Cat's Cradle

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Novel by Vonnegut, published in 1963.

Jonah, a journalist, goes to Ilium, N. Y., the manufacturing city where the late Felix Hoenikker lived, to write a book about that eccentric scientist and his invention of an atom bomb and of a crystal named ice-nine that will freeze anything aqueous with which it comes in contact. On a magazine assignment Jonah next goes to the Latin American island nation of San Lorenzo. There he learns of the black adventurer and ex-soldier Earl McCabe, who was the land's autocratic ruler until superseded by Papa Monzano, a dictator, who has been aided by Hoenikker's son Franklin. Jonah learns too of another black ex-soldier, Lionel Boyd Johnson, who has become the people's spiritual leader by the creation of a religion called Bokononism and the preaching of “foma,” useful lies. Papa Monzano kills himself with a bit of ice-nine that he got from Franklin Hoenikker, and when by accident his frozen body slides into the sea, all the surrounding water is congealed and all the San Lorenzans are killed, save Bokonon, Jonah, and a few others.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Kurt Vonnegut (1922—2007) American novelist and short-story writer