Cat’s Cradle — Kurt Vonnegut — Contents
Be that as it may, I intend in this book to include as many members of my karass as possible, and I mean to examine all strong hints as to what on Earth we, collectively, have been up to.
I do not intend that this book be a tract on behalf of Bokononism. I should like to offer a Bokononist warning about it, however. The first sentence in The Books of Bokonon is this:
“All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies.”
My Bokononist warning is this:
Anyone unable to understand how a useful religion can be founded on lies will not understand this book either.
So be it.
About my karass, then.
It surely includes the three children of Dr. Felix Hoenikker, one of the so-called “Fathers” of the first atomic bomb. Dr. Hoenikker himself was no doubt a member of my karass, though he was dead before my sinookas, the tendrils of my life, began to tangle with those of his children.
The first of his heirs to be touched by my sinookas was Newton Hoenikker, the youngest of his three children, the younger of his two sons. I learned from the publication of my fraternity, The Delta Upsilon Quarterly, that Newton Hoenikker, son of the Nobel Prize physicist, Felix Hoenikker, had been pledged by my chapter, the Cornell Chapter.
So I wrote this letter to Newt:
“Dear Mr. Hoenikker:
“Or should I say, Dear Brother Hoenikker?
“I am a Cornell DU now making my living as a freelance writer. I am gathering material for a book relating to the first atomic bomb. Its contents will be limited to events that took place on August 6, 1945, the day the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
“Since your late father is generally recognized as having been one of the chief creators of the bomb, I would very much appreciate any anecdotes you might care to give me of life in your father’s house on the day the bomb was dropped.
“I am sorry to say that I don’t know as much about your illustrious family as I should, and so don’t know whether you have brothers and sisters. If you do have brothers and sisters, I should like very much to have their addresses so that I can send similar requests to them.
“I realize that you were very young when the bomb was dropped, which is all to the good. My book is going to emphasize the human rather than the technical side of the bomb, so recollections of the day through the eyes of a ‘baby,’ if you’ll pardon the expression, would fit in perfectly.
“You don’t have to worry about style and form. Leave all that to me. Just give me the bare bones of your story.
“I will, of course, submit the final version to you for your approval prior to publication.