"If I were a younger man, I would write a history of human stupidity," is probably the best single sentence that describes Vonnegut's feeling about the invention of the atomic bomb. This is a humorous pseudo-biography about one of the inventors of the bomb that takes us to the shores of a small little island in the caribbean where the children of one of the fathers of the atomic bomb reveal a military secret.
The secret is another invention called Ice-nine, a chemical that when dropped in any amount of water will freeze all liquid that it touches. Ice-nine is just a metaphor for the atomic bomb with the intention of showing mankind what happens when you flirt with disaster. At the end of the story the chemical is accidently dropped in the ocean, causing all the oceans in the world to freeze instantly.
This report prepared by Joseph DeMarco
The main character is a writer who has decided to write a book about Dr. Hoennekir, father of the atomic bomb. In his research, he inadvertantly gets his life entangled with those of Dr. Hoennekir's three children. His main research visits are to the science center where Dr. Hoennekir worked and to the island of San Marino. In his research, he basically reveals that Dr. Hoennekir was like a child who would do research because it interested him, and who could get easily distracted and would then forget completely about anything else and do reserach on that thing. He couldn't really think beyond that, in terms of any social life, or on potential implications of his research.
Two things that end up playing a big role in the book are Ice-9 and Bokonism. Ice-9 is the science fiction element... a device capable of ending life on Earth if ever used. It is basically an extreme (parody) version of nuclear bombs, in that it is absolutely useless, and Vonnegut is showing through hyperbole how ridiculous it is to create a weapon that creates mutual assured destruction. He also criticizes scientists who refuse to think of the implications of research and only go after truth, no matter what it could lead to.
Bokonism, another aspect which plays a big role in the book, is a religion created by San Marino resident Bokonon, however, it is very different from most religions.
This report prepared by Isaac Brown