1.Player Piano

Player Piano is set in the near future after a third world war. While most Americans were fighting overseas, the nation's managers and engineers faced a depleted work force and responded by developing ingenious automated systems that allowed the factories to operate with only a few workers. The novel begins ten years after the war, when most factory workers have been replaced by machines. The bifurcation of the population is represented by the division of Ilium into "The Homestead", where every person who is neither a manager nor an engineer lives, and the other side of the river, where all the engineers and managers live.

 

2.Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death

Billy Pilgrim, a chaplain's assistant in the United States Army during World War II, is an ill-trained, disoriented, and fatalistic American soldier who refuses to fight ("Billy wouldn't do anything to save himself").[2] He does not like war and is captured in 1944 by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. Billy approaches death due to a string of events. Before the Germans capture Billy, he meets Roland Weary, a patriot, warmonger, and bully just out of childhood like Billy, who derides the soldier's cowardice. When Weary is captured, the Germans confiscate everything he has, including his boots, giving him hinged, wooden clogs to wear; Weary eventually dies in Luxembourg of gangrene caused by wounds from the stiff clogs. While dying in a railcar full of prisoners, Weary convinces fellow soldier, Paul Lazzaro, that Billy is to blame for his death. Lazzaro vows to avenge Weary's death by killing Billy, because revenge is "the sweetest thing in life."

 

3.Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday

Kilgore Trout is a widely published, but otherwise unsung and virtually invisible writer who is invited to deliver a keynote address at a local arts festival in distant Midland City. Dwayne Hoover is a wealthy businessman who owns much of Midland City, but has become increasingly unstable mentally. The novel is achronological and frequently shifts focus between Hoover and Trout, as well as supporting characters like Hoover's son, Bunny, and Wayne Hoobler, and Kurt Vonnegut himself, who appears as the author of the book. "The novel's structure is a simple one, yet it employs simultaneously evolving plots from different times and spaces."[1] Early on, Vonnegut as narrator/creator says he's going to purge himself of mental clutter, and, throughout the novel, can be found examining and refuting disparate concepts, from the 'discovery' of the new world in 1492 to euphemisms for genitalia.

 

4.The Sirens of Titan

Malachi Constant is the richest man in a future America. He possesses extraordinary luck that he attributes to divine favor which he has used to build upon his father's fortune. He becomes the centerpoint of a journey that takes him from Earth to Mars in preparation for an interplanetary war, to Mercury with another Martian survivor of that war, back to Earth to be pilloried as a sign of Man's displeasure with his arrogance, and finally to Titan where he again meets the man ostensibly responsible for the turn of events that have befallen him, Winston Niles Rumfoord.

 

5.Cat's Cradle

At the opening of the book, the narrator, an everyman named John (but calling himself Jonah), describes a time when he was planning to write a book about what important Americans did on the day Hiroshima was bombed. While researching this topic, John becomes involved with the children of Felix Hoenikker, a Nobel laureate physicist who helped develop the atomic bomb. John travels to Ilium, New York, to interview the Hoenikker children and others for his book. In Ilium John meets, among others, Dr. Asa Breed, who was the supervisor "on paper" of Felix Hoenikker. As the novel progresses, John learns of a substance called ice-nine, created by the late Hoenikker and now secretly in the possession of his children. Ice-nine is an alternative structure of water that is solid at room temperature. When a crystal of ice-nine contacts liquid water, it becomes a seed crystal that makes the molecules of liquid water arrange themselves into the solid form, ice-nine. Felix Hoenikker's reason to create this substance was to aid in the military's plight of wading through mud and swamp areas while fighting. That is, if ice-nine could reduce the wetness of the areas to a solid form, soldiers could easily maneuver across without becoming entrapped or slowed.

 

6.Mother Night

As the Nazi Party consolidates its power over 1930s Germany, Campbell decides to remain in the country despite his parents' decision to leave. Campbell continues to write plays, his only social contacts being members of the Nazi Party. Being of sufficiently Aryan parentage, Campbell becomes a member of the party in name only. He is politically apathetic, caring only for his art and his wife Helga, who is also the starring actress in all of his plays.

 

7.Slapstick, or Lonesome No More!

The novel is in the form of an autobiography of Dr. Wilbur Daffodil-11 Swain. Dr. Swain tells us that he lives in the ruins of the Empire State Building with his pregnant granddaughter, Melody Oriole-2 von Peterswald, and her lover, Isadore Raspberry-19 Cohen. Dr. Swain is a hideous man whose ugliness, along with that of his twin sister Eliza, led their parents to cut them off from modern society. The siblings came to realize that, when in close physical contact, they form a vastly powerful and creative intelligence. Through reading and philosophizing together, Wilbur and Eliza combated the feelings of loneliness and isolation that would otherwise have ruined their childhood.

 

8.Jailbird

The novel is in the form of an autobiography of Dr. Wilbur Daffodil-11 Swain. Dr. Swain tells us that he lives in the ruins of the Empire State Building with his pregnant granddaughter, Melody Oriole-2 von Peterswald, and her lover, Isadore Raspberry-19 Cohen. Dr. Swain is a hideous man whose ugliness, along with that of his twin sister Eliza, led their parents to cut them off from modern society. The siblings came to realize that, when in close physical contact, they form a vastly powerful and creative intelligence. Through reading and philosophizing together, Wilbur and Eliza combated the feelings of loneliness and isolation that would otherwise have ruined their childhood.

Throughout the book, Wilbur claims that his sister Eliza is the more intelligent of the two, but that no one realizes it because she can't read or write. Wilbur and Eliza are like two halves of a brain, with Wilbur the left brain—logical, rational, able to communicate—and Eliza the right brain: creative, emotional, but unable to communicate effectively.

 

9.Deadeye Dick

The novel's main character, Rudy Waltz, nicknamed Deadeye Dick, commits accidental manslaughter as a child (he kills a pregnant woman who was vacuuming) and lives his whole life feeling guilty and seeking forgiveness for it. He was so traumatized by the events directly after the woman's death that he lives life as an asexual "neuter," neither homosexual nor heterosexual. He tells the story of his life as a middle-aged man expatriate in Haiti, which symbolizes New York City, until the end, when the stream of time of the story catches up with him. At this point, he confronts an event that has been suggested and referred to throughout the novel. The generic Midwestern town of Midland City, Ohio (also the setting of Breakfast of Champions) in which Rudy was raised is virtually destroyed by a neutron bomb. At the ending of the book, it appears that Rudy, while he may not have fully come to terms with his actions, has at least come to live with them. In addition, the ending is where Vonnegut provides his most direct commentary on society, although there are hints here and there throughout the novel.

 

10.Hocus Pocus

Eugene Debs is fired from his job as a college professor after having several of his witticisms surreptitiously recorded by the daughter of a popular conservative commentator. Eugene then becomes a teacher at a nearby overcrowded prison run by a Japanese corporation and comes to know members of each community while reflecting on his own history and ensuring his own survival.