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The Sirens of Titan
(Adobe EPUB eBook, OverDrive Read)

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Average Rating
Published:
RosettaBooks 2002
Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, OverDrive Read
Lexile measure:
980L
Status:
Checked Out
Description

The Sirens of Titan (1959), Vonnegut's second novel, was on the Hugo final ballot along with Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers and lost in what Harlan Ellison called a monumental injustice. Malachi Constant is a feckless but ultimately good-hearted millionaire who, in this incondensable interplanetary Candide (lacking perhaps Voltaire's utter bitterness), searches the solar system for the ultimate meaning of existence.

Constant is aided by another tycoon, Winston Rumfoord, who, with the help of aliens, has discovered the fundamental meaning of life. With the help of Salo—an alien robot overseeing the alien race, the Tralmafordians (who also feature in Slaughterhouse-Five)—Constant attempts to find some cosmic sense and order in the face of universal malevolence. Constant and Rumfoord deal with the metaphysics of "chrono-synclastic infundibula" and the interference of the Tralmafadorians. The novel is pervaded by a goofy, episodic charm which barely shields the readers (or the characters) from the fact of what seems to be a large and indifferent universe.

All of Vonnegut's themes and obsessions, further developed or recycled in later work, are evident here in a novel slightly more hopeful than most of his canon. It is suggested that ultimately Constant learns only that it is impossible to learn, that fate (and the Tralmafadorians) are impenetrable. On the basis of this novel, Vonnegut was wholly claimed by the science fiction community (as the Hugo nomination demonstrated) but he did not reciprocate, feeling from the outset that to be identified as a science fiction writer would limit his audience and trivialize his themes. His recurring character, the hack science fiction writer Kilgore Trout (prominent in Slaughterhouse-Five) was for Vonnegut a worst case version of the writer he did not wish to become.

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Street Date:
01/29/2002
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780795311994
Lexile measure:
980
Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Kurt Vonnegut. (2002). The Sirens of Titan. RosettaBooks.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Kurt Vonnegut. 2002. The Sirens of Titan. RosettaBooks.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan. RosettaBooks, 2002.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Kurt Vonnegut. The Sirens of Titan. RosettaBooks, 2002.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Shared Digital Collection10
Anne Arundel County Public Library00

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Date Added:
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        Hailed by Graham Greene as one of the best living American writers, Kurt Vonnegut is one of the definitive voices in American literature in the second half of the 20th century. Born in Indianapolis in 1922 and a veteran of World War II (Billy Pilgrim of Slaughterhouse Five is his exact contemporary), he worked for General Electric before publishing his first story in 1950 and turning to writing full time. From the beginning, science fiction was an important element in Vonnegut's writing—his early stories were published in science-fiction magazines—though his work is in no way merely generic. A scathing and dark wit, a sly intelligence and a richly evolved sense of the absurd make Vonnegut's writing like no one else's. Doris Lessing called him one of the writers who map our landscapes for us, who gives names to the places we know best.

        Vonnegut's first novel Player Piano was published in 1952, and his novels, stories and essays began to appear regularly in the years that followed. It was the publication of The Sirens of Titan (1959) and, ultimately, Cat's Cradle (1963) that established Vonnegut as a major new writer with the general public, both in the U.S. and internationally. The appearance of Slaughterhouse Five six years later brought him an increasingly rare double distinction for a serious writer—critical acclaim and bestselling success. Vonnegut's other notably titles include God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater; Welcome to the Monkey House; Breakfast of Champions; Slapstick; Jailbird; Deadeye Dick; and Hocus Pocus. Time magazine has described Kurt Vonnegut as George Orwell, Dr. Caligari and Flash Gordon compounded into one writer...a zany but moral mad scientist.

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The Sirens of Titan (1959), Vonnegut's second novel, was on the Hugo final ballot along with Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers and lost in what Harlan Ellison called a monumental injustice. Malachi Constant is a feckless but ultimately good-hearted millionaire who, in this incondensable interplanetary Candide (lacking perhaps Voltaire's utter bitterness), searches the solar system for the ultimate meaning of existence.

Constant is aided by another tycoon, Winston Rumfoord, who, with the help of aliens, has discovered the fundamental meaning of life. With the help of Salo—an alien robot overseeing the alien race, the Tralmafordians (who also feature in Slaughterhouse-Five)—Constant attempts to find some cosmic sense and order in the face of universal malevolence. Constant and Rumfoord deal with the metaphysics of "chrono-synclastic infundibula" and the interference of the Tralmafadorians. The novel is pervaded by a goofy, episodic charm which barely shields the readers (or the characters) from the fact of what seems to be a large and indifferent universe.

All of Vonnegut's themes and obsessions, further developed or recycled in later work, are evident here in a novel slightly more hopeful than most of his canon. It is suggested that ultimately Constant learns only that it is impossible to learn, that fate (and the Tralmafadorians) are impenetrable. On the basis of this novel, Vonnegut was wholly claimed by the science fiction community (as the Hugo nomination demonstrated) but he did not reciprocate, feeling from the outset that to be identified as a science fiction writer would limit his audience and trivialize his themes. His recurring character, the hack science fiction writer Kilgore Trout (prominent in Slaughterhouse-Five) was for Vonnegut a worst case version of the writer he did not wish to become.

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The Sirens of Titan (1959), Vonnegut's second novel, was on the Hugo final ballot along with Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers and lost in what Harlan Ellison called a monumental injustice. Malachi Constant is a feckless but ultimately good-hearted millionaire who, in this incondensable interplanetary Candide (lacking perhaps Voltaire's utter bitterness), searches the solar system for the ultimate meaning of existence.

Constant is aided by another tycoon, Winston Rumfoord, who, with the help of aliens, has discovered the fundamental meaning of life. With the help of Salo—an alien robot overseeing the alien race, the Tralmafordians (who also feature in Slaughterhouse-Five)—Constant attempts to find some cosmic sense and order in the face of universal malevolence. Constant and Rumfoord deal with the metaphysics of "chrono-synclastic infundibula" and the interference of the Tralmafadorians. The novel is pervaded by a goofy, episodic charm...

synopsis
A cold and malevolent universe is all the humanity can ever know. In the near future, Vonnegut's scientific researchers learn that the substance of which that galaxy is made, Ice-T, assures that human life will ever be Emily Dickinson's "zero at the bone." Any belief in manifest human destiny or compassion is doomed. Reissued in hardcover after SLAUGTHERHOUSE-FIVE as part of a re-evaluation of the importance of Vonnegut's work.
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