2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Clever, funny, prophetic, but maybe feeling its age,
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This review is from: Cat's Cradle (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Short, clever, confusing, irritating, intelligent, funny. Parts of it are total genius. Parts of it seems dated. And parts are infuriating.
What I can say without equivocation is that it contains more ideas in its short length than most writers can muster in their entire career.
The narrator (John) is researching a book about what Americans were doing on the day the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. In the course of his research he meets the children of Felix Hoenikker, one of the men who invented the bomb. He learns about Hoenikker's legacy, Ice 9, a substance that was invented so that troops wouldn't have to deal with mud on battlefields. Ice 9 is an alternative version of water, solid crystals at room temperature, but once it comes into contact with water it causes the water to also change to Ice 9. John eventually ends up on the Caribbean island of San Moreno, birth place of the religion Bokononism and as events conspire it becomes obvious that Ice 9 will be the proponent of the apocalypse that started with the invention of the Atom bomb.
There is some amazing work here, Bokonism is worth reading the book for on it's own; a religion based around the idea that all religions are lies, but if the lies make you live a better life then they are worth following. And built around the idea that each person is tied to a group of people, who will work together to complete one important action - in this case bring about the end of the world. Bokonism is a religion I could follow.
The book is full of Vonnegut's characteristic humour and his voice is strong throughout. There are some really, really funny set pieces and some thought provoking ideas about human nature, our self-destructivenss, our need for faith and our reliance on technology.
The main problem with Cats Cradle is that taps into fears which aren't really there as much in our society nowadays. We no longer have the Cold War to worry about and whilst the threat of nuclear war is still very real it is no longer the pervading fear for the general populace. We look inwards now for the threat to our nations and so what would have seemed urgent and frightening at the time of writing now feels somewhat dated.
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Initial post: 23 Jul 2012 21:20:06 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Jul 2012 21:21:22 BDT
Eileen Shaw says:
You're writing in 2011 - but even one year later there are too many areas of war and too many bombs in this world to be quite so sure that we are safe from a nuclear holocaust.
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