kurt vonnegut - cat's cradle
Reissued following the author's death, Cat's Cradle uses ice-9, a crystalline version of water that freezes at room temperature and turns all surrounding water into the same crystalline form, as a metaphor for nuclear fusion; particularly in its weapons form.
Ice 9 has no useful purpose, but the distinctly odd inventor (an unknown to his children, especially in the emotional sense) couldn't resist letting his children learn of its invention, and they can't resist each keeping a bit when he dies.
The satire is grim, yet understated (mainly through dialogue) and creates a fine blend of humour and misery.
Would reading Vonnegut change anyone's life-threatening consumer habits? Possibly.
Could it make them more conscious? Definitely.
A truly bizarre religion (what a novelty!), Bokononism, is unique in that Bokonon himself declares it's all lies. Surprisingly, or maybe not, it turns out to be popular, especially when the dictator of the Island world of the novel and Bokonon conspire to make it illegal on pain of pain (and death), thus ensuring all conflict is comfortingly projected onto the invented opposition between the dictator and the prophet Bokonon.
My favourite Bokonon quote:
History! Read it and weep!
Novel ideas in bokononism:
foma - harmless untruths
stuppa - a fogbound child
karass - a group of people bound together (unconsciously, as a rule) to perform some part of god's plan; their destiny.
wampeter - the hub around which a karass revolves; E.g. a place, an idea, institution, holy grail. (karass is not to be confused with 'granfallooner', much beloved of the New Age Lobotomists).
The novel features caricatures rather than characters, and I like that in a book that is more about ideas and meaning than the lives of individuals.
In a mass produced 'society' whose media actively clones caricatures by the million - why not?
Highly recommended reading ...