One of the great literary science fiction writers of all time has passed on: Kurt Vonnegut has died at the age of 84. I am hardly qualified to say much on the matter, especially when so many more eloquent, informed, and important folk have laid out such fine words on the subject, and the man:
"Moving away from me for a moment: Kurt Vonnegut is dead from brain injuries from a fall. This is why, when I turn 70, I'm moving to a single level house. I don't have too much to say about his passing, other than that the man was brilliant and despite that, I enjoyed many of his books. Funny how being brilliant doesn't always equate to creating books that are good reads. This wasn't much of a problem for Vonnegut. Something for other brilliant authors to note and learn, hopefully."
— John Scalzi
"I have writer's disease with Vonnegut: Was always afraid that if I read too much of him, I'd end up sounding like him. Like Thompson, his deceptively relaxed, rhythmic colloquial style is too appealing to me. Lots of news stories are using a quote from 'God Bless You, Mr Rosewater,' and its bitter music is completely seductive."
— Warren Ellis (quoted from his Bad Signal newsletter)
"My first Vonnegut was Breakfast of Champions. I'd never read anything like it. It was a novel that was so easy, everything just happening, one thing after another. The book almost read itself. That was his gift, I think: to tell you things that were hard to hear, without you even noticing it. Like a nurse who can slide a needle into your vein without making you wince.
"Vonnegut has haunted me, delighted me, and made me sad. I still think of the world in terms of Wampeters, Foma, and Karasses, the Boknonism ideas set out in Cat's Cradle. I still think that 'Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time,' may be the best opening line of any novel — and that the novel, Slaughterhouse 5 lives up to that line."
— Cory Doctorow
"Vonnegut’s lessons are the lessons that I think all teenagers should be required to absorb. They’re the lessons that saved me from completely withdrawing into my shell or going Columbine on my classmates."
— David Louis Edelman
"Damn, I wish Kurt was around and writing. He'd be sure to have something to say about all this."
— Charles Stross
Meanwhile, SFSignal has compiled from Youtube a video documentary on the life and work of Vonnegut.
And for those of us vain enough to try an emulate his genius, TV writer Jane Espenson has reprinted Vonnegut's 8 rules for writing fiction.
Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can also follow him on his personal blog.