I was surprised last week when Amazon had a special announcement about Kurt Vonnegut. And it was accompanied by discounts on some of his most famous books. Amazon’s also obtained the exclusive rights to seven previously-unpublished stories by the famous author. And right now, there’s even another short story by Kurt Vonnegut that’s available in Amazon’s Kindle Store for free!
Kurt Vonnegut wrote Slaughterhouse-Five in 1969, and it was later hailed as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. But he’d already enjoyed earlier success in 1963 with a satirical science fiction fantasy novel called Cat’s Cradle. Its Kindle ebook edition is on sale now at Amazon for just $8.99.
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Amazon calls Cat’s Cradle Vonnegut’s “most ambitious novel,” and there’s a fun story about how it actually brought Vonnegut some recognition in a very surprising form. In the 1940s, Vonnegut had dropped out of the anthropology program at the University of Chicago after they’d rejected each idea he’d proposed for a thesis. “Twenty years later,” Vonnegut once told The Paris Review, “I got a letter from a new dean at Chicago, who had been looking through my dossier. Under the rules of the university, he said, a published work of high quality could be substituted for a dissertation, so I was entitled to an M.A. He had shown Cat’s Cradle to the anthropology department, and they had said it was halfway decent anthropology, so they were mailing me my degree!”
Amazon calls Cat’s Cradle “one of Vonnegut’s most entertaining novels…filled with scientists and G-men and even ordinary folks caught up in the game [who] chase each other around in search of the world’s most important and dangerous substance, a new form of ice that freezes at room temperature.” For an additional $3.95, you can also purchase the professionally-narrated audiobook edition of Cat’s Cradle on the same page. “At one time, this novel could probably be found on the bookshelf of every college kid in America,” Amazon writes in their review, adding “it’s still a fabulous read and a great place to start if you’re young enough to have missed the first Vonnegut craze.”
But it’s now also part of a fantastic project that Amazon has launched called Kindle Worlds. They’ve secured the legal right for authors to self-publish Kindle ebooks which are set in the fictional worlds created by other authors — including Kurt Vonnegut. “This is a natural extension of his legacy,” announced Donald C. Farber, a trustee of the Kurt Vonnegut Trust, “and a testament to the enduring popularity of his characters and stories.
“Billy Pilgrim, unstuck in time, is going to quickly become a Kindle Worlds favorite.”
The Kindle also has another connection to Kurt Vonnegut, according to Amazon’s press release. “In 2012, Amazon Publishing’s Kindle Serials released Sucker’s Portfolio, an exclusive serialized collection of seven previously unpublished works by Vonnegut.” Checking today, I see the 199-page collection is still available in the Kindle Store for just $3.99.
And there’s also some other great Vonnegut discounts on Vonnegut ebooks. Right now you can buy Welcome to the Monkey House as a Kindle ebook for just $8.99. This 354-page collection showcases some of Vonnegut’s great early short stories, some of which were originally published in science fiction magazines. Many of the others appeared in the most popular magazines of the 1950s, including Collier’s, Esquire, The Saturday Evening Post, and even Playboy.
For 99 cents, you can also buy a nice collection of two more short stories by Kurt Vonnegut — “The Big Trip Up Yonder” and “2 B R O 2 B”. But the second one is also available for free, with at least one Amazon reviewer calling it “A thought provoking short story.” In a future where the population has been stabilized at exactly 40 million people, every new birth requires that another life be displaced, according to their review, and “The easiest way to accomplish this is to call the Federal Bureau of Termination (phone number: 2 B R (naught) 2 B)…”
“You’ll have to read the story to find out what happens next…” they warn. adding “Just be sure to leave yourself a little time at the end to contemplate the story, and re-read or peruse various bits of it. You won’t be disappointed!”
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