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Publisher's Summary

The Sirens of Titan is an outrageous romp through space, time, and morality. The richest, most depraved man on Earth, Malachi Constant, is offered a chance to take a space journey to distant worlds with a beautiful woman at his side. Of course there's a catch to the invitation and a prophetic vision about the purpose of human life that only Vonnegut has the courage to tell.

As an added bonus, when you purchase our Audible Modern Vanguard production of Kurt Vonnegut's book, you'll also receive an exclusive Jim Atlas interview. This interview – where James Atlas interviews Gay Talese about the life and work of Kurt Vonnegut – begins as soon as the audiobook ends.

This production is part of our Audible Modern Vanguard line, a collection of important works from groundbreaking authors.
©1959 Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Vonnegut is George Orwell, Dr. Caligari and Flash Gordon compounded into one writer . . . a zany but moral mad scientist.” (Time)
“His best book . . . He dares not only ask the ultimate question about the meaning of life, but to answer it.” (Esquire)
“Reading Vonnegut is addictive!” (Commonweal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Robert
  • Yamhill, OR, United States
  • 01-07-12

Absolutely Outstanding

For me, Sirens of Titan was about as good as it gets. Okay, so it's only been out there what, 50 years? How'd I miss this thing. I thought I read it as a kid and kept blowing past it on lists to read. Did I say it's as good as it gets? Who cares if a few things here and there didn't make any sense. It was funnier'n shit. What praise could I possibly add that hasn't already been heaped on and said in the last half century. How 'bout a few memorable quotes:

Let's get the Fundamentalists out of the way:

‘The flag of that church will be blue and gold,’ said Rumfoord. ‘These words will be written on that flag in gold letters on a blue field: Take Care of the People, and God Almighty Will Take Care of Himself.”

“To us of the Church of God the Utterly Indifferent, there is nothing more cruel, more dangerous, more blasphemous that a man can do than to believe that - that luck, good or bad, is the hand of God!”


"There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organized along the lines of the Mafia."

How 'bout one for the minimalists:
"Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty-three thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules— and still there are some misfits who insist that there is no such thing as progress."

A couple of classic Kurt that I hope will live forever:
"I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center."

"Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile!"

I thoroughly enjoy Kurt Vonnegut's humor but I love him for his humanism; humanism that comes through on almost every page.

The narration by Dennis Boutsikaris did justice to the book and given what I just said about the book, that kind of says it all. Did I say this book is as good as it gets?

53 of 55 people found this review helpful

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  • thomas
  • charlotte, NC, United States
  • 08-20-13

Somebody Up There Likes Me ...

Where does The Sirens of Titan rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I think the quality for most of the Audible Books I listened to are very high. I would rate this behind Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse 5 in the Vonnegut series. Those 2 were spectacular (Tony Roberts and Ethan Hawke). This was great, but the competition is pretty tough. Vonnegut himself rated this an A while the other two were an A+, I tend to agree.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The Harmoniums. Not only were they intriguing in the plot line but served as Vonnegut's touchstone for how societies can work together, while at the same time are used like the rest of us. Brillant.

Have you listened to any of Dennis Boutsikaris’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No but he was great. Terrific job, and he did several voices from time to time that added to the overall production value. No complaints and I would gladly listen to him again.

If you could take any character from The Sirens of Titan out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Rumsford...I mean his character is a classic in the Vonnegut cannon. A bon vivant with style who changes the course of the universe. Not only is he memorable but he delivered the overall philosophy in in the book in a way that is clever and subtle.

Any additional comments?

The Vonnegut series is fantastic. I would put this at the top but not the very top. But a must read for any Vonnegut fan, classic stuff from a writer who has yet to be replaced in literature. Fantastic stuff and well done by Audible.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Erica
  • United States
  • 06-18-12

The Best of Vonnegut

This is my favourite Vonnegut novel -- very classic Sci-Fi, though that's not what Vonnegut always did. The story is compelling and wacky and thought-provoking and uniquely unexpected. The narration isn't phenomenal, but it doesn't detract from the story. I would totally recommend this book for any Vonnegut fans, any Sci-Fi fans, or any mid 20th century lit fans.

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

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Many other reviewers have done justice to this book, singing its praises. I can only second that. It is clever, thoughtful, intelligent, funny and just incredibly well done. Jay Snyder does his usual incredible job as a narrator.

I wanted to note that audible is listing an incorrect narrator at the moment, though I am sure they will fix that. The narrator of this work is Jay Snyder.

Overall, if you like science fiction, you can't go wrong with this.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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Great Writer, Great Book

Don't know if everyone will love Vonnegut's writing as much as I do. He has a style that I just love. He does have a style very much like Douglas Adams ( or should I say Douglas Adams has Vonnegut's style -- cause Vonnegut was first). He has great explanations for the most ridiculous things. Absurd!!

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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A well read classic

I read this book a few years ago and was excited to listen to it on audible since I remember loving it. It was just as good read aloud, if not better because it helped me pick up on idiosyncrasies of the writing that I may have missed otherwise.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 04-18-14

I was a victim of a series of accidents...

"I was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all... "

One of my favorite Vonnegut. Top-shelf. Snug and warm next to Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions, & Mother Night. The magic of Vonnegut is he develops an idea to the point where -- just as you start believing it::just as you are comfortable in his absuridty -- he kicks you down another Martian rabbit hole.

He doesn't want you sitting and enjoying yourself. He wants you constantly bubbling with that 'da Fu?' look on your face. He wants you to think -- goddammit. He wants you to understand and that means he has to first confuse the hell out of you. But that doesn't mean his rollercoaster ride has to be boring. No no. He is going to zip you forward and sideways so fast you are going think you are close to sickness, except his funky humor and biting satire seems to balm all nausea ad absurdum. Incredible. Genius.

There are points in this book where if Vonnegut had said he was forming a church, I'd join. If he said he was God the lawgiver, I'd reverently lower my eyes. If he said he expected a tithe, I'd buy Vonnegut book. Yessir, I'd go door-to-door seeking converts to his form of absurd and giddy Humanism. Amen, pass the snuff-box.

42 of 49 people found this review helpful

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Classic one

Being a sci-fi fan, I don't really know why I haven't read this book earlier. It's a classic one.

The Sirens of Titan is very well written, I enjoyed the unmistakable style of Vonnegut. His satiric voice is famous, and is a trade mark of his stories. His choice of words is very good.

Using important subjects, for example religion, the book mocks at the human nature, which sometimes can take strange curves.

The story is funny, and often surprising. Vonnegut don't spare the characters, he gives them hard time.

I suspect that there were more hidden messages behind the front story, which I couldn't really grab. By one hand because I'm not good in deciphering symbols, sometimes I have trouble finding the hidden message between the lines. And by the other hand because the book was written in 1959, in a completely different era, with different problems, different world and all.

Still, there is something strange about the Sirens of Titan I cannot put my finger on - is it intentional? - so I gave four stars.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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"A truth--but, oh God, what a punctual truth"

If Mark Twain wrote science fiction, it might resemble Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.'s The Sirens of Titan (1959). The novel is narrated by someone living nearly a century after our own time of "gimcrack religions" and exploration of outer space at the expense of inner truth, an exploration that yields only "empty heroics, low comedy, and pointless death." To illustrate what people were like before becoming able to find the meaning of life within themselves, the narrator tells a "true" story "from the Nightmare Ages," which took place between the Second World War and the Third Great Depression.

In the story, Winston Miles Rumfoord is a Newport, Rhode Island millionaire who, nine years ago in an act of upper class "gallantry and style," accompanied only by his dog Kazak ("the Hound of Space") flew his private spaceship into a "chrono-synclastic infundibulum" near Mars. As a result, master and dog became scattered through space and time as wave phenomena, pulsing from the Sun to Betelgeuse in a spiral that overlaps the earth for a few minutes every fifty-nine days. In addition to no longer being "punctual" (that is, no longer existing moment to moment like normal life in the universe), Rumfoord has become able to read minds and see the future (because for someone like him everything that has ever happened, will happen, and vice versa). During one of his "materializations" on earth, Rumfoord gives some unpleasant news to the richest man in America, Malachai Constant: in the future he will mate with Rumfoord's wife Beatrice on Mars, producing a son called Chrono, and will end up living on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. Needless to say, neither Beatrice (a woman who strives to remain cleanly aloof from life) nor Malachai (a hedonistic womanizer who because his name means messenger expects to bear a message from God to someone equally distinguished) want to make a baby together on Mars! But will they be able to do anything to avoid Rumfoord's future? And could Rumfoord be masterminding a "series of accidents" to bring about that future? And if so, to what end? For that matter, what is the purpose, if any, of life?

The Sirens of Titan is a strange novel: comic, tragic, horrible, beautiful, silly, philosophical. . . Although probably the meaning of life comes down to "some people are lucky and some are not," although probably we are just victims of a series of accidents as we go through our lives, although, who knows, perhaps an ultra-advanced civilization of machines 150,000 lightyears away from earth has been warping every human action in history, although surely the universe is "not schemed in mercy," and although, generally speaking, humanity "is a scummy thing" (people being superstitious, selfish, violent, and ignorant), Vonnegut, Jr.'s novel does offer some truths to cling to: it's better to be used by somebody than not to be used by somebody, and human life has a purpose: "to love whoever is around to be loved." Despite its mockery of humankind (particularly its religious, martial, and business aspects), Vonnegut Jr.'s novel is also infused with his love of "lucky" losers (like Malachai, Beatrice, Boaz, Salo, and even Rumfoord), with his fertile imagination (like the machines of Tralfamadore, the harmoniums of Mercury, and the bluebirds of Titan) and with his knack for witty, vivid description, like the following:

"Bobby Denton spitted his audience on a bright and loving gaze, and proceeded to roast it whole over the coals of its own iniquity."

"There was no sign in the face of any intermediate stages in the aging process, no hint of the man of thirty or forty or fifty who had been left behind. Only adolescence and the age of sixty were represented. It was as though a seventeen-year-old had been withered and bleached by a blast of heat."

"The Wilburhampton Hotel was a frumpish, three-story Tudor structure across the street from the Magnum Opus Building, standing in relation to that building like an ummade bed at the feet of the Archangel Gabriel."

"The child's hair was jet black, bristly--and the black bristles grew in a violently counter-clockwise swirl. . . . And his eyes were luminous under their black-thatched eaves. They glowed with an unshared rage."

Jay Snyder reads the audiobook well, especially Rumfoord's "genial and yodeling" voice and that of Salo, the machine from Tralfamadore.

The Sirens of Titan is science fiction, but, despite the "appallingly beautiful" rings of Saturn ("dazzling bands . . . forty thousand miles across and scarcely thicker than a razor blade"), the Tralfamadorians, the harmoniums, an interplanetary war, and a 36-million-year space voyage mission, it is about exploring the human mind more than about exploring outer space. As Constant puts it (in reference to the shrines of Saturn and its moons made by his son Chrono), "It was all so sad. But it was all so beautiful, too."

13 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Joe Kraus
  • Kingston, PA, United States
  • 10-04-17

A Powerful Sign of Vonnegut to Come

I had a Vonnegut phase in high school and into my early college years, and I remain grateful to him for showing me that literature can make you think even as it makes you laugh. I loved him for four or five years, then I felt I’d outgrown him. It’s only in the last four or five years (leaving a good 25 in between) that I’ve come back to him in a more measured way.

I think the best Vonnegut really is as good as his partisans say, as good as I thought it was when I first encountered it in the Reagan years. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Slaughterhouse Five, and, of course, Cat’s Cradle are all substantial works that hold up. They take elements of science fiction, combine them with a cynicism that can only be the product of an even deeper idealism, and give us some of the most memorable critiques of American life from the last 50 years.

Sirens of Titan isn’t quite up to that level. It’s Vonnegut feeling his way toward his more successful work. He senses there’s an intellectual freedom in a science fiction mode, but he gets mildly trapped in it here. The idea, for instance, of Rumfoord as a cosmic intelligence capable of seeing past and future is an intriguing spin on the idea of a god, but it also becomes a bit self-defeating. Rumfoord moves the events of Constant’s life forward, but it isn’t clear why. He seems to want to teach humanity a lesson – and Constant’s conclusion that our purpose is to love another isn’t a bad distillation, even if it sounds trite in my paraphrase. In the end, though, he himself is confused and moving on. It’s solid and intriguing, moving in some ways, but it also implies an anxiety from the still-learning Vonnegut.

Much of what is striking in the novel gets refined in later ones. We have, for instance, the rudiments of a religion that comes across more impressively in Cat’s Cradle. We also have a riff on the use of impediments to arrive at true equality; an idea he does a lot more with in “Harrison Bergeron” and that feels tacked on here. And we have disaffected rich men, unsure how to account for their great fortune, who get crystallized in Eliot Rosewater.

The one great contribution here, I think, is the Tralfamadorans. Yes, they come back in Slaughterhouse Five, but they’re here in fully realized form. It’s a brilliant idea: life forms so different from ours who direct humans toward great accomplishments that serve as trivial ‘text messages’ from across the universe. What is the Great Wall of China but, in effect, a post it note from the inter-stellar UPS driver saying he’ll be back soon with the package.

Definitely read this one. It’s not a bad place to start with Vonnegut if you know you’ll go on, and it’s a great way to echo the pleasures of the more mature novels if you’ve read them. Either way, commit to reading other Vonnegut as well. As striking as this is, it’s only a glimpse at what was to come.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • I. A. Clark
  • 04-21-12

Profoundly depressing

Inventive if improbable parable of meaninglessness and ridicule in riches, commerce and war. Anticipates Douglas Adams by 20 years, robbing him of any significant claim to originality. Has something Adams lacks: the bitter, casual cruelty of someone who has been betrayed in life. Winston Niles Rumfoord's wilfully ill-conceived and ill-starred Martian invasion of Earth prefigures every Western war since the book was published. A compelling read, like licking a sore tooth.

3 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Benjamin
  • 01-16-17

Like Vonnegut but...

I regret getting the unabridged version...I think I appreciate his books in short copy. He's a writer who is so good at being succinct in a sentence but there's no need for certain offshoots of this story to be included.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Stuart
  • 02-14-12


I love Kurt Vonnegut and his books work really well for me on audio. This one is fantastic!

0 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • NelsonG
  • 03-07-15

Gave up in Chapter 9

What would have made The Sirens of Titan better?

If it hadn't been written.

What will your next listen be?

NOT Kurt Vonnegut.

What does Dennis Boutsikaris bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

He got me as far as chapter 9. Without him bringing some kind of life to the 'story' I would have given up much sooner.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Anger at having wasted so much time, forcing myself to listen to it.

Any additional comments?

I picked this book out at random from a SciFi list. I'll do some research in the future.

0 of 13 people found this review helpful