Science for Artists

Inspiration and Truth

The Sisters B-36

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Drawing by Katarina Countiss

Excerpt from Timequake By Vonnegut, Kurt (Book – 1997) pages 17-18. Note: Kilgore Trout is a well-fleshed out alter-ego of the author as a scapegoat for campy ideas. Do not be fooled. And I shortened some parts in this story to eliminate tangents that would require more explanation.

All I do with short story ideas now is rough them out, credit them to Kilgore Trout, and put them in a novel. Here’s the start of another one hacked from the carcass of Timequake One, and entitled “The Sisters B-36”: “On the matriarchal planet Booboo in the Crab Nebula, there were three sisters whose last name was B-36. It could be only a coincidence that their family name was also that of an Earthling airplane designed to drop bombs on civilian populations with corrupt leaderships. Earth and Booboo were too far apart to ever communicate.”…

…”All three of the sisters were beautiful, so went Trout’s tale, but only two of them were popular, on a picture painter and the other a short story writer. Nobody could stand the third one, who was a scientist. She was so boring! All she could talk about was thermodynamics. She was envious. Her secret ambition was to make her two artistic sisters feel, to use a favorite expression of Trout’s, “like something the cat drug in.”

Trout said Booboolings were among the most adaptable creatures in the local family of galaxies. This was thanks to their great big brains, which could be programmed to do or not to do, and feel or not feel, just about anything. You name it!… Thus were the brains of most, but not quite all, Booboolings made to crow circuits, microchips, if you like, which on Earth would be called imaginations. Yes, and it was precisely because a vast majority of Booboolings had imaginations that two of the B-36 sisters, the short story writer and the painter, were so beloved.

The bad sister had an imagination, all right, but not in the field of art appreciation. She wouldn’t read books or go to art galleries. She spent every spare minute when she was little in the garden of a lunatic asylum next door. The psychos in the garden were believed to be harmless, so her keeping them company was regarded as a laudably compassionate activity. But the nuts taught her thermodynamics and calculus and so on.

When the bad sister was a young woman, she and the nuts worked up designs for television cameras and transmitters and receivers. Then she got money from her very rich mom to manufacture and market these satanic devices, which made imaginations redundant. They were instantly popular because the shows were so attractive and no thinking was involved.

She made a lot of money, but what really pleased her was that her two sisters were starting to feel like something the cat drug in. Young Booboolings didn’t see any point in developing imaginations anymore sine all they had to do was turn a switch and see all kinds of jazzy shit. They would look at a printed page or a painting and wonder how anybody could have gotten his or her rocks off looking at things that simple and dead.


Author: KC

I am Katarina Countiss, a multimedia designer. I like blogs, games, art and technology. I am curious about how things are made.

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