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The Game of Rat and Dragon

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Author: Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger (Cordwainer Smith)
Published: 1955
Language: English
Wordcount: 6,599 / 26 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 78.3
LoC Category: PS
Downloads: 2,244
Added to site: 2009.08.06 24915

Only partners could fight this deadliest ofwars—and the one way to dissolve thepartnership was to be personally dissolved!

Show Excerpt

rtners for the trip. By senior rights, he took first draw.

* * * * *

He grimaced. He had drawn a greedy old character, a tough old male whose mind was full of slobbering thoughts of food, veritable oceans full of half-spoiled fish. Father Moontree had once said that he burped cod liver oil for weeks after drawing that particular glutton, so strongly had the telepathic image of fish impressed itself upon his mind. Yet the glutton was a glutton for danger as well as for fish. He had killed sixty-three Dragons, more than any other Partner in the service, and was quite literally worth his weight in gold.

The little girl West came next. She drew Captain Wow. When she saw who it was, she smiled.

"I like him," she said. "He's such fun to fight with. He feels so nice and cuddly in my mind."

"Cuddly, hell," said Woodley. "I've been in his mind, too. It's the most leering mind in this ship, bar none."

"Nasty man," said the little girl. She said it declaratively, withou

Reader Reviews

Average Rating of 4 from 7 reviews: ****
George Marshall

I read about a third of the book and couldn't handle any more. Just a uninteresting story.


Linebarger, AKA Cordwainer Smith wrote many out of the ordinary stories which foreshadowed a large number of far future stories by many authors. Dr Linebarger was Sun Yat Sen's godson and many of his stories reflect Chinese story telling techniques. Game of Rat & Dragon is one of my favorites.


I don't understand the 2 star review; I thought the story was excellent, and the ending very clear. Read it for yourself; it's short and easy, but describes an interesting symbiotic relationship between humans and cats to protect spaceships from interstellar predators which can only be discovered by telepaths.

JoJo Biggins

This story is just plain weird. It's worth reading just because of how different it is, but the writing is very poor - no engaging plot, and an ending that is not only unsatisfying but doesn't fit the story.

It probably deserves only 1 star, but I give it 2 because of the unique concept.

Lisa Carr

Good science fiction story. Earth ships making warp jumps are attacked by intangible creatures in interstellar space. Telepaths can detect the creatures and attack them, but are too slow to win very often. But cats have great reflexes. So each voyage telepaths are mentally paired with cats to fight the beasts.

A good, tense, plot, great (human and cat) characters, and good description of a mental space battle.

C. Alan Loewen

The Game of Rat and Dragon is a popular addition to many science fiction anthologies illustrating not only the Golden Age of Science Fiction, but of the gifted talent of writer Cordwainer Smith (1913-1966)

This story deals with a far future where interstellar spaceships are crewed by humans telepathically linked with cats to defend against the attacks of malevolent entities in space.

The characters are memorable and the battle scene, though way too short, is exciting enough for the most jaded reader.


Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger aka cordwainer smith was an early contributor to the "golden age" of science fiction. the worlds were fabulous and well-fleshed but it was the people and their ethical dilemmas that always were at the center of the stories.

this story is good introduction to the worlds he created. if you liked this, there are more stories of his out there...




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Julie Anne Nelson
When Julie Anne Nelson isn't working as a technical editor, she loves to live out her passion for young adult fiction through her writing. Her wildly popular The Sevens series was inspired by a Percy Shelley poem and, as our author of the day, she tells us all about it. Nelson also talks about her writing habits, her tendency to sneak extra books in between writing/editing the main series and how her teaching career inspired her to write for young adults.
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