“The Sirens of Titan” (Post 3/3)

part 03

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

Post 1/3

Post 2/3

[45] Vocabulary:

The actual babble, spatter and potch of the fountain could underline the Space Wanderer’s words.



noun – A slap, especially to a child.

verb     (1) To slap or spank a child (2) To slap; bump

(Uncommon word. This is a strange use of it.)


Rumfoord did not look well. His color was bad. And, although he smiled as always, his teeth seemed to be gnashing behind the smile. His complacent glee had become a caricature, betraying the fact that all was not well by any means.


[47] I need to get a better feel for the difference between:

(a) “____,” Rumfoord said.


(b) “____,” said Rumfoord.

There is some subtle change in effect between the two. I tend to use (a) but there are times I see authors use (b) and it fits so well. It keeps a conversation flowing; doesn’t imply as much of a pause or finality in the dialogue, like in the following:

“They’d like it just as much the other way around, you know,” he said.

“The other way around?” said the Space Wanderer.

“If the big reward came first, and then the great suffering,” said Rumfoord. “It’s the contrast they like. The order of events doesn’t make any difference to them. It’s the thrill of the fast reverse-


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“The Sirens of Titan” (Post 2/3)

part 02

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

Post 1/3

Post 3/3

[24] Vocabulary:

He carried his whangee walking stick at port arms.



noun – the wood of any of several Asian bamboos; a walking stick or riding crop of whangee

[25] Vonnegut’s default outlook was pissy and pessimistic, especially in his later years (Everything’s going to hell; there’s no hope for humanity). Ray Bradbury tended toward the absolute opposite (Humans are wonders; we are all miracles; goodness lives in the heart of children). Both were very good writers when they didn’t succumb entirely to these extremes. Sirens of Titan is early enough in Vonnegut’s career that the glimpses into his philosophic pessimism still have an element of wry humor and satire. I’ve read some of Vonnegut’s later speeches and essays and had a miserable time: The man really thought we were all trash.

As Fern expressed the philosophy conversationally, in its simplest terms:

“You go up to a man, and you say, ‘How are things going, Joe?’ And he says, ‘Oh, fine, fine – couldn’t be better.’ And you look into his eyes, and you see things really couldn’t be much worse. When you get right down to it, everybody’s having a perfectly lousy time of it, and I mean everybody. And the hell of it is, nothing seems to help much.”

This philosophy did not sadden him. It did not make him brood.

It made him heartlessly watchful.



His system was so idiotically simple that some people can’t understand it, no matter how often it is explained. The people who can’t understand it are people who have to believe, for their own peace of mind, that tremendous wealth can be produced only by tremendous cleverness.


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“The Sirens of Titan” (Post 1/3)

part 01

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

Post 2/3

Post 3/3

Kurt Vonnegut’s second novel, published in 1959. My Dell paperback copy has been through some tough times.

5 out of 5 stars.

The Plot:

Arrogant, wealthy Malachi Constant is unwillingly sent on a series of adventures on Mars, Mercury, and Titan.

Don’t think too hard about the science; this is sci-fi as satire and social commentary, sharing a bed with Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. If you like that, there’s a good chance you’ll like this.

[1] Best disclaimer in fiction:

All persons, places, and events in this book are real. Certain speeches and thoughts are necessarily constructions by the author. No names have been changed to protect the innocent, since God Almighty protects the innocent as a matter of Heavenly routine.

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