am 29. Juli 2001
One wouldn't say Kurt Vonnegut is an easy writer. Yet witty, sarcastic, endearing and painfully truthful in all which deals with human nature and contemporary society - with his seriousness hidden behind the bravade of the sci-fi facade.
Out of his many creations "the Sirens" is especially remarkable. The plot is vivid, there are several different story lines, all tied up in one knot later: a rich eccentric American gets lost in space with his pet dog and is turned into a wave; a handsome guy whose father made fortune in business guided by only one book - Bible - thinks somebody above likes him and has all luck in the world, and then he travels to Mars and back to Earth and finally, to Titan; societies overtake one another, personal dramas are interwined with historical processes. All thrilling, brilliant, witty! You laugh even if you don't want to and remain pondering the sad sides of the mankind.
Everything is taking place in the far future, but this book does not only reflect the realities of the 60-es when it was actually written, but in fact remains as up-to-date as one could possibly imagine. His ruthless critic of the American values and American way of making history shows solely that Vonnegut dares to use his contemporary realities to show us all that some basic things about a human being are always true; and that the future is in our own hands.
He does not provide a clue or a solution, neither he proposes the way out of crisis. He subtly suggests everyone should think with his own head and leaves all questions open. This is the most amazing things about this brilliant book and this is what leaves a swarm of thoghts and a feeling of intellectual satisfaction for a long time after. It is almost a decided fact that once you read it, you would want to come back and read it again.
am 6. Januar 2000
When people hear the name Kurt Vonnegut, they think of Slaughterhouse 5, or Cat's Cradle, or perhaps even that his books are often burned in high schools around the country for their dim look at human existence. Not to, in any way, down play the importance or greatness of his more famous works, as I love them all, but I must say that Sirens of Titan is superior to his other works. For some reason, perhaps the science fiction aspects of the novel, this book has not received its deserved recognition. I read approximately the first fifty pages thinking that this book would be about the same as his other novels. I almost put it away to start a different one. Thankfully, I pressed on. Literally, a few pages later, I was entranced by the language, the structure, the revealed surprises, and the humanity of The Sirens of Titan. Every time you think he has revealed the best secret of the book, another one reveals itself. This story is wonderfully intertwined between a set of characters, and the meaning of life. I have since read this book three more times, enjoying it more each time through. If you only read another book in your entire life, please let it be this one. Open your heart and your mind, and let Vonnegut pour into them his wisdom and hope for a better tomorrow.
am 13. Mai 1999
To all those Douglas Adams fans still hitch-hiking through galaxy: There was someone who wrote about all this years and years before!!!
Unfortunately the book is not currently edited in my f... country. They don't know what they miss! Found it more or less by chance in GB last year. All I can say: it is one of the best and exciting novels that I have read so far.
am 12. April 2000
"Sirens of Titan," by Kurt Vonnegut, is about a man and his life in the future. Malachi Constant is one of the richest men in the world. He is invited to see the materialization of William Niles Rumford and his dog Kazak. This man and his dog flew a space ship into a chrono-synclastic infundibula, scattering him throughout the galaxy. Rumford tells Constant of his future. Constant, not wanting to believe that he has a set future, does everything he can to make it not come true. Despite his efforts he soon finds himself living it out: first by being a part of the Martian army, then by going to Mercury, then coming back to Earth, finally ending on a moon of Saturn called Titan.
"Sirens of Titan's" theme would be that it doesn't matter how much one tries to escape it, there is a set plan for his or her life. Malachi Constant tries as hard as he can to escape his future given to him by William Niles Rumford. In every scene that occurs in the book we see Rumford's prophecy come true. Despite all that Constant does he still ends up doing the exact things that Rumford told him he was going to do. There is also something else in the book that is very significant. We find out that the setting for our whole existence is based around getting massages to an alien which is waiting on Titan for a replacement part for his space ship. Here Vonnegut is trying to say that maybe there is some purpose to life, but when we find out what it is we are not necessarily going to be happy with it.
This is a very great book for someone who likes science fiction. However even people who don't care for science fiction can be greatly pleased by the story line. I would recommend that this be one of those books you just have to read in your lifetime. I also want to say that if you like this book you should read Slaughterhouse Five also by Kurt Vonnegut.
am 14. Mai 2000
I agree with the reviewers who feel that this book should be ranked higher in the Vonnegut canon. It has a lot to say, often having to do with Vonnegut's preoccupations with the nature of time, and class, but you can approach it in a number of ways, all with some benefit.
What I mean by the title of this review, is something Vonnegut does often here, which sometimes is reminiscent of his Billy Pilgrim character. He explores the meaning of the word "punctual" in the sense of "existing at a point", as a way of looking at points in time. When someone speaks a truth, Rumfoord will appear, and ruefully observe that this person has indeed uttered a truth, but "oh, what a punctual truth", this meaning that the truth spoken will rarely hold up under the perspective afforded by a long overview of time, or in Rumfoord's case, the perspective of actual eternity.
The savage dog Kazak is here, so if you are a fan of his from "Breakfast of Champions" or elsewhere, you will not be disappointed. I am depressed about Vonnegut's rendering of Rumfoord, the quintessential upper-class guy, with a very well-depicted upper-class voice, as such a hero. Speaking as an American, it seems to me that Malachi Constant should be more the hero here, as I suppose he is, but in a very tragicomic way. I guess Rumfoord doesn't exactly end up smelling like roses at the end either, so, hey, who knows. Beatrice is interesting too. I felt sorry for her toward the end, but she seemed sort of happy in some ways... All in all, this book does make you think, and it is characteristically peppered throughout with Vonnegut's random telling observations.
am 29. Juli 2000
More in comparison to his other works, I mean. (Which are still - don't get me wrong - amazing.)
About the sci-fi: there are trips to Mercury, Mars, and Titan (one of Saturn's moons). There are plans of an interstellar attack, all run by one man, leading a totalitarian society on Mars by controlling the people who live there with pain-creating antennas implanted in everyone's head. There is time travel, to a certain extent. There are almost-human robots. And this (as mentioned by other critics) is one of the reasons I think this book hasn't been appreciated to its full value. People make a relation between 'extreme sci-fi' and 'lame'. I have made this relation before; this book forced me to bite my tongue. The sci-fi feel of this book only makes it more interesting, in the sense that more becomes possible, and the meaning of life - which is developed often in this book - can be spoken of by many different points of view.
Now, about the criticism of humanity: even though Vonnegut is well-known for his criticism and mockery of the human race, NEVER - in any other book - has it been so direct or cruelly honest. You can't help but appreciate the wryness with which he says everything he has to say about us. The banality for reason and meaning of human life in this book is, ironically, depicted in a hiralious and inventive fashion.
This book demonstrates - as much as, and maybe more than, his other books - that Vonnegut is the cleverest, most perceptive author out there.
Kudos, Kurt, on a book that will never be read for the last time.
am 11. April 2000
I wish I didn't have to give a star rating to this novel. It just seems a bit presumptuous to put a subjective star rating on a novel that answers the question of the meaning of human existence! Seriously, this is a terrific book, and it was interesting to see that even this early in his career Vonnegut was already a master practitioner of the English language. Vonnegut's gift is the ability to take a novel that on its own, irregardless of the various ideas and deeper layers of meaning contained in the work, is extremely entertaining, contains many plot twists, suprises, interesting characters, and hilarious wit. Yet, the book also is a fascinating philosophical novel about a subject no less grand than the meaning of all human existence. Vonnegut is such an amazing writer in the sense that unlike some authors, he can write a novel of ideas that is still entertaining to those who don't have the patience for more "highbrow" literature, yet alternatively, he can write a entertaining, easy to read/follow novel that doesn't insult the intelligence of a more highbrow audience who are looking for something deeper that just a basic plot-focused book. I hate to sound like a blurb on the back of a novel, but if you were to read just one Vonnegut novel that epitomizes his writing style, this is the one I would recommend.
am 18. Juli 2000
Though I am a fan of Vonnegut, it is still rather obvious that Sirens of Titan is one of his first novels. It is much more science-fiction based than most (all seem to have some science-fiction element, but are not completely relying on the genre), and doesn't possess the usual flippant Vonnegut attitude- this book seems more serious, more dark without giving itself entirely to dark humor.
This is certainly not to say that it isn't a great read. Like all Vonnegut books, the characters, if not entirely likeable, are quirky and completely unique, interacting in envirnments that only Vonnegut could envision- The Rumfoord's neglected estate on Earth, Mars, inside the crystal caves of Mercury, and Saturn's moon, Titan. All in all, this is a great read, for Vonnegut fans and newbies to Vonnegut alike- but it should be remembered that this is certainly not as representative of all his work as is the masterpieces Slaughterhouse Five and Cat's Cradle.
am 28. August 1999
I had to read this book in high school and browsed it like any other book but was intrigued. I am now in my last year of college and decided to go back to it and it has changed the way that I look at the world.. It really is an experience to read this book. It offers a profound vision of everything from religion to predestination to human relations to technology. I was really moved by a book for the FIRST time in my life and am thankful to Mr. Vonnegut for this. I am not an avid reader but I am reading other Vonnegut books presently and have just finished Slaughterhouse 5. I am truly addicted. Sirens of Titan was an astonishing, surreal, self-evaluating, shocking, and trippy journey that I have and would recommend to anyone that wants to be entertained while also doing a great deal of soul searching.. WHAT A GREAT TRIP!!!!!!!!!!!!
am 17. Mai 1999
This is the third Vonnegut novel I've read (along with "Cat's Cradle" and "Breakfast of Champions"), and again, Vonnegut strikes gold. "Sirens" is a grand metaphor for organized religion, and even when it all works out really well (all of earth is unified, and people accentuate their weaknesses if they are talented), somebody must get used or abused in order for it to work (those people here being Malachi Constant and Mrs. Rumfoord). Again, Vonnegut uses language that a child could understand to create powerful linguistic and philosophical ideas. Compared to the other two Vonnegut books I've read, the writing here is not as concise, because this is his first novel, and was still working on inventing his own "language." Solidly entertaining and meaningful.