We sometimes receive emails or forum posts from readers asking us to help them identify books from their past. Often, we’re able to help, but this one has us stymied. I don’t know whether it betrays a feline blindspot in our reading habits or whether it’s just a product of statistics that, sooner or later, we were bound to get one we couldn’t answer, but this one’s got us stymied:
I read the book the first time many years ago. It was probably in the 80s or 90s that I read it, and I don’t think it was a new book. My impression of the style of book is that it was written in the 60s or 70s. I also *think* it was written by a guy, and that it was a stand-alone book.The “hero” is an adult Earth (I’m reasonably certain that he’s from Earth) human male who paints – either for a job or for therapy. He paints a lot of red in his paintings, even when things aren’t actually red. One day, an alien fleet recruits him (maybe willingly, maybe forcibly) to join their space battle against somebody else. He goes, he fights, he makes friends with a cat-person, he eventually comes back home. When he comes back home, he doesn’t use as much red anymore. There’s something in it about adrenaline, a reference to the Flying Dutchman… The painting in red was not a large part of the book – it was mentioned at the beginning and then at the end it was mentioned that the hero didn’t paint that way anymore. I read it a long time ago, managed to find it again a few years ago, but have completely forgotten publication date, publisher, author, and title. The cover I remember seeing had the cat-person and a spaceship on the cover. The first time I read it was probably 20 or more years ago; the last time I read it was in the last 5 years.
I am almost positive it’s not part of the Kzin series – the picture on the cover of the book I read years ago had a picture of a cat-person, but it was less tigerish than the Kzin appear on the covers. I don’t think the writer was anyone majorly famous; at least, I’d like to think I’d remember the name if they *were* fairly famous. There’s no magic, no elves, no vampires, no werewolves, no zombies, no sex, nothing historical; the book starts and ends on Earth, but the action is all on a spaceship in space. I don’t even remember there being a lot of action, but lots of talk. However, there had to be *some* action . . .
That’s what I can remember – any help would be appreciated!
If anyone can help with this, please either email us or leave a response in the comments. Thanks!