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The sirens of Titan [Hardcover]

Kurt Vonnegut
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

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Book Description

When Winston Niles Rumfoord flies his spaceship into a chrono-synclastic infundibulum he is converted into pure energy and only materializes when his waveforms intercept Earth or some other planet. As a result, he only gets home to Newport, Rhode Island, once every fifty-nine days and then only for an hour. But at least, as a consolation, he now knows everything that has ever happened and everything that ever will be. He knows, for instance, that his wife is going to Mars to mate with Malachi Constant, the richest man in the world. He also knows that on Titan -- one of Saturn's moons -- is an alien from the planet Tralfamadore, who has been waiting 200,000 years for a spare part for his grounded spacecraft...
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 319 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; First Edition edition (1962)
  • ASIN: B0000CLAYP
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,643,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

One of the very best must-read SF novels of all time --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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 Sep 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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11 of 13 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I agree with previous comments, this is a great place to start if you have never read a Vonnegut book. The first few pages had me wondering if I would appreciate the Vonnegut hype, all I can say is keep going and you will not be able to put this book down. I have since read Slaughterhouse Five and will soon be reading Cat's Cradle. I love the Vonnegut style and humour, I found myself shaking my head and thinking 'he is so right'. He was incredibly intuitve and observant and this comes out in his novels. One of the reasons I wanted to read his books was because I knew he was one of the biggest influences in the works of another favourite author of mine, Douglas Adams, and I could clearly see the root of this influence in this novel. Im so happy Ive discovered Vonnegut and would urge anyone who loves great storytelling and fine writing to read his books too.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my ALL TIME FAVOURITES! 9 May 2009
This book may not be for everyone, but it is one of my all time favourites and I think I have read it twenty or more times over the years. I read it 2 times just last years!
I can see that it may be a bit hard getting into at the beginning, but if you just persist, you will not regret it. The book flips back and forth between time and space and planets. It is not as spacey as you might think. Vonnegut was a humanist. This book is a play on politics and religion. It is satirical and funny, serious and beautiful. You feel so very much for the characters as they lead you through a long chain of events from a hermit stock broker hiding in a hotel room, using the bible as code for the market...through a phony war from Mars.. to a religion made to save the world.
I love it, love it, love it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculous. a masterpiece. 10 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A subtle, intriguing novel. Very easy to read with a sprinkling of humor. The sort of humor that rings true and makes you think. Everything in this book will make you think; thoughts about religion, thoughts about life, thoughts about people and politics. Despite all this intellectual richness, this book can be read on the level of an ingenious and intricate plot.

If you're even looking on this page it implies you're considering getting this book. If you're even considering it, buy it: you won't regret it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 1 Feb 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
How on earth did he weave this story together and make it so readable and relevant to modern day times? Excellent on all levels and paced well.
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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 Sep 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad read
I've read this before but I couldn't remember much about it. Some of it came back to me as I read on and I thoroughly enjoyed the improbable twists. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Marge
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the greatest science fiction book every written!
My favorite science fiction book of all time, I was never much of a reader and initially I wasn't too impressed with this book, but after a while of reading it on and off I found... Read more
Published 3 months ago by huw
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous
It's all been said so many times, but Vonnegut is just amazing; his tragic-comic characters are so real they hurt, and his situations so bizarre that they must be true. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Andrew Heenan
5.0 out of 5 stars Good old Kurt!
A real SF masterpiece, a should read.
Read it more than 15 years ago, re-read it recently and was still the same great book.
Published 5 months ago by divxalex
2.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy but not that good.
Kurt Vonnegut allows his imagination to run a bit wild in this novel. Perhaps a little too wild IMHO. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Paul Reitman
5.0 out of 5 stars A master class of creative writing
I discovered Kurt Vonnegut as a schoolboy when I stumbled upon Cats Cradle. That book confirmed my love of science fiction. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mr. R. F. Harvey
4.0 out of 5 stars real vonnegut - real scify - real good
After reading welcome to the monkey house, breakfast of champions and slaughterhouse five i found this gem for 99p and i have to say it was a real bargain for quite a fun read. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Powlie
3.0 out of 5 stars B-movie sci-fi
A Hugo winner it may be, but if you're a fan of the more recent generations of authors then don't be tempted by this just because it's a bargain - it's well written and relatively... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Keith Trangmar
5.0 out of 5 stars Read Vonnegut in my teens. He was always one of my favourite authors...
Everything you expect from Kurt Vonnegut. Wonderful prose, zany full bodied characters, outrageous side stories running through the main theme. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Penragon
4.0 out of 5 stars Good "old" science fiction with hidden depth
Kurt Vonnegut is one of the original science fiction writers I read years ago before the genre exploded and fantasy etc came along and sometimes mixed in with it, so when you had... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Bookworm
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