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Encyclopedia > Cat's Cradle

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Cat's Cradle

Cat's Cradle is a 1963 science fiction novel by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

The plot concerns the search for a substance called ice-nine, an (imaginary) alternative structure for water which is solid at room temperature. The book follows the history of the creation and eventual "release" of ice-nine in a bombing, leading to the decimation of life on Earth as all water turns to ice-nine.

The book also describes an imaginary religion, Bokononism, together with several concepts that are central to it. Amongst these are:

  • karass - a group of people who, unknown to them, are doing God's will.
  • granfalloon - a false karass, i.e. a group of people who think they are doing God's will but are not.
  • wampeter - the central point of a karass.

Perhaps tired of what other religions have to offer, a number of people have professed themselves to be Bokononists.

The title of the book derives from the string game[?] "cat's cradle[?]".

Note: Vonnegut's fictional ice-nine is not to be confused with the real substance Ice-IX (also pronounced "ice-nine"), which does not have the properties of Vonnegut's fictional ice-nine. See the article on ice for more details.

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