"Schrodinger's Kitten," certainly, shares the trademark wordplay of Effinger's other work: starting with the insufferably coy title. Right away the listener is plunged into a non-linear narrative, which eventually is revealed to be very linear: at least from the perspective of the viewpoint character, Jehan. It's immediately apparent that 12-year-old Jehan is the kitten of the title, a frightened girl tormented by unsettling visions in the Islamic slum of Budayeen. It is here, during the festival marking the end of Ramadan, that she must kill a boy she has never met. A boy that her visions show her may one day do her great harm.
©1988 George Alec Effinger; (P)2004 AudioText
"This complex narrative structure not only translates well to audio, it translates very well." (sfsite.com)
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
This is a fine short story stretched into a novelette with a modestly interesting structure and story, but the characters are weak. The narration is good but does not add much. For the SciFi genre this is a good novelette, but I did not find it engaging. I think it would have been better as a shorter story, but it was still worth the listen.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Jehan is a pretty 12-year-old Islamic girl who sees visions of her own possible futures. These visions suggest that she will be raped in an alley, disowned by her fundamentalist Muslim father, and forced to live as a whore until she dies. Or she could kill her potential rapist first, but if she does that she will be executed, unless somebody saves her by paying the blood price??? There are too many ???ifs??? and too many potential paths and, as a child, Jehan is haunted by all the possibilities and her knowledge that something bad will happen, but not knowing exactly which of those branches her life will take.
Interspersed with these disturbing visions, we see Jehan in a possible future as an assistant and then a colleague to the men who are, during World War II, trying to unravel the secrets of quantum physics. Their findings will enlighten the world, but may also give the Nazis the knowledge they need to design horrific weapons. Does Jehan have the power to influence these sorts of future possible paths, too?
The title of George Alec Effinger???s story, Schr??dinger???s Kitten, refers to Erwin Schr??dinger???s famous paradoxical thought experiment now known as Schr??dinger???s Cat, which he used as an absurd argument to challenge the ideas of Einstein and his colleagues about the role of the observer in the dual state of subatomic particles. The title also refers to his assistant Jehan, whose strange visions of different possible personal futures represent the Many-Worlds Interpretation (MWI) of quantum mechanics, which Hugh Everett developed to explain Schr??dinger???s paradox. Jehan, a spiritual woman who is a faithful Muslim and personally experiences the understanding that her life has many potential branches which could all possibly be real, suggests that quantum physics is God???s game that he plays with humans.
Schr??dinger???s Kitten is one of those rare stories that have won both the Hugo and Nebula awards. It???s a well-constructed, mind-expanding story. I enjoyed the discussions of quantum mechanics and the way that Effinger, in such a short space, successfully married quantum mechanics, nuclear war, parallel universes, and spiritualism.
Infinivox???s audio production was read by Amy Bruce who did a nice job.
This story does a really good job of illustrating the concept of infinite possible realities and ties it to actual physical theory in a way that non-scientists can understand and enjoy. I was not bowled over by the narration which seemed tentative and even amateurish in parts, though well-delivered in other parts.
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