Matt's Reviews > The Sirens of Titan

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
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's review
May 08, 10

bookshelves: science-fiction
Recommended for: Interested in Vonnegut but leaning sci-fi rather than politics
read count: 1

If I told you that there was a writer out there that blended the witty satirical edge of the American legend Mark Twain with science fiction elements such as foreign worlds and strange alien beings, you should probably be excited. You should also probably all ready know that Kurt Vonnegut is that man.

Although I would say that "The Sirens of Titan" is thus far my least favorite of the Vonnegut novels, which I have read about a third of, that is not to say its bad. It is still a very good and fun book. It is only his second novel, and his first foray into the Vonnegut niche he is known for, after the slightly more serious-edged debut "Player Piano." All of Vonnegut's signatures are featured in "The Sirens of Titan," from the religious parody of The Church of God The Utterly Indifferent, to the recurring alien race known as the Tralfamadorians, a technologically advanced race of robotic sort-of-creatures.

The biggest reason why I would say that "Sirens" isn't quite up to par with Vonnegut['s best work is that it takes quite a bit of time to get rolling. For the first third or so of the novel, it never really gets beyond mildly amusing. Once the narrative switches to be set on Mars, and focuses on the character "Unk," however, the book really takes off and becomes both poignant and often very funny.

While later Vonnegut works seemed to parody one subject in particular, such as "Cat's Cradle" being a critique on religion, "The Sirens of Titan" is a bit scatterbrained in that sense. Vonnegut juggles and manages to poke fun at a myriad of subject matter, including religion, Earth society, the military, and others. Despite this, it manages to be quite adept at dealing with all of these issues.

Although I wouldn't put it up as high as "Slaughterhouse-Five" or "Breakfast of Champions," this is still a very enjoyable and well-written piece. It says something of the caliber of Vonnegut's body of work when his weakest still gets four stars for me, and a well deserved four stars at that.
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