The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

1147 Words5 Pages
Over the course of Kurt Vonnegut’s career, an unorthodox handling of time became one of many signature features in his fictional works (Allen 37). Despite The Sirens of Titan (1959) being only his second novel, this trademark is still prevalent. When delving into science fiction, it is often helpful to incorporate ideas from other works within the genre. This concept is exemplified by the “megatext,” an aspect of science fiction that involves the application of a reader’s own knowledge of the genre to a new encounter (Evans xiii). By working within the megatext, Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed (1974) provides an insightful avenue in exploring the handling of time and its consequences in Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan. This…show more content…
An interesting structural feature to note is that each chapter is preceded by a quotation from that chapter. This is not unlike a prophecy and resembles Rumfoord’s abilities. This use of chapter quotations as well as the looping of the narrative could be interpreted to reflect Rumfoord’s perception of time in that “everything that ever has been always will be, and everything that ever will be always has been” (20). There is also a significant amount of foreshadowing in that the novel is essentially outlined during Malachi’s first meeting with Rumfoord. In The Dispossessed, time can be thought of in either a Sequential or Simultaneous manner. The Sequential school of thought is the more concrete, familiar version in that time flows in a linear progression. Simultaneity considers this linearity as “not…a physically objective phenomenon, but as a subjective one” (Le Guin 221). Shevek, the protagonist, makes use of an apt comparison to further describe the concept: It would be a little like reading a book, you see. The book is all there, at once, between its covers. But if you want to read the story and understand it, you must begin with the first page, and go forward, always in order. So the universe would be a very great book, and we would be very small readers. (221) According to Shevek, where Sequence falls short is its inability to
Open Document