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The Witches of Karres

(The Witches of Karres #1)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  2,490 ratings  ·  164 reviews

Captain Pausert thought his luck had finally turned—but he did not yet realize it was a turn for the worse. On second thought, make that a turn for the disastrous*.

Unlucky in love, unsuccessful in business, he thought he had finally made good with his battered starship Venture, cruising around the fringes of the Empire and successfully sel
Paperback, 400 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by Baen (first published 1966)
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Average rating 4.16  · 
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Ian Wright
Aug 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Book
The Witches of Karres started life in 1949 as a short story, and then in 1965-1966 Schmitz expanded it into a full novel by adding a couple of short novellas. In 2005 Eric Flint did a bit of editing work (Mainly removing a lot of references to smoking and some other points that badly dated the story) and it was released as part of Baen's reissue of Schmitz's most popular works.

Witches of Karres is classified as a space opera, but really it's more like a space operetta - Light, fun, and f
Charles  van Buren
What a delight!

Captain Pausert, a trader from the Republic of Nikkeldepain, is just trying to make a profit in order to straighten out his affairs, avoid a potential jail term and return to his secret betrothed in a very old, somewhat decrepit, borrowed space craft. Then he meets three witches of Karres and his plans, in fact his life, are turned upside down, sideways, inside out, etc. But is that very bad or just maybe very good? Who knows. Just come along for an enjoyable sci-fi romp. Part sci
Dec 22, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melody by: Kiri
This was a swooping delight of an old-school sci-fi adventure. It was written back in 1966 and I'd never heard of it until last week. The writing was inventive- so inventive, in fact, that whenever Schmitz found himself at what could be a sticky plot point, he invented a new word/entity/force to get his heroes out of the jam. So just rell the vatch and go along for a dizzying, ridiculous and enjoyable ride. Goofy like Pratchett, only with less internal coherence. And I don't mean that in a bad w ...more
Apr 26, 2017 marked it as xx-dnf-skim-reference
Pedophilia trigger. These are not witches disguised as children, but rather children who have developed certain talents. And there is much talk with the captain of approaching marriageable age, which is apparently 16, at least for girls.
2.5 stars. Decent but not great. It could be that since I had just finished Santiago by Mike Resnick (which I thought was fantastic) and another good Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett (Sourcery), this book suffered from the comparison between those other books. I may re-read this in the future as I seem to be in the minority of not loving this book. Still, it was fairly entertaining.

Nominee: Hugo Award Best Novel.
Dec 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf, classic
This is one of my favorites!!! A dazzling adventure with witches, spaceships and a dangerous species from another dimension.
And in the midst of it there is the Captain who only wanted to make enough money and gain a good reputation to marry his secret fiancee. But there is a little witch who has other plans ....
This book is just a lot of fun, very good written and with an original storyline.
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Excellent! A wonderful - I guess the word would be rollicking - read. In many ways, it reminds me of those old sci-fi serials. It seemed like they'd gotten through one life-threatening crisis when another one hit!

It's hard to believe this was written in 1966! I felt like there was nothing that really dated this. It was fun, humorous, exciting... I loved it.
Peter Tillman
Dec 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Witches of Karres is an old-fashioned science-fantasy space opera, written with a light, sure touch and with Schmitz's distinctive panache. This is fizzy, sparkly entertainment -- the plot goes tripping and skipping across the Galaxy, via some rather appalling transportation devices (such as the well-named Sheewash drive and the dread Egger Route). Capt. Pausert and the lively young witch-sisters -- Maleen, the Leewit & Goth -- face pirate attacks, sneering Sirians, sneaky spies, trumped-up ...more
Jun 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf, pulp-sf, owned
This is one of those semi-forgotten underground classics that, like many people, I'd heard of but never read or indeed even seen available anywhere. So I was reasonably pleased to find a copy on my most recent foray to the used bookstore.
Calling this science fiction is really to distort the term beyond all meaning, this is a perfect example of what is sometimes referred to as science fantasy. Sure, there are spaceships and ray guns and various unexplained technological devices but there are als
Manuel Alfonseca
Mar 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Seventh and last volume of the complete works by James H. Schmitz published by Baen Books, edited by Eric Flint. It contains the novel of the same title, which starting from a simple idea (the protagonist's meeting with three witch sisters, children of the witch planet of Karres) goes through always more involved adventures and convoluted solutions until a wild crazy ending beyond all probabilities, where the protagonist solves all the problems of the galaxy, invaded by aliens from another unive ...more
.??? from childhood: ok, why did i read this... twice? exactly the opposite from my usual sf fare, exactly the sort stanislaw lem probably hated, characterized as juvenile adventure, not remotely science fiction, a ridiculous, playful, illogical, pulp exemplar of 'space opera'... read this first when i was about twelve, or at least the first two chapters in sf hall of fame as a novella. remember it even then as rather fantasy dressed in science fiction clothing...

so as an adult read it as a book
Peter Plantec
Mar 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Schmitz started this series of two books finsihed with "The Wizard of Karres." I first read the Witches when I was a young person and remember that I liked it very much. I decided to read it again, maybe 40 years later and I still liked it. That says something. It certainly isn't any great piece of literature, but it has lasting charm. It's about a scifi piece about a spaceship captain that rescues three little girls who have been enslaved on a miserable planet. He buys them and then takes them ...more
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Space opera fun! Roughly the first third of this was originally a short story (1949), and the main character reminded me strongly of Han Solo. The plot expands beyond that point, and it eventually became the shared world of other writers resulting in a trilogy. Nominated for the 1967 Hugo award, it's just plain fun.

This is probably my first exposure to this author, known as "a craftsman writer" who wrote many strong female characters. The three juvenile witches are certainly savvy in the ways of
Sep 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a personal favorite of mine. It embodies an adventurous, light hearted style of classic SF. Mysterious planets, strange aliens, interesting characters lots of humor. Not for everyone, perhaps, but it has a treasured place on my bookshelf.
Dennis Hearon
May 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scif-fi
What a pleasure, finally, to reread a book I hadn't touched in several decades and find that not only did it hold up well over time but that I still thoroughly enjoyed it. I did lower my rating to four stars (really 4.5) since, while I REALLY enjoyed it, it no longer qualified as "amazing" compared to many of the books which I have read in the years passing between my readings. It is a little hard to characterize the book. I guess you have to call in science fiction since it does involves spaces ...more
Nov 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This is classic '60's space opera, which hold up well today. It takes place in a universe in the far future when humans have spread throughout the galaxy and have speciated to some extend, most obviously those humans known as the Witches of Karres. The Witches seem to have magic, or to be able to sense and manipulate a strange force in the universe enabling them to manipulate matter in various ways. Sounds a bit like Star Wars, no? Indeed, one wonders if George Lucas was familiar with the novel. ...more
Tom Burkhalter
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
On the Ace Science Fiction edition of this book, which I bought at the age of 14, one of the plugs was "a slam-bang space happy fantasy!" Fans of the "Firefly" TV series will find much to love in this book -- Captain Mal of the Serenity and Captain Pausert of the Venture would understand each other, I think. I reread this book after some forty years and found it was still good fun, even if a little more simple than I recalled. Nonetheless, there's something about the lure of a risk run in the Ch ...more
Jun 19, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dropped
Truly horrible.

There aren't any structure or order in any of the story elements. It was like I was swimming in a torrent of meaningless words and sentences which do not connect with each other to form a shape to suck you into the story. The story itself was interesting but the execution fails miserably. Most of the time I had a hard time figuring out what was going on since the logic and flow of the story made huge jumps. Most of all, there are not any explanations behind the mechanics. Even th
Storyline: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Writing Style: 3/5
World: 3/5

Some authors have the uncanny ability put abruptness, slapdash, underdevelopment, and ludicrousness to good use. James H. Schmitz gave us a fun tale without pretension. The Witches of Karres warded off hard science fiction strictures and instead effortlessly embraced the weird. This playful jumble started to cohere at about two-thirds of the way through the book, to the detriment of the tale. As the plot coalesced into a more traditional f
Jackie "the Librarian"
This one's an old SF classic with a little bit of witchcraft mixed in. It's been a while since I've read it, but there was space travel, and some kind of special warp drive, powered by magic. The magic comes from three sisters, who are the witches of the title. They meet a pilot, and he is helpless in their clutches. He falls for one of them, but they have other plans.
Lots of fun, I love the mix of SF and witchcraft, and the sly sense of humor the sisters have.
D.L. Morrese
Jul 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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!
Chris Gager
My book is an inter-library loan from the Bangor Public Library's Archive Room. Hardbound from 1966, though the first story, which I read in the new-ish collection "Agent of Vega" comes from back in 1949. Mr. Schmitz is a reliably entertaining purveyor of classic space opera with female protagonists/heroines. He's not up to the 4* level of Jack Vance, but he's worth reading. I've noticed some themes already that are suggestive of "The Demon Breed." More about that later. Gotta go to work now.

May 08, 2017 rated it liked it
A co-worker thrust this one on me. One day at work, he came up to me and handed me a ratty old paperback from the 1980s (actually it was from the 60s, but this copy was 1983), and said, you have to read this ! I just read it and I really think you'll love it.

So, with much trepidation I did. Book rec's don't always work out. And co-worker and my tastes don't always coincide. What's that phrase? You say tomato, I say tomatoe....? Anyhow, I read it and liked it a lot better than I thought I would.
Daniel Shellenbarger
Oddly enough, this book first caught my attention because I've been tearing through Eric Flint's 1632 series and noticed Sorceress of Karres shelved alongside them at my local library. Out of curiosity I did some checking on goodreads and was surprised to find that the book was not only a sequel to another author's work but to a book that is now almost 50 years old. Doubly intrigued I reserved a copy and I'm certainly glad I did. This book is a rare gem among older science fiction, particularly ...more
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable story originally written in the 1940s as a short story and later expanded into novel/novella length in the 1960s. At times the writing lost me as the author went from one line of thinking into another from one paragraph to another and I'd have to go back and see if missed something but, as it turned out, I hadn't. :/ But other than that I really enjoyed this book! I want to read more of Captain Pausert and the witches' adventures! And I'm curious what the captain is up to with putti ...more
Charlotte Hunter
Mar 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The best space opera thriller ever written. Bar none. Pausert, a ship's captain (and sole crew member) rescues three young sisters from slavery, on the planet Porlumma, and agrees to take them to their home on Karres. Suddenly Pausert is the focus of unwelcome attention, and slowly he realizes the citizens of Karres possess abilities desired by many, understood by few. Chased from one star system to the next, Pausert and one of the sisters, Goth, must stay alert, alive, and figure out how to han ...more
E.T. Ellison
Jul 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Dated, but so what? A classic scifi-ish adventure tale and a personal feelgood fave. Each time I read it I really, really, really want to find a way to move to Karres and be able to manipulate klatha energy (can I mommy, please can I?). I first read it as a short story in one of the scifi magazines in way-back-when. Not sure how many times I've read the book, but it's a bunch. I still read it every few years when I feel the need for something that delivers a reliable dose of pure fun. Do I care ...more
May 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Young Capt Pausert is like the proverbial the duck out of water in dealing with three young women he rescues. In trying to return them to their parents after freeing them from slavery he discovers they really are members of a group he had considered urban legends. Maleen, Goth, and the Leewit direct him to their home world where he finds they are witches from the not so mythical planet Karres.
Now he finds having actually met the witches he is subject to laws concerning contact with this group an
Tom Craig
Dec 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed the 1949 version when I read it in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame volume 2, so I was excitedly interested when I learned that James Schmitz had expanded the initial story. The expanded version was even better than the original! There are suspense, intrigue, and adventure on a galactic scale, but the book never takes itself too seriously. Captain Pausert gets into one mess after another and gets out of them all delightfully and entertainingly while learning about the amazing po ...more
Aug 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
One of my favorite stories, largely because of the humor (both situational and as intrinsic to the characters) and the unconventional characterizations. A clever plot packs a lot of action and character development in a short space. Like Terry Pratchett, Schmitz has written what appears superficially to be a lighthearted romp but which includes a great deal of subtle (and often overlooked) complexity and depth. The focus is less on science and more on issues related to culture, convention, tradi ...more
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James Henry Schmitz (October 15, 1911–April 18, 1981) was an American writer born in Hamburg, Germany of American parents. Aside from two years at business school in Chicago, Schmitz lived in Germany until 1938, leaving before World War II broke out in Europe in 1939. During World War II, Schmitz served as an aerial photographer in the Pacific for the United States Army Air Corps. After the war, h ...more

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The Witches of Karres (4 books)
  • The Wizard of Karres (The Witches of Karres, #2)
  • The Sorceress of Karres (The Witches of Karres, #3)
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