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Rick Van kooten

The Grand Social Experiment | Van Kooten on God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

Rick Van Kooten   Following the bleak nihilism of Cat’s Cradle, the next novel written by Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, presents a more optimistic side of Vonnegut’s philosophy, even as it is presented as a blistering satire as in Cat’s Cradle. In many ways, Vonnegut’s body of work up to this point could be considered not only a literary project …

No Damn Cat, and No Damn Cradle | Van Kooten on Cat’s Cradle

Rick Van Kooten   John, the intrepid narrator of Cat’s Cradle, is working on a book describing what Americans were doing at the precise moment the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. He tries to contact the three children of the late Felix Hoenikker, Nobel Laureate and so-called “father of the atomic bomb,” for greater insight. We learn of Dr. Hoenikker’s …

Mother Night: Why People—Even Smart Ones—Believed Howard Campbell | Van Kooten on Mother Night

Rick Van Kooten   Kurt Vonnegut’s first two books, Player Piano and Sirens of Titan, can arguably be categorized as science fiction, but Mother Night is a distinct departure from that genre. I have been an enthusiastic fan of Vonnegut since my younger days, but I admit that of the six texts being considered in the academia of Salo University, …

The Sirens of Titan: Playfully Toying with Time | Van Kooten on The Sirens of Titan

Rick Van Kooten   As an undergraduate student, our friend Kurt Vonnegut studied mechanical engineering, chemistry, and biology, and subsequently worked as a publicist for General Electric in New York. He clearly enjoyed animated conversations with his brother, Bernard, an atmospheric scientist working at a GE research laboratory and credited with discovering that silver iodide could be used effectively in cloud seeding to produce snow and …

Player Piano and Technology | Van Kooten on Player Piano

Should We Be Worried? Rick Van Kooten   Ah, to return to the days of the skinny black tie, white shirts, and horn-rimmed glasses of the Houston-we-have-a-problem-era engineers! First a digression on the difference between scientists and engineers, from personal experience: as an undergrad, I was in an “Engineering Science” program that straddled both fields. Despite this increased scope, I …