If there’s one negative thing about 50s and 60s pulp sci-fi it’s that the stories always end too quickly. It’s either that or they’re written to be such page-turners that you have no option but to devour them.

This is definitely the case with Cat’s Cradle. The story centres on a narrator who travels to a Carribean island called San Lorenzo to complete a novel he is writing about one of the fathers of the atom bomb. It’s a rollicking tale that introduces a strange Buddhist-like religion called Bokononism, a lot of small morality stories about American imperialism, and a lot of interesting commentary on 60s America.

I really liked this story. Vonnegut has an easy writing style that is neither flippant nor intense that drew me into the progress of the narrator from “somewhere” America to a Cold War de facto colony. There’s also the fascinating element of Bokononism, and it’s lessons for hyper-intense Western denizens. I’ve been finding myself saying, “That happiness is mine” at every available opportunity.

What makes this book sci-fi is also interesting. Vonnegut doesn’t play space-ships and aliens. Instead he introduces a scientific possibility, a crystal that freezes all water solid at room temperature, and weaves it gently into the storyline without forcing the device. It turns out that “ice-nine” is essential to the conclusion, but the reader hasn’t had it touted, flouted, or drawn out to boredom.

As with other mid-c20th sci-fi pulpers, Vonnegut plays with the politics of his day but his method is such that you don’t feel like you’re having to read a political diatribe. Which I appreciated. There’s nothing worse than trying to get “right-on” with outdated 60s messages.

Thoroughly enjoyable, and heartily recommended.

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