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Psion (Cat #1)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  1,561 ratings  ·  47 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 popularCatspaw and Dreamfall. Now, 25 years later, this specia ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by Tor Books (first published August 28th 1982)
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Community Reviews

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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
Monique Atgood
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julie Decker
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
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.
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..

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
"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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
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
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 3 of 5 stars
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
1 of my Top 10 Favorite Books of all times!!! I love CAT!!!!! Hope there is another book in this series...
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
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
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.
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.
Jan 26, 2014 Jasmine added it
Shelves: tor-books
My first introduction to a grim-dark future for the YA market. Haunting.
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.
I thought I read this in high school and really liked it, but now I'm wondering if I only read the second book in the series? I didn't remember anything about Psion, and despite the trouble psychic teenager (all of which count in the pro column), I found it boring when reread. The question is, should I even broach the second book, or let it remain a fond memory?
The characters in Psion are phenomenal, and Cat's development is among the best I've ever seen in a fictional character. (Thank you, Ivy, for loving this book and thus allowing me to share in its greatness.) What I liked best about Cat is the way he feels. Joan D. Vinge can convey feeling so deeply, and this is true for the entire trilogy.
Scottsdale Public Library
Homeless, illiterate Cat makes an engaging and unlikely hero in this futuristic tale of psychic powers, aliens and grimy underworlds. Cat is half human, half alien and wholly ostracized for both his genetics and his lifestyle until it turns out he has powers that everyone wants to use. Great start to an interesting series. -- Rebekka
Abused teenager discovers special psychic power and plows through various hardships in order to Be Heroic. Cyberpunk lite with telepathy. Not at all horrible, just -- been there, done that. (Might have been less been there, done that, back in the 80s, when it was originally published.)
Apr 22, 2008 Tori rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who likes futuristic fiction, mind-readers, and people with cat eyes
This was my first experience with the science-fiction/fantasy genre. I was in the fall of my 8th grade year when accidentally got ahold of was misplaced in the juvenile section of the Alliance Library. I became an instant fan of Joan D. Vinge and the genre!
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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)
The Snow Queen (The Snow Queen Cycle, #1) The Summer Queen (The Snow Queen Cycle, #3) Catspaw (Cat, #2) Dreamfall (Cat, #3) Ladyhawke

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