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The Sirens of Titan [Kindle Edition]

Kurt Vonnegut
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Kindle Edition £6.34  
Kindle Edition, 18 Dec. 2007 £6.83  
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Book Description

The Sirens of Titan is an outrageous romp through space, time, and morality. The richest, most depraved man on Earth, Malachi Constant, is offered a chance to take a space journey to distant worlds with a beautiful woman at his side. Of course there’s a catch to the invitation–and a prophetic vision about the purpose of human life that only Vonnegut has the courage to tell.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Kurt Vonnegut's second SF novel was published way back in 1959 but remains horribly timeless. For all the book's wild inventiveness, it's one of the most blackly nihilistic comedies ever published in the genre. The tragicomic godgame is presided over by Winston Niles Rumfoord, who has accidentally become a standing wave in space/time and knows the past and the future. Since the future is fixed, he can't change it even though it involves him arranging nasty fates for many people--in particular Malachi Constant, richest man in the world since his father's career of interpreting the Bible as a coded guide to the stockmarket. Despite his struggles, Constant is destined for a grimly comic pilgrimage around the Solar System to Titan, home since 203,117 BC of the visiting alien Salo whose presence has warped the whole of human history. Salo's far-off people manipulated us into building Stonehenge, the Great Wall of China and other vast constructions as reassuring signals to their stranded emissary--who himself is carrying a message of truly cosmic unimportance. Small wonder that Rumfoord tries to cheer up humanity by founding the Church of God the Utterly Indifferent. Vonnegut scatters crazed ideas in all directions, forcing you into painful laughter at the grandiose futility of his cosmos. Another worthy Millennium SF Masterworks classic. --David Langford

Book Description

One of the very best must-read SF novels of all time

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 877 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Publisher: The Dial Press; Reissue edition (18 Dec. 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0012RMVCK
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #84,619 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Kurt Vonnegut was a writer, lecturer and painter. He was born in Indianapolis in 1922 and studied biochemistry at Cornell University. During WWII, as a prisoner of war in Germany, he witnessed the destruction of Dresden by Allied bombers, an experience which inspired Slaughterhouse Five. First published in 1950, he went on to write fourteen novels, four plays, and three short story collections, in addition to countless works of short fiction and nonfiction. He died in 2007.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "God Does Not Care About You" 4 Sept. 2006
Kurt Vonnegut careens from crazed premise to crazed premise like a narrative pinball. A TARDIS in book form, the novel contains more ideas than it seems possible to cram into its 224 pages, with Vonnegut's imagination almost being a chronosynclastic infundibulum of its own, "a place where all truths fit together". And holding it all together is the idea that there is nothing or nobody holding it all together.

Like most of Vonnegut's novels, the humour is fast, sharp and pitch black. In many ways, the story is similar to Voltaire's "Candide", although perhaps more sympathetic. In "Candide", Voltaire's characters are little more than archetypes off which to bounce ideas off, or even collide them headfirst into them. Vonnegut clearly invites us to feel for his characters, despite how repellent and awful they may at first appear.

The new Gollancz edition has much to recommend for itself, being published in a knowingly pulpy format, complete with eyecatching book design and a cheerfully informative foreword by Jasper Fforde.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new look on the purpose of Earth 11 Sept. 2012
Whilst this is a brilliant book by Vonnegut and deserves 5*, I have previously read Breakfast of Champions and Slaughterhouse 5 - in my opinion, they are much more accessible and broader than Sirens of Titan. If you haven't read Vonnegut before I suggest you start with one of those rather than this, come to this afterwards.

This book concerns Winston Miles Rumfoord who gets caught (with his dog) in a time anomoly (a chronosynchlastic infundibulum) where he is held outside of time. He materialises on earth periodically at the home of his wife (very privately - no one admitted) but on one occurance he invites a playboy Malachi Constant to attend one of these materialisations. He informs Malachi that he will travel to Mars, Mercury and Titan and that Malachi and Rumfoord's wife Beatrice will have a son Chrono. Both Malachi and Beatrice try to prevent the future, but circumstances work against them and end up on Mars, and eventually end up on Titan.

On Titan is a stranded being, Salo, from Tralfamadore, waiting for a spare part for his spaceship to enable him to carry on his journey. He has been there for over 200,000 years watching the Earth and waiting for a message from home. Some areas were clearly inspiration for Douglas Adams Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy.

This satirical SciFi book explores religion, the hand of God, circumstanses, manipulation and control - it is disturbing in parts and amusing in others. I really enjoyed it!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Winston Rumfoord visits the planets. He sees plenty, but is powerless to change anything. Although he understands the past and the future, he can affect no change. But he has a destiny and it's on the moons of Saturn where he'll discover the meaning of life and the ultimate destiny of mankind.

This is a pleasant read. Although nihilistic, the story is presented in a whimsical and ironic manner. This is a warm up for Vonnegut's later more profound works. The principles of pre-determined fate and the futility of existence are presented here but for pure comic effect rather than the cutting serious approach used later in Slaughterhouse 5. The invented religion of God the Utterly Indifferent is a great phrase but doesn't have much substance behind it and isn't as well applied as the ludicrous religion in Cat's Cradle. That is not a major concern. This is probably the author's most easily enjoyable novel with more fun asides and great lines than any novel has a right to have.

There's a serious message all right, but it's buried beneath the gags rather than presented up front as in the later books. Throwaway ideas here are developed further later on, but in many ways I think Vonnegut may have been better served staying with this whimisical but no less biting style.

Most memorable is the ending which provides the genesis of Douglas Adams's 42 as the meaning of life gag along with several other of Adams' classic ideas, except they are done a lot better here and a lot earlier. This is a very funny novel and probably the best one to start with if you want to try his books.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Vonnegut hitting his stride 13 Sept. 2012
Kurt Vonnegut is one of those science fiction writers who has been fortunate enough to be read and respected outside his own genre. This is one of the reasons why: his second novel, and a really good example of his particular style and storylines.

The novel tells the story of a 22nd century American billionaire, Malachi, who is contacted by Rumfoord, a mysterious human space traveller trapped in a strange inter-dimensional state. Rumfoord predicts a strange and disturbing future for Malachi which he goes to great lengths to avoid, only to haplessly bring this future about. In it he finds himself in a relationship with Rumfoord's estranged wife then on a journey to Mars, conscripted into the Martian forces for a war with Earth and then catapulted on a series of even stranger journeys. All this seems to have been manipulated by Rumfoord, who can see the past and future all at once and tells people only those parts of it that suit his as yet unclear agenda. It also seems to link to a traveller from a distant galaxy who has been stranded here for 200 thousand years.

This is a good starting point if you want to read Vonnegut, as it introduces characters and concepts that he brings back and develops in some of his later books. It's also a terrific story in its own right, full of satirical touches about human history, religion and politics. He tackles big themes such as free will, but these are all part of the story. His writing style is very amusing and seemingly offhand, but the whole book is very well put together and it all (kind of) makes sense by the end. It's a good start for getting into the slightly fatalistic style Vonnegut uses to express his ideas, the feeling that while we should all think and act for ourselves, we are all at the mercy of something bigger.

It's a classic novel of late 50s Sci Fi and it influenced other writers, especially Douglas Adams. Buy it if you like big ideas explored from unusual angles, and a quirky narrator.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by helle frederiksen
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Published 3 months ago by John Hope
5.0 out of 5 stars Somebody up there likes this book
A Vonnegut classic. Humour at the heart of it. New ideas and old combined to create an aching arc of scifi about the human soul.
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential SF reading at a bargain price.
This is classic, early Kurt Vonnegut and, in it`s way, an important example of his work. The book is not an easy read but does contain humour and lighter moments. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Megabux
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful
I was very dissapointed with this book what a load of trollop glad I did'nt pay for it.
Published 5 months ago by Vinessa Walker
1.0 out of 5 stars Clearly a disappointment! After Slaughterhouse 5
Clearly a disappointment!
After Slaughterhouse 5, I had high hopes to find more valuable insights into the character, communications, values, and motivations of man behind the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Tsvetan Biyukov
5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed this one!
I'll not bother to add anything to the synopsis in this review; you can read it at the top and it is bang-on. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Corky
5.0 out of 5 stars A series of accidents
I loved this book when I first read it about 30 yrs ago. It's still a great book. Not really science fiction ,more a satire on religion,free will and other human follies. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Dr JULIAN L SANGER
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful multi layered sci-fi
A beautifully written, epic tale of time and space; Sirens feels contemporary despite its vintage. Vonnegut explores existentialism and the role of chaos in defining who we are.
Published 7 months ago by Ozwest
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 8 months ago by Andreas Kersten
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