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  1. #1
    Lemurs!!! Moderator Erfael's Avatar
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    April 2011 SF BoTM: Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

    I don't have Hobbit's fancy cover-posting skills, so I'll just open the discussion with: Welcome to the SFFWorld April 2011 SF discussion on Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. I look forward to hearing what everyone has to say.

    Discuss!

  2. #2
    We Read for Light Window Bar's Avatar
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    Cat's Cradle

    I read this book in the early 70's. Loved it. The concept of the "granfalloon" has stayed with me ever since--at least as I interpreted it when I was very, very young. Granfalloons are the meaningless connections and groups ("We're all Hoosiers here!") that humans invariably invent. Religions, patriotic groups, alumni clubs... granfalloons all.

    In Vonnegut's words (sing this to a calypso beat), "If you want to see granfalloon, take the skin off a toy balloon."

    Time to read it again... then I can join--better yet lead--a study/discussion group on Cat's Cradle, and those of us who are proper initiates can have potluck dinners, state hypotheses, reach conclusions, and perhaps lobby for the worthy goal of declaring November 11 (Vonnegut's birthday) International Granfalloon Day.

    --WB

  3. #3
    Member of the Month™ Ropie's Avatar
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    I just finished this. A few thoughts:

    I enjoyed reading it but I didn't love it - it's too bleak and cold (fittingly) to inspire much more in me. Was this meant to be a receptacle for Vonnegut's epithets on the futility of the human condition? The story seemed to move from one Bokonian rhyme to the next very quickly; each miniature chapter contained a chunk of story and invariably a message from these writings. I couldn't quite decide if Vonnegut was making fun of religious dogma or using it to construct a message (like The Fosterites in Heinlein's SIASL) - probably both.

    I have read two other books by Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse 5 and God Bless You, Mr Rosewater - Cat's Cradle was much closer in tone to the former, being disjointed and almost superficial in description (there is no sense of place). I do enjoy this sort of easy string of events though that Vonnegut is able to put together and it reminds me a lot of the way Stanislaw Lem writes. The characters are basic but all fulfil a purpose, the backdrops are thin but only revealed as necessary and the science is plausible but fantastical.
    Last edited by Ropie; April 4th, 2011 at 02:37 PM.

  4. #4
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    I read Cat's Cradle early last summer. It was the third book by Vonnegut I have read with The Slaughterhouse Five and Breakfast of Champions being the others.

    I don't quite think Cat's Cradle reaches the level of The Slaughterhouse Five which to me was absolutely brilliant, but Cat's Cradle is both an entertaining and poignant read. I really loved the idea of Bokononism and how the narrator (John/Jonah) tied everything that happened throughout the book to the various teachings of Bokononism. I thought it was very telling that the destruction that comes in this book did not come from evil or maliciousness, but from reckless indifference and reckless self action. For the most part the characters responsible were people you could like. The creator of Ice-Nine in fact had that kind of thirst for knowledge that we very much admire, though his thirst was ultimately very focused on the learning without concern for implications. This book had many very comical moments, something Vonnegut always manages in his work and yet the central themes strike you in a very real way. All in all I would say another very good work from Vonnegut.

  5. #5
    Member of the Month™ Ropie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearcatmark View Post
    I thought it was very telling that the destruction that comes in this book did not come from evil or maliciousness, but from reckless indifference and reckless self action.
    I thought this, and also how the humour also extended very much to the dramatic denouement
    Spoiler:
    where the deadly frozen body is accidentally catapulted out of the ruins of the palace into the sea!


    This is a book that seems to be making light of the end of the world - does Douglas Adams take his cue from Vonnegut for the Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy?
    Last edited by Ropie; April 8th, 2011 at 03:10 AM.

  6. #6
    I'm not going to reread it now but wanted to chime in. I read several of his novels in high school (quite a while ago). They were perfect for where I was at that time and Cats Cradle was, IMO, the best of the bunch. As I said it was a long time ago but it still ranks on any top books read list I would make.

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