Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Books: Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kurt Vonnegut's satire about runaway science and the futility of religion and greed is the subject of this masterful satire. A man sets out to write a historical book about the events that transpired around the world the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. He meets the children of Dr. Felix Hoenikker, co-inventor of the bomb, Nobel Laureate and inventor of Ice-Nine, which would unwittingly be used to destroy the world. After his book is shelved, the narrator receives an assignment to investigate the banana republic of San Lorenzo. On the plane, he is surprised find two of the Hoenikker children along with the would be ambassador to San Lorenzo and a hard-core capitalist looking to open a bicycle factory. When he arrives on the island, he discovers a desperately poor nation in the thrall to a holy man named Bokanon and a failing military dictatorship. After a series of slapstick mishaps the narrator is named the country's President, and a sliver of the Ice-Nine is released into the world, wrecking more havoc than man has ever known. Vonnegut's piercing apocalyptic satire is (like Dr. Strangelove) perfectly suited to a story like this skewering religion and government, the cold war and the arms race of world domination. That he does so by embracing science fiction, satire and the absurd in just the right doses make this an extraordinary and the deeply thoughtful story. Cat's Cradle: A Novel -

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