The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut Summary
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.
Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut Summary
Kurt Vonnegut’s first novel spins the chilling tale of engineer Paul Proteus, who must find a way to live in a world dominated by a supercomputer and run completely by machines. Paul’s rebellion is vintage Vonnegut—wildly funny, deadly serious, and terrifyingly close to reality.
Breakfast of champions by Kurt Vonnegut Summary
ast Of Champions is vintage Vonnegut. One of his favorite characters, aging writer Kilgore Trout, finds to his horror that a Midwest car dealer is taking his fiction as truth. The result is murderously funny satire as Vonnegut looks at war, sex, racism, success, politics, and pollution in America and reminds us how to see the truth.
Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut Summary
Eugene Debs Hartke, ex-Vietnam vet, ex-college professor, current inmate of Tarkington State Reformatory, awaits his trial and probable death from TB. How did he get there? Via numerous absurd twists of fate which he now narrates on scraps of paper found about the place. Killer of men, romancer of women, compulsive list-maker, Eugene is just one more victim of the world's hocus pocus.
Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut Summary
“[Kurt Vonnegut] has never been more satirically on-target. . . . Nothing is spared.”—People Jailbird takes us into a fractured and comic, pure Vonnegut world of high crimes and misdemeanors in government—and in the heart. This wry tale follows bumbling bureaucrat Walter F. Starbuck from Harvard to the Nixon White House to the penitentiary as Watergate’s least known co-conspirator. But the humor turns dark when Vonnegut shines his spotlight on the cold hearts and calculated greed of the mighty, giving a razor-sharp edge to an unforgettable portrait of power and politics in our times. Praise for Jailbird “[Vonnegut] is our strongest writer . . . the most stubbornly imaginative.”—John Irving “A gem . . . a mature, imaginative novel—possibly the best he has written . . . Jailbird is a guided tour de force of America. Take it!”—Playboy “A profoundly humane comedy . . . Jailbird definitely mounts up on angelic wings—in its speed, in its sparkle, and in its high-flying intent.”—Chicago Tribune Book World “Joyously inventive . . . gleams with the loony magic Vonnegut alone can achieve.”—Cosmopolitan “Vonnegut is our great apocalyptic writer, the closest thing we’ve had to a prophet since . . . Lenny Bruce.”—Chicago Sun-Times “Vonnegut at his impressive best. . . . His imaginative leaps alone . . . are worth the price of admission. . . . His far-reaching metaphysical and cultural concerns . . . are ultimately serious and worth our contemplation.”—The Washington Post
A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut Summary
A Man Without a Country is Kurt Vonnegut’s hilariously funny and razor-sharp look at life ("If I die—God forbid—I would like to go to heaven to ask somebody in charge up there, ‘Hey, what was the good news and what was the bad news?"), art ("To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it."), politics ("I asked former Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton what he thought of our great victory over Iraq and he said, ‘Mohammed Ali versus Mr. Rogers.’"), and the condition of the soul of America today ("What has happened to us?"). Based on short essays and speeches composed over the last five years and plentifully illustrated with artwork by the author throughout, A Man Without a Country gives us Vonnegut both speaking out with indignation and writing tenderly to his fellow Americans, sometimes joking, at other times hopeless, always searching.
Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut Summary
First published on the anniversary of Kurt Vonnegut's death, Armageddon in Retrospect is a collection of twelve new and unpublished writings on war and peace. Imbued with Vonnegut's trademark rueful humour, the pieces range from a visceral nonfiction recollection of the destruction of Dresden during World War II-a piece that is as timely today as it was then-to a painfully funny short story about three privates and their fantasies of the perfect first meal upon returning home from war, to a darker, more poignant story about the impossibility of shielding our children from the temptations of violence. Also included are Vonnegut's last speech as well as an assortment of his artwork, with an introduction by the author's son, Mark Vonnegut. Armageddon in Retrospect says as much about the times in which we live as it does about the genius of the writer.
Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut Summary
According to science-fiction writer Kilgore Trout, a global timequake will occur in New York City on 13th February 2001. It is the moment when the universe suffers a crisis of conscience. Should it expand or make a great big bang? It decides to wind the clock back a decade to 1991, making everyone in the world endure ten years of deja-vu and a total loss of free will – not to mention the torture of reliving every nanosecond of one of the tawdiest and most hollow decades. With his trademark wicked wit, Vonnegut addresses memory, suicide, the Great Depression, the loss of American eloquence, and the obsolescent thrill of reading books.
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut Summary
“A madcap genealogical adventure . . . Vonnegut is a postmodern Mark Twain.”—The New York Times Book Review Galápagos takes the reader back one million years, to A.D. 1986. A simple vacation cruise suddenly becomes an evolutionary journey. Thanks to an apocalypse, a small group of survivors stranded on the Galápagos Islands are about to become the progenitors of a brave, new, and totally different human race. In this inimitable novel, America’ s master satirist looks at our world and shows us all that is sadly, madly awry–and all that is worth saving. Praise for Galápagos “The best Vonnegut novel yet!”—John Irving “Beautiful . . . provocative, arresting reading.”—USA Today “A satire in the classic tradition . . . a dark vision, a heartfelt warning.”—The Detroit Free Press “Interesting, engaging, sad and yet very funny . . . Vonnegut is still in top form. If he has no prescription for alleviating the pain of the human condition, at least he is a first-rate diagnostician.”—Susan Isaacs, Newsday “Dark . . . original and funny.”—People “A triumph of style, originality and warped yet consistent logic . . . a condensation, an evolution of Vonnegut’s entire career, including all the issues and questions he has pursued relentlessly for four decades.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer “Wild details, wry humor, outrageous characters . . . Galápagos is a comic lament, a sadly ironic vison.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch “A work of high comedy, sadness and imagination.”—The Denver Post “Wacky wit and irreverent imagination . . . and the full range of technical innovations have made [Vonnegut] America’s preeminent experimental novelist.”—The Minneapolis Star and Tribune
The Penultimate Truth by Philip K. Dick Summary
“At a time when most 20th-century science fiction writers seem hopelessly dated, Dick gives us a vision of the future that captures the feel of our time.”—Wired In the future, most of humanity lives in massive underground bunkers, producing weapons for the nuclear war they've fled. Constantly bombarded by patriotic propaganda, the citizens of these industrial anthills believe they are waiting for the day when the war will be over and they can return aboveground. But when Nick St. James, president of one anthill, makes an unauthorized trip to the surface, what he finds is more shocking than anything he could imagine.
Kurt Vonnegut: The Complete Novels 4C Box Set: The Library of America Collection by Sidney Offit Summary
The ultimate Vonnegut: all 14 novels plus a selection of the best of his stories in a definitive collector's boxed set. The novels of Kurt Vonnegut defined a generation a remain among the most enduringly popular and influential works of the last century. Now, for the first time, they are available in a single collector's edition, featuring authoritative annotated texts. This boxed set includes four Library of America volumes: Novels & Stories 1950-1962 Player Piano / The Sirens of Titan / Mother Night Novels & Stories 1963-1973 Cat's Cradle / God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater / Slaughterhouse-Five / Breakfast of Champions Novels 1976-1985 Slapstick / Jailbird / Deadeye Dick / Galapagos Novels 1987-1997 Bluebeard / Hocus Pocus / Timequake
Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut Summary
Flying to a favorite uncle's funeral, a middle-aged Kurt Vonnegut daydreams of one-hundred-year-old Wilbur Oriole-11 Swain, pediatrician and past United States President, who wrote history's most popular child-rearing manual and sold the original Louisian