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The Sirens of Titan

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  98,618 ratings  ·  3,952 reviews
The Sirens of Titan is an outrageous romp through space, time, and morality. The richest, most depraved man on Earth, Malachi Constant, is offered a chance to take a space journey to distant worlds with a beautiful woman at his side. Of course there’ s a catch to the invitation–and a prophetic vision about the purpose of human life that only Vonnegut has the courage to tel ...more
Paperback, 326 pages
Published September 8th 1998 by Dial Press (first published 1959)
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4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  98,618 ratings  ·  3,952 reviews


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Stephen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lyn
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Somebody up there likes me.

One of my favorite film directors is Wes Anderson. I’m not sure if he is a fan of Kurt Vonnegut, but he should be and he should produce and direct the film adaption of Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Sirens of Titan. Sirens of Titan, Vonnegut’s second published novel, was released in 1959. Some aspects of his brilliant short story Harrison Bergeron, which was published in 1961, are revealed in the pages of Sirens. Other aspects of this novel are fairly representative of the la
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Manny
I'll start with a roundabout introduction. Garry Kasparov was not just one of the best chessplayers of all time, he was also one of the best analysts. Even as a teenager, he was always coming up with the most amazing ideas. Chessplayers often prefer to hoard their ideas; it can be worth a lot to surprise your opponent in a critical game, and there are many stories about grandmasters keeping a new move in the freezer for years, or even decades. Kasparov asked his trainer if he should be hoarding ...more
jessica
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
‘the sirens of titan’ (or as i have alternatively titled it, ‘why life is the universes greatest long con’) is the perfect catalyst for my impending existential crisis - all courtesy of john!

in this review, i will explore the two major themes of the novel, state what we can learn them, and explain how these lessons apply to our meager lives.

lets get started.

free will || ah, the biggest illusion of them them all. if the universe was a magician, the fact that we somehow believe we have control ov
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J.L.   Sutton
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Always prophetic. Always relevant. In Kurt Vonnegut's The Sirens of Titan, we accompany Malachi Constant on adventures through time and space. He is unlike any other hero you're likely to read about; Malachi "was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all." The plot, which seems ridiculous and completely random (like those series of accidents), takes on visionary proportions in Vonnegut's hands. Especially in this novel, I thought about how much Vonnegut had influenced Douglas Adams and Th ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut
The Sirens of Titan is a Hugo Award-nominated novel by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., first published in 1959. His second novel, it involves issues of free will, omniscience, and the overall purpose of human history. Much of the story revolves around a Martian invasion of Earth. Malachi Constant is the richest man in a future America. He possesses extraordinary luck that he attributes to divine favor which he has used to build upon his father's fortune. He becomes the cent
...more
BlackOxford
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love the One You're With

Most of Vonnegut's enduring tropes start life in Sirens:
- Time and its distortions
- Places like Newport and Indianapolis
- People such as Rumfoord and Ben and Sylvia
- The planet Tralfamadore and its inhabitants
- And of course the Volunteer Fire Department

What holds these oddities together is what holds everything of Vonnegut together, an ethical theology. His sci-fi is a way of displacing talk about God just enough to do some serious thinking. And he may indeed have inspi
...more
Danger
Mar 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: aliens, robots, human beings and blow-up sex dolls
3RD READ-THROUGH 4/18/17: Since I was about 19, I’ve been referring to this novel as my “favorite book.” I don’t know if *quite* holds that distinction still, having read a lot more in the succeeding 15 years, but it is STILL, without question one of the best! This book might be the “plottiest” of all of Vonnegut’s novels, while I enjoy the voice later Vonnegut much more (The Sirens of Titan was only his second book) the ideas presented here are deep and varied, lying what is obviously the philo ...more
Kedar
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Do you read a Vonnegut book, or does the book read you? Does it expose your thoughts to the most detailed analysis of humanity, human behavior, and human mind and then tells you to not give a damn? Except that it also seizes the phrase 'to not give a damn' from your control. Leaves you hanging midair. Questioning.

So what to do? What is to be done? Apart from whatever has already been done?

You go beyond the story. See Unk staring at you pointedly with a hazy gaze. Figure out if he thinks whether
...more
Apatt
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pre-80s-sf, sci-fi
“Rented a tent, a tent, a tent; Rented a tent, a tent, a tent. Rented a tent! Rented a tent! Rented a, rented a tent.”
— Snare Drum on Mars”

That is funny until it suddenly becomes creepy, to tell you why would be a spoiler though.

The Sirens of Titan is great stuff, this should come as no surprise to you if you are a Kurt Vonnegut fan, but it surprised the hell out of me. You see, I didn't like Cat’s Cradle, one of his most celebrated books and, if I remember correctly, I didn't like Slaughterh
...more
Darwin8u
Jul 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, aere-perennius
“I was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan

description

One of my favorite Vonnegut. Top-shelf. Snug and warm next to Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions, & Mother Night. The magic of Vonnegut is he develops an idea to the point where -- just as you start believing it :: just as you are comfortable in his absuridty -- he kicks you down another Martian rabbit hole.

He doesn't want you sitting and enjoying yourself. He wants you const
...more
Bradley
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-shelf, sci-fi, satire
I'm one of those people who like to pick on the super popular works of SF especially when the literary intelligencia has deemed so-and-so SF writers better than the common hoi polloi. I have to see what is up with them, find a reason to bring them back to the SF fold rather than the claustrophobic Literary BS.

So what happens when I pick up Vonnegut and read him?

I like him. Again. Damn it. In fact, The Sirens of Titan may be my favorite. It's a toss-up between The Breakfast of Champions and this.
...more
Loretta
Nope. Not for me. I enjoyed Slaughterhouse-Five so much more. This book, The Sirens of Titan was, to me, boring and just couldn't get into it. 😕
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Mar 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
It's a thankless job, telling people it's a hard, hard Universe they're in!

But somebody's got to do it, and that's the job Kurt Vonnegut embarks on here, through the voice of his character Winston Niles Rumford, an impromptu deux-et-machina who plays with humanity like a fickle overlord with his toy soldiers, hoping to lure us, push us, force us, enchant us, frighten us into growing up, into freeing our minds of the shackles of political games, money grubbing, religious intransigence or epicur
...more
Stuart
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Sirens of Titan: An early Vonnegut classic about the randomness of life
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
This is a tough book to review. And it’s not really SF at all though it adopts the trappings of the genre. The thing about Kurt Vonnegut’s books is that they are so deceptively simple. The prose is spare, humorous, ironic, and to the point. And yet the story is very ambitious, as it seeks to provide answers to some very basic questions. Why do we exist? What is the universe for? Do w
...more
Geoff
Sep 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
One exercise is to attempt to try to flex your memory and remember back before the point you were born… for instance I was born in July of 1977 but can I recollect February of that year or August of 1976? What you are met with then is a solid nothing; blankness and blackness and not even sense at all; and this is probably what death is like. However if one is to take something positive from this exercise it’s the implication that death can also be something “before” and not something always and ...more
MJ Nicholls
Sep 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, merkins
Wow. I'd forgotten quite how amazing a writer is Mr. Kurt Vonnegut. The Sirens of Titan is his second novel, and already his voice is developed to its peak: the irony, the cynicism, the repetition, the bleakness, the heartbreaking.

This book moved me more than his other works. Something about these sad, lonely and powerless characters fighting their fates in a dark, unfeeling cosmos. It is a bleak, emotionally resonant work, far more moving than Slaughterhouse 5 or Breakfast of Champions.

You can
...more
Richard Derus
Rating: 3.5* of five

I read this book when I was a teenager in the 1970s. I missed a lot of assumptions, like the one where it's okay for a man to discuss his own wife "being bred" by another man; the one where black people all speak in dialect, obviating the need to mention their skin color; the one about homosexual sex being offensive; I'm at a loss, as a 695-month-old reader with literally thousands more books under my expansive mental belt, how this 1950s prejudice whipped past my allegedly e
...more
Madeleine
Since discovering that I love me some Vonnegut a few years ago after a humorless eighth-grade English teacher nearly kept me from ever giving him another go, I've read a not immediately dismissive number of his works. And they've all left me in various degrees of speechless. It can't be helped. He delights me in the way that only a favorite writer can.

Reading Vonnegut makes me realize that there's nothing I can say that he hadn't already said better and more cleverly. And that's not really a ba
...more
David
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Eh. Vonnegut thinks life is a bitch, and so has bitch-slapped some odd characters. Neither absurd nor insightful enough to be great. Indeed, there's something lazy about this book. And I can't be bothered to pin it down.
Jim
Sep 19, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, 1paper, 2fiction
I read this many years ago, but am rereading with "The Evolution of Science Fiction" group.
https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

I remember liking this more back when I first read it in the 70's. I think both the times & my age had a lot to do with that. It never captivated me. Vonnegut made each character a caricature of some ideal of our society & then used that achievement & their flaws to destroy them so that when I didn't actively dislike them, I pitied them. It wasn't subtly
...more
Judy
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Vonnegut fans
Vonnegut's second novel started off great for me. The whole thing about the chronosynclastic infundibulum being "those places...where all the different kinds of truth fit together" struck me as pretty cool. I thought the hapless irresponsible Malachi Constant, richest man in America, was going to get straightened out and find the meaning of life.

Well, he did, but it did not make him happy. Rumfoord, who at first appeared to me as someone who had the good of mankind at heart, turned out to be qui
...more
Dave
Is it Fate or Coincidence?

The Sirens of Titan is an odd satirical twist of a science fiction novel which explores nothing quite as grand as the meaning of life. There are echoes here of Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land and Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide, but guess what. Sirens of Titan came first. Legend has it that Vonnegut wrote this in a few hours while at a dinner party. Obviously, some of the ideas were percolating in his head for awhile.

It is most of all a book of ideas. Vonnegut has the
...more
Gavin
Nov 10, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
"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


This fantastic quote from the fictional character Ransom K. Fern greets the reader before the story even starts and sets the tone for the many more that follow. The story is billed as a tale from the Nightmare Ages. An age that falls roughly between the Second World War and the Third
...more
Jeff
Aug 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scifi
The Sirens of Titan is a rare masterwork, a novel with broad and varied powers. It is an elusive book that seeks you out, a panorama of arresting images, a cosmic drama played out across the galaxy and set in the devices of the future but capturing eternal beauty as though in indestructible stone. At its simplest, it is the story of Malachi Constant, who despite his egotistical intentions, endures mental and physical suffering, isolation, and the loss of his own identity in order to be reunited ...more
David Sarkies
Jan 21, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Piercing the Veil on Religion
27 January 2014

I'll start of by saying that I have read a number of Kurt Vonnegut books (five to be precise) and have a another one on my too read list (Player Piano) and of the five, three of them I have read twice (including this one) and of the remaining two, one I them I intend on reading again (Slaughterhouse Five). As a writer, a satirist, and post-modern thinker, I quite like Vonnegut's work, but for some reason the second time around I found that I simply co
...more
Scott
Jun 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
There’s nothing like a Kurt Vonnegut novel to show you how stupid your own species can be.

Slaughterhouse Five illuminated the absurdity of war, and The Sirens of Titan does something similar with Christianity, sheathing its criticism in a fun read that is suffused with Vonnegut’s wit.

Malachi Constant, ridiculously rich heir to his ridiculously (and undeservedly) rich father is a wastrel, a spendthrift and a fool who attributes his astonishingly good fortune to ‘someone up there’ liking him.

As th
...more
Rod
This, Vonnegut's second novel and a science-fiction classic, had me worried for the first 50 pages or so—I was actually rather underwhelmed. I didn't care very much for the protagonist, Malachi Constant, who is the richest, most impossibly lucky man on Earth, and a degenerate wastrel. The other main character—another very wealthy man named Winston Niles Rumfoord—has become caught in a space anomaly that makes him materialize at various points in the solar system at regular intervals, and also al ...more
Gabrielle
3 and a half stars.

In typical Vonnegut fashion, this novel is zany, unpredictable, funny, thought-provoking and very, very hard to summarize. As much as I enjoy his books, reviewing them is always a challenge, because where the hell am I even supposed to begin? With the story of the man and his dog, who are spread across time and space; the story of the rich and depraved Malachi and his feeble attempts to control his fate? The non-linear way this strange story is told makes me think of a Mobius
...more
Taylor
May 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, especially people interested in politics.
I was wary of picking up Vonnegut for a long time, because even though he's such a well regarded author, his plots are so science fiction based, and I have little to no interest in science fiction. After asking for book recommendations for my trip to Europe, my friend Amanda recommended this to me and I trust her taste, so I figured it was time for me and Vonnegut to get together. And I am so glad that we did.

As anticipated, yes, the plot was a bit ridiculous and very science fiction based, but
...more
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23,964 followers
Kurt Vonnegut, Junior was an American novelist, satirist, and most recently, graphic artist. He was recognized as New York State Author for 2001-2003.

He was born in Indianapolis, later the setting for many of his novels. He attended Cornell University from 1941 to 1943, where he wrote a column for the student newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun. Vonnegut trained as a chemist and worked as a journali
...more
“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.” 3138 likes
“I was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all.” 1076 likes
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