In the far future, humanity has evolved to the point that the "spirit" can transcend the body. But there’s a cultural backlash from those who want to return to the body—and believe the spirit should stay there. A surprisingly lyrical sci-fi short story from one of the genre’s masters.
Vonnegut sold two stories to Horace Gold, the editor of GALAXY magazine, early in his and the magazine’s career; this characteristic absurd employment of common themes was the first of them, published in the April 1953 GALAXY. Vonnegut’s absolute familiarity with science fiction tropes and his mocking contempt for them are well displayed in a story which shifts between tragic cartoon and straightforward projection. His highly evolved humans in an indeterminate future have become body-transcending spirits and Vonnegut handles this vaporous situation with deadpan comedy suspended over unspeakable loss, a characteristic technique. In its fluidity--the story is parody masked as extrapolation; no, it is a horror story in the form of a parody. This kind of cross-category narrative attack was often used by Vonnegut and makes him difficult to label; he is too serious to be funny, too absurd (as in jailbreak or as in the concept of Billy Pilgrim’s alien Tralmalfadorians) to be taken as realism. Vonnegut when he wrote this story at 30 was still trying to find his voice, identify his material; as a laboratory of his enveloping subject matter and technique UNREADY TO WEAR is particularly interesting and disturbing, demonstrating that Vonnegut could have gone in any number of directions and perhaps by deliberately failing to make a decision, found his voice through indeterminacy. It is as a poet of indeterminacy then that Vonnegut went on to write his most famous novel, SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE.
Kurt Vonnegut is a unique voice in the American canon-a writer whose works are hard to categorize, often straddling the space between literature and science fiction, and filled with cutting satire and dark humor. Like Mark Twain before him, Vonnegut's reputation and impact on American writing and reading will continue to grow steadily and increase in relevance as new insights are made.Vonnegut was born in 1922 in Indianapolis, and studied at the University of Chicago and the University of Tennessee. In the Second World War, he became a German prisoner of war and was present during the bombing of Dresden. This experience provided inspiration for his most successful and influential novel, Slaughterhouse-Five. Vonnegut-admired as much for his views and his "Vonnegutisms" as for his publications-wrote extensively in many forms, including novels, short stories, essays, plays, articles, speeches, and correspondence, some of which was published posthumously.
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