Close encounters of the Vonnegut kind

Billy Pilgrim meets the inhabitants of a flying saucer in Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s "Slaughterhouse Five."

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Close encounters of the Vonnegut kind

The writing of Kurt Vonnegut Jr. is a genre unto itself, a unique perspective on human folly that combines elements of science fiction, satire and fable. Isaac Asimov has said Vonnegut is “a science fiction writer in that he writes of societies different from ours, of technological capacities we don’t yet have, of universes whose rulers are other than those of ours. Kurt Vonnegut is also a satirist, a keen observer of the follies of mankind and of the hypocrisies of its leaders. The combination is a powerful one.”

In this excerpt from “Slaughterhouse Five,” taken from the Harper Audio/Caedmon release of “The Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Audio Collection,” Vonnegut’s protagonist Billy Pilgrim encounters a flying saucer and its inhabitants. Read by Vonnegut himself in his unmistakably ironic drone, it represents the author at his existential best.

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