Since Kurt Vonnegut passed away aged 84 earlier this year (11th April 2007), his life and work received considerable media recognition. While FOX-news could not refrain from expressing rather hostile criticism in their Vonnegut obituary, admirers of Vonnegut's works reacted with angry comments to the aforementioned programme. All over the internet bloggers expressed their regrets and wrote their own obituaries commenting on Vonnegut's life as well as his books. Why does the death of an 84 year old author leaving a body of 14 novels, three collections of short stories, one compilation of fictitious interviews with dead celebrities, four works of non-fiction, five plays and one requiem lead to public reactions which differ so widely? How can the works of an author who persisted to write his last book on an old typewriter be so relevant for the technophiles of the blogosphere?
These questions alone justify the continuation of an academic discourse on the works of Kurt Vonnegut which has been going on four almost forty years following the publication of Slaughterhouse-Five in 1969. Ever since that novel, critics rarely fail to mention the considerable influence of science fiction on Vonnegut's writing. Man's relationship to technology and the effects of technology on inter-human communication are central motifs in science fiction: hence, the web 2.0 generation's reaction to Vonnegut's death provides an extraordinary indication that the problems pondered upon in Vonnegut's science fiction are still relevant today.
However, it has to be said that most critics' references to science fiction elements in Vonnegut's works remain limited to a surface level and evoke the impression that either the scholar is not well informed about the implications of the term 'science fiction' or fails to name his or her references. The effect of such an approach is that the works on the subject will either seem to be apologetic annexions of Vonnegut's novels by science fiction buffs and space opera fans or attempts to minimise the role of science fiction in the works of Kurt Vonnegut to mere parody. Neither impression is adequate for a thorough understanding of the role of science fiction in the works of Kurt Vonnegut. Therefore, in this paper a coordinate system discussing the implication of the term science fiction will be set up, in which Vonnegut's works can be located. In order to find a valid reference point, a fixed set of aspects will be […]