Who wrote this book and when?
Mr. Kurt Vonnegut Jr wrote this little tale in 1959.
Has there been a movie made from it?
No. There was one in the works but the man producing it died. Go figure. As of 2005, there has been speculation that the screenplay written for the previous attempt may be used to produce a movie version. There was a song written paying homage to it by Al Stewart.
Who are the main characters?
Malachi Constant – a man destined to travel through space and end up on Titan
Winston Niles Rumfoord – a very rich man who, along with his dog, was caught in the chrono-synclastic infundibula and is now party to see every moment of his future and his past, along with many other people’s histories and futures
Beatrice Rumfoord – wife of Winston, then Malachi and mother to Chrono. She, too, is destined to travel the solar system.
Chrono – Malachi and Beatrice’s son, surly, independent and confident
What is it about?
The book begins with the materialization of Winston Rumsfoord in his mansion – which happens only every 59 earth days. Malachi Constant – a multi billionaire and someone with a lot of dumb luck – is the first person other than Beatrice who is invited to witness the materialization. We are told the history of Rumsfoord’s encounter with the chrono-synclastic infundibula – a stretch of space which warps time and travels directly through the sun and outward, thus effectively limiting man’s space travel abilities. Anyone caught in the chrono-synclastic infundibula is caught forever. Malachi is told by Rumsfoord that he is destined to travel to Mars, Mercury, back to Earth, and then to Titan – a moon of Saturn. Rumsfoord also tells him he will end up marrying Rumsfoord’s wife, Beatrice, and have a son. Their son will carry a piece of metal he calls his “good-luck piece” and it is imperitive they bring the good luck piece to Titan with them. Despite Malachi’s protests, Rumsfoord insists he’s telling the truth.
In response to the predictions, Malachi sells all of his assets which are associated with space. Beatrice locks herself in the house. Both of them attempt to distance themselves from each other as much as possible. Malachi loses all of his companies, stocks and fortune in a stock market crash. Beatrice, used to living in wealth and comfort, also loses everything in the crash. Both end up being taken on a ship to Mars by representatives from the Martian army: Malachi volunteers and Beatrice is kidnapped. The rest of the novel follows their travels as Rumsfoord has predicted them until they all end up on Titan.
Why is this book a classic?
This book isn’t a classic in the normal sense of the word. It is a science-fiction classic which you probably won’t find on any “Top 100 American/British/Ugandan Novels” list. But this is a classic mainly because of the expert way it’s written as a rebellion against organized religion and economy on Earth.
Why should I read this book?
To challenge your ideas about what is accepted in society and to enjoy a pretty good but not overly long story.
Has it won any awards?
Kurt Vonnegut is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for designing a Phish album cover. He was also once Geraldo Rivera’s father-in-law and had an asteroid named after him.
I liked this book a lot. I usually don’t enjoy books which are very obviously written to be statements against God and divine design. Obviously, I didn’t agree with the ideas put forth in this novel about God being apathetic towards the human plight. But I still enjoyed the story itself a great deal and found Vonnegut’s writing to be very similar to Douglas Adams without going over the line in the area of randomness (my one complaint when it comes to Adams’ works…). I’m excited to read more of this guy’s stuff…and that’s sayin somethin.