"Cat''s Cradle" is Vonnegut''s satirical commentary on modern man and his madness. An apocalyptic tale of this planet''s ultimate fate, it features a midget as the protagonist; a complete, original theology created by a calypso singer; and a vision of the future that is at once blackly fatalistic and hilariously funny.
|From the Publisher:
A young writer decides to interview the children of a scientist primarily responsible for the creation of the atomic bomb.
Cat's Cradle is Vonnegut's satirical commentary on modern man and his madness. An apocalyptic tale of this planet's ultimate fate, it features a midget as the protagonist; a complete, original theology created by a calypso singer; and a vision of the future that is at once blackly fatalistic and hilariously funny.
Nominated for the Hugo Award in 1964, Kurt Vonnegut's sprawling and brilliant fourth novel turns a bleakly satiric eye on science, technology, religion, politics, and the end of the world. At the center of the tale is the fictional physicist Felix Hoenikker, an inventor of the nuclear bomb, who, in an attempt to eliminate mud for military vehicles, invents a substance called Ice-9 that causes a chain reaction that allows water to freeze at normal temperatures. This apocalyptic substance is split between his three children who use it as a bartering chip to achieve their selfish ends. Eventually, the narrator (ostensibly researching Hoenikker) and Hoenikker's children wind up on a Caribbean island run by a demented dictator seeking to squash the native religion of Bokonism. The novel is filled with irreverent riffs and ingenious tangents, as Vonnegut exposes the underlying inanity of human nature: the read is enjoyable and lively, but laced with dark and devastating truths. Total catastrophe has never been so funny...or so absurdly tragic.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr., a satirical essayist and novelist who blended science-fiction and humor with literary themes and topics of philosophical weight, become an icon of 1960 and 1970s counterculture. A bestseller who also experimented with form, genre, and voice, he was frequently compared to Mark Twain (the writer who Vonnegut most admired) for his fusion of cynicism, humanitarianism, comedy, and social critique. Born during the depression, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was the youngest of three children. His father was an architect and his mother suffered from bouts of severe mental illness, eventually committing suicide during World War II, an event that would haunt Vonnegut his entire life. Vonnegut enlisted in the army in 1943, and was captured by the Germans at the Battle of the Bulge. He was a prisoner of war in Dresden and was working in an underground meat locker during the firebombing of the city in 1945; in the aftermath, he worked disposing the thousands of charred corpses. Upon his return to the states, Vonnegut married his high school sweetheart and had three children; they also adopted his sister's children after she and her husband died within a day of each other. Vonnegut worked as a police reporter and studied anthropology in the M.A. program at the University of Chicago, but his thesis on "The Fluctuations Between Good and Evil in Simple Tales" was rejected. He went to work as a public relations writer for General Electric, taught emotionally disturbed children, and began publishing his first short stories. In 1952 he published his first novel, PLAYER PIANO, a science-fiction send-up of corporate culture. His science-fiction novels, such as CAT'S CRADLE, were filled with outlandish concepts such as "Karass" (an unwitting group of people who serve some larger purpose) and "Foma" (harmless untruths), and attracted a small but devoted cult-following. His semi-autobiographical time-traveling novel SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE, which dealt deeply with his experiences during the war, brought him worldwide fame, and from that point on his novels have met with commercial and mostly critical success. However in the 1980s Vonnegut fell into a deep depression, culminating with an attempted suicide in 1984. He published his last novel, TIMEQUAKE, in 1997. In 2005, Vonnegut, a fierce pacifist, human-rights, and free-speech advocate, published a best-selling collection of essays, MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY. In April 2007, several weeks after falling and suffering brain damage, Vonnegut passed away.
New York Times Book Review
"'Cat's Cradle' is an irreverent and often highly entertaining fantasy concerning the playful irresponsibility of nuclear scientists. Like the best contemporary satire, it is work of a far more engaging and meaningful order than the melodramatic tripe which most critics seem to consider 'serious.'"
- Terry Southern