Sat, Jul 31, 2010

: The Sirens of Titan

Author: Kurt Vonnegut

This is a bizarre, ambitious, and genius bit of work from Vonnegut. It’s somewhat a science-fiction piece, with time-travel and interplanetary voyages, but it really is about the quest for the meaning of life. The joke is that the sum total of all human endeavor turns out to be for the sole purpose of assisting a stranded alien motorist. But Kurt presents all this in a wild tale of manipulation, fortune-telling, war, and religion that is fascinating. The plot is difficult to describe. Basically a man on Earth tries to fly to Mars and gets caught in a time-loop of some sort: he’s basically stuck in every moment time, past and future. He appears on earth and elsewhere as a projection, but he can communicate, so he starts manipulating people on Earth to start a war between Mars and Earth. You don’t find out his ultimate purpose until closer to the end of the book. It’s a wild story, interestingly told. I found Kurt’s science-fiction aspects to be very well done. He invents cool new places and creatures really well. Some of the technology he describes is quite old-school and dated (I’m not sure when this story was written, but I think vacuum tubes were still popular then), but in the end such things are minor parts of the novel. Ultimately, I’m not quite sure where this all leads. If his purpose is to say that there is no purpose, he’s defeated himself in the process. Either way, the ending is a letdown; much ado about nothing. That doesn’t take away from the many positives of the book, but it does keep it from being great. It’s a worthwhile read for everything else, however. I recommend it to Vonnegut fans.

Topic: [/book]