TRL REVIEWS: THE SIRENS OF TITAN BY KURT VONNEGUT

TITLE: The Sirens of Titan

AUTHOR: Kurt Vonnegut

PUBLISHED: 1959

PUBLISHER: Gollancz

Quote: “I was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all.” 

Overview: A wealthy space explorer named Winston Niles Rumfoord launches his spaceship into a "chrono-synclastic infundibulum," which essentially spreads him and his dog Kazak as a wave throught the galaxy. Their existence stretches from the Sun to the star Betelgeuse. When an object intersects their plane of existence, Rumfoord and Kazak materialize on that object. They materialize on Earth once every 59 days in Rumfoord's Rhode Island house for the duration of one hour. Because of this chrono-synclastic infundibulum, Rumfoord is able to see everything that has happened and that will ever happen. With all of the knowledge of the galaxy/universe, he creates the Church of God the Utterly Indifferent. Enter Malachi Constant, the richest man in the world living the meaningless life of a playboy. He is invited to witness the materialization of Rumfoord and Kazak, and, unbeknownst to Malachi, Rumfoord has big plans for Malachi in his newly founded religion.

Analysis: The Sirens of Titan focuses on the meaning of life, or rather the lack thereof. It's near impossible to summarize the plot, so I suggest to dive right in. This is the kind of book that attracted me on multiple levels. The story and the writing were fantastic and I blazed through the novel. The underlying message, too, was a large part of the joke that the book presents. All attempts to assign meaning, order and signficance in life is, in the end, futile. Much like other Vonnegut novels, the reader is forced to laugh at their own insignificance amongst the cosmos, especially in The Sirens of Titans, which takes place amongst the cosmos. I found the novel to be more than just science fiction, but rather a commentary on our own egos and self-importance, using space travel and a futuristic setting as the medium. This was the first Kurt Vonnegut novel I read and I can't recommend it (and him) enough. This book left me laughing, thinking and wanting to tell others about it. I thoroughly enjoyed the ending and I hope this review encourages you to pick up the book. If you do, let me know what you think!

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Conclusion: For some deep existential thoughts and a good laugh, read this book!

Rating: 5/5