The Day of the Ness

~ A Novel by Andre Norton

Written with Michael Gilbert



Synopsis ~

Write-up from the front flap of 1975 dustjacket ~

The Day of the NESS
“Ness. . .evil. . .
“Ness. . .danger. . ."
Young science fiction buffs will read on breathlessly as nine-year—old Hal traces this frantic S.O.S. to a group of friendly space aliens held captive inside a mountain by the evil Ness. Hal, with the help of the little Think-Think, the Stalker, and some of the other aliens, comes up with an ingenious solution which foils the plan of the evil N ess to take over the world. ~


Write-up from the back of Trade-paper edition ~

The aliens had arrived and settled in the mountain top ten years ago, when Hal was just a baby. Hal's dad had caught only one glimpse of them in all that time. There had never been another sign that they were still there.

Suddenly one day when Hal's dad was in Washington, the Aliens sent an S.O.S. Hal decided he must respond to the urgent call for help. That same day he and Susie, his cat, were led into an underground city by the aliens. They were strange looking creatures - some seemed to be all head, while others seemed to be all body; some could fly and others just floated. The aliens were in trouble; their situation was nearly hopeless. In fact, their only hope was the boy, and as it turned out, his cat.

But before the day was over, Hal and Susie saved not only the friendly aliens but, most probably, the world, from their evil captors -- The Ness.


Write-ups from fans ~

An alien spaceship had landed on a mountain-top when Hal was just a baby. The government set up a scientific project to investigate, and wound up creating a "trading rock" to exchange goods with the extremely shy aliens. all was going well until some ignorant and superstitious townsfolk destroyed the trust between man and the aliens. Now ten years later the aliens have finally communicated again, but young Hal is the only person to respond. What he finds is not one but two species of aliens, one enslaved by the other and asking for human help to free themselves. ~ SL


While Andre wrote several books considered Juvenile or Young Adult, this one is the one that most fits the classification. A space ship of small timid aliens crash on Earth while fleeing domination by another alien species, The NESS. They have dug into a mountain and the government has set up a research station to study them. Eleven-year-old Hal lives with his father at the research station. One day, while his father is in Washington DC reporting his meager findings and failures to communicate with the aliens, Hal receives a message pleading for help. Hal and his cat, Susie go to the site and meet several types of creatures that seem to function together as a single symbiosis. These are the most remarkable aliens that I have ever run across--some seem to be all head some appear to be all body, some fly some float and another type acts as the brains for this conglomerate. They all want Hal to help them defeat the Ness who have followed them to Earth to use them as slaves and eventually overrun the human race. This task is made harder by the fact that the Ness have captured their "Big Think-Think", so Hal has to come up with a plan. This book is heavily illustrated, in fact, it was written based on the drawings by SF artist Michael Gilbert. ~ PG


Reviews ~

Kirkus Reviews ~ Issue: March 1st, 1975
When the government observation station is left unmanned, Hal and his cat Susie are summoned to help the little aliens who have landed nearby escape from some new arrivals from outer space -- the evil, blobbish Ness. Hal's help is needed because the aliens can't plan without the leadership of their head Think-Think, whom the Ness are holding in chains. Sure enough he calls on the Gotchas -- those rock-like animals who can trip an unwary intruder -- and comes up with a slick solution. Gilbert visualizes these manic creatures with enthusiasm and they are a nice break from the humdrum reality that beginners like Hal are usually stuck with. 


Various reviews ~ For more info and other listings see Articles Over the Years

1975 by Frederick Patten in Delap's F&SF Review #2 (fnz), May
1975 in Bulliten of the Center for Children's Books, September
1975 by E. Haynes in School Library Journal, October
1976 by Charles N. Brown in Locus #185 (fnz), January 29


Dedications and Acknowledgements ~

For Mom and Dad, Sheila,
and of course Andre,
whose books
gave me pleasure
from the beginning.


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1975) Published by Walker, HC, 0-802-76195-X, LCCN 74078111, $5.95, 119pg ~ cover & illustrations by Michael Gilbert {Orange paper Boards}
  • (1976) Published by Dell Yearling, TP, 0-440-01848-8, # 008-010, $1.25, 119pg ~ cover & illustrations by Michael Gilbert
  • (1978) Published by Pocket (Archway), PB ~ cover by unknown
  • (2008) Published by Laurel Leaf, PB, 0-440-41848-8, $6.99, 120pg ~ cover by unknown
  • (2020) Publihed by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency (Worldbuilders Press), DM, 978-1-68068-160-4, $3.99, 77pg ~ cover by Matt Forsyth & illustrations by Michael Gilbert
  • (2020) Publihed by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency (Worldbuilders Press), TP, 978-1-68068-012-6, $7.99, 102pg ~ cover by Matt Forsyth & illustrations by Michael Gilbert

View a cartoon by Michael Gilbert drawn for Andre. From her scapbook collection.

View the Original contract

For information on editions currently available visit the Book Store

Interior Illustrations; Michael Gilbert, 1975



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