Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Thank You, Warren Norwood

Michael Salsbury
Continuing on with the Happiness Experiment, tonight I would like to take a moment thank another author whose work touched me and resonated with me.  That would be the late Warren C. Norwood.  (It's becoming very depressing to note how many of my favorite authors are dead... which kind of violates the point of this experiment.)

Warren Norwood was a Vietnam War veteran who wrote science fiction, taught, and played music.  He was a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, authoring some 14 novels. Of those, I read:

  • An Image of Voices
  • Fize of the Gabriel Ratchets
  • Flexing the Warp
  • Planet of Flowers
  • Midway Between
  • Polar Fleet
  • Final Command
I think I was too young to appreciate the last three, which chronicled an event Norwood called The Double-Spiral War.  I found it an interesting series, but it wasn't a favorite.

The other four books, which made up The Windhover Tapes series, still rank among my favorite books. There are many reasons why.  Foremost among these is the complexity of the tale, and how well that complexity hangs together.  The main character, Gerard Hopkins Manley (a take on the name of the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins) is a "contract diplomat" working for the "Fed" (or "Federation" - but not the one from Star Trek).  Manley has visions of a past that has been wiped from his mind by the Fed for reasons unknown.  Those memories show him married to an alien princess, sometimes at odds with a military leader and sometimes friends with him.  In his travels, he encounters a professor who's researching a mythical literary character called The Tenderfoot, which seems to exist on almost every inhabited world.  He encounters a planet populated by ghosts, gets caught in battles, and even falls in love and gets married.  

One very interesting part of the books to me is that they're told through a series of journal entries, sometimes written by Manley and sometimes by "Windy" (his ship, the Windhover).  Conveying a complicated story like this in the form of a diary couldn't have been a simple feat.

The first three books in the series tell the complex story line. The fourth book tells what happened to Manley during the years he can't remember, and may be even better than the other books.

Over the years, I've owned many copies of The Windhover Tapes.  Invariably, if I loan them to someone they never return.  I don't know if that's because the recipients don't get around to reading them (and thus don't return them) or because they love the books like I did and want to hold on to them. Sadly, they are not available in electronic form.

It's time I got around to the "gratitude" part of all this.  I'm grateful that Norwood put the time and effort into crafting The Windhover Tapes, and that he kept writing, as it will give me more of his work to read.  I would have loved to see him bring out more books in the series, but his passing in 2005 ensures that we'll never see another.  

Thank you for your hard work, and your books, Mr. Norwood.  I'm sorry I was never able to convey that to you when you were still with us.

About the Author

Michael Salsbury / Author & Editor

In his day job, Michael Salsbury helps administer over 1,800 Windows desktop computers for a Central Ohio non-profit. When he's not working, he's writing, blogging, podcasting, home brewing, or playing "warm furniture" to his two Bengal cats.


  1. Don't know how long ago you wrote this post, but I was reminiscing about THE WINDHOVER TAPES: AN IMAGE OF VOICES and wishing I could read it again. It wasn't just a matter of simple enjoyment. That book made me happy during a difficult time in my life.

    I just ordered all four in the series off of Amazon.

    I also read THE DOUBLE-SPIRAL WAR books. They were a bit too obviously based on the war between the US and Japan, but they were still interesting. But they did not move me like THE WINDHOVER TAPES did. (I am also a big fan of Hopkins' poetry and enjoyed the lurking subtext.)

    I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed in your post. Sometimes an author is just there at the right time.