Short story review: C.A.T, by Rosie Oliver
Y’know, I would dearly love to throttle whoever made that cover. I actually assumed it had been done by the author at first, but I gather that this is not the case.
Meet C.A.T., a robotic feline with self-learning capabilities. Oh, by the way, self-learners are illegal on the Triton Base. If its abilities are discovered, it will be terminated, so it’s been keeping a low profile. Until now!
There’s trouble in the Neptune System. Space-planes are crashing into asteroids, and one robo-cat is destined for the spare parts room, should anything happen to its owner, Commander Zacman. When he sets out on a suicide mission to find the rogue asteroids, C.A.T. stows away on board. Its mission…keep Zacman alive…at all costs…or suffer the fate of being permanently deleted.
My rating: 3/5
In brief, C.A.T. is a good story which could well have been a lot more than good had it only been a little bit longer. The writing is great – clear, concise and with just the right level of description – but the plot feels…well, “compressed” is what immediately springs to mind. There were a couple points where things moved just a little too quickly, for which a little bit of expansion would not have gone amiss.
C.A.T. itself was a very enjoyable viewpoint to follow. As a self-learning AI it has a clearly defined personality but, at the same time, it is still a robot rather than a truly living being. Thus, all of its thoughts and actions are intricately linked to the processes of its software. The story goes through great lengths to illustrate this on numerous occasions; some readers may find this repetitive, but I personally thought it made the character seem a lot more authentic.
C.A.T. is very much hard in its science, and fans of hard SF will almost certainly enjoy it. Animal lovers (particularly those who like cats) will also get something out of it. Overall, worth looking into.
PS: The author’s blog, which I discovered literally minutes before posting this, can be found here. Check it out 🙂