Kurt Vonnegut

tylenol4000

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2013
Messages
100
I think Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan are two of Vonnegut's best novels. They're also his most "obviously" science-fiction novels. I thought Slaughter-house 5 was great, and honestly, Cat's Cradle didn't amaze me. I found it okay.

I always wonder what it would've been like if Kurt Vonnegut kept going in the sci-fi direction after Sirens of Titan. I know lots of his other books have sci-fi elements to them, but that's not what I'm talking about.

He was such an inventive writer. I like to imagine him being one of the science-fiction "greats", like Heinlein or Clarke. But I think if he kept in that direction he would be more like Philip K. Dick. The Sirens of Titan has an originality to it that I find comparable to PKD; it also had a wittiness to it that Dick lacked. IMO, PKD is simply the most original writer not just of SF, but literature in general. Vonnegut clearly had an amazing imagination too. I can't help but feel disappointed when I think of what he would've written if he kept in the direction of his early novels.
 

Rodders

|-O-| (-O-) |-O-|
Supporter
Joined
Nov 6, 2008
Messages
4,841
I've not read much on Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five. I don't think I understood it though.
 

hitmouse

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2011
Messages
2,282
IMO, PKD is simply the most original writer not just of SF, but literature in general.
Not disputing that PKD is very distinctive, but can you justify this comment, for the sake of discussion? I mean, where does he come, on the originality scale, against Shakespeare (for example.)
 

antiloquax

Trans-MUTE!
Joined
Jun 21, 2011
Messages
382
One thought I had on this was that PKD regretted being seen only as a SF writer. He struggled to get his non- SF books.published (only "Confessions of a Crap Artist" during his lifetime, if I remember correctly).

I'm put in mind of writers like Margaret Atwood and Christopher Priest who sometimes use SF tropes, but don't get stuck in the genre. Ian Banks would be another (slightly different) example.

I like Vonnegut's non-genre work, but "Player Piano" is probably my favourite.
 

tylenol4000

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2013
Messages
100
hitmouse

On the originality scale I think Shakespeare is nowhere near PKD. Shakespeare is much much lower on the scale. But of course, this is one man's opinion ;) I'm not considering how original Shakespeare's work was for his time, because I have no idea. But today, looking back, PKD stands out very much.

Take Brave New World. A great novel. Got more attention then any PKD book at the time. Possibly because Huxley was a 'literary' writer? But Dick wrote books that had so many more original ideas then Brave New World did, or 1984. I'v always wished that The Man In The High Castle was considered a literature classic, and was put up there with other classic like BNW etc. But isn't, one reason being he was a genre writer. But the book is just as great as other classics written in those years. (Kurt Vonnegut is the rare exception. It's too bad Dick never got any of his non-SF, "realist" novels published early in career. I truly believe things would have been a lot different for him)

But of course, I'v never studied literature or anything. So I'm no expert on these things. These are only the conclusions I have come to from my experiences as a reader of great books.
 

hitmouse

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2011
Messages
2,282
Take Brave New World. A great novel. Got more attention then any PKD book at the time. Possibly because Huxley was a 'literary' writer?
Brave New World was published in 1932
PKD did not start publishing until the 1950s

Accepted that Huxley was a bit more establishment than Dick, though he was by no means conventional. I suspect that far more people read PKD than Huxley these days, and much of his work is considered as classic by many.

What other great books have read? it would help to understand your argument. How does PKD line up in terms of originality, in your opinion, with Jane Austen, George Elliot, Tolstoy, Kafka, James Joyce, Henry James, Joseph Heller, Nabokov, James Ellroy, Cormac McCarthy, or Salman Rushdie, for example.
 
Last edited:

Nounboy

Member
Joined
Sep 16, 2013
Messages
22
I finished reading Slaughterhouse 5 about a week ago. My first taste of Vonnegut. I'm still digesting the ideas expressed in this little book, but my first impression is that it could have been written as a "straight" wartime memoir, minus the time travel and alien zoo overlay. However, this overlay adds something to the memoir, alters it in all kinds of interesting ways.

Too many ways to explore here, until I have ruminated further on this fascinating book.
 
Top