“All Cats Are Gray,” by “Andrew North,” is another story I was turned onto by Audio SFF’s Reading, Short and Deep podcast. I’ve written about Andre Norton before, and though I haven’t loved absolutely everything of hers that I’ve laid my eyes on, I do admire her range and skill. And so when I heard about this short, public domain (meaning available at Gutenberg) scifi story of hers, I had to bite.
I didn’t pick up on all the cleverness that Jesse and Eric of Audio SFF were able to soak out of it, but it was a decent yarn. Having read several short fantasy stories of hers, it was interesting to see her writing about credits and blasters (well before Star Wars) and ghost ships in space.
The story also has a clever spin – of a character’s disability actually serving to save her and her small crew.
In a way, her style here reminded me of Cordwainer Smith’s Instrumentality stories – a somewhat detached, third party narration of a strange incident. In tone it’s something of a cross between a “friend of a friend” story and a tall tale.
As I said, it’s a short read. Well worth the few-minute investment, I’d say. Bonus points if you can identify what the the title is referring to (I know I’d never have thought about it had it not been discussed in the podcast).