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 ...
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 http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/kritzer_01_15/ ). 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! Well...as 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.