Catalyst by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
CatalystA Tale of the Barque Cats
The Barque cats are highly prized among spacers. They are the best type of cat a spaceship can have. They keep the vermin down and detect small leaks in the hull. They have their own Cat Person assigned to them. Chessie is the Barque cat on Molly Daise and Janina is her Cat Person. They have stopped at Hood Station. Janina wants to have Chessie checked since she is nearing the end of her current pregnancy. The crew of the Molly Daise is expecting to make a good bit of money on the sale of her litter.
Janina leaves Chessie in the vet’s area for a nap. She joins the veterinarian, Jared Vlast, for a trip down to Sherwood. While they are on the planet, there’s a fire in the animal lab. No animals are hurt, but Chessie is missing. It appears someone set the fire just to cover the theft of the valuable cat. Janina is worried and upset.
When Chessie is finally let out of her cage, she isn’t on the space station. She is in a barn and her litter is due any time. She meets another cat who also is expecting a litter, Git. They becomes friends. The only good thing there is the boy, Jubal. Chessie doesn’t know he’s the son of the catnapper. He is just excited to finally be getting a kitten. After the kittens are born, Jubal bonds with Chessie’s kitten Chester. They immediately click. Jubal’s dad had promised him a kitten and he chooses Chester. He doesn’t know there is a reward posted for the return of Chessie and her kittens.
Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough have created another fantasy science fiction world to enjoy in Catalyst. The cats are intelligent. Chessie has a running commentary in her head and talks with other cats and her kittens. Chester is also able to make himself know to Jubal. The Barque Cats are a creative species that are catlike with some extra powers.
Cats are important in this future world and to the impact this novel. I always like stories with cats as major characters. This book goes back and forth between the cats and the humans. There’s a major crisis that separates the animals from the humans and threatens them all. In fact, Catalyst is left open ended because there is more to the Barque Cat story – Catacombs is next..
Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough have written together before and are masters of their craft. They both have received major writing awards for their work. This is not one of their better novels, but it is still a good read. Their creativeness still makes novel worth reading.