Dec 6, 2019

Advent Calendar: Sixth Wormhole

From the 1st until the 24th of December, we'll present you a reading tip from our holidays newsletter on this blog - and another reading tip, in German, on our website! The sixth wormhole leads to sends us to the catnet ...

Naomi Kritzer
Catfishing on Catnet
Marc says: In Naomi Kritzer's 2015 short story "Cat Pictures Please", set a few years in the future, we meet an online artificial intelligence who just wants to look at cat pictures and help humans get by. Humans being the confusing bags of contradictions that they are, the AI does not have an easy job of it. The story is hilarious and surprisingly deep (you can check it out online at ). It went on to win several awards and was so ubiquitously popular that Kritzer decided to write a whole novel as a sequel.
Catfishing on Catnet has two protagonists: the aforementioned AI and Steph, a sixteen year old who is forced to constantly move home because she and her mother are on the run from her abusive father. Steph is not happy to be constantly bundled from place to place, and gripes about it to her circle of online friends, whom she knows through a social network called Catnet. This network is free of charge but users are encouraged to upload cat pictures (we wonder why?).
Steph is even less happy about the prospects of yet another move when she finds a class mate in her new high school whom she really likes and wants to get to know better. Then events take a turn for the dramatic, or should I say traumatic?
This novel is quite clearly aimed at younger readers, so I can't really be as old as I feel sometimes, because I really liked it. There are some minor problems: people are sometimes implausibly rational in dire circumstances, and occasionally speak in sentences entirely unbecoming their age. But the story moves along wonderfully, I found myself really caring for Steph, for her friends, for the AI - and it's all just so entertaining and fun! entertaining as a story involving violent domestic abuse, surveillance, and prejudice-based societal pressure can be, I guess. Which, I can tell you, is a whole damn lot of entertaining. The novel also holds interesting thoughts and comments on our increasingly networked society, and the wonders and dangers of online communities. Recommended for teens of all ages.

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