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The Cold War would be fought less with bullets and bombs than with technology. It would be waged by computers, spy satellites, and thousands of other intriguing inventions once imagined only in the pages of the kinds of magazines young Alice Norton did not want to be seen reading. S. and Soviet superpowers competed not just for influence on Earth, but in the very space above. The science fiction Norton had loved as a child was becoming a reality. 55 Smoke rises from the explosion of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945.

Norton listened. Inspiration Soon after she began working at the Cleveland Public Library, a young boy named John asked her for a story. As she later explained in the introduction to the novel he inspired, The Prince Commands, he “begged a story of me. ”10 John’s request motivated the aspiring novelist. She set aside three finished manuscripts and half-done work. Her brief time as a history major, and her mother, Bertha’s, love for the subject, again provided inspiration. Norton 41 42 andre norton knew how to research, and she had the resources of the Cleveland Public Library system at her disposal.

A few days later, Germany declared war on the United States, bringing America into the European conflict as well. After Roosevelt’s declaration of war, programs benefiting foreign nationals in the United States were greatly restricted. As a result, in late 1941, Norton’s job ended. Unable to rely on the bookstore and her writing as income, she reluctantly shut the doors on the Mystery House. By then she had learned the lesson many other writers who open such establishments quickly discover: Operating a bookstore has more in common with running a grocery store than being a novelist.

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