Cat's Cradle Author:Kurt Vonnegut At the opening of the book, the narrator, an everyman named John, 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 fictional Nobel laureate physicist who helped develop the atomic bo... more »mb. 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 is brought into contact with liquid water, it becomes a seed that 'teaches' the molecules of liquid water to arrange themselves into the solid form, ice-nine.
Felix Hoenikker, although dead, is in some ways the central character of the book. It is the narrators's quest for biographical details about Hoenikker that provides both the background and the connecting thread between the various subsections of the story. Hoenniker himself is depicted as amoral and apathetic towards anything other than his research, a genius who does not care how his research is used, as in his role of "Father of the Atomic Bomb", and in his creation of "ice-nine", something he saw as a mental puzzle (suggested by a Pentagon general) which ends up destroying life on Earth.« less