All Cats Are Gray

~ A Short Story by Andre Norton

all.cats.are.gray.1953 fantastic universe

NOTE: This title has entered the “Public Domain” and is therefore open to any publisher that wants to print it. Many “Print on Demand” publishers have started to release this title. This site has chosen to ignore these published versions and only concentrate on estate sanctioned materials.


Synopsis ~

Steena is a computer programmer who spends her life in the background, a woman in plain gray clothing who speaks little but her knowledge of odd bits of spacer's lore has saved lives and made fortunes.


Write-ups from fans ~

"Steena of the Spaceways" --though it sounds like a title for an adventure story, Steena was colorless as a lunar plant.  She was a calculator operator, who could find jobs anywhere she went, so she drifted as she wished.  Her free time was spent in the stellar-port dives that free spacers frequented.  Mostly she just listened, but once in a while she did speak up, and the spacers had learned that when she spoke it was well to listen to what she said. Her advice had been the making of several fortunes or saved the lives of the spacers involved.  But she wouldn't take any rewards--except from Bub Nelson, who brought her the cat, Bat.  Her last piece of advice was for Cliff Moran, who had just had an attachment placed on his ship.  Steena told him the doomed and "hexed" luxury spaceliner, the Empress of Mars was about due to reappear.  They found the Empress, all right, and boarded with no problems.  While exploring, as Cliff was in the control room trying to reactivate the controls, Steena and Bat found the "curse", a chameleon-like monster who had destroyed the passengers and crew.  Playing oblivious to its presence, Steena and Bat managed to lure it to the control room, where Cliff was still working.  As it passed between Steena and Cliff, she managed to actually see it as a darker grey against his coverall.  Snatching Cliff's blaster, Steena told Bat to lure the monster towards her, and shot it as it once again passed between a grey background and Steena's position.  Cliff's fortune was made, and he, Steena and Bat lived happily ever after, with Steena becoming much more colorful and less of a "background" character. ~ SL


Steena of the Spaceways is a non-descript woman with gray hair and wears nothing but gray and even appears to be gray. She is a drifter and spends her free time in the stellar-port bar of whatever port she happens to work. She rarely speaks and just listens to the talk of other spacers. When she does decide to say something, those spacers listen closely. She once told a spacer about the Jovan moon rites, and this warning later saves the man's life. A shone that she identified as an unworked piece of a precious gem became the fortunes of ten men. Each man has tried to pay her back, but she refused everything, until a grateful spacer gives her a gray tomcat named Bat, and the two have been inseparable ever since.
When a destitute spacer named Cliff Moran comes into the bar, Steena joins him at his table. This sobers him up because Sheena never chooses company when she can be alone. All she says to him is that the Empress of Mars is due to appear soon. The Empress of Mars is a pleasure ship carrying untold wealth. It was left in a derelict orbit when all its passengers and the entire crew abandoned the ship and disappeared without a trace fifty years earlier.
Cliff leaves to find the Empress, and Steena and Bat have stowed away on his ship—presumably in cash in on one of her own tips. Their presence does not bother Cliff; it just adds to the surprises Steena has already given him.
Once on board the cruise ship, Cliff goes straight to the control room, and Steena and Bat explore the rest of the ship. Steena walks into one room filled with silks, crystal, and jeweled containers. In the dressing mirror, she sees spider-silk covering the bed and a pile of gems on top of the spider-silk. Then one piece of jewelry moves. Bat flattens threateningly at the heap on the bed. He crouches and follows the invisible alien out of the cabin and down the corridor.
Sheena follows Bat to the control room where Cliff continues to work on the engine. She sees something against Cliff’s shoulder and Bat snarls. With her photographic memory, she remembers something. She takes off her gray spaceall and drapes it across the nearest chair. Steena tells Cliff to throw his blaster to her while Bat moves the invisible thing toward her. She fires at the spaceall on the chair, and the stench that fills the room signals that she hit her target.
Cliff is dumbfounded and asks several questions. Steena explains that the alien creature was a shade of gray that was beyond human sight. She and Bat were both color-blind and could only see shades of gray, but only Bat could see the alien. Steam was able to see a type of reflection of the creature when it crossed in front of their gray spacealls.
They check the ship and find it free of any other aliens. Steena and Cliff make their-fortune when they bring in the Empress, and they fall in love. Their family of three live in colorful comfort afterward. ~ DB


Bibliography of English Editions ~

NOTE: Due to the size of most of the anthologies listed here, we have chosen to not show the contents of each edition - the page would be way to long. Also, this is not a full list of anthologies which contain "All Cats Are Gray" ~ for a more complete list with contents see the IFSDB page.

  • Fantastic Universe [as Andrew North] ~ Aug/Sep. (1953), Edited by Sam Merwin Jr., Published by King-Size Publications Inc., Mag, $0.50, 196pg ~ cover by Alex Schomburg
  • The Many Worlds of Science Fiction (1971) Edited by Ben Bova, Published by E. P. Dutton, HC, 0-525-34550-7, 217pg ~ cover by Lawrence Ratzkin
  • Zoo 2000: Twelve Stories of Science Fiction and Fantasy Beasts (1973) Edited by Jane Yolen, Published by Seabury Press, HC, 0-816-43103-5, $6.50, 219pg ~ cover by Jack H. Breslow
  • The Many Worlds of Andre Norton (1974) Edited by Roger Elwood, Published by Chilton, HC, 0-801-95927-6, LCCN 74010980, $6.95, 208pg ~ cover by Charles Geer
  • The Book of Andre Norton (1975) Edited by Rodger Elwood, Published by DAW, PB, 0-451-UY119-8, $1.25, 221pg ~ cover by Jack Gaughan
  • Science Fiction A to Z: A Dictionary of the Great S.F. Themes (1982) Edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh, Published by Houghton Mifflin, HC, 0-395-31285-X, $21.95, 651pg
  • 101 Science Fiction Stories (1986) Edited by Martin H. Greenberg, Charles G. Waugh & Jenny-Lynn Waugh, Published by Avenel, HC, 0-517-60669-0, 651pg
  • Wizards’ Worlds (1989) Edited by Ingrid Zierhut, Published by TOR, HC, 0-312-93191-3, $17.95, 500pg ~ cover by Lucy Synk
  • The Giant Book of Science Fiction Stories (1992) Edited by Martin H. Greenberg, Charles G. Waugh & Jenny-Lynn Waugh, Published by Magpie books, TP, 1-854-87150-1, 978-1-854-87150-3, £3.99, 651pgs. ~ cover by Jim Burnes - same as 101 Science Fiction Stories
  • New Eves: Science Fiction About the Extraordinary Women of Today and Tomorrow (1994) Edited by Janrae Frank, Jean Stine & Forrest J Ackerman, Published by Longmeadow Press, HC, 0-681-00525-4, $14.95, 417pg ~ cover by Laura Freas
  • 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories (1996) Edited by Robert Weinberg, Stefan R. Dziemianowicz & Martin H. Greenberg, Published by Barnes & Noble, HC, 0-760-70142-3, 544pg ~ cover by Cheryl Knippenberg
  • The SFWA Grand Masters, Volume 2 (2000) Edited by Frederick Pohl, Published by TOR, HC, 0-312-86879-0, $25.95, 432pg ~ (pg 58)
  • Sci-Fi Womanthology (2003) Edited by Forrest J Ackerman & Pam Keesey, Published by Sense of Wonder Press, HC, 0-918-73650-1, 372pg ~ cover by Margaret Brundage
  • (2009) Created by Jimcin Recordings, Audible, length 18mins, $4.95 ~ narrated by Cindy Killavey
  • Of Fur and Fire: Tales of Cats & Dragons (2011) Edited by Dana Bell, Published by DreamZion Publishing, TP, 978-1-4610-3277-9, $15.00, 280pg ~ cover by Eric Murphy
  • Anthology of Sci-Fi: The Pulp Writers: Volume 1 (2013) Published by Spastic Cat Press, Edited by unknown, TP, 1-483-70097-6, 978-1-483-70097-7, $8.99, 100pgs
  • (2013) Created by Spoken Realms, Audible, length 19mins, $4.87 ~ narrated by Mike Vendetti
  • Women of Futures Past (2016) Published by Baen, 978-1-476-78161-7, PB, 368pg ~ cover by Christine Mitzuk
  • Black Infinity #5: Derelicts (2019) Published by Dead Letter Press, 978-1-732-43444-8, TP, $9.50, 204pg ~ (pg. 135)

Non-English Editions ~

  • (1986)-1 As Alle Katjes zijn Grauw [All Kittens are Gray] ~ Published in Amsterdam, by Loeb, no ISBN, PB, 624pg ~ Danish book title De beste science fiction verhalen [The best science fiction stories] a collection of 46 short stories by various authors ~ translation of All Cats Are Gray by A. van de Ven, (pg. 442) ~ cover by Frank Frazetta
  • (1986)-2 As Alle Katjes zijn Grauw [All Kittens are Gray] ~ Published in Amsterdam, by AW Bruna, PB, 312pg ~ Danish book title Top SF 1 ~ a collection of 22 short stories by various authors ~ translation of All Cats Are Gray by A. van de Ven, (pg. 229) ~ cover by Kate Higgins
  • (2013) In Hvad Fluffy Vidste [What Fluffy Knew] ~ Published in Denmark by Science Fiction Cirklen, 978-87-90592-94-3, 286pg, (a collection of stories) ~ Edited by Lise Andreasen and Niels Dalgaard ~ translation of All Cats Are Gray by Niels Dalgaard ~ cover by Manfred Christiansen
  • (1990) As Alle Katzen sind grau [All Cats Are Gray] ~ Published in München, Germany by Heyne, 3-453-03918-1, 978-3-453-03918-6, PB, 348pg ~ German book title Top Science Fiction. Band 3 ~ a collection of 16 short stories by various authors, (pg. 252) ~ cover by Wojtek Siudmak
  • (2002) As Tutti i gatti sono grigi [All Cats Are Gray] ~ Published in Milan, Italy; by Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Edited by Giuseppe Lippi, €4.05, 460pg ~ translations by Fabio Feminò ~ Italian book title Urania #1442 I grandi maestri della fantascienza 2 [Urania # 1442 The great masters of science fiction 2] ~a collection of 22 short stories by various authors w/essays about each author by Frederick Pohl, (pg. 59) ~ cover by Franco Brambilla 
  • (2017) As 猫の世界は灰色 [Cat world is gray] ~ Published in Japan, by Take Shobo, PB, 978-4-8019-1191-8, 1200yen, 440pg ~ Japanese book title 猫は宇宙で丸くなる 猫SF傑作選 [Cats roll in space Cat SF masterpiece selection] ~ cover by Asahi Hajime 


Russian Omnibus Editions ~

  •  (1989) Published in Minsk, Belarus by University, 5-785-50279-8, HC, 464pg ~ cover by C. Balenok ~ Russian title Крылья ночи [Wings of Night] ~ a collection of 14 short stories by various authors


    • "All Cats Are Gray" as " ... All cats are sulfur" ~ translation by E. Drozd, pp. 213-221
    • "Mousetrap" as "The Mousetrap" ~ translation by E. Drozd, pp. 222-230


  • (1991) Published in Simferopol, Republic of Crimea by Tavria, 5-7780-0413-3, TP. 31pg ~ cover by V.B. Verbitsky ~ Russian title Дары Асти [Asti's Gifts]


    • "Gifts of Asti" ~ translation by M. Khvatyuk, pp. 3-16
    • "Mousetrap" as "The Mousetrap" ~ translation by M. Khvatyuk, pp. 16-23
    • "All Cats Are Gray" as "All Cats of Sulfur" ~ translation by M. Khvatyuk, pp. 23-29


  • (1993) Published in Niahny Novgorod, by Phlox, 5-871-98046-5, HC, 480pg ~ cover by A. Tarasov ~ Russian title Долгая ночь ожидания [The Long Night of Waiting]


    • "Operation Time Search" as "Operation Search in Time" as ~ translation by L. Deutsch, pp. 3-164
    • "Garan the Eternal" as "Eternal Garan" ~ translation by N. Khokhlova, pp. 165-270
    • "Catseye" as "Cat's gaze" ~ translation by L. Deutsch, pp. 271-382
    • "Long Live Lord Kor!" as "Long live Lord Cor!" ~ translation by L. Deutsch, pp. 383-440
    • Fantastic stories
      • "Mousetrap" as "The Mousetrap" ~ translation by L. Deutsch, pp. 442-449
      • "All Cats are Gray" as "The Secret of The Empress of Mars” ~ translation by L. Deutsch, pp. 449-456
      • "Long Night of Waiting" ~ translation by L. Deutsch, pp. 456-467
      • "Gifts of Asti" ~ translation by N. Rezanova, pp. 468-479


  • (1994) Published in Moscow, by Young Guard, 5-235-01956-7, PB, 480pg ~ cover by by V. Shikhov ~ Russian title Харон обратно не перевозит [Charon does not transport back] ~ a collection of 12 short stories by various authors


    • "All Cats Are Gray" as "... All cats are sulfur" ~ translation by E. Drozd, pp. 395-402
    • "Mousetrap" as "The Mousetrap" ~ translation by E. Drozd, pp. 402-409


Ukrainian Omnibus Editions ~

  • (2018) Published in Kyiv, Ukraine by Globe (Fanzine), no ISSBN, HC, 724pg ~ cover by Rodney Matthews ~ Ukrainian title …Все кошки серы [...All Cats Are Sulfur] ~ Limited to 10 copies


    • "Moustrap" as "The Mousetrap" ~ translation by L. Deutsch, pp. 7-13
    • "All Cats are Gray" as "... All cats are sulfur" ~ translation by E. Drozd, pp. 14-21
    • " Gifts of Asti" as ~ translation by N. Rezanova, pp. 22-34
    • "Nine Threads of Gold" as "Nine Golden Threads" ~ translation by I. Togoyeva, pp. 35-65
    • "Long Night of Waiting" ~ translation by L. Deutsch, pp. 66-77
    • "London Bridge" ~ translation by N. Rezanova, pp. 78-90
    • "Velvet Shadows" ~ translation by N. Rezanova, pp. 91-282
    • "The Prince Commands" as "The Prince orders" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 283-416
    • "Star Man's Son" as "The Son of Star Man" ~ translation by V. Fedorov, pp. 417-574
    • "Ralestone Luck" ~ "Luck of the Railstones" ~ translation by V. Shcherbakova, pp. 575-722


View contract for Zoo 2000



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