Somebody up there likes me.
Oh no, they don't. In fact chances are that even if there were somebody or something up there
, it's more than likely they don't care about you. At all.Sirens of Titan
(1959) was Kurt Vonnegut
's second novel and is notable for being one of his more overt Science Fiction novels. Set in 22nd-century America, it tells the story of Malachi Constant, one of the richest men in the world, who has the gall, the temerity to attribute his good fortune to divine providence.
His life changes irrevocably when he encounters Winston Niles Rumfoord, a playboy millionaire turned space explorer turned omniscient being after he pilots his spaceship into a chrono-synclastic infundibulum. (Chrono-synclastic is Latin/Greek for "time bent equally in all directions", and infundibulum is Latin for "funnel".) Rumfoord is effectively "smeared across time" and becomes aware of all events, past, present and future. Armed with this knowledge, Rumfoord begins to direct Constant on a quest of self-knowledge and instruction, along the way setting up the "Church of God the Utterly Indifferent".
This Book Contains Examples of the Following Tropes:
- Assimilation Plot
- Batman Gambit: Rumfoord effectively engineers a short-lived and very one-sided interplanetary war between Mars and Earth, using his friend and his ex-wife no less, in order to unite the people of Earth.
- Black Comedy: Standard in a Vonnegut novel.
- A God Am I: In a godless, indifferent universe, Winston Niles Rumfoord is the closest thing to a deity we have.
- The Chessmaster: Winston Niles Rumfoord. On a much larger scale, the Tralfamadorians, who may have influenced the very creation of humanity in order to ultimately manufacture and deliver a single spare part for a stranded space-ship.
- Cosmic Plaything
- Have You Seen My God?: Missing, presumed non-existent.
- Heel Face Turn: Boaz.
- Insignificant Little Blue Planet
- The Man Behind the Man
- Minovsky Physics: The chrono-synclastic infundibulum. Overlaps with It Runs on Nonsensoleum.
- Non Linear Character: Winston Niles Rumfoord.
- Our Wormholes Are Different
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: The self-handicapping custom of Rumfoord's followers.
- Shaggy Dog Story: The story may not be pointless, but apparently all human endeavour and experience is.
- Or at least, has been so far. There's a subtle implication that with the delivery to Titan complete, Rumfoord's departure may signify the beginning of humanity's freedom to pursue our own destiny, for better or worse.
- Shown Their Work: Parodied. Vonnegut states that all information pertaining to cosmic phenomena is quoted from a (fictional) children's encyclopedia.
- Take That, Me!: The doctors in the Martian army will erase a person's memories if they're deemed to be unfit for duty. They don't erase everything, though, because when they first did that the patients "[C]ouldn't walk, couldn't talk, couldn't do anything. The only thing anybody could think of to do with them was to housebreak them, teach them a basic vocabulary of a thousand words, and give them jobs in military or industrial public relations." Before he decided to write for a living, Vonnegut was a public relations man for General Electric.
- Together in Death: Subverted in Vonnegut's trademark gentle sardonicism.
- Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Both Constant and Rumfoord qualify for this before their respective changes.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Everything that Rumfoord predicts comes true. Except when he's deliberately lying, of course.