Science fiction and fantasy
The Sirens of Titan
by Kurt Vonnegut
This meeting acts as a catalyst for change for both Constant and Beatrice, Rumfoord's estranged wife. Both of them make a series of poor investments, and end up financially ruined. Eventually Constant decides there is nothing for it but to flee his debts, and so his adventures around the solar system begin.
Constant goes to Mars, where he loses his identity amongst a mind-controlling army intent on invading Earth. He also has a spell on the dark side of Mercury and on Saturn's moon, Titan. The fact that we know much more about these places and their unsuitability for life than the author did when this book was written doesn't detract at all from the story. This novel hasn't much to do with realism or speculating what life would be like on other planets in any case. It's a book about man's insignificance in the overall scheme of things, and the way we routinely try to give random events a deeper moral meaning when no meaning is there.
This could have been a bleak book, given the terrible run of events that Constant experiences. But Vonnegut's dry humour is compelling, and the surprises that spring from his fertile and quirky imagination keep you wanting to read on. However it's not the weirdness of this novel that is its main strength, but its cleverness. The Sirens of Titan is satisfying, witty, and bursting with peculiar ideas.
If you like this, try:Inconstant Moon by Larry Niven
Space exploration features heavily in this collection of short stories.
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The Drowned World by J. G. Ballard
In this novel the world is overheating and becoming inhospitable for mankind.
Review © Ros Jackson
More about Kurt Vonnegut