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Encyclopedia > The Sirens of Titan
Title The Sirens of Titan

1959 Dell first edition cover
Author Kurt Vonnegut
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Science fiction novel
Publisher Dell
Released 1959
Media type Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages 319 pp (Dell first edition)

The Sirens of Titan (1959) is a science fiction novel by Kurt Vonnegut. His second novel, it discusses issues of free will, omniscience and the overall purpose of human history. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 305 × 461 pixelsFull resolution (305 × 461 pixel, file size: 51 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Low res scan of book cover (The Sirens of Titan, 1959 Dell first edition paperback) to illustrate article about book. ... Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Some notable science fiction novels, in alphabetical order by title: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke 334 by Thomas M. Disch An Age by Brian Aldiss The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton The Atrocity Exhibition by J.G. Ballard... Dell Publishing was an American publisher of books, magazines, and comic books. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... There are a few possible meanings for Siren: Siren, the mythological creature Siren (amphibian), a type of salamander Sirenia, an order of aquatic mammals including the dugong and the manatee Siren (noisemaker), devices to sound an alarm or used as a musical instrument Siren, Wisconsin, a village in the United... See also: 1958 in literature, other events of 1959, 1960 in literature, list of years in literature. ... Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... A novel (from French nouvelle Italian novella, new) is an extended, generally fictional narrative, typically in prose. ... Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. ... Free-Will is a Japanese independent record label founded in 1986. ... Omniscience is the capacity to know everything infinitely, or at least everything that can be known about a characters including thoughts, feelings, life and the universe etc. ...


Plot summary

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

The protagonist is Malachi Constant, originally of Hollywood, California, and the richest man in 22nd-century America. He possesses extraordinary luck, which he has used to build upon his father's fortune, but he has done nothing else significant with his life. He becomes the centerpoint of a journey that takes him from Earth to Mars in preparation for an interplanetary war, to Mercury with another Martian survivor of that war, back to Earth to be pilloried as a sign of God's displeasure, and finally to Saturn's moon Titan to meet the man responsible for his respective good fortunes (or lack thereof), Winston Niles Rumfoord. ... Official language(s) English Capital Sacramento Largest city Los Angeles Area  Ranked 3rd  - Total 158,302 sq mi (410,000 km²)  - Width 250 miles (400 km)  - Length 770 miles (1,240 km)  - % water 4. ... The 22nd century (Gregorian calendar) will comprise the years 2101-2200. ... Earth, also known as the Earth or Terra, is the third planet outward from the Sun. ... Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the solar system, named after the Roman god of war (the counterpart of the Greek Ares), on account of its blood red color as viewed in the night sky. ... This article is about planet. ... Atmospheric characteristics Atmospheric pressure 140 kPa Hydrogen >93% Helium >5% Methane 0. ... Titan (, from Ancient Greek Τῑτάν) or Saturn VI is the largest moon of Saturn and the second largest moon in the solar system,[4] after Jupiters moon Ganymede. ...

Rumfoord himself comes from a wealthy New England background. His private fortune was large enough to fund the construction of a personal spacecraft, and he became a space explorer. Traveling between Earth and Mars, his ship—carrying Rumfoord and his dog, Kazak—entered a phenomenon known as a chrono-synclastic infundibulum, which is defined by Vonnegut as "those places ... where all the different kinds of truths fit together." Vonnegut notes that any detailed description of this phenomenon would baffle the layman, but any comprehensible explanation would insult an expert. Consequently, he "quotes" an article from a (fictional) children's encyclopedia. (Interestingly, much of Vonnegut's information on the Solar system came from a similar source [1].) According to this article, since the Universe is so large, there are many possible ways to observe it, all of which are equally valid, because people from across the Universe can't communicate with each other (and therefore can't get into an argument). The chrono-synclastic infundibula are places where these "ways to be right" coexist. When they enter the infundibulum, Rumfoord and Kazak become "wave phenomena", somewhat akin to the probability waves encountered in quantum mechanics. They exist along a spiral stretching from the Sun to the star Betelgeuse. When a planet, such as the Earth, intersects their spiral, Rumfoord and Kazak materialize, temporarily, on that planet. This article is about the region in the United States of America. ... Look up Layman in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Major features of the Solar System (not to scale; from left to right): Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, the asteroid belt, the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth and its Moon, and Mars. ... Fig. ... Betelgeuse (Alpha (α) Orionis) is a semiregular variable star located 427 light-years away [1]. It is the second brightest star in the constellation Orion, and the ninth brightest star in the night sky. ...

When he entered the infundibulum, Rumfoord became aware of the past and future. Throughout the novel, he predicts future events; unless he is deliberately lying, the predictions always come true.

It is in this state that Rumfoord established the "Church of God the Utterly Indifferent" on Earth to unite the planet after a Martian invasion. It is also in this state that Rumfoord, materializing on different planets, instigated the Martian invasion. On Titan, the only place he can exist as a solid human being and not as a broadcast image, Rumfoord befriends an explorer from Tralfamadore (a world that also figures in Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, among several others) who needs a small metal component to repair his damaged spaceship. Tralfamadore is the fictional home planet of aliens from several novels by the American author Kurt Vonnegut. ... Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Childrens Crusade: A Duty Dance With Death is a 1969 novel by best-selling author Kurt Vonnegut. ...

Salo, the Tralfamadorian explorer, is actually a robot built many millennia earlier to carry a message from Tralfamadore to a distant galaxy. His spacecraft is powered by the Universal Will to Become, or UWTB, the "prime mover" which makes matter and organization wish to appear out of nothingness. (UWTB, Vonnegut informs the reader, was responsible for the Universe in the first place, and is the greatest imaginable power source.) A small component on Salo's spacecraft breaks, stalling him in the Solar System. He requests help from Tralfamadore, and his fellow Tralfamadorians respond by manipulating human history so that human civilization can produce the replacement part. Stonehenge, the Great Wall of China and the Kremlin are all messages in the Tralfamadorian geometrical language, informing Salo of their progress. My name is tyler bonin. ... For other meanings of Stonehenge, see: Stonehenge (disambiguation) Stonehenge is a Neolithic and Bronze Age megalithic monument located near Amesbury in the English county of Wiltshire, about 8 miles (13 km) north of Salisbury. ... A section of the Great Wall near Beijing during winter The course of the Great Wall is shown in this map dated from 1805 The Great Wall (Traditional Chinese: ; Simplified Chinese: ; pinyin: , literally long city wall) is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in China, built between 5th century... The Moscow Kremlin The Moscow Kremlin ( Russian: Московский Кремль) is the best known kremlin ( Russian citadel). ...

As it turns out, the replacement part is a small metal strip, rounded on one corner, with two holes punched in it. Salo's message, for whose sake human history was manipulated, is a single dot, which in Tralfamadorian means "greetings".

The metal strip is brought to Salo by Constant and his son Chrono (born of Rumfoord's ex-wife). A sunspot disrupts Rumfoord's spiral, sending him and Kazak separately into the vastness of space. An argument between Rumsfoord and Salo moments before, left unresolved because of Rumsfoord's disappearance, leads the distraught Salo to disassemble himself, thereby stranding the humans on Titan. Chrono chooses to live among the Titanian birds; after thirty-two years, his mother dies, and Constant manages to reassemble Salo. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 120 × 200 pixelsFull resolution (120 × 200 pixel, file size: 5 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut This image is of a book cover, and the copyright for it is most likely owned either by the...

Salo returns Constant to Earth, specifically to the outskirts of Indianapolis, Indiana, where Constant dies. Location in the state of Indiana Coordinates: County Marion Founded 1821 Government  - Mayor Bart Peterson (D) Area  - City  372 sq mi (963. ...

The title is derived from a grouping of statues which Salo sculpts out of "Titanic peat". The statues, eventually submerged in Rumfoord's swimming pool, are in the form of three beautiful women. Constant uses the design in an advertisement for cigarettes, attempting to mitigate their frightening beauty through blatant commercialism. Peat in Lewis, Scotland Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation matter. ... Commercialism, in its original meaning, is the practices, methods, aims, and spirit of commerce or business. ...

It is sometimes argued that this book contains all the basic elements of Vonnegut's later books. For example, Rumfoord's ability to see past, present and future appears in Slaughterhouse-Five, where Billy Pilgrim becomes similarly "unstuck in time". Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Childrens Crusade: A Duty Dance With Death is a 1969 novel by best-selling author Kurt Vonnegut. ...

Spoilers end here.

Religious themes

The novel treats religion by its Marxist description (as an "opiate of the people") that drives its followers to often insane acts. Consider Malachi's banishment from Earth by the Church as a result of Rumfoord's teachings as well as Rumfoord's instigation of the Earth-Mars war leading to the Church's formation. Image File history File links The_Sirens_of_Titan. ...

The author also decries how humans not only use religious and ethical systems to manipulate others but also how humans allow themselves to be manipulated by those systems. Consider Rumfoord himself; he can see the past, present, and future but he can't see Salo's message, and he is genuinely hurt by that fact. Salo's ship crashed on Titan in Earth's prehistory, and his people, the Tralfamadorians, have been sending him messages through Earth's great architectural achievements. With Salo now gone to deliver his message, it is possible that humanity will finally make its own destiny, without outside manipulation.

Awards & nominations

The Sirens of Titan was nominated for the 1960 Hugo Award for Best Novel. The Hugo Awards are given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works. ...

Film rights

Vonnegut sold the film rights to Sirens of Titan to Jerry Garcia, guitarist and vocalist for rock band The Grateful Dead. Garcia worked with Tom Davis off and on for years on the script. He commented on the book and the screenplay in a November 1987 interview:[2] This article does not cite its references or sources. ... The Grateful Dead were an American rock band formed in 1965 in San Francisco, California. ... Tom Davis is a prolific comedy writer and performer. ...

There's really three basic characters that are having things happen to them. Three main characters. [Malachi,] Rumfoord, and Bea. It's like a triangle, a complex, convoluted love story. And it's really that simple....So our task has been to take the essential dramatic relationships, make it playable for actors, so that it's free from the Big Picture emphasis of the book. There's also some extremely lovely, touching moments in the book. It's one of the few Vonnegut books that's really sweet, in parts of it, and it has some really lovely stuff in it. It's the range of it that gets me off.

Garcia died in 1995 before bringing the film to the screen and Vonnegut exercised his right to buy the film rights back. 1995 (MCMXCV) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

Recently it has been announced that screenwriter James V. Hart wrote an adaptation which Vonnegut approved of before he died. [3] James V. Jim Hart is a screenwriter and author. ...

Stage versions

In 1974 Stuart Gordon adapted a version of the novel for the stage with the Organic Theatre Company of Chicago. According to notes on a playbill from 1976 being auctioned on eBay, the 1976 production featured actors Joe Mantegna and Dennis Franz. The play was also performed in 1977 at UCLA and the University of California, Berkeley. 1974 (MCMLXXIV) was a common year starting on Tuesday. ... // Biography Stuart Gordon (born August 11, 1947) in Chicago, Illinois) is a director, writer and producer of films. ... Organic Theater Company, a Chicago theatre, was founded in the 1970s by artistic director Stuart Gordon. ... Nickname: Motto: Urbs In Horto (Latin: City in a Garden), I Will Location in Chicagoland and Illinois Coordinates: Country United States State Illinois County Cook & DuPage Incorporated March 4, 1837 Government  - Mayor Richard M. Daley (D) Area  - City  234. ... 1976 (MCMLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Thursday. ... eBay headquarters in San Jose eBay North First Street satellite office campus (home to PayPal) eBay Inc. ... Joe Mantegna as Detective Will Girardi in Joan of Arcadia Joe Mantegnas character, Fat Tony in The Simpsons Joseph Anthony Mantegna, Jr. ... Dennis Franz (born Dennis Franz Schlacta, October 28, 1944 in Chicago, Illinois) is a German-American actor best known for his roles as Andy Sipowicz, a gritty police detective in the television series NYPD Blue, Hill Street Blues and Beverly Hills Buntz. ... For the album by Ash, see 1977 (album). ... Binomial name Ucla xenogrammus Holleman, 1993 The largemouth triplefin, Ucla xenogrammus, is a fish of the family Tripterygiidae and only member of the genus Ucla, found in the Pacific Ocean from Viet Nam, the Philippines, Palau and the Caroline Islands to Papua New Guinea, Australia (including Christmas Island), and the... Sather tower (the Campanile) looking out over the San Francisco Bay and Mount Tamalpais. ...


  • Scottish singer-songwriter Al Stewart paid homage to the novel with the same titled song on his album Modern Times, featuring the lyric "I was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all..." as the chorus.
  • In the NBC drama Heroes (TV series), Niki's father is seen reading The Sirens of Titan.
  • Indie rockers Bound Stems recorded a song titled "Rented A Tent (A Tent, A Tent)" for their 2006 LP, Appreciation Night.
  • In a 1979 interview released in 2007, Douglas Adams discussed Vonnegut as an influence on The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy[4]:
"Sirens of Titan is just one of those books – you read it through the first time and you think it's very loosely, casually written. You think the fact that everything suddenly makes such good sense at the end is almost accidental. And then you read it a few more times, simultaneously finding out more about writing yourself, and you realise what an absolute tour de force it was, making something as beautifully honed as that appear so casual."

Alastair Ian Stewart, commonly known as Al Stewart (born in Glasgow, Scotland on September 5, 1945) is a British singer-songwriter and musician. ... Heroes is an American science fiction drama television series, created by Tim Kring, which premiered on NBC on September 25, 2006. ... Bound Stems is an indie rock band with math rock influences from Chicago, Illinois. ... Douglas Noël Adams (11 March 1952 – 11 May 2001) was an English author, comic radio dramatist, and musician. ... The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy was first and foremost a 1978 radio comedy series written by Douglas Adams. ...


  1. ^ Cargas, Harry James (1976). Transcript: Interview in Christian Century. Verified 10 May 2005. Vonnegut speaks on humor, technology, the Great Depression, and other assorted topics.
  2. ^ Eisenhart, Mary (November 12, 1987). Transcript: Jerry Garcia Interview. Verified 30 March 2005. Jerry Garcia discusses Sirens of Titan at length
  3. ^ Adler, Shawn (April 13, 2007).Kurt Vonnegut's 'Sirens Of Titan' Being Adapted For Big Screen Verified 15 April 2007.
  4. ^ Shircore, Ian (1979). Transcript: Douglas Adams Interview. Douglas Adams discusses his early work

May 10 is the 130th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (131st in leap years). ... The Great Depression was a time of economic down turn, which started after the stock market crash on October 29, 1929, known as Black Tuesday. ... March 30 is the 89th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (90th in leap years). ... April 15 is the 105th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (106th in leap years). ...


  • Weide, Robert B. (January, 2001). Sirens of Titan. Verified 30 March 2005. Background on the history of a possible film version of the novel

  Results from FactBites:
Encyclopedia: The Sirens of Titan (378 words)
The Sirens of Titan (1959) is a science fiction novel by Kurt Vonnegut.
The Sirens of Titan is a Kurt Vonnegut, Jr novel published in 1959 that represents the author's major foray into science fiction.
However, Vonnegut's overriding purpose in The Sirens of Titan was to provide a social satire in which he could poke fun at the military, religion and the stock market.
  More results at FactBites »



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