Month: May 2009

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Posted May 30, 2009 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic, Science Fiction / 0 Comments

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt VonnegutTitle: Slaughterhouse-Five (Goodreads)
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Published: Vintage, 1969
Pages: 186
Genres: Classic, Science Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: Amazon (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance With Death is an unusual story with many layers to it. The book itself is a post-modern, anti-war, science fiction metafiction novel. The Narrator starts off telling people about the book he is writing on the subject of Dresden and being in a POW camp (The Slaughterhouse) during the War. Trying to remember what happened in Dresden, the narrator goes on to tell the story of some of the other people in the Slaughterhouse with him. Billy Pilgram is the main character in the book, an optometrist who has become unstuck in time and randomly travels through time and is abducted by the “four-dimensional” aliens from planet Tralfamadore. Being POW in Dresden has had a lasting effect on Billy’s post-war life, and combined with the abductions and time travel, he has become fatalistic.

The whole story just has so many layers to try to explain, but it makes for an interesting read. Since Billy keeps randomly traveling to the Past, Future and Tralfamadore there just seems to be a lot going on and can get a little confusing. The book really highlights the effects of war on the survivors and what could be considered schizophrenia.

…And So It Goes

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Posted May 21, 2009 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic, Gothic, Science Fiction / 0 Comments

Frankenstein by Mary ShelleyTitle: Frankenstein (Goodreads)
Author: Mary Shelley
Published: Penguin, 1818
Pages: 273
Genres: Classic, Gothic, Science Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: Amazon (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

This truly is a classic tale of social insight, a story of one seeking acceptance and desiring companionship but being rejected and branded a monster. The thing that I liked most about this book is the fact that it’s divided into two accounts, designed to view both sides of the story. The first part of the book ‘Frankenstein’ tells the story of the life of Victor Frankenstein, the creation of Monster Frankenstein and the death of his younger brother William.  A servant ‘Justine’ has been put on trial for this murder, but Victor knows the identity of the true killer.  Monster Frankenstein and Victor finally meet up and despite his desire to kill his creation, Victor is forced to listen to the monster’s story, after being threatened.

‘The Modern Prometheus’ tells the story of the Monster Frankenstein, confused and unsure from the very first day of life, found himself hiding in the woods watching people and learning how to find food, create a fire and  how to differentiate between the feelings of happiness and sadness. Watching a family in poverty taught Monster Frankenstein many things and he started chopping wood and shoveling snow for the family while they slept. His loneliness finally drove him to show himself to this family who ended up running away in fear. With a mixture of loneliness and anger, he seeks out his creator, finding his way to William where he decides to kidnap him for companionship and ends up accidentally strangling him.

This is where the two stories meet and monster Frankenstein pleads with Victor saying he’s ‘a good creature turned bad by unforgiving humans who scoffed at friendship’. The monster pleads with Victor to make him a companion which he would take and never be heard from again. Victor reluctantly agrees but found it harder and harder to do, even though his family was in danger. Victor began to realize the female companion could wreck much havoc by giving birth to more monsters and refusing to be with the monster as a mate altogether.
Monster Frankenstein swears revenge and goes about killing everyone close to Victor in attempt to show Victor what it feels like to be alone. As Frankenstein dies, the monster appears in his room and begs his dead body for forgiveness.

In the end the story has no true villain or hero. Monster Frankenstein and Victor Frankenstein were both portrayed as  hero and villain. The story also leaves you wondering on how you treat others, do our actions end up turning people into a ‘monsters’? Overall this was a brilliant story, although the language was at times hard to understand, it is still worth the read.