Psion Paperback – Mar 6 2007
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“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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
If you can get this book do it. You certainly won't regret it.
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.
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.