Book Review: The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

“The Sirens of Titan” begins when the world’s richest man has his future laid out for him by an astronaut-turned-time-traveling phenomenon. What follows is characteristically Vonnegut: a bizarre journey that’s as much about human condition as the movement of the characters.

That is not to say that “The Sirens of Titan” is derivative. For one, it is less pessimistic than Vonnegut’s two better-known books, “Cat’s Cradle” and “Slaughterhouse Five.” “The Sirens of Titan” is dense with original ideas. And while the former books warn against man-made destruction, “The Sirens of Titan” is themed around free will and human relation.

As with any book with a central message, one’s enjoyment is influenced by the perceived profundity of the payoff. But Vonnegut succeeds in telling an entertaining story while also expressing his views on mankind.

The writing style deserves attention of its own. Vonnegut renders “The Sirens of Titan” with simple language and dry wit. This combination makes the writing feel simultaneously clever while remaining comfortable to read. His vision carries with it a heavy dose of irony, which is uncommon for books in the science fiction genre.

Vonnegut manages to package complicated ideas about free will and human relationships into an undemanding, engrossing story.The book is worth reading for its sheer weirdness and wry humor, and any incidental meaning only serves to make the experience more memorable. “The Sirens of Titan” is an easy book to recommend.