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Psion (Cat #1)

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,787 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews

When first published, readers young and old eagerly devoured the tale of a street-hardened survivor named Cat, a half-human, half-alien orphan telepath. Named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, Cat's story has been continued by Hugo-award winning and international best-selling author Joan D. Vinge with the very popular Catspaw and Dreamfall. Now, 25 years later, this speci

Hardcover, 346 pages
Published December 1st 1982 by Delacorte Press (first published August 28th 1982)
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Mar 15, 2008 Kirsten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-pre-12-07, own
Cat, a street kid, is arrested and given a choice: he can submit to training to develop his latent psychic abilities, or he can be shipped offworld as an indentured laborer. Although he doesn't really believe he could be anything special, Cat chooses to take part in the training, and is swiftly drawn into a world of interplanetary intrigue. Vinge once again shows she can write sweeping science fiction and give it a human element. The "abused teen with psychic abilities" was done many times in th ...more
Nov 08, 2010 Dave rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One thing I've noticed as I rerereread this, in the context of years of gaming and gaming theory, is that the protagonist not only makes poor decisions much of the time, but repeatedly fails at standard "heroic" tasks. He makes messes of his relationships. He gets caught every time he runs. He loses every fight. He gets beaten, poisoned, enslaved, mindraped, and emotionally battered at every point throughout the story.

And yet the story remains compelling despite this.

Huh. Interesting.
cat, a half-breed kid trying to survive in the slums of big galactic city, tries to escape the forced labor press-gang, finds out he has a latent telepathic talent and ends up in a middle of a deadly game between greedy, corrupt human government and a psychopathic rebellious telepath. it doesn't end well for him or, frankly, everybody, but cat sure tries his best.

i don't think me and vinge are a good match - i remember vaguely liking her snow queen homage a while back, but the way this book went
Monique Atgood
Apr 18, 2012 Monique Atgood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julie Decker
Jul 16, 2014 Julie Decker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cat is an orphan turned street punk in the futuristic world of Ardattee, where human civilization has congregated in its new hub centuries ago. Living in the slums isn't easy, and people always seem unusually eager to hurt him, but he lives with it because he knows nothing else. Then one day he's caught at a petty crime and apprehended by police, after which he's surprised to be offered the chance to avoid incarceration if he'll participate in an experimental government program. He soon finds ou ...more
I originally began reading the Cat series by Joan D. Vinge when I was a sophomore in high school. I was instantly hooked by the foul-mouthed, lonely teenager hybrid known as "Cat." From the get-go I was hooked.

At the time, I read the books out of order (I read Catspaw first because the public library in the town where I lived didn't have the first book.)

It wasn't until after I read the third book, Dreamfall, that I learned about book #1 and found a copy through inter-library loan and read it..

May 26, 2016 Fritze rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book and will look for more in the series, though it is complete on its own. This is solid science fiction with some social and political undertones that make it right up my alley. It's also a rather quick read, perfect for summer.

First published in 1982, the themes of this book are still relevant today. The book shows inequality and poverty, a hierarchy of citizenships, and humanity's tendency toward violence. Dark themes, but they are balanced by a light tone and hints at alter
Nov 03, 2015 Eero rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
From the introduction I learned that this was a very early effort which the author later shaped up into publishable form. I think it kind of shows. The prose is fine, but I had difficulty believing in the world she set up. Humans and aliens interbreeding is a common trope, but I don't think it makes sense, unless we assume that Earth was a "lost colony". But today we know for certain that humans evolved on Earth and share DNA with everything on the planet, so that is not an option. Also, psionic ...more
Brooke Banks

Recommendation: solid sci-fi novel about a street urchin turned caged lab rat turned hero. Fantastic settings, character progression, and ending with one small maybe plot hole.

Rating: 3 stars for being above average but still missing something, though I can’t figure out what and did read the series out of order – so this maybe amiss if you read it chronologically.

Loved Cat’s character and progression, I really connected with him
Focused with a straightforward plot that never loses steam
Apr 27, 2016 Marie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"She'd gone ahead of me to help me, but it hadn't been personal. It was only a kind of reflex action, like pulling away from a flame; something you did to stop your own pain. I felt strange when I realized that; invisible. I didn't know what to think. So I didn't think about it for long."

Those are the thoughts of Cat: street-punk, orphan, and a telepath who has mentally blocked his earliest memories and his abilities.

I picked up "Catspaw" first--#2 in this trilogy. Halfway through that book, I
Lisa Eskra
I'll give the author credit where it's due. She can definitely write well. Not surprised at all that she won a Hugo Award.

Liked the prologue. Nice way to toss the reader into the world. Good pacing (if a little confusing), good POV work. More tension would've made it outstanding.

Part I -- she drops into first-person POV, which works but Cat's voice isn't interesting. If I can't empathize, I don't care. Too much background info early on, could've worked that into the story better. Pet peeve: she
Anne Barwell
Aug 20, 2010 Anne Barwell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, wish-list
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 16, 2014 Swankivy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favoritebooks
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
I first read this book when I was a tiny thing. I can't remember how old exactly, but probably around the time I was fourteen? I remember buying the second sequel, Dreamfall, when it was new in hardcover, and I'd have been around 16 then.

Anyway, though it had been many years since I read this book, I remembered it and its sequel Catspaw with great affection. So, I re-read it (in May 2010, approximately). And I didn't quite like it, but at the same time I didn't quite feel able to be articulate a
Daniel Franks
Jun 03, 2014 Daniel Franks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading this book when I was much younger (no I am not going to tell you my age), and I remember quite enjoying it. Reading it now with more experienced eyes and a more critical eye towards writing I have a very different opinion of the book.

I still enjoy the basis of the story and I think Mrs Vinge tells an amazing story it has its faults. The story is mostly about a telepath, so that being said there is some unspoken dialogue in the story. The transition between the unspoken and sp
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 01, 2013 Heesoo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing itself is somewhat childish and shallow, but overall the quality of writing remains consistent and the book is an easy page-turner. The premise is nothing original, but the plot retains a certain degree of originality that I appreciated very much. I was thankful that Vinge did not try to force romance into a story that clearly does not require one. The characters are interestingly portrayed, though they remain flat. Vinge does not try to cover up the characters' flaws--rather, she pr ...more
Ruby Hollyberry
I didn't actually lay hands on a copy of this until much later than the second and third books. And I didn't hurry to acquire THEM, as I'd not enjoyed the "Queen" books, which seemed like dumbed-down Melissa Scott mixed with imitation Sydney J. Van Scyoc. But I loved the second and third books dearly. They were just what I like - intense, compassionate, misunderstood protagonist, complex and intricate world that reminds you that history's mistakes are likely to get repeated, and fast-moving acti ...more
Jul 04, 2016 Myrtland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read the 2nd book in this series over 20 years ago and never finished the series. Catspaw was one of my favorite books growing up, glad I picked this one up again. The characters are compelling enough that I still remember some of the back story years later.
May 09, 2011 Bluegravity rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you like books with oppressed alien species who have psychic abilities, this is definitely a good book choice. This is a trilogy, and my favorite of the series is the second book; least favorite the third. The book is very graphic in its presentation of the depravity and often cruel nature inherent in humanity, especially to those of the unknown or different. *slight spoiler*Psion follows the events of Cat, an orphan half-breed whose abilities have been muffled by traumatic experiences. The o ...more
Jun 11, 2013 Kris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it
Well, this didn't live up to my expectations. I felt the characters were not as well-developed as they could have been and I never really connected with the protagonist. U also felt his dialog was a bit of a mish-mash. At times he used "ain't" and other slang but then his internal thoughts and other dialog sounded like someone well-educated. I realize this is a YA novel, but it still felt a little flat and incomplete. Perhaps a younger person would have enjoyed it more. I will say that the main ...more
Jun 22, 2014 G.M. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
1 of my Top 10 Favorite Books of all times!!! I love CAT!!!!! Hope there is another book in this series...
Feb 08, 2013 Denise rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this back in the day, and I remember liking the character while being disappointed in how light-weight it felt after The Snow Queen. For some reason I don't think I realized it was supposed to be YA. Actually I think literature as a whole would be improved if the whole concept of YA was dumped in a hole. Either a story is good or it's not; it's as long and complicated as it needs to be; how graphic it is depends on how graphic it has to be to tell the story. Manipulating things to make th ...more
Larry Mills
I read this book 27 years ago and have been trying to remember the name of it for the last 10. While I do not remember much of the story now, I remember enough to know that I liked it, and in reading about it now I find that it is a trilogy, so I may wish to reacquaint myself with this book and continue reading the series. (And also see if my own children would be interested in it.) The cover shown here is not the one I remember though, when I read the book it had the original 1982 cover, which ...more
Feb 26, 2013 Marianne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mine, sci-fi
This book teeters on the edge between three and four stars for me. It's the first "Young Adult" labeled book I've read that didn't seem ridiculously one-dimensional or condescending. It gives a solid backdrop of the world, and Cat, a young man grown up from the streets and ripped from everything familiar, gives a realistic feel of what someone would do with the trials thrown at him. And the psi seemed reasonable, never a moment where I wondered, "Why didn't they just use this power earlier?" It' ...more
Nov 22, 2014 Darren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Found this classic in the closet. Pretty good young adult novel with a sci fi backdrop. Even when this book was written, it appears dystopian futures mix easily with the genre. Compelling characters with their own motivations. Feels like a complete story though there are sequels.
Om Misra
Dec 23, 2014 Om Misra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I believed that I may have read this book many years ago as I picked this up but I was happily surprised as I decided that I must have read something similar and then made the connection after I finished and saw the other titles that the author had written, including "Cat's Paw", which I'm certain I did read and enjoy. Cat is the protagonist and this book tells the tale of Cat's first adventures with his telepathic powers and coming to terms with his missing parents and mixed race background.
My first introduction to a grim-dark future for the YA market. Haunting.
Apr 24, 2011 Benjamin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Decent book overall - Character development a bit lacking in areas, as well as back story being fairly minimal. Other aspects that were relatively weak include having several different psi abilities mentioned, then promptly ignored. Still, managed to maintain my interest. Strength is primarily in that there were no overwhelming flaws; this is a book that you will probably keep reading, but won't look back at.
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Joan D. Vinge (born Joan Carol Dennison) is an American science fiction author. She is known for such works as her Hugo Award-winning novel The Snow Queen and its sequels, her series about the telepath named Cat, and her Heaven's Chronicles books.
More about Joan D. Vinge...

Other Books in the Series

Cat (4 books)
  • Catspaw (Cat, #2)
  • Dreamfall (Cat, #3)
  • Alien Blood: Psion / Catspaw (Cat, #1-2)

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“To be alive was to be disappointed. You tried and failed and kept on trying, never knowing whether you'd ever get what you wanted. But sometimes we get what we need.” 15 likes
“Jule was a poet—poetry was like psi, she said, like thought, a thing that compressed images to essence.” 0 likes
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