Monday, May 07, 2007

Aaron's Book of the Week :: Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Cat's CradleThe Book of the Week is the first paperback printing of Cat's Cradle (1963) by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. This is to honor Vonnegut, who passed away in April at the age of 84. Kurt Vonnegut was celebrated for his distinctive writing style, which blended science fiction tropes with satire and black humor. His work undoubtedly influenced later science fiction satirists such as John Sladek and James Morrow.

Vonnegut resisted classification as a science fiction writer, not because he denied that his work was science fiction -- most of his books are SF by any conceivable definition -- but because he wished to avoid the mainstream's demeaning attitudes toward SF. In 1965 he wrote, "I have been a sore-headed occupant of a file-drawer labeled 'science fiction' ever since [Player Piano], and I would like out, particularly since so many serious critics regularly mistake the drawer for a tall white fixture in a comfort station. The way a person gets into this drawer, apparently, is to notice technology. The feeling persists that no one can simultaneously be a respectable writer and understand how a refrigerator works."

While Vonnegut sold some of his earliest stories to Collier's magazine, much of his early work first appeared in genre SF publications such as Galaxy and If magazines and Again, Dangerous Visions. His famous story "Harrison Bergeron" was first published by Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine. Next week's Book of the Week, the first paperback edition of Vonnegut's first book, leaves no doubt that Vonnegut was marketed as a science fiction writer early in his career, before being "discovered" by the mainstream.

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