the author asks some thought
provoking questions.... The ideas of power, heresy, self-knowledge, and
acceptance are thoroughly examined in a book that is a testimony to the human
--News-Gazette, Martinez CA, 31 July 1974
"Asks some of those bigger questions that men like Buckminster Fuller, Paul
Tillich, Barry Commoner, John Galbraith and Noam Chomsky are asking in more
abstract terms.... Noren soon discovers that ... he is one of the few
who understand the limits of human knowledge, the tenuousness of life on their
planet, the place of belief in a technological society, and the need for
commitment if men are to achieve salvation. The answers Engdahl gives to such
vast religious questions may not please all readers, but the book is well
worth reading even if just to see how one modern writer conceives of life in
this complex era."
--Vanguard, Toronto, February 1974
"The fascination of both volumes lies in Engdahl's ability to create a many-layered society
with a tragic past and a doubtful future that depends on its ability to cope with a harsh,
brutal environment." --
Kirkus Reviews, 18 April 1973
The Doors of the Universe
Description and ordering information
"Although it is the third book of a trilogy, The Doors of the Universe
stands powerfully by itself as a quest for survival on a planet that is
basically alien to the Six Worlds' life forms. This is much more than an
adventure story. It is one man's realization of the need for change and his
slow acceptance of the responsibility to lead that change.... This is a
contemplative book, but one never gets bored with the story and it haunts the
reader long after it is finished."
--Journal of Reading, November 1981
"This Star Shall Abide and Beyond the Tomorrow Mountains ...
serve as solid foundation for this powerful culminating volume that treats in
far greater depth the philosophical/ethical/religious issues raised in the
earlier books.... Almost as much a character study (albeit of a very special
individual) as science fiction, Engdahl's latest story is certain to appeal to
the thoughtful good reader. High school."
--Booklist, 1 April 1981
"While this is a sequel ... it more than stands on its own as an exquisite
story of the lonely quest for knowledge and the burden of unsought leadership.
Noren is the archetype of the impetuous, brilliant, promising kid, prone to
rebellion and despair, and abhoring the pressure and reverence alternately
accorded to him--in other words, the ultimate 'different drummer' and ideal
adolescent protagonist. The technological, social, religious and
philosophical landscape of the planet is carefully depicted, but not overly
detailed, thus giving pleasure to voluntary readers and meat to creative
teachers of English or Social Studies."
--Voice of Youth Advocates, June 1981
"Engdahl again proves herself a master storyteller in this third book of her
sci-fi trilogy. As a converted sci-fi hater, I am again impressed with the
depth of ideas that she explores.... The constant twists and expansions of
plot keep the reader's attention from lagging."
--Provident Book Finder, Scottsdale PA, October 1981
"...The last few chapters become compelling, showing a power and mythic
--Locus, May 1981
"Author Sylvia Louise Engdahl makes you care about her characters. They are
not perfect, nor are they too cute to take seriously.... Readers will find
themselves caring for [Noren] and his problems. They will want him to
succeed, to mature, to pull himself together and survive.... Engdahl can make
a reader forget her characters are on another planet, forget that they may not
be human in precisely the way the people on this planet are, forget the
problems Noren is facing are simply fiction.... Humanity, she says, transcends
the definitions of outward form and physical location."
--Ypsilanti Press, 28 June 1981
"This book and its companions, This Star Shall Abide and Beyond the
Tomorrow Mountains, will become classics of science fiction. They will
not, unfortunately, be popular [with young people] because the intellectual
level and reading difficulty will restrict their circulation to the more
intelligent high school students.... I admire the care and precision with
which Engdahl has worked out the limits of the environment of this alien
world, but especially the careful delimiting to its morality: what is in the
best interests of the long-term survival of the race. Right up to the end of
the book I had no clue as to the brilliant way in which all the problems
raised would be resolved. And that makes a good book!"
--Children's Book Review, Brigham Young University, April 1981
"This is a very sophisticated and technical book.... The subject is definitely
popular, but the average child in eighth or ninth grade will not be able to
comprehend the theme. This book will do better as an adult novel."
--Association of Children's Librarians, Daly City CA, July 1981
Novels for Adults
Description and ordering information
Reviews of the Hidden Flame duology: Stewards of the Flame and Promise of the Flame
Reviews of the Rising Flame duology: Defender of the Flame and Defender of the Flame
The Planet-Girded Suns
The Long History of Belief in Exoplanets
Description and ordering information
"This is an important and interesting book. . . . The author's thought-provoking presentation on the subject should provide some fascinating reading." --Susan Raizer, National Space Society, May 2012
"Engdahl has created a well-crafted, well-researched and unique view on exoplanets, and is a must-read for those who want a different view on space than the usual technical one." --Ian Miller, Readers' Favorite,
18 December 2012
"Engdahl has marshalled an impressive and fascinating selection of primary sources--including a roster of believers that includes Newton, Ben Franklin, Walt Whitman, and rocket pioneer Robert Goddard; and . . . reminded us that our ancestors entertained a view of the universe that was larger and more imaginative than the history books lead us to believe. Challenging and original." --Kirkus Reviews, 17 October 1974
"By carefully reconstructing her story from voluminous notes on many writers, both well-known and obscure, Engdahl has given vitality and dimension to the idea of extraterrestrial intelligence." --Mirjana Gearhart, Cosmic Search, March 1979
"In a brisk, engrossing account Engdahl traces the theories and speculations concerning the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligent life throughout history. . . . This [book] is based on original research in primary sources and smoothly incorporates many quotations from scientists, philosophers, poets and theologians." --ALA Booklist., 15 January 1975
"The Planet-Girded Suns is a beautiful example of what the disciplined imagination can do. . . . It is a fine, carefully done history of the ideas about other worlds--nicely balanced in its presentation of the informational and mystical elements of the subject." --Horn Book,, February 1975
"Easy to read and on a timely subject approached from an original point of view, this also serves as a model to show how an idea is researched and documented." --School Library Journal, March 1975
"Senior high school students who are interested in this fascinating field will find much new and unusual information, with much of it from original sources not readily available." --Best Sellers, 15 February 1975
"Ms. Engdahl presents a fascinating overview of this idea during three and three-quarters centuries, using the words of scientists, philosophers, religious men, and poets. This book will have a very limited and highly specialized audience, but those few can hardly fail to be both intrigued and impressed." --Daphne Ann Hamilton, Appraisal, Spring 1975
"By piecing together fragments of the past, The Planet-Girded Suns has placed the belief in extraterrestrial life into sharp perspective."
--Anthony F. Miskowski, New Jersey State Museum Planetarium, Cluster, March 1975
"The substantial treatment of the history of the idea of other solar systems, based largely on research in primary documents, should make it of use to scholars." --Isis One Hundred Second Critical Bibliography of the History of Science and Its Cultural Implications,, ed. John Neu, 1977
Stories of Tomorrow (expanded edition)
Description and ordering information
"The stories are well-written, deeply thought out and a pleasure to read." —Sunday Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 12 December 1976
"The stories deal with tomorrow, but also with people." —The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon, 5 September 1976
"A interesting look at what it might mean to grow up in tomorrow's world." —Children's Books of the Year, Child Study Press, New York, 1976
"For nonfans as well as readers of science fiction. . .. Robert Pierik portrays a technically oriented society in which persons showing artistic talent are routinely reconditioned mentally. Rick Roberson . . . contributes a tale about contact between space explorers and a more primitive society that wants to develop in its own way; and Engdahl, writing in collaboration with Mildred Butler, explores an intriguing use of time travel." —Booklist,
15 September 1976
"Carol Farley's ‘The DILOPs are Coming' focuses on a young girl who encounters the caution of an anxious and overprotective mother while seeking to find her niche in an adult world. . . . Certainly one of the better stories in the collection, ‘The Mooncup' by Shirley Rousseau Murphy, describes the meeting of two young people from different planets and cultures who are both gifted with the power of thought transmission." —The World of Children's Books, University of Alberta, Spring 1977
"Roberson's quick moving, easy style, the nicely delineated characters, and the provocative themes make ‘The Astoria Incident' a success." —Delap's F & SF Review, October 1976
"Rick Roberson suggests in his story ‘Cloudlab' that only in dreaming can our future ever take form as it is intended. . . . And then there is that superb story ‘The Beckoning Trail' by Sylvia Engdahl and Rick Roberson in which a few of the crew members are able to comprehend the alien species which had signaled Earth. . . . Somewhat similar to 2001: A Space Odyssey, with a final act of courage and abandon, the more sensitive and accepting members of the group allow themselves to become consciously involved in the alien form of communication and thus leave ordinary earthlings far behind." —The World of Children's Books, University of Alberta, Spring 1976