Happy Birthday Kurt Vonnegut!

Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut
Photo by Ryan Somma

He would be 85 today. This great writer survived the firebombing of Dresden, wrote dozens of books and short stories, and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association.

Although he objected to the description, Vonnegut wrote many science fiction stories. In his book Cat’s Cradle, he came up with the idea of ice-nine a molecule that converts other water molecules to it’s form, turning room-temperature water into ice. Although science fiction at the time, today scientists are aware of prions, which are protein molecules that convert other molecules to their structure. This is understood to be the mechanism behind Mad Cow Disease.

In his book The Sirens of Titan all human accomplishments, from Stonehenge to the Great Wall of China, are revealed to be for the purposes of sending a message on behalf of a stranded alien requesting spare parts for its ship. His book Galapagos includes the evolution of people stranded on the Galapagos Islands into finned and feral animals after the extinction of the human race. His most famous book, Slaughterhouse Five follows a man “unstuck in time” as he visits different moments in his life. All of these books are precious for their statements on the human condition.

Kurt Vonnegut died on April 11th of this year from brain injuries after a fall at his Manhattan home.

There’s a bit of odd numerical synchronicity in this date of birth (11/11). In some parallel universe, where humans have an extra digit on each hand and foot, today would be Powers of Eleven Day. What a tribute that would be, for a writer who was so unique in writing and worldview.

Cross-posted at Geeking Out.





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