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Psion [Paperback]

Joan D. Vinge
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 6 2007 Cat (Book 1)
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 special anniversary edition of Psion contains a new introduction by the author and "Psiren," a story never before included in any trade edition of Psion. This tough, gritty tale of an outsider whose only chance for redemption is as an undercover agent for an interstellar government that by turns punishes and helps him, is as fresh and powerful today as it was in 1982.

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Review

"Strong, well-written, complex."
--The Horn Book on Psion
 
"One of the most impressive practitioners in the genre."
--Science Fiction Chronicle on Joan Vinge

About the Author

Bestselling author JOAN D. VINGE won the Hugo Award for her novel The Snow Queen. Her other novels include The Summer Queen, World's End, and Heaven Chronicles. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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IT STARTED WHERE it ended, in Quarro. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth it, to get to Catspaw Jan. 26 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Warning: This book is not as good as Snow Queen. It has a lot of the same lovely, anthropological attributes that Snow Queen shines with, but certain elements (ie the cardboard villain Quicksilver) are not as well conceived.
I do highly recommend this book for two things, which are 1) Cat. He is a great character and this book is spoken in his own unique voice, and 2) 'Catspaw,' the sequel to this book, is full-on excellent, and you will enjoy it more if you read this book.
The other complaint I have is the cover art. I mean, who is that supposed to be? Cat is a teenager in this book, and that dude looks 40. The original cover art was uglier, but at least it looked like Cat. The cover art for 'Catspaw' was so much better--did Micheal Whelan do this one too, and if so, was he half-asleep?
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5.0 out of 5 stars A loveable rouge Sept. 25 2002
By Morgan
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I've read all the Cat books, to date, and I greatly enjoyed them all. The writing is bright, sarcastic, funny, and touching all at the same time. Cat is completely engrossing and loveable, while still being tough and witty. If you enjoy sarcastic humour, a little romance, loads of action, neat mental powers, and hidden political themes- these books are perfect for you! I would read them again. In fact, I probably will, because I own all there. Psion, Cat's Paw and whatever the other one is called.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Love it Jan. 1 2004
Format:Paperback
I had no clue there was a book called PSION untill i went to a computer artwork site that made wallpapers of Buffy and Angel and Firefly[all totally awesome shows].I saw a challenge pic that a girl made using some characters in Angel, Firefly,and Smallville.The bottom said based on the book Psion by Joan D. Vinge.I thought id check it out and it was awesome.Read if you love science fiction.
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5.0 out of 5 stars psion Dec 17 2011
Format:Mass Market Paperback
this is an excellent novel. it is kind of a cross between William Shatner's Tek series and JD ROBB's series. it is futuristic, set in outer space on the crab nebula, and full of twists and turns. The characters are fleshed out well and interesting. i highly reccommend the book to all sci fi readers
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  37 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Telepathy has never been described better! July 31 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Branded as half alien by his emerald green eyes, homeless, illiterate Cat discovers his psionic talent and is plunged into a conflict that will test his mental powers, his strength of will, and his loyalties. On one side is the Center for Psionic Research, where the empath Jule offers Cat the only love he's known in his life and the Feds want to use him as just another tool; on the other is the rogue psion Quicksilver, ruthless and powerful, who offers Cat power beyond his dreams; and on yet another stand the Hydrans, psionic aliens, kin to Cat, who seek him as their promised savior and show him the keys to unlocking his amazing telepathic abilities. Cat's world is vividly and richly detailed, from the hard, jagged streets of Oldcity, to the glittering, acid beauty of the penal planet Cinder, to the complex layers of the characters' own minds. It is an amazing, absolutely believable future, an unforgettable world.
I first read "Psion" three or four years ! ago and fell in love with it, reading it until it literally fell apart (fortunately, I have since then acquired a new copy). I don't think I have ever read a better book on telepathy and telepaths. Joan D. Vinge explores not only the scientific aspects of psionics, but the characters who bear this gift/curse: what it feels like to be forever an outcast, punished for what should be revered, cursed for what should be a blessing. Humanity is both ugly and beautiful, and neither: characters such as Jule, beautiful outcast of a ruling family, Siebeling, the doctor with a wound in his heart that he will not let heal, and Quicksilver, whose psi is limitless and whose soul is empty, provide strong foils for Cat as he grows and changes over the course of the book, gaining, losing, and living. So much of the action takes place within the characters' minds that it seems like a brief telepathic experience--senses, memories, emotions are all given to you by Vinge's expert writing. Cat him! self is a fascinating character: tough, vulnerable, needy, ! cynical, so used to standing alone that he doesn't quite know how to react to someone caring for him, or him caring for them. Half-breed Hydran, he is accepted fully by neither humans nor aliens, reaching out without knowing where he is reaching to.
"Psion" is well worth the read, and more. It is not just about telepathic politics, or the workings of a future society. What it really deals with are the inner workings of people, minds and hearts--an endlessly fascinating topic. The two sequels, "Catspaw" and "Dreamfall", as well as the short story "Psiren" (takes place between "Psion" and "Catspaw", located in the anthology "Phoenix in the Ashes") should also be read, parts of Cat's continuing saga. All are action-filled, philosophical, and unbelievably good.
To say more would give away the fun. Read.
Enough said.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Psion May 31 2002
By C. Richards - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Psion is about a penniless orphan boy named Cat because of his strange appearance. For his entire solitary life Cat is discriminated against for reasons unknown to him. But one night he is caught by government officials, and instead of selling him into legal slave labor they send him to an institute for psychics. There he is told he is an exceptionally powerful telepath because rather than having a remnant of alien blood as do the other psychics he is half alien, which accounts for his catlike pupils, and the government wants his help in catching a renegade psychic who sells his power and wants to destroy those in power. This from the people who insult, abuse, mistreat, and cheat him and his kind whenever possible. When Cat is sold into the slavery by the people he had only just begun to trust and is then recruited by the feared Quicksilver he has to decide which side he's going to choose. Whether he is going to join Quicksilver and have riches rather than derision or whether he will risk his life and try to trick Quicksilver for the people who betrayed him and the empath who was the only one who ever cared. Only.... While he is there, he meets the other half of the family tree.
If you can get this book do it. You certainly won't regret it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Psion May 31 2002
By C. Richards - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Psion is followed by a short story in Pheonix in the Ashes, Catspaw, and then Dreamfall.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Clever Twist to the Cyberpunk Genre Dec 11 2012
By Winter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read this book decades ago when it first came out, and re-reading it today, it's still quite good. Sometimes a science fiction novel gets trumped by reality as time goes by: a book set in 2010 turns out not to be credible when they break out the flying cars. Psion doesn't have this problem: it's set fairly far into the future but it's also more about the main characters' psionic (mind) powers than anything else.

Meet Cat, a stray orphan from the underbelly of the otherworld colony of Quarro. Cat is half-alien, from a species called the Hydrans, and as such has been gifted with the power of telepathy: the ability to read minds. Dragged from the streets and thrown into a new world, Cat must learn to use his powers fast because there's a threat out there: a multi-talented terrorist named Quicksilver has been building his own group of psions to wreak havoc on society.

I won't give away the story to you beyond the setting, but I will tell you the world is an interesting one. Humanity seems to have run across the Hydrans at a point in the Hydrans' decline. There was some intermingling, but eventually the Hydrans ended up with the short end of the stick and for the most part have withdrawn. Those few Hydrans and halfbreeds left are looked down upon as 'freaks'. As with many works in the cyberpunk genre, characters are heavily flawed and have few redeeming qualities. The world is a harsh place, and the rewards for living in it are few and far between. Massive corporations rule the day, and for the colonies life is mostly hard and wanders into slave labor conditions.

Psion isn't one of the best books I've ever read, but it's still an interesting and entertaining story today. It's worth the read at the very least to get to the second book 'Catspaw', which grows our characters even more.
5.0 out of 5 stars The street-hardened kid with a heart of gold July 16 2014
By Swank Ivy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Joan D. Vinge has been my favorite author since middle school (and I was born in 1978, you do the math). Though I have been lost in some of her books because they were so complicated (she IS a master of intricate plots), I must say that her books were a very big influence on my life. When I graduated from elementary school and children's books, "young adult" was the next step, and I found that apparently I was supposed to start liking books about romance. So I read them . . . books about girls learning about love and life in really ridiculous ways, thinking this was the next step and I must've already read everything that was good. Well, wasn't I surprised when I came upon Joan D. Vinge's book Psion, about a boy in the future who finds he is half alien and half human and possesses the power to read others' thoughts? This is how I came to discover the lovely world of science fiction and fantasy, and was freed from the torture of romance (hehe!). Thank you, Ms. Vinge!

Psion is the first book in the series of books about Cat. It is a distant future science fiction novel, set on a planet called Ardattee: The new hub of human civilization. In their settling of the galaxy, humans have encountered only one alien race (called the Hydrans), and they are similar enough to humans on the genetic level that they can have children together. The first contact happened well before this book took place, though; their initial peaceful intermingling and later deadly clashing is in the distant past, with the humans "winning" over the aliens in the same way that settlers killed off, absorbed, or sentenced Native Americans to reservations. Ancient history for the present-day characters.

The book is about the character Cat in his late teens. Cat is caught by the police after one of his many crimes (trying to stay alive on the streets of Oldcity is not easy), and is taken into custody after a chase and almost escaping. He is offered the chance to participate in a government-run experimental program rather than serve his sentence by becoming a prisoner. He takes that chance, not knowing that they offered the position to him because they could tell he must have Hydran blood. He had no idea that he was half Hydran; he never knew his parents. But it becomes clear quickly that he is a halfbreed and a freak, which of course bothers him because for most of his life he'd been around humans who hated the aliens and some of it had sunk into him too.

He learns he is supposed to be telepathic but has "psionic dysfunction," caused apparently by a telepathic shock when he was very young. The therapists set about unraveling the knot his mind has become and releasing his "Gift." And soon enough, with the help of a corporate telepath named Derezady Cortelyou, he learns to use his talent. And when he joins the group, Cat bonds with Jule taMing, a girl who can teleport and feel others' emotions, and she helps give him a chance in an often tough environment. He has to learn to read and write when before he was illiterate, and he has to deal with the fact that the group's leader, a telekinetic named Ardan Siebeling (and also Jule's lover), hates his guts.

But soon enough, he finds the group is doing quite a bit more than just learning to get better with their different psionic talents and learning what it means to have all the normal people hate and fear them. They are actually training to fight against a psionic criminal named Rubiy--known as Quicksilver--who has committed numerous crimes with his multifaceted psionic talent. And Cat ends up thrown all over the universe because of it; Rubiy personally comes and tries to scout him to his side; Cat ends up in the Mines as a slave and only escapes an accident with the aid of a group of full-blooded Hydrans; he faces Quicksilver with Jule and Siebeling and has to stop him himself. And when it's all over . . . Cat is no longer just a street punk thief. He is a complex person who's been through a lot and learned the value of love, only to seemingly lose everything. This is an absolutely stunning character-oriented novel written in the first person, and it's amazing how much it influenced my writing. Please do yourself a favor and read this.
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