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The King of Diamonds this week brought me to Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Thanasphere” from his collection Bagombo Snuff Box. It’s one of the type of stories that has gotten Vonnegut the reputation of being a science-fiction writer, even though he has written some brilliant stories that would not fall under this category.
I wish I could say that I liked “Thanasphere” better than I did. Perhaps it was the fact that the story involves the first man to orbit the earth and the story was written before anyone had really orbited the earth. I had a “been there, done that” feeling while reading it. Although, if I was interested in conspiracy theories (which I’m not), the story might make me wonder what I don’t know about space travel. What secrets are out there and who really knows about them?
I enjoyed the conversations between the three major players: Major Rice, the astronaut in space; Dr. Groszinger, the scientist involved in the mission; and General Dane, the military man in charge. Both science and the military have to deal with some unsettling discoveries from Major Rice. Discoveries in the form of “voices” – but maybe not voices one would expect to hear in space. I think I’ll just leave it at that. Feel free to read the story to find out more.