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Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Bantam
Published: 1959
Review Posted: 10/8/2008
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 6 out of 10

Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut

Book Review by Ron Sanders

Have you read this book?

Certainly my reading life's most influential prose masterpiece, Kurt Vonnegut's The Sirens of Titan remains a moving, and occasionally haunting, inspiration to this day. This is thinking man's sci-fi of the highest order -- Vonnegut not only brooded on the meaning of life, he had the audacity to define it, in a work simultaneously deep and comic, trifling and bold. He was also able to approach the concept of will from many different angles while remaining linear; no easy feat. Still, he made it look natural, and boy, will he be missed.

Malachi Constant, the protagonist and most sympathetic character, is essentially a pawn like everybody (and everything) else in this work. Perhaps the richest man on the planet, he is nevertheless a pauper in character and vision. Malachi inherited the secret from his father Noel, a man of mysterious and mind-boggling luck, and strutted around on his good fortune like a peacock on a dunghill, until responding to an ego-goading summons from millionaire Winston Niles Rumfoord.

Rumfoord is a sporadically corporeal man (except on Titan), having had his atoms scattered between the sun and Betelguese due to an heroically reckless space flight into a chronosynclastic infundibulum, Vonnegut's signature universal truths-nexus. Rumfoord, famous for his faultless fortune-telling capacity, predicts Constant's unpleasant future and destiny. Constant, notorious for his obnoxious lifestyle and pigheadedness, thereupon clumsily orchestrates the frustration of said prediction.

The Sirens of Titan takes Constant, Rumfoord and his frigid wife Beatrice, the populace of Earth and the lobotomized populace of Mars -- and the unsuspecting reader -- on a rollercoaster ride of imagination, planet by planet. In these pages we are en route to the great secret of mankind's spiritual pathos and assorted worldly passions, and we'll learn that secret round the artificial neck of a galactic messenger just learning to love.

Richly detailed and amazingly visual, The Sirens of Titan is compulsory reading for anyone able to wondergo.
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