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All Cats Are Gray by Andre Norton

“All Cats Are Gray” is a science fiction short story by Andre Norton, first published in 1953.

The story is set in a future where interstellar travel is possible, and follows the adventures of a space-traveling crew who encounter a mysterious woman and her equally enigmatic cats.

The story centers around the character of Tau, a former space pilot who has fallen on hard times and is now eking out a living as a space freighter operator. Tau is approached by a wealthy and secretive woman named Lizbeth who offers to pay him a large sum of money to transport her and her cats to a distant planet.

Tau is initially suspicious of Lizbeth and her cats, who seem to have strange abilities and a mysterious connection to each other. However, he agrees to take the job, hoping that the money will help him turn his fortunes around.

As they travel through space, Tau begins to discover more about Lizbeth and her cats. He learns that Lizbeth is actually a former thief who has turned her skills towards more philanthropic ends, using her wealth and resources to help those in need. The cats, too, are revealed to be more than they appear, possessing a strange and powerful connection to Lizbeth that allows them to communicate with her and each other in ways that Tau cannot understand.

As they near their destination, the crew of the freighter encounter a group of space pirates who attack their ship. In the ensuing struggle, Lizbeth and her cats prove to be valuable allies, using their skills and abilities to help defend the ship and repel the attackers.

The story ultimately reveals the true nature of Lizbeth and her cats, as well as their ultimate goals and motivations. Norton uses the story to explore themes of trust, loyalty, and the power of companionship, as well as the possibility of redemption and the potential for individuals to change and grow.

One of the most interesting aspects of “All Cats Are Gray” is the portrayal of Lizbeth and her cats. Lizbeth is a complex and compelling character, whose motivations and past are gradually revealed over the course of the story. Her cats, too, are mysterious and intriguing, with their strange abilities and close bond with Lizbeth adding an element of the supernatural to the story.

Norton’s writing is clear and engaging, with a strong sense of character and setting. Her descriptions of space travel and the technology of the future are imaginative and vivid, creating a rich and believable world for the characters to inhabit.

Overall, “All Cats Are Gray” is a well-crafted and engaging science fiction story that explores important themes of trust, loyalty, and the power of companionship. Norton’s skillful characterization and world-building make it a compelling read for science fiction fans, while the story’s broader themes and messages make it a rewarding read for anyone interested in exploring the human experience.

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