Flashback Fridays: Through another looking glass . . .
Posted by Stephanie Whelan
It’s 2778, you’re a girl whose been asked to help two scientists investigate a new discovery. Your scientist friends are also sentient cats who are exploring the ability to merge with inanimate objects and now they’re curious to see how well it works for humans. You’re willing to try it, but you’ll soon find there are some side effects . . .
Do you remember:
The Looking Glass Factor by Judith M. Goldberger (Dutton, 1979)
When it comes to obscure reads from the 1980s, this is certainly one that fits the description. I found it on my library shelves, read it, never forgot it–but never found it again. It never was reprinted and the reviews I can find of it are lackluster. That said, this is one of those intriguing books that stayed with me. A far future world– not a dystopia or a dark future, just a future where technology has advanced and certain things have happened (like the creation of giant sentient cats). These cats are working with a new merge technology that allows living things to merge with inanimate things. There are clear advantages to this kind of technology, and the cats are mastering it, but they want to see if humans may do so.
Hannah is asked to participate in their studies, though I don’t remember why she specifically helps them out. At first, it doesn’t seem like humankind can do it, but then Hannah figures out the trick. She becomes able to merge her body with all sorts of inanimate objects, but the more she does so, the harder it is to return to human form. She finds out that there was a human scientist who explored merging long before her, but vanished. And it turns out that merging for humans just isn’t safe, that they lose the desire to go back to their unmerged lives.
It’s a fascinating story with a rather unforgettable ending scene. Unfortunately it’s also a really obscure book to get ahold of and won’t be on most library shelves. There really isn’t much information on the author that I could find either. She appears to have written this singular book and then fallen off the literary map. Overall I think that’s too bad, since the premise for this story really was fascinating and I’d have loved to read more stories set in the same universe. And given that it’s a science fiction adventure with a female protagonist, it certainly got my attention!
I have a love of stories with sentient cats as well, so this filled a lot my reading delights in one book. Are there others out there who have encountered this book? Comments welcome!