Futures from the Past

The Sirens of Titan

The Sirens of Titan

Author: Kurt Vonnegut Jr

The Sirens of Titan is a comic science fiction novel by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., first published in 1959. His second novel, it involves issues of free will, omniscience, and the overall purpose of human history. Much of the story revolves around a Martian invasion of Earth.


Malachi Constant is the richest man in a future North America. He possesses extraordinary luck that he attributes to divine favor which he has used to build upon his father’s fortune. 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 Man’s displeasure with his arrogance, and finally to¬†Titan¬†where he again meets the man ostensibly responsible for the turn of events that have befallen him, Winston Niles Rumfoord.

Rumfoord 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‚ÄĒcarrying Rumfoord and his dog, Kazak‚ÄĒentered a phenomenon known as a¬†chrono-synclastic infundibulum, which is defined in the novel as “those places … where all the different kinds of truths fit together.” 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.

When he entered the chrono-synclastic infundibulum, Rumfoord … (View the whole article in Wikipedia)

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