American author who combined satiric social commentary with surrealist and science fiction elements.
November 11, 1922 – April 7, 2007
Hailed as one of the most important American writers of the 20th Century, Kurt Vonnegut used science fiction to illustrate and illuminate the human predicament.
Early in his career Vonnegut published works in science fiction magazines, but he did not wish to be categorized as a genre writer. Nevertheless, he frequently used the fantastic as a means to create perspective on the issues he wrote about. His first novel, Player Piano (1952), is an early exploration of the impact of total mechanization on society. The Sirens of Titan (1959) features a plot by aliens to manipulate all of human history and progress so that a spare part can be delivered to one of their people, a castaway in our solar system.
But it’s Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) that will be remembered as Vonnegut’s seminal work. The novel draws on Vonnegut’s experience as a survivor of the bombing of Dresden in World War II, using science fictional concepts including alien contact and time travel as tools to aid in the examination of a horrific incident. Slaughterhouse-Five is frequently listed as one of the most important novels of the 20th Century, and its 1972 film adaptation won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.