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on 22 March 2014
I discovered Kurt Vonnegut as a schoolboy when I stumbled upon Cats Cradle. That book confirmed my love of science fiction. However, somehow I managed to skip Sirens of Titan until a few weeks ago.

This is an amazing book. The English language is remarkable for its redundancy but I am not sure that there is a redundant sentence or word in Sirens of Titan. Despite this the book is a pleasure to read. It is not a conventional story. The world that Constant, whose story this is, inhabits is not a conventional world but it feels familiar at first. Then Vonnegut drops the reader into the fantasy world of Mars. You could stumble and fall by the wayside at this point but Unk's story soon grips you.

I describe this book as a master class because I found myself reading it in wonder. Where did the ideas come from? How can text flow so smoothly? Why should this seeming nonsense be such a gripping read?

I see themes that I have encountered elsewhere in this book. As noted in the blurb I can see that Douglas Adams could have been inspired by this book. But do I pick up something of of Orwell's 1984 and Gillian's Brazil? I am not sure. What I am certain of is that I wish I had read Sirens of Titan years ago.
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on 17 May 2017
My first ever Kurt Vonnegut book and tbh I'm still not sure what I feel about it. Well written and conceptually interesting but I didn't connect with it as I have with other authors. I'd try again for the story and concepts but doubt that this will make any list of favourites for me.
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on 26 April 2017
This book is described as a picaresque tale of a man's journeys in the solar system seeking the meaning of life. I'm afraid that never made itself apparent to me.

Instead, following an admittedly encouraging beginning, the story deteriorated into a rambling mess involving characters and scenes which invited little interest and remained unintelligible.

Very disappointing from such a highly regarded author as Kurt Vonnegurt.
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on 20 June 2017
If life is about gathering information and constructing your world view, this book certainly nudges you along. God is fabulous and all but I doubt he sweats the small stuff we worry about. Perhaps we should stop worrying too?
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on 16 April 2017
Let down a bit by the last two chapters, not classic Vonnegut but nevertheless worth reading
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on 1 April 2017
Wonderful story.
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on 13 June 2017
Everything went fine and quick
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on 13 September 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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on 4 September 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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on 10 February 2013
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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