Review of The Game of Rat and Dragon by Cordwainer Smith

March 12, 2010
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Gathering, shindig, or hootenanny? You decide!

Science Fiction Audiobook - The Game of Rat and Dragon by Cordwainer SmithThe Game of Rat and Dragon
By Cordwainer Smith; Read by Matthew Wayne Selznick
32 Minutes – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Wonder Audio
Published: 2007
Themes: / Science Fiction / Space Travel / Telepathy / Cats /

Cordwainer Smith (Paul Linebarger) was an interesting guy who wrote very interesting fiction. He was an American intelligence officer during World War II, he traveled the world, and was an advisor to President Kennedy. In science fiction, his most famous work is probably the only novel he ever published: Norstilia. His short fiction is rich and creative.

“The Game of Rat and Dragon” was written in one sitting in 1956, according to J.J. Pierce (writing in another one of those Ballantine Best Of’s). Long distance space travel in this future occurs with the help of telepaths, but there’s a catch. Once a telepath is “out there” skipping along toward a destination, or “planoforming”, the telepath is in danger of being touched by entities called dragons – insanity is the usual result. The solution? Partners. Partners fly alongside ships in football-sized ships of their own, telepathically connected to the pilot. They are quicker than humans, and are able to destroy dragons before they make contact with ships – almost every time. Who are these partners? Purr.

The idea that there’s baddies living in some kind of hyperspacial plane has been visited often. Babylon 5 leaps to mind as a recent example. But Smith’s descriptions of “pinlighting” are poetic and uncommon. There’s not a heck of a lot of conversation in this one, but Matthew Wayne Selznick is up to the narrating challenge. The combination of Smith’s prose and Matthew Wayne Selznick’s voice worked very well – never a dull moment!

Wonder Audio (along with all their audio short stories) can be found: |HERE|

If you want to buy these stories on Audible (this one costs only $2.37), find the whole catalog |HERE|

Want to see the cover of The Best of Cordwainer Smith? Me too!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

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