Slaughterhouse Five (1969) by Kurt Vonegut



Slaughterhouse Five (or the children’s crusade: a duty-dance with death) is a satirical scifi novel that focuses on a character that is unstuck in time. As the story follows Billy Pilgrim, an unwilling soldier during world war 2, he jumps around in time seeing his life in small flashes before and after he has lived it. Vonegut makes excellent use of non linear story telling and at no point does the reader really feel lost with whats happening.

The main setting for the story is in a slaughterhouse in Dresden before the famous bombing that levelled the city and killed over 100000 people. Billy and one of his companions, Roland Weary are captured at the battle of the bulge and transported to Dresden.

During his time jumps Billy variously visits his past and future, including being abducted by aliens and kept in a zoo, his death years later and manybthings between. Towards the end of his life Billy becomes something of a spiritual guru, giving speeches on the true nature of time and aliens and many things between. The story flows nicely despite all the jumps, proving through the way it is written that linear time is a myth clung to by humanity.

While being held by the aliens (known as Tralfamadorians) Billy learns about how they write novels. They take small stories that when read together form a vision of life in totality. The Tralfamadorians are similarly unstuck in time like Billy and they teach him alot about his ‘problem’.

Slaughterhouse Five is an exceptional novel and a great read.

4 stars.


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