Teroristički napad na New York i Washington izvršen 11. rujna 2001. nije samo najkrvaviji, već i najkontroverzniji događaj takve vrste u suvremenoj svjetskoj povijesti. Obilježavajući skorašnju dvadesestu godišnjicu tog užasa, možemo se tek zapitati što se u međuvremenu promjenilo, znamo li baš potpunu priču, i u kojoj su mjeri određene političke strukture makjavelistički sposobne iskoristiti tragediju vlastitog naroda. Preslušajte tonski zapis CNN-a!
The collected stories of Kilgore Trout
I love all of the Kilgore Trout story synopses in Kurt Vonnegut’s work, and there was no collection on the internet, so I made one.
Untitled — (Skid Row)
Kilgore Trout wrote a story one time about a town which decided to tell derelicts where they were and what was about to happen to them by putting up actual street signs like this:
Genesis (recitation in Timequake)
“In the beginning there was absolutely nothing, and I mean nothing” he said. “But nothing implies something, just as up implies down and sweet implies sour, as man implies woman and drunk implies sober and happy implies sad. I hate to tell you this, friends and neighbors, but we are teensy-weensy implications in an enormous implication. If you don’t like it here, why don’t you go back to where you came from?
“The first something to be implied by all the nothing,” he said, “was in fact two somethings, who were God and Satan. God was male. Satan was female. They implied each other, and hence were peers in the emerging power structure, which was itself nothing but an implication. Power was implied by weakness.”
“God created the heaven and the earth,” the old, long-out-of-print science fiction writer went on. “And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. Satan could have done this herself, but she thought it was stupid, action for the sake of action. What was the point? She didn’t say anything at first.
“But Satan began to worry about God when He said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. She had to wonder, ‘What in heck does He think He’s doing? How far does He intend to go, and does He expect me to help Him take care of all this crazy stuff?’ “And then the shit really hit the fan. God made man and woman, beautiful little miniatures of Him and her, and turned them loose to see what might become of them. The Garden of Eden,” said Trout, “might be considered the prototype for the Colosseum and the Roman Games.”
“Satan,” he said, “couldn’t undo anything God had done. She could at least try to make existence for His little toys less painful. She could see what He couldn’t: To be alive was to be either bored or scared stiff. So she filled an apple with all sorts of ideas that might at least relieve the boredom, such as rules for games with cards and dice, and how to fuck, and recipes for beer and wine and whiskey, and pictures of different plants that were smokable, and so on. And instructions on how to make music and sing and dance real crazy, real sexy. And how to spout blasphemy when they stubbed their toes.
“Satan had a serpent give Eve the apple. Eve took a bite and handed it to Adam. He took a bite, and then they fucked.”
“I grant you,” said Trout, “that some of the ideas in the apple had catastrophic side effects for a minority of those who tried them.” Let it be noted here that Trout himself was not an alcoholic, a junkie, a gambler, or a sex fiend. He just wrote. “All Satan wanted to do was help, and she did in many cases,” he concluded. “And her record for promoting nostrutms with occasionally dreadful side effects is no worse than that of the most reputable pharmaceutical houses of the present day.”
The Smart Bunny
mentioned in Breakfast of Champions
The leading character was a rabbit who lived like all the other wild rabbits, but who was as intelligent as Albert Einstein or William Shakespeare. It was a female rabbit. She was the only female leading character in any novel or story by Kilgore Trout. She led a normal female rabbit’s life, despite her ballooning intellect. She concluded that her mind was useless, that it was a sort of tumor, that it had no usefulness within the rabbit scheme of things. So she went hippity-hop, hippity hop toward the city, to have the tumor removed. But a hunter named Dudley Farrow shot and killed her before she got there. Farrow skinned her and took out her guts, but then he and his wife Grace decided that they had better not eat her because of her unusually large head. They thought what she had thought when she was alive — that she must be diseased.
The Son of Jimmy Valentine
mentioned in Breakfast of Champions
Kilgore Trout once wrote a short novel about the importance of the clitoris in love-making. This was in response to a suggestion by his second wife, Darlene, that he could make a fortune with a dirty book. She told him that the hero should understand women so well that he could seduce anyone he wanted. So trout wrote The Son of Jimmy Valentine.
Jimmy Valentine was a famous made-up person in another writer’s books, just as Kilgore Trout was a famous made-up person in my books. Jimmy Valentine in the other writer’s books sandpapered his fingertips, so they were extrasensitive. He was a safe-cracker. His sense of feel was so delicate that he could open any safe in the world by feeling the tumblers fall.
Kilgore Trout invented a son for Jimmy Valentine, named Ralston Valentine. Ralston Valentine also sandpapered his fingertips. But he wasn’t a safe-cracker. Ralston was so good at touching women the way they wanted to be touched, that tens of thousands of them became his willing slaves. They abandoned their husbands or lovers for him, in Trout’s story, and Ralston Valentine became President of the United States, thanks to the votes of women.
How You Doin’?
mentioned in Breakfast of Champions
Trout wrote a novel one time which he called How You Doin’? and it was about national averages for this and that. And advertising agency on another planet had a successful campaign for the local equivalent of Earthling peanut butter. The eye-catching part of each ad was the statement of some sort of average — the average number of children, the average size of the male sex organ on that particular planet — which was two inches long, with an inside diameter of three inches and an outside diameter of four and a quarter inches — and so on. The ads invited the readers to discover whether they were superior or inferior to the majority, in this respect or that one — whatever the respect was for that particular ad.
The ad went on to say that superior and inferior people alike ate such and such brand of peanut butter. Except that it wasn’t really peanut butter on that planet. It was Shazzbutter.
And so on.
And the peanut butter-eaters on Earth were preparing to conquer the shazzbutter-eaters on the planet in the book by Kilgore Trout. By this time, the Earthlings hadn’t just demolished West Virginia and Southeast Asia. They had demolished everything. So they were ready to go pioneering again.
They studied the shazzbutter-eaters by means of electronic snooping, and determined that they were too numerous and proud and resourceful ever to allow themselves to be pioneered.
So the Earthlings infiltrated the ad agency which had the shazzbutter account, and they buggered the statistics in the ads. They made the average for everything so high that everybody on the planet felt inferior to the majority in every respect.
And then the Earthling armored space ships came in and discovered the planet. Only token resistance was offered here and there, because the natives felt so below average. And then the pioneering began.
The Money Tree (novel mentioned in Slaughterhouse-Five)
Trout, incidentally, had written a book about a money tree. It had twenty-dollar bills for leaves. Its flowers were government bonds. Its fruit was diamonds. It attracted human beings who killed each other around the roots and made very good fertilizer. So it goes.
Now It Can Be Told
mentioned in Breakfast of Champions
The premise of the book was this: Life was an experiment by the Creator of the Universe, Who wanted to test a new sort of creature He was thinking of introducing into the Universe. It was a creature with the ability to make up its own mind. All the other creatures were fully programmed robots.
The book was in the form of a long letter from The Creator of the Universe to the experimental creature. The Creator congratulated the creature and apologized for all the discomfort he had endured. The Creator invited him to a banquet in his honor in the Empire Room of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, where a black robot named Sammy Davis, Jr., would sing and dance.
And the experimental creature wasn’t killed after the banquet. He was transferred to a virgin planet instead. Living cells were sliced from the palms of his hands, while he was unconscious. The operation didn’t hurt at all.
And then the cells were stirred into a soupy sea on the virgin planet. They would evolve into ever more complicated life forms as the eons went by. Whatever shapes they assumed, they would have free will.
Trout didn’t give the experimental creature a proper name. He simply called him The Man.
On the virgin planet, The Man was Adam and the sea was Eve.
The Man often sauntered by the sea. Sometimes he waded in his Eve. Sometimes he swam in her, but she was too soupy for an invigorating swim. She made her Adam feel sleepy and sticky afterwards, so he would dive into an icy stream that had just jumped off a mountain.
He screamed when he dived into the icy water, screamed again when he came up for air. He bloodied his shins and laughed about it when he scrambled up rocks to get out of the water.
He panted and laughed some more, and he thought of something amazing to yell. The Creator never knew what he was going to yell, since The Creator had no control over him. The Man himself got to decide what he was going to do next — and why. After a dip one day, for instance, The Man yelled this: “Cheese!”
Another time he yelled, “Wouldn’t you really rather drive a Buick?”
The only other big animal on the virgin planet was an angel who visited The Man occasionally. He was a messenger and an investigator for the Creator of the Universe. He took the form of an eight hundred pound male cinnamon bear. He was a robot, too, and so was The Creator, according to Kilgore Trout.
The bear was attempting to get a line on why The Man did what he did. He would ask, for instance, “Why did you yell, ‘Cheese’?”
And The Man would tell him mockingly, “Because I felt like it, you stupid machine.” Here is what The Man’s tombstone on the virgin planet looked like at the end of the book by Kilgore Trout:
Dear sir, poor sir, brave sir: You are an experiment by the Creator of the Universe. You are the only creature in the entire Universe who has free will. You are the only one who has to figure out what to do next — and why. Everybody else is a robot, a machine.
“Some persons seem to like you, and others seem to hate you, and you must wonder why. They are simply liking machines and hating machines.
“You are pooped and demoralized. Why wouldn’t you be? Of course it’s exhausting, having to reason every time in a universe which wasn’t meant to be reasonable.
“You are surrounded by loving machines, hating machines, greedy machines, unselfish machines, brave machines, cowardly machines, truthful machines, lying machines, funny machines, solemn machines. Their only purpose is to stir you up in every conceivable way, so the Creator of the Universe can watch your reactions. They can no more feel or reason than grandfather clocks.
“The Creator of the Universe would now like to apologize not only for the capricious, jostling companionship he provided during the test, but for the trashy, stinking condition of the planet itself. The Creator programmed robots to abuse it for millions of years, so it would be a poisonous, festering cheese when you got here. Also, He made sure it would be desperately crowded by programming robots, regardless of their living conditions, to crave sexual intercourse and adore infants more than almost anything.
“He also programmed robots to write books and magazines and newspapers for you, and television and radio shows, and stage shows, and films. They wrote songs for you. The Creator of the Universe had them invent hundreds of religions, so you would have plenty to choose among. He had them kill each other by the millions, for this purpose only: that you be amazed. They had commited every possible atrocity and every possible kindness unfeelingly, automatically, inevitably, to get a reaction from Y-O-U.”
This last word was set in extra-large type and had a line all to itself, so it looked like this:
Y — O — U
“Every time you went into the library, the Creator of the Universe held His breath. With such a higgledy-piggledy cultural smorgasbord before you, what would you, with your free will, choose?
“Your parents were fighting machines and self-pitying machines. Your mother was programmed to bawl out your father for being a defective money-making machine, and your father was programmed to bawl her out for being a defective housekeeping machine. They were programmed to bawl each other out for being defective loving machines.
“Then your father was programmed to stomp out of the house and slam the door. This automatically turned your mother into a weeping machine. And your father would go down to a tavern where he would get drunk with some other drinking machines. Then all the drinking machines would go to a whorehouse and rent fucking machines. And then your father would drag himself home to become an apologizing machine. And your mother would become a very slow forgiving machine.
The Pan-Galactic Memory Bank
mentioned in Breakfast of Champions
In Trout’s novel, The Pan-Galactic Memory Bank, the hero is on a space ship two hundred miles long and sixty-two miles in diameter. He gets a realistic novel out of the branch library in his neighborhood. He reads about sixty pages of it, and then he takes it back. The librarian asks him why he doesn’t like it, and he says to her, ‘I already know about human beings.
The Pan-Galactic Straw Boss a.k.a. Mouth Crazy
mentioned in Breakfast of Champions
No description given. Only the published title, ‘Mouth Crazy’
Albert Hardy (short story mentioned in Timequake)
Albert Hardy was born in 1896, with his head between his legs, and his genitalia sprouting out of the top of his neck, which looked ‘like a zucchini.’ Albert’s parents taught him to walk on his hands and eat with his feet. That was so they could conceal his private parts with trousers. The private parts weren’t excessively large like the testicles of the fugitive in Trout’s father’s Ting-a-ling parable. That wasn’t the point.
The Ting-a-ling Parable (from Timequake)
It was about a fugitive who sought shelter from the police in the home of a woman he knew.
“Her living had a cathedral ceiling, which is to say it went all the way up to the roof peak, with rustic rafters spanning the air space below.” Trout paused. It was as thought he were as caught up in the tale as his father must have been.
He went on, there in the suite named in honor of the suicide Ernest Hemingway: “She was a widow, and he stripped himself naked while she went to fetch some of her husband’s clothes. But before he could put them on, the police were hammering on the front door with their billy clubs. So the fugitive hid on top of the rafter. When the woman let in the police, though, his oversize testicles hung down in full view.” Trout paused again.
“The police asked the woman where the guy was. The woman said she didn’t know what they were talking about,” said Trout. “One of the cops saw testicles hanging down from a rafter and asked what they were. She said they were Chinese temple bells. He believed her. He said he’d always wanted to hear Chinese temple bells. “He gave them a what with his billy club, but there was no sound. So he hit them again, a lot harder, a whole lot harder. Do you know what the guy on the rafter shreiked?” Trout asked me.
I said I didn’t.
“He shreiked ‘TING-A-LING, YOU SON OF A BITCH!
An American Family Marooned on the Planet Pluto (short story mentioned in Timequake)
Only the quote “Nothing wrecks any kind of love more effectively than the discovery that your previously acceptable behavior has become ridiculous”
Asleep at the Switch (short story mentioned in Jailbird)
The story is about a reception center outside Heaven, staffed by accountants and business people who require all potential entrants through the pearly gates to give a full review of how well they had handled the business opportunites God had sent them while on earth. These auditors force albert Einstein to admit he had been ‘asleep at the switch’ to earthly business opportunities before they admit him to Heaven.
Bunker Bingo Party (short story mentioned in Timequake)
That one was set in Adolf Hitler’s commodious bombproof bunker underneath the ruins of Berlin, Germany, at the end of World War Two in Europe. In that story, Trout calls his war, and my war also, “Western Civilization’s second unsuccessful attempt to commit suicide.” He did that in conversations, too, one time adding in my presence, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, please try again.”
Dog’s Breakfast (short story mentioned in Timequake)
The first story Trout had to rewrite after the timequake zapped him back to 1991, he told me, was called “Dog’s Breakfast.” It was about a mad scientist named Fleon Sunoco, who was doing research at the National Instututes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Sunoco belived really smart people had little radio recievers in their heads, and were getting their bright ideas from somewhere else.
“The smarties had to be getting outside help,” Trout sat to me at Xanadu. While impersonating the mad Sunoco, Trout himself seemed convinced that there was a great big super computer somewhere, which, by means of radio, had told Pythagoras about right triangles, and Newton about gravity, and Darwin about evolution, and Pasteur about germs, and Einstein about relativity, and on and on.
“That computer, wherever it is , whatever it is, while pretending to help us, may actually be trying to kill us dummies with too much to think about,” said Kilgore Trout.
For the record: Dr Fleon Sunoco at the NIH, who is independently rich, hires grave robbers to bring him the brains of deceased members of Mensa, a nationwide club for persons with hig Intelligence Quotients, or IQs, as determined by standardized tests of verbal and non-verbal skills, tests which pit the testees agaist the Joe and Jane Sixpacks, against the Lumpenproletariat.
His ghouls also bring him the brains of people who died in really stupid accidents, crossing busy streets against the light, starting charcoal fires at cookouts with gasoline, and so on, for comparison. So as not to arouse suspicion, they deliver the fresh brains one at a time in buckets stolen from a nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. Needless to say, Sunoco’s supervisors have no idea what he’s really doing when he works late night after night.
They do notice how much he likes fried chicken, apparently, ordering it by the bucket, and that he never offers anybody else some. They also wonder how he stays so skinny. During regular work hours, he does what he is paid to do, which is develop a brith control pill that takes all the pleasure out of sex, so teenagers won’t copulate.
At night, though, with nobody around, he slices up high-IQ brains, looking for little radios. He doesn’t think Mensa members had them inserted surgically. He thinks they were born with them, so the recievers have to be made of meat. Sunco has written in his secret journal: “There is no way an unassisted human brain, which is nothing more that a dog’s breakfast, three and a half pounds of blood-soaked sponge, could have written ‘Stardust,’ let alone Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.”
One night he finds, an unexplained little snot-colored bump, no larger than a mustard seed, in the inner ear of a Mensa member, who as a junior high scholler had won spelling bee after spelling bee. Eureka!
He reexamines the inner ear of a moron who was killed when she was grabbing doorhandles of fast-moving vehicles while wearing rollarblades. Neither of her inner ears has a snot-colored bump. Eureka!
This is a Nobel Prize type discovery! So, even before he has published, Fleon Sunoco goes out and buys himself a suit of tails for Stockholm.
Trout said: “Fleon Sunoco jumped to his death into the National Institutes of Health parking lot. He was wearing his new suit of tails which would never get to Stockholm.”
“He realized that his discovery proved that he didn’t deserve credit fo making it. He was hoist by his own petard! Anybody who did anything as wonderful as what he had done couldn’t possibly have done it with just a human brain, with nothing but the dog’s breakfast in his braincase. He could only have done it with outside help.”
Dr. Schadenfreude (short story mentioned in Timequake)
Only mentioned, no text
Empire State (short story mentioned in Timequake)
To quote from Kilgore Trout’s story “Empire State,” which is about a meteor the size and shape of the Manhattan skyscraper, approaching Earth point-first at a steady fifty-four miles an hour: “Science never cheered up anyone. The truth about the human situation is just too awful.”
And the truth about that situation all over the world will never be worse than it was during the first couple of hours after the rerun stopped. Oh sure, there were millions of pedestrians lying on the ground because the weight on their feet had been unevenly distributed when free will kicked in. But most of them were pretty much OK, except for those who had been near the tops of escalators or stairways. Most were no worse hurt than the woman Allie and I saw come shooting out of a streetcar headfirst.
The real mayhem was wrought, as I said before, by self-propelled forms of transportation, of which there were none, of course, inside the former Museum of the American Indian. Things stayed peaceful in there, even as the crashing of vehicles and the cries of the injured and dying reached the climax of a crescendo outside. “I fry mine in butter!” indeed.
Golden Wedding (short story mentioned in Timequake)
I thank Trout for the concept of the man-woman hour as a unit of measurement of marital intimacy. This is an hour during which a husband and wife are close enough to be aware of each other, and for one to say something to the other without yelling, if he or she feels like it. Trout says in his story “Golden Wedding” that they needn’t feel like saying anything in order to credit themselves with a man-woman hour.
“Golden Wedding” is another story Dudley Prince rescued from the trash receptacle before the timequake. It is about a florist who tries to increase his business by convincing people who both work at home, or who spend long hours together running a Ma-and-Pa joint, that they are entitled to celebrate several wedding anniversaries a year.
He calculates that an average couple with separate places of work logs four man-woman hours each weekday, and sixteen of them on weekends. Being sound asleep with each other doesn’t count. This gives him a standard man-woman week of thirty-six man-woman hours.
He multiplies that by fifty-two. This gives him, when rounded off, a standard man-woman year of eighteen hundred man-woman hours. He advertises that any couple that has accumulated this many man-woman hours is entitled to celebrate an anniversary, and to receive flowers and appropriate presents, even if it took them only twenty weeks to do it!
If couples keep piling up man-woman hours like that, as my wives and I have done in both my marriages, they can easily celebrate their Ruby Anniversary in only twenty years, and their Golden in twenty-five!
No Laughing Matter (short story mentioned in Timequake)
“No Laughing Matter” got its title from what a judge in the story said during a top-secret court- martial of the crew of the American bomber Joy’s Pride, on the Pacific island of Banalulu, one month after the end of World War Two.
Joy’s Pride itself was perfectly OK, and in a hangar there on Banalulu. It was named in honor of the pilot’s mother, Joy Peterson, a nurse in obstetrics in a hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas. Pride had a double meaning. It meant self-respect. It meant a lion family, too.
Here’s the thing: After an atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, and then another one was dropped on Nagasaki, Joy’s Pride was ordered to drop yet another one on Yokohama, on a couple of million “little yellow bastards.” The little yellow bastards were called “little yellow bastards” back then. It was wartime. Trout described the third atom bomb like this: “A purple motherfucker as big as a boiler in the basement of a mid-size junior high school.”
It was too big to fit inside the bomb bay. It was slung underneath the plane’s belly, and cleared the runway by a foot when Joy’s Pride took off into the wild blue yonder. As the plane neared its target, the pilot mused out loud on the intercom that his mother, the obstetrics nurse, would be a celebrity back home after they did what they were about to do. The bomber Enola Gay, and the woman in whose honor it was named, had become as famous as movie stars after it dropped its load on Hiroshima. Yokohama was twice as populous as Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. The more the pilot thought about it, though, the surer he was that his sweet widowed mother could never tell reporters she was happy that her son’s airplane had killed a world’s record number of civilians all at once.
Trout’s story reminds me of the time my late great-aunt Emma Vonnegut said she hated the Chinese. Her late son-in-law Kerfuit Stewart, who used to own Stewart’s Book Store in Louisville, Kentucky, admonished her that it was wicked to hate that many people all at once.
The crewmen aboard Joy’s Pride, at any rate, told the pilot on the intercom that they felt much as he did. They were all alone up there in the sky. They didn’t need a fighter escort, since the Japanese didn’t have any airplanes left. The war was over, except for the paperwork, arguably the situation even before Enola Gay cremated Hiroshima. To quote Kilgore Trout: “This wasn’t war anymore, and neither had been the obliteration of Nagasaki. This was ‘Thanks to the Yanks for a job well done!’ This was show biz now.”
Trout said in “No Laughing Matter” that the pilot and his bombardier had felt somewhat godlike on previous missions, when they had had nothing more than incendiaries and conventional high explosives to drop on people. “But that was godlike with a little g” he wrote. “They identified themselves with minor deities who only avenged and destroyed. Up there in the sky all alone, with the purple motherfucker slung underneath their plane, they felt like the Boss God Himself, who had an option which hadn’t been theirs before, which was to be merciful.” Trout himself had been in World War Two, but not as an airman and not in the Pacific. He had been a forward observer for the Army field artillery in Europe, a lieutenant with binoculars and a radio, up with the infantry or even ahead of it. He would tell batteries to the rear where their shrapnel or white phosphorus or whatever might help a lot.
He himself had certainly not been merciful, nor, by his own account, had he ever felt he should have been. I asked him at the clambake in 2001, at the writers’ retreat Xanadu, what he’d done during the war, which he called “civilization’s second unsuccessful attempt to commit suicide.’’
He said without a scintilla of regret, “I made sandwiches of German soldiers between an erupting Earth and an exploding sky, and in a blizzard of razor blades.” The pilot of Joy’s Pride made a U-turn way up in the sky. The purple motherfucker was still slung underneath. The pilot headed back for Banalulu. “He did it,” wrote Trout, “because that is what his mother would have wanted him to do.”
At the top-secret court-martial afterward, everybody was convulsed with laughter at one point in the proceedings. This caused the chief judge to bang his gavel and declare that what those on trial had done was “no laughing matter.” What people found so funny was the prosecutor’s description of what people did at the base when Joy’s Pride came in for a landing with the purple motherfucker only a foot above the tarmac. People jumped out of windows. They peed in their pants.
“There were all kinds of collisions between different kinds of vehicles,” wrote Kilgore Trout.
No sooner had the judge restored order, though, than a huge crack opened in the floor of the Pacific Ocean. It swallowed Banalulu, court-martial, Joy’s Pride, unused atom bomb and all.
The Planet Gobblers (mentioned in speech, from Critical Companion to Kurt Vonnegut)
The story represents earthlings as “planet gobblers” who “arrive on a planet, gobble it up, and die”. Before completely dying, however, Earthlings send spaceships to new planets to repeat the process all over again.
The Protocols of the Elders of Tralfamadore (short story mentioned in Hocus Pocus — no author attributed, but bears many elements characteristic of Trout’s work. Tralfamadore is mentioned by Eliot Rosewater in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. Tralfamadore is also a main element of the plots of The Sirens of Titan and Slaughterhouse-Five)
I sat down at my footlocker and read The Protocols of the Elders of Tralfamadore in Black Garterbelt. It was about intelligent threads of energy trillions of light-years long. They wanted mortal, self-reproducing life forms to spread out through the Universe. So several of them, the Elders in the title, held a meeting by intersecting near a planet called Tralfamadore. The author never said why the Elders thought the spread of life was such a hot idea. I don’t blame him. I can’t think of any strong arguments in favor of it. To me, wanting every habitable planet to be inhabited is like wanting everybody to have athlete’s foot.
The Elders agreed at the meeting that the only practical way for life to travel great distances through space was in the form of extremely small and durable plants and animals hitching rides on meteors that richocheted off their planets.
But no germs tough enough to survive a trip like that had yet evolved anywhere. Life was too easy for them. They were a bunch of cream puffs. Any creature they infected, chemically speaking, was as challenging as so much chicken soup.
There were people on Earth at the time of the meeting, but they were just more hot slop for the germs to swim in. But they had extra large brains, and some of them could talk. A few could even read and write! So the Elders focused in on them, and wondered if people’s brains might not invent survival tests for germs which were truly horrible.
They saw in us a potential for chemical evils on a cosmic scale. Nor did we disappoint them.
What a story!
It so happened, according to this story, that the legend of Adam and Eve was being written down for the first time. A woman was doing it. Until then, that charming bunkum had been passed from generation to generation by word of mouth.
The Elders let her write down most of the origin myth just the way she had heard it, the way everybody told it, until she got very close to the end. Then they took control of her brain and had her write down something which had never been part of the myth before.
It was a speech by God to Adam and Eve, supposedly. This was it, and life would become pure hell for microorganisms soon afterward: “Fill the Earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves on the Earth.”
So the people of the Earth thought they had instructions from the Creator of the Universe Himself to wreck the joint. But they were going at it too slowly to satisfy the Elders, so the Elders put it into the people’s heads that they themselves were the life forms that were supposed to spread out through the Universe. This was a preposterous idea, of course. In the words of the nameless author, “How could all that meat, needing so much food and water and oxygen, and with bowel movements so enormous, expect to survive a trip of any distance whatsoever through the limitless void of outer space? It was a miracle that such ravenous and cumbersome giants could make a roundtrip for a 6-pack to the nearest grocery store.”
The Elders, incidentally, had given up on influencing the humanoids on Tralfamadore, who were right below where they were meeting. The Tralfamadorians had senses of humor and so knew themselves for the severely limited lunkers, not to say crazy lunkers, they really were. They were immune to the kilovolts of pride the Elders jazzed their brains with. They laughed right away when the idea popped up in their heads that they were the glory of the Universe, and that they were supposed to colonize other planets with their incomparable magnificence. They knew exactly how clumsy and dumb they were, even though they could talk and some of them could read and write and do math. One author wrote a series of side-splitting satires about Tralfamadorians arriving on other planets with the intention of spreading enlightenment.
But the people here on Earth, being humorless, found the same idea quite acceptable.
It appeared to the Elders that the people here would believe anything about themselves, no matter how preposterous, as long as it was flattering. To make sure of this, they performed an experiment. They put the idea into Earthlings’ heads that the whole Universe had been created by one big male animal who looked just like them. He sat on a throne with a lot less fancy thrones all around him. When people died they got to sit on those other thrones forever because they were such close relatives of the Creator.
The people down here just ate that up!
Another thing the Elders liked about Earthlings was that they feared and hated other Earthlings who did not look and talk exactly as they did. They made life a hell for each other as well as for what they called “lower animals”. They actually thought of strangers as lower animals. So all the Elders had to do to ensure that germs were going to experience really hard times was to tell us how to make more effective weapons by studying Physics and Chemistry. The Elders lost no time in doing this.
They caused an apple to fall on the head of Isaac Newton. They made young James Watt prick up his ears when his mother’s tea kettle sang.
The Elders made us think that the Creator on the big throne hated strangers as much as we did, and that we would be doing Him a big favor if we tried to exterminate them by any and all means possible.
That went over big down here.
So it wasn’t long before we made the deadliest poisons in the Universe, and were stinking up the air and water and topsoil. In the words of the author, and I wish I knew his name, “Germs died by the trillions or failed to reproduce because they could no longer cut the mustard.”
But a few survived and even flourished, even though almost all other life forms on Earth perished. And when all other life forms vanished, and this planet became as sterile as the Moon, they hibernated as virtually indestructible spores, capable of waiting as long as necessary for the next lucky hit by a meteor. Thus, at last, did space travel become truly feasible.
If you stop to think about it, what the Elders did was based on a sort of trickle-down theory. Usually when people talk about the trickle-down theory, it has to do with economics. The richer people at the top of a society become, supposedly, there more wealth there is to trickle down to the people below. It never really works out that way, of course, because if there are 2 things people at the top can’t stand, they have to be leakage and overflow.
But the Elders’ scheme of having the misery of higher animals trickle down to microorganisms worked like a dream.
The Sisters B-36 (short story mentioned in Timequake)
Only a mention of the story as discarded “… in a lidless wire trash receptacle chained to a fire hydrant in front of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, way-the-hell-and-gone up on West 155th Street in Manhattan, two doors west of Broadway.”
My Ten Years On Automatic Pilot (nonfiction book mentioned in Timequake)
Only mentions Trout’s opinion that we should “start numbering timequakes the same way we numbered World Wars and Super Bowls”
The Wrinkled Old Family Retainer (play mentioned in Timequake)
The Wrinkled Old Family Retailer is about a wedding. The bride is Mirable Dictu, a virgin. The groom is Flagrante Delicto, a heartless womanizer.
Sotto Voce, a male guest standing at the fringe of the ceremony says out of the corner of his mouth to a guy standing next to him, “I don’t bother with all of this. I simply find a woman who hates me, and I give her a house.”
And the other guy says, as the groom is kissing the bride, “All women are psychotic. All men are jerks.”
The eponymous wrinkled old family retainer, crying his rheumy eyes out behind a potted palm, is Scrotum.
Untitled — (Yeast Dialogue)
mentioned in Breakfast of Champions
Kilgore Trout once wrote a short story which was a dialogue between two pieces of yeast. They were discussing the possible purposes of life as they ate sugar and suffocated in their own excrement. Because of their limited intelligence, they never came close to guessing that they were making champagne.
The Big Board (novel mentioned in Slaughterhouse-Five)
The flying saucer creatures who capture Trout’s hero ask him about Darwin. They also ask him about golf. The earthing figure who is most engaging to the Tralfamodorian mind, he says, is Charles Darwin — who taught that those who die are meant to die, that corpses are improvements)
The Era of Hopeful Monsters (novel mentioned in Galápagos)
t was about a planet where the humanoids ignored their most serious survival problems until the last possible moment. And then, with all the forests being killed and all the lakes being poisoned by acid rain, and all the groundwater made unpotable by industrial wastes and so on, the humanoids found themselves the parents of children with wings or antlers or fins, with a hundred eyes, with no eyes, with huge brains, with no brains, and on and on. These were Nature’s experiments with creatures which might, as a matter of luck, be better planetary citizens than the humanoids. Most died, or had to be shot, or whatever, but a few were really quite promising, and they intermarried and had young like themselves.
First District Court of Thankyou (novel mentioned in Jailbird and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater)
It was called, The First District Court of Thankyou, which was a court you could take people to, if you felt they hadn’t been properly grateful for something you had done. If the defendant lost his case, the court gave him a choice between thanking the plaintiff in public, or going into solitary confinement on bread and water for a month. According to Trout, eighty per cent of those convicted chose the black hole.
The Gospel from Outer Space (novel mentioned in Slaughterhouse-Five)
It was about a visitor from outer space, shaped very much like a Tralfamadorian, by the way. The visitor from outer space made a serious study of Christianity, to learn, if he could, why Christians found it so easy to be cruel. He concluded that at least part of the trouble was slipshod storytelling in the New Testament. He supposed that the intent of the Gospels was to teach people, among other things, to be merciful, even to the lowest of the low.
But the Gospels actually taught this:
Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure he isn’t well connected. So it goes.
The flaw in the Christ stories, said the visitor from outer space, was that Christ, who didn’t look like much, was actually the Son of the Most Powerful Being of the Universe. Readers understood that, so, when they came to the crucifixion, they naturally thought, and Rosewater read out loud again:
Oh, boy — they sure picked the wrong guy to lynch that time!
And then that thought had a brother: “There are right people to lynch.” Who? People not well connected.
So it goes.
The visitor from outer space made a gift to Earth of a new Gospel. In it, Jesus really was a nobody, and a pain in the neck to a lot of people with better connections than he had. He still got to say all the lovely and puzzling things he said in the other Gospels.
So the people amused themselves one day by nailing him to a cross and planting the cross in the ground. There couldn’t possibly be any repercussions, the lynchers thought. The reader would have to think that, too, since the new Gospel hammered home again and again what a nobody Jesus was. And then, just before the nobody died, the heavens opened up, and there was thunder and lightning. The voice of God came crashing down. He told the people that he was adopting the bum as his son, giving him the full powers and privileges of The Son of the Creator of the Universe throughout all eternity. God said this: From this moment on, He will punish horribly anybody who torments a bum who has no connections!
The Gutless Wonder (novel mentioned in Slaughterhouse-Five)
It was about a robot who had bad breath, who became popular after his halitosis was cured. But what made the story remarkable, since it was written in 1932, was that it predicted the widespread use of burning jellied gasoline on human beings. It was dropped on them from airplanes. Robots did the dropping. They had no conscience, and no circuits which would allow them to imagine what was happening to the people on the ground.
Trout’s leading robot looked like a human being, and could talk and dance and so on, and go out with girls. And nobody held it against him that he dropped jellied gasoline on people. But they found his halitosis unforgivable. And then he cleared that up, and he was welcomed to the human race.
Maniacs in the Fourth Dimension (novel mentioned in Slaughterhouse-Five)
It was about people whose mental diseases couldn’t be treated because the causes of the diseases were all in the fourth dimension, and three-dimensional Earthling doctors couldn’t see those causes at all or even imagine them. One thing Trout said that Rosewater liked very much was that there really were vampires and werewolves and goblins and angels and so on, but that they were in the fourth dimension. So was William Blake, Rosewater’s favorite poet, according to Trout. So were heaven and hell
Oh Say Can You Smell? (novel mentioned in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater)
“You know — “ said Eliot, “Kilgore Trout once wrote a whole book about a country that was devoted to fighting odors. That was the national purpose. There wasn’t any disease, and there wasn’t any crime, and there wasn’t any war, so they went after odors.”
“This country,” said Eliot, “had tremendous research projects devoted to fighting odors. They were supported by individual contributions given to mothers who marched on Sundays from door to door. The ideal of the research was to find a specific chemical deodorant for every odor. But then the hero, who was also the country’s dictator, made a wonderful scientific breakthrough, even though he wasn’t a scientist, and they didn’t need the projects any more. He went right to the root of the problem.”
“Uh huh,” said the Senator. He couldn’t stand stories by Kilgore Trout, was embarassed by his son. “He found one chemical that would eliminate all odors?”
“No. As I say, the hero was dictator, and he simply eliminated noses.”
The Pan-Galactic Three-Day Pass (novel mentioned in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater)
It was an exciting story, all about a man who was serving on a sort of Space-Age Lewis and Clark expedition. The hero’s name was Sergeant Raymond Boyle.
The expedition had reached what appeared to be the absolute and final rim of the universe. There didn’t seem to be anything beyond the solar system they were in, and they were setting up equipment to sense the faintest signals that might be coming from the slightest anything in all that black velvet nothing out there.
Sergeant Boyle was an Earthling. He was the only Earthling on the expedition. In fact, he was the only creature from the Milky Way. The other members were from all over the place. The expedition was a joint effort supported by about two hundred galaxies. Boyle wasn’t a technician. He was an English teacher. The thing was that Earth was the only place in the whole known universe where language was used. It was a unique Earthling invention. Everybody else used mental telepathy, so Earthlings could get pretty good jobs as language teachers just about anywhere they went.
The reason creatures wanted to use language instead of mental telepathy was that they found out they could get so much more done with language. Language made them so much more active. Mental telepathy, with everybody constantly telling everybody everything, produced a sort of generalized indifference to all information. But language, with its slow, narrow meanings, made it possible to think about one thing at a time — to start thinking in terms of projects.
Boyle was called out of his English class, was told to report at once to the commanding officer of the expedition. He couldn’t imagine what it was all about. He went into the C.O.’s office, saluted the old man. Actually the C.O. didn’t look anything like an old man. He was from the planet Tralfamadore, and was about as tall as an Earthling beer can. Actually, he didn’t look like a beercan, either. He looked like a little plumber’s friend.
He wasn’t alone. The chaplain of the expedition was there, too. The padre was from the planet Glinko-X-3. He was an enormous sort of Portuguese man-o’-war, in a tank of sulfuric acid on wheels. The chaplain looked grave. Something awful had happened. The chaplain told Boyle to be brave, and then the C.O. said there was very bad news from home. The C.O. said there had been a death back home, that Boyle was being given an emergency three-day pass, that he should get ready to leave right away.
“Is it — is it — Mom?” said Boyle, fighting back the tears. “Is it Pop? Is it Nancy?” Nancy was the girl next door. “Is it Gramps?” “Son — “ said the C.O., “brace yourself. I hate to tell you this: It isn’t who has died. It’s what has died.” “What’s died?” “What’s died, my boy, is the Milky Way.”
2BR02B (novel mentioned in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater)
Trout’s favorite formula was to describe a perfectly hideous society, not unlike his own, and then, toward the end, to suggest ways in which it could be improved. In 2BR0TB he hypothecated an America in which almost all of the work was done by machines, and the only people who could get work had three or more Ph.D’s. There was a serious overpopulation problem, too.
All serious diseases had been conquered. So death was voluntary, and the government, to encourage volunteers for death, set up a purple-roofed Ethical Suicide Parlor at every major intersection, right next door to an orange-roofed Howard Johnson’s. There were pretty hostesses in the parlor, and Barca-Loungers, and Muzak, and a choice of fourteen painless ways to die. The suicide parlors were busy places, because so many people felt silly and pointless, and because it was supposed to be an unselfish, patriotic thing to do, to die. The suicides also got free last meals next door.
And so on. Trout had a wonderful imagination.
One of the characters asked a death stewardess if he would go to Heaven, and she told him that of course he would. He asked if he would see God, and she said, “Certainly, honey.”
And he said, “I sure hope so. I want to ask Him something I never was able to find out down here.”
“What’s that?” she said, strapping him in.
“What the hell are people for?”
Venus on the Half-Shell (novel first mentioned in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater)
Queen Margaret of the planet Shaltoon let her gown fall to the floor. She was wearing nothing underneath. Her high, firm, uncowled bosom was proud and rosy. Her hips and thighs were like an inviting lyre of pure alabaster. They shone so whitely they might have had a light inside. “Your travels are over, Space Wanderer,” she whispered, her voice husky with lust. “Seek no more, for you have found. The answer is in my arms.”
“It’s a glorious answer, Queen Margaret, God knows,” the Space Wanderer replied. His palms were perspiring profusely. “I am going to accept it gratefully. But I have to tell you, if I’m going to be perfectly honest with you, that I will have to be on my way again tomorrow.”
“But you have found your answer, you have found your answer,” she cried, and she forced his head between her fragrant young breasts.
He said something she did not hear. She thrust him out at arm’s length. “What was that you said?” “I said, Queen Margaret, that what you offer is an awfully good answer. It just doesn’t happen to be the one I’m primarily looking for.”
Barring-gaffner of Bagnialto or This Year’s Masterpiece
##### mentioned in Breakfast of Champions#####
The name of the planet where Trout’s book took place was Bagnialto, and a “Barring-gaffner” there was a government official who spun a wheel of chance once a year. Citizens submitted works of art to the government, and these were given numbers, and then they were assigned cash values according to the Barring-gaffner’s spins of the wheel.
The viewpoint of character of the tale was not the Barring-gaffner, but a humble cobbler named Gooz. Gooz lived alone, and he painted a picture of his cat. It was the only picture he had ever painted. He took it to the Barring-gaffner, who numbered it and put it in a warehouse crammed with works of art.
The painting by Gooz had an unprecedented gush of luck on the wheel. It became worth eighteen thousand *lambos, the equivalent of one billion dollars on Earth. The Barring-gaffner awarded Gooz a check for that amoun, most of which was taken at once by the tax collector. The picture was given a place of honor in the National Gallery, and people lined up for miles for a chance to see a painting worth a billion dollars.
There was also a huge bonfire of all the paintings and statues and books and so on which the wheel had said were worthless. And then it was discovered that the wheel was rigged, and the Barring-gaffner committed suicide.
Untitled (Chicken Soup)
mentioned in Breakfast of Champions
Trout wrote a novel about an Earthling named Delmore Skag, a bachelor in the neighborhood where everybody else had enormous families. And Skag was a scientist, and he found a way to reproduce himself in chicken soup. He would shave living cells from the palm of his right hand, mix them with the soup, and expose the soup to cosmic rays. The cells turned into babies which looked exactly like Delmore Skag.
Pretty soon, Delmore was having several babies a day, and inviting his neighbors to share his pride and happiness. He had mass baptisms of as many as a hundred babies at a time. He became famous as a family man.
And so on.
Skag hoped to force his country into making laws against excessively large families, but the legislatures and the courts declined to meet the problem head-on. They passed stern laws instead against the possession by unmarried persons of chicken soup.
Plague on Wheels
mentioned in Breakfast of Champions
The words in the book, incidentally, were about life on a dying planet named Lingo-Three, whose inhabitants resembled American automobiles. They had wheels. They were powered by internal combustion engines. They ate fossil fuels. They weren’t manufactured, though. They reproduced. They laid eggs containing baby automobiles, and the babies matured in pools of oil drained from adult crankcases.
Lingo Three was visited by space travelers, who learned that the creatures were becoming extinct for this reason: they had destroyed their planet’s resources, including its atmosphere.
The space travelers weren’t able to offer much in the way of material assistance. The automobile creatures hoped to borrow some oxygen, and to have the visitors carry at least one of their eggs to another planet, where it might hatch, where the automobile civilization could begin again. But the smallest egg they had was a forty-eight pounder, and the space travellers themselves were only an inch high, and their space ship wasn’t even as big as an Earthling shoebox. They were from Zeltoldimar.
The spokesman for the Zeltoldimarians was Kago. Kago said that all he could do was to tell others in the Universe about how wonderful the automobile creatures had been. Here is what he said to all those rusting junkers who were out of gas: “You will be gone, but not forgotten.”
So Kago and his brave little Zeltoldimarian crew, which was all homosexual, roamed the Universe, keeping the memory of the automobile creatures alive. They came at last to the planet Earth. In all innocence, Kago told the Earthlings about the automobiles. Kago did not know that human beings could be as easily felled by a single idea as by cholera or the bubonic plague. There was no immunity to cuckoo ideas on Earth.
And here, according to Trout, was the reason human beings could not reject ideas because they were bad: “Ideas on Earth were badges of friendship or enmity. Their content didn’t matter. Friends agreed with friends, in order to express friendliness. Enemies disagreed with enemies, in order to express enmity.
“The ideas Earthlings held didn’t matter for hundreds of thousands of years, since they couldn’t do much about them anyway. Ideas might as well be badges as anything.
“They even had a saying about the futility of ideas: ‘If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.’
“And then Earthlings discovered tools. Suddenly agreeing with friends could be a form of suicide or worse. But agreements went on, not for the sake of common sense or decency or self-preservation, but for friendliness.
“Earthlings went on being friendly, when they should have been thinking instead. And when they built computers to do some thinking for them, they designed them not so much for wisdom as for friendliness. So they were doomed. Homicidal beggars could ride.”
Within a century of little Kago’s arrival on Earth, according to Trout’s novel, every form of life on that once peaceful and moist and nourishing blue-green ball was dying or dead. Everywhere were the shells of the great beetles which men had made and worshipped. They were automobiles. They had killed everything.
Little Kago himself died long before the planet did. He was attempting to lecture on the evils of the automobile in a bar in Detroit. But he was so tiny that nobody paid any attention to him. He lay down to rest for a moment, and a drunk automobile worker mistook him for a kitchen match. He killed Kago by trying to strike him repeatedly on the underside of the bar.
The Dancing Fool
mentioned in Breakfast of Champions
A flying saucer creature named Zog arrived on Earth to explain how wars could be prevented and how cancer could be cured. He brought the information from Margo, a planet where the natives conversed by means of farts and tap dancing.
Zog landed at night in Connectitut. He had no sooner touched down than he saw a house on fire. He rushed into the house, farting and tap dancing, warning the people about the terrible danger they were in. The head of the house brained Zog with a golf club.
Gilgongo! (short story mentioned in Breakfast of Champions)
“Gilgongo” was about a planet which was unpleasant because there was too much creation going on.
The story began with a big party in honor of a man who had wiped out an entire species of darling little panda bears. He had devoted his life to this. Special plates were made for the party, and the guests got to take them home as souvenirs. There was a picture of a little bear on each one, and the date of the party. Underneath the picture was the word:
In the language in the planet, that meant “Extinct!”
People were glad that the bears were gilgongo, because there were too many species on the planet already, and new ones were coming into being almost every hour. There was no way anybody could prepare for the bewildering diversity of creatures and plants he was likely to encounter.
The people were doing their best to cut down on the number of species, so that life could be more predictable. But Nature was too creative for them. All life on the planet was suffocated at last by a living blanket one hundred feet thick. The blanket was composed of passenger pigeons and eagles and Bermuda Erns and whooping cranes
Untitled — (But it Sounds Good!)
mentioned in Breakfast of Champions
It was about a planet where the language kept turning into pure music, because the creatures there were so enchanted by sounds. Words became musical notes. Sentences became melodies. They were useless as conveyors of information, because nobody knew or cared what the meanings of words were anymore. So leaders in government and commerce, in order to function, had to invent new and much uglier vocabularies and sentence structures all the time, which would resist being transmuted to music.
Untitled — (Dirty Movies)
mentioned in Breakfast of Champions
It was about an Earthling astronaut who arrived on a planet where all the animal and plant life had been killed by pollution, except for humanoids. The humanoids ate food made from petroleum and coal.
They gave a feast for the astronaut, whose name was Don. The food was terrible. The big topic of conversation was censorship. The cities were blighted with motion picture theaters which showed nothing but dirty movies. The humanoids wished they could put them out of business somehow, but without interfering with free speech.
They asked Don if dirty movies were a problem on Earth, too, and Don said, “Yes.” They asked him if the movies were really dirty, and Don replied, “As dirty as movies could get.”
This was a challenge to the humanoids, who were sure their dirty movies could beat anything on Earth. So everybody piled into air-cushion vehicles, and they floated to a dirty movie house downtown.
It was intermission time when they got there, so Don had some time to think about what could possibly be dirtier than what he had already seen on Earth. He became sexually excited even before the house lights went down. The women in his party were all twittery and squirmy.
So the theater went dark and the curtains opened. At first there wasn’t any picture. There were slurps and moans from loudspeakers. Then the picture itself appeared. It was a high quality film of a male humanoid eating what looked like a pear. The camera zoomed in on his lips and tongue and teeth, which glistened with saliva. He took his time about eating the pear. When the last of it had disappeared into his slurpy mouth, the camera focused on his Adam’s apple. His Adam’s apple bobbed obscenely. He belched contentedly, and then these words appeared on the screen, but in the language of the Planet:
It was all faked, of course. There weren’t any pears anymore. And the eating of a pear wasn’t the main event of the evening anyway. It was a short subject, which gave the members of the audience time to settle down.
Then the main feature began. It was about a male and a female and their two children, and their dog and their cat. They ate steadily for an hour and a half — soup, meat, biscuits, butter, vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy, fruit, candy, cake, pie. The camera rarely strayed more than a foot from their glistening lips and their bobbing Adam’s apples. And then the father put the cat and the dog on the table, so they could take part in the orgy, too.
After a while, the actors couldn’t eat any more. They were so stuffed that they were goggle-eyed. They could hardly move. They said they didn’t think they could eat again for a week, and so on. They cleared the table slowly. They went waddling out into the kitchen, and they dumped about thirty pounds of leftovers into a garbage can. The audience went wild.
When Don and his friends left the theater, they were accosted by humanoid whores, who offered them eggs and oranges and milk and butter and peanuts and so on. The whores couldn’t actually deliver these goodies, of course.
The humanoids told Don that if he went home with a whore, she would cook him a meal of petroleum and coal products at fancy prices.
And then, while he ate them, she would talk dirty about how fresh and full of natural juices the food was, even though the food was fake.
This Means You
mentioned in Breakfast of Champions
…It was set in the Hawaiian Islands, the place where the lucky winners of Dwayne Hoover’s contest in Midland City were supposed to go. Every bit of land on the islands was owned by only about forty people, and, in the story, Trout had those people decide to excercise their property rights to the full. They put up no trespassing signs on everything.
This created terrible problems for the million other people on the islands. The law of gravity required that they stick somewhere on the surface. Either that, or they could go out into the water and bob offshore.
But the Federal Government came through with an emergency program. It gave a big balloon full of helium to every man, woman and child who didn’t own property.
There was a cable with a harness on it dangling from each balloon. With the help of the balloons, Hawaiians could go on inhabiting the islands without always sticking to things other people owned.
Hail to the Chief
mentioned in Breakfast of Champions
Trout couldn’t tell one politician from another one. They were all formlessly enthusiastic chimpanzees to him. He wrote a story one time about an optimistic chimpanzee who became President of the United States. He called it “Hail to the Chief.”
The chimpanzee wore little blue blazer with brass buttons, and with the seal of the President of the United States sewed to the breast pocket.
Everywhere he went, bands would play “Hail to the Chief.” The chimpanzee loved it. He would bounce up and down.
Untitled (Jesus And the Time Machine) (from Slaughterhouse Five)
Another Kilgore Trout book there in the window was about a man who built a time machine so he could go back and see Jesus. It worked, and he saw Jesus when Jesus was only twelve years old. Jesus was learning the carpentry trade from his father.
Two Roman soldiers came into the shop with a mechanical drawing on papyrus of a device they wanted built by sunrise the next morning. It was a cross to be used in the execution of a rabble-rouser.
Jesus and his father built it. They were glad to have the work. And the rabble-rouser was executed on it.
So it goes.
The time-traveller in the book went back to Bible times to find out one thing in particular: Whether or not Jesus had really died on the cross, or whether he had been taken down while still alive, whether he had really gone on living. The hero had a stethoscope along.
Billy skipped to the end of the book, where the hero mingled with the people who were taking Jesus down from the cross. The time-traveller was the first one up the ladder, dressed in clothes of the period, and he leaned close to Jesus so people couldn’t see him use the stethoscope, and he listened.
There wasn’t a sound inside the emaciated chest cavity. The Son of God was dead as a doornail.
So it goes.
Untitled 4 — (Sports Robots) (novel mentioned in Galápagos)
… I just want to add that my father, who was a science-fiction writer, once wrote a novel about a man whom everybody laughed at because he was building sports robots. He created a golf robot who could make a hole in one every time, and a tennis robot who served an ace every time, and so on.
At first, people couldn’t see any use for robots like that, and the inventor’s wife walked out on him, the way Father’s wife, incidentally, had walked out on him — and his children tried to put him into a nuthouse. But then he let advertisers know that his robots would also endorse automobiles or beer or razors or wristwatches or perfume or whatever. He made a fortune, according to my father, because so many sports enthusiasts wanted to be exactly like those robots. Don’t ask me why.
“She was a dull person, but a sensational invitation to make babies.”
Ima takvih! Primjerice, Hilllary i Melania.
PS Spomenuh dugoočekivani povratak Klaonice 5… ne znam kakav je to običaj knjige vraćati uslugama Hrvatske pošte, ali bilo kako je dobro – bolje i poštom nego po Zubi iz James Bonda! Strip verziju Ginsbergovog Howla, kao i zbirku strip novela It’s dark in London sam pijan pogubio negdje pri križanju Tomislavove i Bosanske! BTW, Howl je majstorski ilustrirao Eric Drooker!!
Već sam se uplašio da je Klaonica 5 izgubljena za vijeke vijekova i to bi bio drugi put da gubim istu knjigu – prva je bila poklon bivše djevojke Marijane, a druga, ne znam kod koga je, poklon prijateljice Jasenke. Kod ovog emotivnog nabrajanja spomenimo i Galapagos, dar sa posvetom Ane Jerkan, te posebno Howl u izdanju City Lightsa – opet ljubavni dar, ovoga puta od Helene. Ili je to bila Eva? Obje su bile sexy!!!