Kurt, Jr. Vonnegut Book: The Sirens of Titan
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Thoughts on the meaning of life
This is the first Vonnegut novel I've read. It was interesting but odd. In some small ways, it reminded me of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The plot left something to be desired, but the message of the novel was quite interesting. As other reviewers have pointed out, the book is about the meaning of life and fate. Indeed, there is even a new religion created to foster and advance these new ideas.
The book's message about the meaning of life can be interpreted differently. The most obvious interpretation of the novel is that mankind's purpose was to be the tool of aliens to serve a trivial end (producing a spare part for a space ship). This would mean that man's existence is ultimately pointless. The other more interesting way to look at it is that Vonnegut is trying to say that the meaning of life is a mystery, that when revealed will surprise everyone. This is the main idea in the book, but it is unwrapped very slowly.
The religion that Vonnegut creates is called the Church of God the Utterly Indifferent, and "Take Care of the People and God Will Take Care of Himself," is the Church's motto. The founder of the religion then proceeds to predict that his religion will end all of the world's problems... This sketches incredulity just past the breaking point. Vonnegut's rehashing of deism is left with the weighty philosophical and emotional problem of evil to contend with and no solution is in sight.
I don't know if I'll read more Vonnegut or not. The book was somewhat enticing and there were some interesting ideas presented here. While Vonnegut is classified as a science fiction writer, I don't know if this particular novel could be classed as such. While it is true that some space travel and technology is involved, it is not hard SF in the sense that the story is not centred on science and technology.