Byzantine Reality

Searching for Byzantine failures in the world around us

Slaughterhouse Five

After finishing Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, I decided to continue reading what I have heard of as ‘the classics’ with Slaughterhouse Five. Like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Slaughterhouse Five is a short but sweet read, and I definitely recommend it to those looking for a quick read.

Slaugherhouse Five follows the life of Billy Pilgrim, who has become “unstuck in time.” He experiences the events of his life out of order, which makes for a particularly interesting read. Kurt Vonnegut does an excellent job of making this readable, as what could become very confusing is instead posed carefully and to maximum effect. The satire and anti-war message are also done nicely – it’s told through Vonnegut’s own experiences witnessing the bombing of Dresden, and the times when Vonnegut breaks the fourth wall are done superbly. They do so in such a clear fashion that it temporarily broke my immersion, just to pull me in deeper, now that I know that this thing that I’ve just read really happened. It makes for a great blend of fiction and non-fiction.

The characters are developed nicely, as was the case with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Catch-22. No particular character overstays their welcome, and jumping pseudo-randomly through time makes it really easy to speed up situations that would otherwise run long and be boring or slow down situations that need the time. The religious satire is done very nicely as well – I loved the “alternate” interpretation of the Bible as “don’t mess with people who are well connected” and the justification behind that.

The book is immersive and I got through it in a single day, so that’s a great sign. If you haven’t read it, I would definitely say it’s a classic, so go check it out!