The sirens of Titan (Kurt Vonnegut, 1959)


The sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut (1959).

Score: Exceptional, one-of-a-kind read.

Kurt Vonnegut is really a strange writer. Try to explain the plot of any of his books to anyone, out of context, and try not to get skeptical or condescending looks. You might as well be telling them the latest conspiranoid story. But his stories work, and they work as a charm. Damn, I wish I knew how he does it.

This one features Winston Niles Rumfoord, who decided it was a good idea to pilot his spaceship into a chrono-synclastic infundibulum, which makes him spread in space and time (but he mostly stays around the Solar system), and Malachi Constant, a millionaire who makes the mistake of attributing his good fortune to sheer good luck. It all goes downhill from there, in the sense that it makes even less sense after that. But oh, it’s still a delicious read.

I quite agree with the grade he gave himself for this. It’s not an A+ like Slaughterhouse five and Cat’s Cradle but it’s still an A. Deliciously melancholic, strangely I found it brighter than the others, even though I guess it isn’t. It’s sprinkled with those moment of ridiculous he has us used to, like the guy who was a traveling chicken sexer and that song entitled ‘God is my interior decorator’, which reminds us that no matter how important and transcendent we believe we are, life is pointless when all is said and done. That’s it, that’s all there is to it.

Bonus: I’d love to see the face of someone who bought this book expecting to read ‘a remarkable and terrifying novel of how life might be for the space travelers of the future’ like it says on the cover I posted.

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