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Catalyst: A Novel of Alien Contact by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Review by Cathy Green
Tachyon Publications Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 1892391384
Date: 15 September, 2006 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Article /

From official release/information:

Catalyst opens with its protagonist, teenaged Kaslin, running from the school bully Histly, who is threatening to poison him with one of the poison needles in the tips of her fingers. Histly's parents, the richest and most powerful family on Chudoku colony, have bought her a lot of implants. Kaslin, on the other hand, is much closer to the bottom of the food chain, his family being refugees from Hithertoo, another colony world, where things had been going reasonably well for his family until his father decided to engage in an unsuccessful embezzlement scheme. Hoffman neatly sums up Kaslin and Histly's relationship, established Kaslin's first day at school:

"Kaslin saw Histly and thought, yum. Histly saw Kaslin and thought, prey. After that first day, Kaslin saw Histly and thought, run."
Unfortunately, since Histly's augments included her legs, she often caught Kaslin. This time however, Histly didn't. Attempting subterfuge, Kaslin ran through a grove of aptly named spike trees and stumbled across a cave. Deciding that anything hiding in the cave would still be better than facing Histly, he runs in and slides down into an unusual cavern where the powder on the floor tastes like butter and garlic. At first, despite being at the bottom of a cavern, Kalsin was happy because he was sure he was someplace Histly wouldn't follow. Then the voices started.

(Source: Tachyon Publications)

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