Further reading: P.K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut


Silly Person
Nov 3, 2006
This place (the Chronicles) and the people here keep amazing me. All of those interesting and fun discussions and such good answers to questions.

I have two more queries that I hope to hear your thoughts on. I figured that I might as well combine both queries in one post for convenience.

1) I want to read more of Philip K. Dick.
2) I want to read more of Kurt Vonnegut.

The only thing I've read by P.K. Dick is "Do androids...". I've also started on Lies, Inc, which isn't too bad, but so far it doesn't seem even nearly as good as "Do androids...", which shows no signs that it will leave my head entirely any time soon.

What I've read by Kurt Vonnegut is Cat's Cradle and The Sirens of Titan, both of which I enjoyed immensely. Cat's Cradle made me laugh out loud on the train causing people to turn and look at me. Heh! I found Breakfast of Champions at Waterstones, but it didn't really look interesting to me.

Any ideas for further reading of one of these two?
Re: Furthe reading: P.K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut

Ummm.... Breakfast of Champions is fun, but one of his weakest books. However, if you do choose to read it, I'd suggest making it less of a priority than God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Slaughterhouse-Five; or, the Children's Crusade, Mother Night, Gallapagos, or even his two story (and essay, in one case) collections, Welcome to the Monkey House and Wampeters, Foma, and Granfallons. Even his early Player Piano is, in some ways, a better book, though it shows that it's an early novel. (Oddly, I've not read any Vonnegut in far, far too long, so I haven't yet read several of his later works ... I was thinking about picking those up sometime soon; may have to go ahead and do that....)

As for PKD... Ooof... I'll provide a bibliography, and let someone else tackle that one. I tend to prefer a lot of his shorter works over his novels, on the whole, and some of the conventions of the genre he uses (and the sometimes hasty or slipshod writing) I find can alienate a lot of people. However, I do highly recommend The Man in the High Castle, which is a sterling novel in or outside sf.

Philip K. Dick - Summary Bibliography
Re: Furthe reading: P.K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut

Cat's Cradle is IMHO the best of Kurt Vonnegut, but I also liked Slaughterhouse Five.

I've read a lot of PK Dick. Man in a High Castle deserves all the awards, but you can't beat the anthologies of his short stories that you will find at a larger public library.
Re: Furthe reading: P.K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut

Everytime I read Kurt Vonnegut I fall in love with him. I wish he'll live forever and write forever. I've read most of his books including his latest non-fiction book A Man Without A Country and some essays, I love them all. If you enjoy his writing and his views in the earthlings and universe, apart from the ones you've read, the followings are essential:

Slaughterhouse Five
Breakfast of Champions
Mother Night
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
Re: Furthe reading: P.K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut

J.d, Dave and Allegra. Thanks for your suggestions. So far I've ordered Slaughterhouse 5 and The Man in the high castle and am waiting for Waterstones to send me a letter letting me know that they've arrived.
Re: Furthe reading: P.K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut

My PKD suggestions:

All of them...

but Ive only read:
Time Out Of Joint (Good intro to the Aurthor)
Counter-Clock World
Do Andriod Dream...?
Flow My Tears,... (Currently reading)
The Three Stigmata

And IMHO, most of the above were better than Do Androids Dream...?
(especially the last three)
Re: Furthe reading: P.K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut

That sounds good cause i am reading Androids dream right now and its much better than i expected.
My PKD suggestions;
Flow my tears, the policeman said
Now wait for last year
We can build you (which kinda sets up the scene for Do Androids...)

My Kurt Vonnegut suggestions;
Brekkie of Champions (it really is fun)
Slaughterhouse 5
Re: Furthe reading: P.K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut

With the passing of Kurt Vonnegut I submit this quasi-eulogy:

In 1959, the year I joined the Baha’i Faith, the year I turned 15, Kurt Vonnegut published his second novel The Sirens of Titan. By the late 1960s this novel had become a cult-book of the counter-culture. The genre is novel, sci-fi, space-opera, black humour, satire and fabulation. The story-line, the narrative is based on a world where machines have taken over. The story is told by a future historian. Faith in science, technology and progress is undermined as is humankind’s ability to shape its future. Vonnegut questions the very nature of reality and argues that individuals have the ineluctable responsibility to make meaning out of their lives by looking within not without at organized religions. Looking back after more than forty years, I would place Vonnegut among the first of a "New Wave" of science fiction writers who appeared in the 1960s and who have inhabited one of the many backdrops of my life.-Ron Price with thanks to Herbert G. Klein, "Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan and the Question of Genre," EESE 5/98.

I had heard those enchanting sirens1
back in the fifties; little did I know
about their sharp rocks, the perils
of chronic and committed rapture,
growing dedication, deeper belief--
that would be later.

I’ve seen many draw near
to those voices and, yes,
I’ve seen them shipwrecked.
For these sirens were daughters
(so the myth goes)2 of the sea
and river gods, Nymphs partly
bird and partly human.

Yes, their voices enchant,
but be warned: this journey
to their island home is not
for the timid & overwrought,
not for the vainly pious,
the pusillanimous of spirit,
not for those who think this
is some kind of vacation,
who seem somehow to have
missed the point that:
this ardent, often tiring, voyage
on this unvariable storm-lashed brig
with the unseasonable rains,
the sweet song of the dove,
the bird, the clear beauty
of the siren’s notes is mostly distant,
on some far-off island, faintly heard,
but they sweep me out to sea
and in full consent I drown,
though I do not like all the journey.3

I wish you well, Kurt, in your journey
which, as Shelley called it. now goes
to that undiscovered country.

1 I first heard the Baha’i Writings in the years 1953 to 1959. These are the sirens, for me.
2 This poem also draws on the Greek myth of the Sirens, part bird and part human.
3 I thank Roger White and his poems "Parable for the Wrong People" and "Sightseeing"(Pebbles, pp.69-75) for some of his phraseology.

Ron Price
December 20th 2004
Updated: 13/4/07.

How could I miss this post! it's a very nice poem and it's good to know how Kurt Vonnegut influenced that generation. Thanks for sharing!
My PKD suggestions;
Flow my tears, the policeman said
Now wait for last year
We can build you (which kinda sets up the scene for Do Androids...)

My Kurt Vonnegut suggestions;
Brekkie of Champions (it really is fun)
Slaughterhouse 5

About We can build you , is it okay to read it after Androids? I dont know if they are connected or not. Or is just another short story that is about androids?

And about Kurt Vonnegut? Are any of those suggestions seen as one of his best. I havent read him yet and would like to read a story that is seen as one of his best. Wouldnt be fair to him to read a story of him that wasnt even in his top 100 and i might think he isnt better than that.
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Vonnegut's best in my opinion:

Breakfast of Champions
God Bless you, Mr. Rosewater
Mother Night

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