You’ll have to bear with me through this post because my understanding of some of these concepts are rudimentary and mainly derived from this wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schr%C3%B6dinger%27s_cat), but I am going to attempt to postulate some kind of theory to connect these ideas with The Familiar.
Most people are familiar with the Schrodinger’s Cat thought experiment, which offers an explanation for interpretations of quantum mechanics by asking the reader to imagine a cat in a box with radioactive material, placing the cat in a state where it is either alive or dead, and both are equally possible until observation confirms one or the other. There are different interpretations of this experiment, but one of the most interesting states that when the box is opened, reality basically splits into two separate realities that no longer interact: one reality where the cat is alive, and one reality where the cat is dead.
But how does this relate to The Familiar? Besides the obvious connection with the cat, other paradoxes with related themes have presented themselves throughout the novel. For example, Jingjing twice counts 9 bow-tied assistants in the penthouse, but only sees 2 rows of 4 and 8 pairs of heels. Another parallel that echoes the Schrodinger thought experiment is Astair’s reaction to her graded paper. If she doesn’t open the envelope, she neither passed nor failed. If she does open it, then theoretically reality splits into two realities, one where she passed, and one where she failed. Some of these examples may be a little shaky but it’s very interesting to think about.
I’m not sure how this relates to Xanther’s finding of the cat, but there must be some kind of force that allows her to hear the meow from so far away. Perhaps another reality is interacting with the one we’re reading about and Xanther is able to save the cat? Thus there must be a reality in which Xanther fails to save the cat or does not hear the meow and it drowns.
Does anyone else have a better understanding of this concept that can maybe explain it further or better relate it to The Familiar?