Reader reviews for The Sirens of Titan

Very funny without obviously trying to be so. Still one of Vonneguts best books
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I read The Sirens of Titan the week before finals of my first quarter at OSU (after I read The Alchemist). The book was a wonderful pick up from Breakfast of Champions. Vonnegut's solution to make Earth unite instead of being separated by hundreds of tiny nations is incredibly interesting. People will unite against a common evil- invading martians. The story was interesting and there were several one line truths that particularly stuck out. One interesting observation in the idea of uniting against a common evil is that America united against Japan and Hitler during WWII and later the USSR during the cold war; however, Hitler uniting Germany against its Jewish population serves as an example for how horrible this idea can become. Vonnegut stresses that the evil must be a completely outside source (aliens); thus making the chance of the world uniting in real life as incredibly improbable.
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After being deliberately sent to Mars, made to perform an execution, sent on to Mercury, and finally brought back to Earth where a reception has been planned for him in great detail, Unk's conclusion is that: "I was a victim of a series of accidents."I can't say what that'll do for you, but I am registering a slight stirring of some undetermined sort in the back of my own mind.
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How do you reconcile the Grandfather Paradox, Free Will and the meaning of life? You ridicule them.Vonnegut's powerful novel leaves his mark on the rest of science fiction.Douglas Adams grossly plagiarized from this book.great read but not as funny as other Vonnegut books.Pulled an allnighter to finish it
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One of the first SF novels I read. A brilliant and hilarious read, it's just a shame I can't remember any of it!
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Sirens of Titan is one of Kurt Vonnegut’s science fiction gems. This story weaves a tapestry that makes a journey spelled out for us by Winston Niles Rumfoord seem be surprising and unexpected. This novel, like many of Vonnegut’s work, is a hilarious look at fate. The book is dripping with wit. I think this is a good way for students who are skeptical about reading something deemed scholarly to see it in a familiar and fun genre, while students who think science fiction is a low genre can experience a great piece of literature that involves a war with mars, robots from other worlds, a trip to Jupiter’s moon Titan, and a living universe Vonnegut uses every inch of to create a great and funny story.
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The Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut’s second book, is one that I first read a long time ago, and have not re-read since, Like the majority of his work it tends to get labelled “science fiction”, a label he himself hated, arguing that the themes he was trying to talk about transcended the idea of genre. His books do tend to be wider-read than much SF, and deservedly so.Sirens is about Winston Niles Rumford, a rich eccentric in the 22nd century who – like Billy Pilgrim to come – becomes unstuck in time, existing as a wave in space-time who periodically appears in particular locations and dispenses knowledge gleaned from his time travel. Along the way he colonises another planet, engineers a suicidal interplanetary war, and establishes a new religion – the Church of God the Utterly Indifferent – all in the name of trying to make humanity better itself, cheerfully abusing and sacrificing the book’s principle protagonist, Malachi Constant, along the way. Ultimately though, Rumford’s manipulations prove futile in the face of a realisation of a greater, and yet more arbitrary, manipulation of the entire human race. (And even knowing that revelation in advance, it still made me laugh when it turned up – it’s clear to see why Douglas Adams cited Vonnegut as a major influence when he came to write The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide…)Vonnegut looks at religion, love, fate, beauty, and the great questions of why we’re here, and what our purpose in life is. On one level, the book’s conclusions are somewhat nihilistic, but even in the pointlessness that marks the book’s ending Vonnegut is alluding to something quintessentially more human with the potential to become something more. Malachi’s final moments have a bittersweet quality of redemption to them that suits the tone of the entire book. Beauty is where we find it and what we make of it. For a book written so early in his career, it’s amazingly well-formed. Vonnegut’s position as one of America’s finest authors is well earned.
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My favourite Vonnegut book by far. I have a quote from this tattooed on me. I even prefer this to 'Cat's Cradle.'
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Okay, I've modified my original [two-star:] rating of this book. I actually rated it when I hadn't completely finished it, but hey! When I did finish it, I liked it more than I thought I would. I just don't think I'm a Vonnegut person. I've tried reading Slaughterhouse Five and Cat's Cradle, but with no luck. This was when I was a bit younger, so I'll have another go at it. I really enjoyed the sardonic and biting societal commentaries Vonnegut made, but the sci-fi/high tech/futuristic aspect didn't interest me. However, as a classic author....I feel like I should give him another chance!
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I have to admit that the main reason I was aware of Vonnegut’s second novel, written in 1959 right after the launch of the space age, was the trivia night nugget that Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead owned the movie rights for years and had actually worked up a script with SNL alum Tom Davis. After discovering what an amazing feat of imagination this book is, I can see why self-styled hippie intellectuals like Garcia and Davis were drawn to it. It was quite unlike any other novel, even other Vonnegut books, I have read. At no time while devouring The Sirens of Titan could I ever say to myself, “Oh, I know where this is going.”Vonnegut sends up the whims of capitalism with the main character Malachi Constant, the richest man in the world. Constant is a playboy/bon vivant who, for reasons to be revealed, was born with the luck to maintain his lifestyle with very little effort on his part. At the beginning of the novel, he is summoned to the mansion of Winston Niles Rumfoord, the first man to fly a private rocket to Mars. Rumfoord is also, or so it’s understood, one of the last—having unwittingly flown into a chrono-synclastic infundibulum, which effectively spread his (and his dog’s) existence throughout sort of a wormhole between the Sun and Betelgeuse. (Now you can start to imagine the types of conversations Garcia and Davis must have had.)When Earth happens to transect the glitch, once every 59 days, Rumfoord and his dog materialize at the mansion for a short period of time where he alienates his wife, predicts the future (since he happens to actually be everywhere and when), and generally makes everyone uncomfortable. Vonnegut’s description of the first meeting of the two men is a good example of his wonderful use of language in this novel: “Winston Niles Rumfoord’s smile and handshake dismantled Constant’s high opinion of himself as efficiently as carnival roustabouts might dismantle a Ferris wheel.”Granted, this all takes place within the first 20 pages or so. Rumfoord (and I couldn’t stop substituting Rumsfeld, especially when we begin to find out how his motives, while being altruistic from his viewpoint, are seriously fucked up) goes on to tell Constant that he will end up traveling to Mars, Mercury, Titan, and end up having a son with Mrs. Rumfoord. Awkward.Vonnegut’s savaging of organized religion at the back end of this novel counterbalances his having peeled back the curtain hiding the machinations of the free market in the front. Along the way, Mars attacks, a shipwrecked alien manipulates all of human history in an attempt to get a part, and … just read it. I know I’ll be revisiting this one again and again.
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