I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
“All Cats Are Gray” tells the story of Steena of the spaceways, a woman who'd blend into the background and be completely forgotten if it weren't for her amazing store of knowledge. Her only companion is her cat, Bat. Steena is a loner who rarely says anything, but every spacer knows to pay attention the few times she does talk. This time around, Steena has some info for a spacer named Cliff Moran, and she's not content to just sit back and watch him act on her info on his own.
The main reason this story worked at all was because of the format/style, which made everything come across like some kind of folksy legend one spacer might tell another in a bar. I actually think Norton could have gone a bit further with this, and put in more effort to make Steena sound larger-than-life. As it was, I was interested to see where Steena's story would go, and what she and Cliff would find on the Empress of Mars, a mysteriously abandoned ship.
However, I was also a bit wary, because of the story's first paragraph:
“Under normal conditions a whole person has a decided advantage over a handicapped one. But out in deep space the normal may be reversed--for humans at any rate.” (3)
As far as I could tell, Steena didn't have any disabilities, and I didn't think this paragraph was referring to Cliff. When Norton finally revealed what that first paragraph meant, I was disappointed.
I'm going to have to include spoilers in order to write about this properly. Steena's disability was
At least it was free, and I liked everything up to the revelation at the end well enough.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)