Living in paradise wasn’t enough. Good intentions weren’t enough; they never were. The Jeong-Espinosas and the Lius were successful and talented, but as time went on, they realized their true talent was making themselves miserable.
Mike Jeong and Claudia Espinosa are proud parents to a habitual overthinker, a doll executioner, and a little boy with the personality of a game-show host—but if you listen closely, the jokes thrown around the dinner table are more about control and belittlement, predator and prey, than anything else. And Aileen and Xiyuan Liu love their young son, a violin prodigy, even when their struggles with sexuality threaten to rip the family apart. The first 20 documented years of family history start as a loose first-person gameplay description before plunging deep into the characters’ heads as they unravel.
Book I of Catastrophe Theory explores its initial hypothesis: there is no need to torture Sims. They torture themselves.
Book I Summary (Spoilers)
CHAPTER 1: Before the Storm
A short character intro sets the stage.
CHAPTER 2: In Which Self-Discovery Becomes Self-Sabotage
Xiyuan admits that after five years, he can’t take it anymore.
CHAPTER 3: Hitting the Juice
Ok, here’s a joke. Claudia walks into a bar. Claudia walks into a bar. Claudia walks into a bar. Claudia walks into a bar. Claudia walks into a bar. And that’s basically what happens here.
CHAPTER 4: The Liu Family Makes a Tough Call
It’s not the consequences of being caught per se, it’s the knowledge that he brought this on himself. More concretely: Xiyuan does the thing.
CHAPTER 5: Everyone Grows Up Except Mike
Kids growing up is a natural consequence of setting a story over a long period of time, if the story has kids. This is the first instance of this happening. Mike is a dick; Kendra runs around in monster jammies.
CHAPTER 6: Aileen’s Life is One Big MF-ing Never-Ending Party
Aileen is here to remind him of the mess he left when he went away, the cross she bears that he gave to her, and she’s doing this reminding at 3 A.M. at a child’s birthday party that technically never ended.
CHAPTER 7: Seven Days at the Von Haunt Estate
CT ‘s PalmPilot. Revolutionary at the time but with any luck it’ll become obsolete when the next big thing happens. Put another way, it’s the precursor to Haunted.
CHAPTER 8: Vignettes from San Myshuno
It’s Xiyuan running around being his bad proto-self.
CHAPTER 9: New Beginnings, or at least Sleeping with New People
Aileen and Shu aren’t so much entering the dating world as they’re looking to conquer it.
CHAPTER 10: Surprise!
I can’t tell you. It’s a surprise.
CHAPTER 11: The Shallot-Liu Family Exists Now!
This wedding has been a century in the making. But nighttime Sim weddings have a fatal flaw, which is that they are at night. You’re not supposed to do that apparently.
CHAPTER 12: The One Habit of Highly Permissive Parents
Is that teenage girl at the breakfast table different from the one yesterday? Meh. Don’t worry about it. His grades are fine.
CHAPTER 13: The Creation of a Legend
It’s the smelly lady! Vande gurunam caranaravinde, etc.
CHAPTER 14: Claudia! Duck!
The author writes a short for a contest she knows she’ll lose. And yet, funfact, it’s the first time Mike, Claudia, Charlie and Hector get to speak.
CHAPTER 15: Everyone Gets Older Again, Which is a Vacuously True Statement Due to the Linear Passage of Time
Another instance of kids growing up. Because this is CT, it is also themed around something a fundraiser said to Dolly outside a grocery store.
CHAPTER 16: Charlie in Charge
Charlie moves to Willow Creek, establishes his career, and wishes he had a control group to determine what effects (a) being an introvert and (b) being really buff have had on his dating life so far.
CHAPTER 17: Aileen and Shu Rack Up the Partner Count Until Everyone is Uncomfortable (Part I, Part II)
What it says on the tin.
CHAPTER 18: La Madre Sin Rostro
Kendra hasn’t always had the best relationship with her mother but won’t let her be forgotten.
CHAPTER 19: Heart, Head, Hands, Hector
The J.-E.s get a bit of character development in the form of vignettes. We throw around the term ’emotional support Stoli,’ which no one uses because this story is too obscure.
CHAPTER 20: Shallot-Liu vs. Shu
They got along when Shu was pre-pubescent, but if you put two fully-grown Lius in the same household it takes about a week before you’re like “please stop WooHooing.”
CHAPTER 22: To Being an ‘Us’ For Once
Not much here, it’s just Shu and his girlfriends chillin’ and Shu also has mommy issues.
CHAPTER 23: The J.E.s Replace Charlie with a Dog
The last of the growing-up chapters, thank heavens, and also as the title implies we throw pets into the mix.
CHAPTER 24: Guide Me, North Star
If you only have time for one chapter in Book I, this is THE chapter. This absurd clusterbomb of a Winterfest is what CT is all about. Everyone is miserable and the strongest joke is about ant reproduction.
CHAPTER 25: The Grey Wedding
I tried to write a cute one for the contest. Still didn’t win. Oh, and Aileen gets married.
CHAPTER 26: Eyebleach
Xiyuan and Bernard celebrate Winterfest; you love them so much that you die.
CHAPTER 27: Option 3
Or maybe we shouldn’t be joking about death. Aileen reflects on the past 20 years.