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The Sirens of Titan (1959)

de Kurt Vonnegut

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10,096119685 (4.01)164
Classic Literature. Fiction. Mystery. Science Fiction & Fantasy. HTML:

The Sirens of Titan (1959), Vonnegut's second novel, was on the Hugo final ballot along with Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers and lost in what Harlan Ellison called a monumental injustice. Malachi Constant is a feckless but ultimately good-hearted millionaire who, in this incondensable interplanetary Candide (lacking perhaps Voltaire's utter bitterness), searches the solar system for the ultimate meaning of existence.

Constant is aided by another tycoon, Winston Rumfoord, who, with the help of aliens, has discovered the fundamental meaning of life. With the help of Salo??an alien robot overseeing the alien race, the Tralmafordians (who also feature in Slaughterhouse-Five)??Constant attempts to find some cosmic sense and order in the face of universal malevolence. Constant and Rumfoord deal with the metaphysics of "chrono-synclastic infundibula" and the interference of the Tralmafadorians. The novel is pervaded by a goofy, episodic charm which barely shields the readers (or the characters) from the fact of what seems to be a large and indifferent universe.

All of Vonnegut's themes and obsessions, further developed or recycled in later work, are evident here in a novel slightly more hopeful than most of his canon. It is suggested that ultimately Constant learns only that it is impossible to learn, that fate (and the Tralmafadorians) are impenetrable. On the basis of this novel, Vonnegut was wholly claimed by the science fiction community (as the Hugo nomination demonstrated) but he did not reciprocate, feeling from the outset that to be identified as a science fiction writer would limit his audience and trivialize his themes. His recurring character, the hack science fiction writer Kilgore Trout (prominent in Slaughterhouse-Five) was for Vonnegut a worst case version of the writer he did not wish to become… (més)

  1. 92
    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy de Douglas Adams (mike_frank)
  2. 47
    Watchmen de Alan Moore (wvlibrarydude)
    wvlibrarydude: Is there meaning to the universe, or one big joke of coincidences.
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The wealthiest Hollywood playboy in America, Malachi Constant, is invited to the home of Beatrice Rumfoord to witness the manifestation of her husband, Winston Niles Rumfoord, and his dog Kazak. Nine years before, Rumfoord had piloted his spaceship into an uncharted chrono-synclastic infundibulum near Mars. Kazak was his only companion aboard ship. Since then, man and dog exist as energy but materialize on a regular schedule in his mansion on Earth. Word of Winston’s materializations have spread over time and now draw a crowd outside the mansion’s walls. His wife, however, permits no audience to Winston’s appearances—until he specifically requests the presence of Malachi Constant.

What follows is a mind-bending journey, entirely predicted and orchestrated by Rumfoord, that takes Malachi and Beatrice to various points in the solar system, all memories and identities from their Earthly lives erased. In the meantime, Rumfoord creates a new religion called The Church of God the Utterly Indifferent in which the Almighty exists but cares not for the affairs of mankind. Oh, and then there’s Salo, an alien from the planet Tralfamadore who crash landed on Saturn’s moon Titan eons ago on his way to deliver a message from his people to parts unknown. Also on Titan is where Rumfoord and Kazak reside in a palatial estate when they’re not beaming across the solar system.

But what is the purpose of Winston Niles Rumfoord’s machinations? Why has he chosen Malachi Constant and his own wife Beatrice as his pawns and how does the Tralfamadorian Salo fit into the picture?

In Sirens of Titan, Vonnegut’s dry humor sinks its claws into religion, morality, destiny, and the purpose of life in a tale that is sometimes hilarious, other times disturbing, but at all times original. ( )
  pgiunta | Jun 2, 2023 |
Cuando aún no se conocía el sentido de la vida, la humanidad salió a buscarlo al espacio, solo para encontrar la misma vacuidad y falta de razón que existía en la Tierra. Winston Niles Rumfoord, millonario explorador y aventurero, desmaterializado y ondulado desde el Sol hasta Betelgeuse tras caer en un infundibulum crono-sinclástico, estará detrás de la invasión marciana de la Tierra y del nacimiento de la primera gran religión universal: la Iglesia de Dios, el absolutamente indiferente.
  Natt90 | Feb 13, 2023 |
Very interesting book, not sure I understand everything but will probably re-read it again in the future. ( )
  ilsevr1977 | Jan 21, 2023 |
Hadn't read any Vonnegut for decades. I liked it, but not quite as much as I used to. ( )
  steve02476 | Jan 3, 2023 |
I'm pretty sure I read this many years ago, but decided to reread it, since I didn't remember anything about it.

I loved Vonnegut back when I first read his books, when his ideas were fresh and rare, but now that I've been exposed to a lot more books and ideas, I think I don't enjoy him as much. He's still humorous, insightful, with a lot of wtf moments, but a lot of it seems kind of silly at times. I don't really quite know whether this story had a real plot or not. And it's hard to relate to any of the characters except perhaps Salo, the machine from Tralfamadore on Titan. Actually, the story of the machines from Tralfamadore is the most interesting part of the story. All the machines there were supposedly built by machines. Rumor has it that originally there were people there who needed to know their purpose in life. Once they learned this, they decided it wasn't a high enough purpose, so they built machines to do it. They tried again, with the same results. So, they built machines to find their purpose, and the machines came back with the answer that they actually had no purpose. Since they felt they needed a purpose, they were unhappy, and started killing each other off. Then they got the bright idea to build machines to do that, too, and in no time at all, it was done. ( )
  MartyFried | Oct 9, 2022 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Vonnegut, Kurtautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Adams, MarcAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Chris MooreAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Kapari, MarjattaTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Koeppl, LíviaTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Powers, RichardAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Rowohlt, HarryÜbersetzerautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Snyder, JayNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Teason, WilliamAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Teason, WilliamAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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"Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty-three thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules—and still there are some misfits who insist that there is no such thing as progress."
—Ransom K. Fern
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For Alex Vonnegut, special agent, with love
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Everyone now knows how to find the meaning of life within himself.

But mankind wasn’t always so lucky. Less than a century ago men and women did not have easy access to the puzzle boxes within them. 

They could not name even one of the fifty-three portals to the soul.
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Classic Literature. Fiction. Mystery. Science Fiction & Fantasy. HTML:

The Sirens of Titan (1959), Vonnegut's second novel, was on the Hugo final ballot along with Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers and lost in what Harlan Ellison called a monumental injustice. Malachi Constant is a feckless but ultimately good-hearted millionaire who, in this incondensable interplanetary Candide (lacking perhaps Voltaire's utter bitterness), searches the solar system for the ultimate meaning of existence.

Constant is aided by another tycoon, Winston Rumfoord, who, with the help of aliens, has discovered the fundamental meaning of life. With the help of Salo??an alien robot overseeing the alien race, the Tralmafordians (who also feature in Slaughterhouse-Five)??Constant attempts to find some cosmic sense and order in the face of universal malevolence. Constant and Rumfoord deal with the metaphysics of "chrono-synclastic infundibula" and the interference of the Tralmafadorians. The novel is pervaded by a goofy, episodic charm which barely shields the readers (or the characters) from the fact of what seems to be a large and indifferent universe.

All of Vonnegut's themes and obsessions, further developed or recycled in later work, are evident here in a novel slightly more hopeful than most of his canon. It is suggested that ultimately Constant learns only that it is impossible to learn, that fate (and the Tralmafadorians) are impenetrable. On the basis of this novel, Vonnegut was wholly claimed by the science fiction community (as the Hugo nomination demonstrated) but he did not reciprocate, feeling from the outset that to be identified as a science fiction writer would limit his audience and trivialize his themes. His recurring character, the hack science fiction writer Kilgore Trout (prominent in Slaughterhouse-Five) was for Vonnegut a worst case version of the writer he did not wish to become

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