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Catspaw--the novel

Catspaw is the second book in Joan D. Vinge's Cat series. Please read no further if you have not read this book and you don't wish to be exposed to mild spoilers.

Catspaw takes place several months after the first book, Psion, has ended. If I had to pick my favorite book (besides my own, of course, haha!) I'd have to choose this one. Now Cat is a little older, trying to find something to do with himself. With the credits he received for his contribution in the first book, Cat has joined a university and is in a study program. And suddenly he is kidnapped. His kidnappers explain to him that they need his help as a bodyguard for a rich woman . . . who happens to be related to Jule, about whom he cares very much. They need a telepathic guard because there have been attempts on the woman's life, and it would be difficult to kill her with a mind-reader watching over her. After some persuasion, Cat agrees to take the job, and they provide drugs that let him use his telepathic talent even though he destroyed it killing someone in the first book. Cat very much missed being a telepath and considers getting his gift back a main reason for taking the job.

And then he meets the taMings, and Elnear, the lady he is to guard. She is a bit sulky about having to deal with a telepath and does not like him around, but there is no other way. So Cat is thrown headfirst into a rich family of vips who dislike him and tries to learn how to act. And the plot thickens, quite a bit, as is always the case in a Joan Vinge novel. There is another psion among the taMings and Cat is trying to figure out who it is. Cat needs stronger drugs for his talent to work completely, so has to go to the wrong part of town to get what he needs and is almost killed, and ends up meeting a long-lost friend. Elnear, the woman he is guarding, is fighting a religious zealot for election to a council and may be losing the battle because of him. Cat is attempting to get better treatment for bonded workers in the mines. Cat is sleeping with the board controller's wife, and also with the board controller's son's girlfriend. (He seems to get laid a lot in this book.) And eventually, it all comes together in his plot to expose Elnear's competition, Sojourner Stryger, as a bigot, by using himself as bait.

The intricacy of this plot is simply dazzling, and the reality of Cat as an actual person is felt very strongly. It's a beautiful book that I have read again and again.

Other books by Joan D. Vinge: Psion and Dreamfall

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