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How Kurt Vonnegut's Famous Older Brother Inspired Him To Write Science Fiction

Illustration for article titled How Kurt Vonneguts Famous Older Brother Inspired Him To Write Science Fiction

When Kurt Vonnegut was working as a PR flak at General Electric, his older brother Bernard was a famous scientist. And Kurt was there when Bernard demonstrated his incredible new invention: a way to seed clouds with dry ice and silver iodide and make it rain. Could this be used as a weapon?

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At the time, Bernard Vonnegut really believed that we had the means to control the weather and reshape the climate. And the U.S. military was very interested in using this to attack enemy forces by redirecting hurricanes and other natural disasters towards them. It wasn’t until later that we discovered cloud-seeding was much less powerful than Bernard had believed

But this dramatic demonstration had a powerful effect on Kurt Vonnegut, as author Ginger Strand explains to the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. Vonnegut believed he was seeing a science-fictional scenario coming to life—weather manipulation, along with weather-based weapons! Strand has written a new book about this time in the author’s life, called The Brothers Vonnegut: Science and Fiction in the House of Magic.

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[via SFSignal]

Charlie Jane Anders is the author of All The Birds in the Sky, coming Jan 26 from Tor Books. Follow her on Twitter, and email her.

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DISCUSSION

dc12man
Darmok eats Challah at 12Nagra

What? Bernard Vonnegut invented cloud seeding, like in that Quantum Leap episode?