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Psion (2007)

Psion (2007)

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3.97 of 5 Votes: 4
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076530340X (ISBN13: 9780765303400)
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About book Psion (2007)

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 out that the program is only for people like him: humans with alien blood. He never knew he was half Hydran, but this explains a lot about his life. Furthermore, he's supposed to have a telepathic ability that came with his heritage, but it was burned out at an early age because of a psychic shock. He enters therapy and training to learn to use his talent, and meanwhile, he forms uneasy relationships with the others in the group--a telekinetic named Ardan, a telepath named Derezady, an empathic teleporter named Jule--and he belongs to something for the first time in his life, even though there's still plenty of drama. However, not everyone is his friend, and the group appears to have a lot more to its purpose than teaching a bunch of misfits how to handle their gifts and live in society; they're being tapped to stop a psionic criminal named Quicksilver, and Cat is finding himself in over his head. Between attempting intimacy with Jule, angering Ardan and getting sent to the mines, getting severely punished, and being courted to join the villain's side, Cat is tired of playing games. But now that his life is tied inescapably to people he cares about, his old attitude is no longer enough, and he faces losing the world he's just gained.Cat is an absolutely relatable character despite having a tough exterior, and his tough-guy attitude hides a lonely soul with pain at its root. It's clear he's damaged through and through, and doing his best to work through it, and you can't help but love his mixture of sensitivity and badassery. And when he's kind of a jerk sometimes, you deal with it, because he's had very little to be proud of his whole life. Vinge also makes the future world feel plausible--it's in an indeterminate, far-future reality when humans have colonized the galaxy and had time to build cities that crush their older cities, with historical districts and everything, and you feel the layers of time in everything. But human nature is still there, unchanged, and we're all still playing our games even after we've met aliens and spread ourselves among the stars.

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 avoids technobabble. As a chemist, telhassium made me laugh. It shows absolutely no grasp of either chemistry or physics.Part II -- Cat's trip to Cinder is not compelling. The writing isn't poor, but the characters and plot stagnate for a little too long. And telhassium? Yeah, still laughing. At chapter 9 I ask myself "When's the story gonna start?" I don't find Cat a particularly interesting character and the others are too underdeveloped. On the positive side, Cat does go through a world of hell. I did like that about the story.Most of the telepathy stuff is done really well. It's fairly seamless, easy to follow, and compelling. Best part of the book, by far. A shame the reader doesn't get into it until the book's halfway through; if I wasn't invested as a curious SF author, I'd have stopped reading around page 150. And I don't subscribe to the belief that it's okay to write a boring first half to any book.Sometimes telepathy is used as a crutch for poor character development -- telling instead of showing. And all of the characters' names are too weird. Is there some sort of unwritten rule against running into people with normal names? Or at the very least ones that roll off the tongue. All of them sound like aliens.So in summary I think a heavy dose of revising would've made this an awesome book, putting more focus on the characters and plot -- especially the telepathy, which was done very well. I'd actually give it 2.5 stars. May not pick up the rest of this series anytime soon, but I will read The Snow Queen.

Do You like book Psion (2007)?

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 the story fit the YA parameters can only damage the story it should have been.

Compelling and I wanted to re-read. But this book, and each of the rest of the series, ends on a sour note without hope. It fits the setting, and a character with as many flaws as Cat has. I can handle far bleaker stories than this, if they complete with a hint of hope and redemption. That is absent from the Psion series.

"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 got "Psion" and sped through it in a few days. I was so hooked, I had to come up with tricks to put the book down, so I could get some work done: promising myself I could read another chapter if I got a certain task done, telling myself the next scene would be lame. Of course, none of the scenes were lame. Joan D. Vinge created an incredible combination of well-rounded characters, reflections on human nature, swift pacing, and complex world-building, all in 300 pages. I particularly liked that Cat is a believable criminal--hardened enough for living on the streets, but still young enough to be affected by the caring--or uncaring--of others. I see a lot of documents on juvenile delinquents, and Vinge's characterization felt very close to the truth. Vinge also isn't afraid to show Cat as a loser--he makes terrible decisions, and pays for them more than others might, because of who he is. His struggle against the hard world he lives in, and his difficulty in finding his way, made his story utterly compelling. The only reason I'm not re-reading "Psion" immediately is because I'm dying to see how "Catspaw" ends. Note: the "Special 25th Anniversary Edition" also includes the short story/novella "Psiren," a nice character bridge that takes place between "Psion" and "Catspaw."

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