When a good friend recommends a good read, I jump at the chance to see for myself what caught their eye and held it. In the case of The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut, I was definitely not let down and by the end of the book I had so many feels and so many threads of thought. This is what a great piece of work does. It branches and fractures your thoughts well beyond the pages of the book.
That being said, let’s dive into this journey. From the start of the book we are given a somewhat reliable path that our main character will be taking; we are given the dots but they are by no means connected. And as X, Y and Z come to pass, we are taken on a journey whose settings exist from the Sun to Betelgeuse. As the scenery changes, so do the characters. This book contains probably the biggest evolution of a character I have had the pleasure of encountering. Malachi Constant is one of our mains; beginning his journey with his full name, which is incredibly important to him. His name is his birthright and his claim to millions. As his situation changes, including but not limited to, the planet on which his story continues, he becomes Unk, a man stripped of everything from names to memories. He next becomes the Space Wanderer, nameless, planetless, helpless. He is stuck in his story, a pawn of something far greater.
This becomes a bigger and more important question as the novel progresses. Is something greater occurring? Who is pulling these strings and orchestrating all life on Earth? We think we know. In fact you’re entirely sure you know for the course of the whole work. Except you don’t, not even a little bit. The fact that someone/something could be pulling the strings your/our/my whole life is an intimidating thought. But what if this puppet master has a puppet master of his own? Being omniscient allows you to be all and see all, yes, but why does that become an inherent right? And how do this omni know whether what they are seeing and doing is not an orchestration all its own?
This is what made reading this book so much fun! Despite the fact that fairly close to the inception of the story, we are given a map, there are so many unbelievable twists and shocking turns that I challenge you to plot this course and get it completely right. Vonnegut’s whimsical voice creates a fantastically beautiful narrative. His descriptions of the world are abstractly and concretely breathtaking. .
If you need a read that is both quick and thought provoking, pick up The Sirens of Titan here