Thursday, August 24, 2017

i know my own & my own know me, by Tracy Canfield

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(SF Adventure) A team trying to understand what happened to a human colony whose members have all regressed to animal intelligence is distracted when someone uplifts their cat to human intelligence. (8,432 words; Time: 28m)

Rating: ★★★★★ A Great Read

"i know my own & my own know me," by (edited by Trevor Quachri), appeared in issue 09-10|17, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: The ending makes perfect sense: The cat alone was immune to the parasite, and, in time, it managed to solve the problem by itself. Priscilla (1404) was the eleven-year-old feral girl whose implant failed early in the story. Fittingly, she’s the first one Maneki Neko cures, and, by using her hands, he’ll be able to cure everyone else.

The list of characters and motivations is complex.

Gregory supposedly wants to support uplifts by releasing the virus and putting humans and uplifts on an equal footing, but his real motivations are purely selfish. For example, he uplifts the cat just because he wants to talk to it.

Bryan immediately sees a use for the cat because it can go where the others cannot. He simply wants to solve the problem, and he doesn’t mind cutting corners.

Utas, the uplifted orangutan, has an insecurity complex and feels slighted by humans at every turn. He’s a natural co-conspirator for Gregory, and yet when Gregory approaches him, it precipitates the disaster, because Utas has too much integrity. Ironically, by doing this he proves himself the equal of any human, and yet it leads Gregory to infect everyone else (to avoid Utas ratting him out). When Bryan reports that the cat didn’t do it, Utas knows the truth and kills Gregory before he can do any more harm.

Dao Ti and Claudine Mello are minor characters, but they’re both very real and very distinct from the rest.

There’s a deeper message about how anything with a human level of intelligence deserves respect. It’s very fortunate for all concerned that Claudine didn’t manage to kill the cat!

In general, there is quite a lot of background to this story. The uplift wars. The isolated colonies. The continuing political problems. Etc.

A couple of the names seem to be symbolic:

Shennong was a Chinese god who taught agriculture and medicine to the ancient Chinese.

Maneki Neko means “fortune cat” and is supposed to bring good luck.

Con: The mixture of humor and seriousness is sometimes jarring.

The idea of uplifting a cat is rather silly.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 09-10|17)
Tracy Canfield Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. I adore "i know my own & my own know me, by Tracy Canfield." I actually reread it several times! The cat has just such an engaging personality. Of course there is both humor and danger: that's part of what makes the story so engaging. I loved the ending, but I won't comment more because it might spoil some people's enjoyment. Let me just say that Maneki Neko's attitude toward humanity is much more humane than some of the lead scientists' attitude toward him (her? not sure). Fabulous story!