Monday, July 16, 2007

Slaughterhouse Five

or The Children's Crusade
by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

The author writes about Billy Pilgrim, who becomes unstuck in time. He witnesses the firebombing of Dresden in WWII, and is kidnapped by aliens.


"If I hadn't spent so much time studying Earthlings," said the Tralfamadorian, "I wouldn't have any idea what was meant by 'free will.' I've visited thirty-one inhabited planets in the universe, and I have studied reports on a hundred more. Only on Earth is there any talk of free will."

A phrase used to connect deaths in the book:
So it goes.

Billy is disturbed, checks himself into an asylum, but his time-travel and display in the alien zoo are treated as obviously true. Because he is changing time-lines constantly, he is passive in everything that happens to him.

Kilgore Trout appears a sci-fi writer whose "prose was frightful. Only his ideas were good."

This book is a classic because it makes a lasting impression. I picked it up and read it again because I couldn't put together why I only remembered images from the book, but no story line. The story line is completely fractured, but in a more convincing and enjoyable way than 'Catch 22'.

The horror of Dresden being bombed and 135000 people killed is blunted because it is presented as being inevitable. Conventional weapons. Hiroshima killed 71,379. (pg 188)

Why do I believe that nations today are different? I don't know, but I do.

Info from PaperBackSwap
This is the second time I've read this.
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