Thursday, April 12, 2007

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut


Kurt Vonnegut, who passed yesterday at the age of eighty four, lived through the fire bombing of Dresden in WWII. He saw the brutality of war and what it did to a people. He understood that while politicians beat their chests and sing of glory and victory, that there can be no victory in the humiliation and destruction of a people. Through his writing, Vonnegut has tried to compel us to see war in human terms, to understand the cost.

An outspoken critic of the illegal war in Vietnam, Vonnegut also spoke out against the oil war in Iraq. Even before the U.S. started bombing Baghdad, Vonnegut was criticizing Bush's policies.



Somebody will ask why this political posting is being made on a blog dedicated to science fiction and fantasy? It's because Vonnegut was an important writer in the genre and his writing was decidedly political and antiwar in nature. His works "Slaughterhouse Five", "Cat's Cradle" and "Mother Night" are important works of literature, working as both speculative fiction and as political statements that the military industrial complex would just as well have us turn a blind eye to. While science fiction and fantasy is wonderful escapist literature, it works best when it is making a true statement about human nature and our position in the world around us.

With his passing, how can one better honor this man than by taking up mantle of peace activist? Here's to you, Mr. Vonnegut. So it Goes. Get us out of Iraq now.




10 comments:

SQT said...

Whether we agree with his views or not, an important voice has been lost. He will be missed.

Crunchy Carpets said...

Wow.. Great post Stewart....if only more people paid attention to people like him.

I love Slaughterhouse Five

Alex said...

Man... everyone else beat me to this post. I'm gonna miss the guy. Even though I didn't always appreciate his political views, I think he was one of the greatest American authors of any genre or generation.

I have to go with the view of the intelligentsia (yet again) and agree that Cat's Cradle was the man's magnum opus. Galapogos deserves an honorable mention.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

I haven't read any of his work. I must be the worst sci fi fan ever.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Jon, here's the deal. Having not read his work, it means that you now have the incredible opportunity of exploring an amazing author, reading "Cats Cradle" and "Sirens of Titan" for the first time. There is never any shame in professing ignorance, only in never doing anything about it.

Neila said...

That is a great post to a true American legend!


Now, is it sad that the first thing I think of when I hear his name is that damn Rodney Dangerfield movie?!

mist1 said...

All these Vonnegut posts are starting to get to me.

I called Dad this morning to tell him the news. I thanked him for having all those dusty paperbacks lying around for me. I don't know why I chose Vonnegut over say, Heller, for example, but I did.

Thanks, Dad. Thanks, Kurt. Is it too forward if I call him Kurt?

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

You're right Stewart, thanks.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Mist...Heller is another cherished author. CATCH 22 is one of the most mindboggling books ever written. I read it with awe. If I were to write a list of authors POST WWII, not necessarily genre, Heller, Vonnegut, Herbert, and Bradbury would be there at or near the top.

Alex said...

Stewart is beginning to scare me with his sudden onset of good taste.


Heller was great, though I never got the chance to read the sequel to Catch-22. Wait, didn't we already have this conversation here?