🇺🇸 Learn English the Hard Way with “The Sirens of Titan”

Chances are you are looking for improving your English language comprehension through reading books.

I know the drill. Take me right to the sentences.

Feel like upping your game and start catching the slightest subtleties of English?

Look no further.

However, there is a catch.


Who is this article intended for?

For English language learners, as they, all too often, tend to skip a lot of subtleties while reading books / reading stories / reading comics / watching movies /watching game movies, thus slowing down and negating their language progress. I

The catch has to do with the “THE HARD WAY” of learning English, right?

I can’t promise improving your English through this article will be easy, but I promise it will be worth it, provided you work through ALL THE SENTENCES down below. And by the way, to make it even more challenging for you, no answers are given and you are to find them on your own. There’s a reason this article is called “Learn English the Hard Way”, don’t you think?

Still no clue what I’m supposed to do…

If you’re still not really sure what’s going on here, I highly recommend you read the description of “Learn English the Hard Way” challenge.

russia-flag Для чего эта статья и что нужно здесь делать?

По своему опыту могу сказать, что когда в освоении английского приходишь на всё готовенькое, то интеллектуально расслабляешься и не особо вникаешь в детали и тонкости языка.

А вот когда, мы “пропускаем язык через себя”…

  1. внимательное чтение книг, просмотр фильмов, т.д… не знаем, что то или то означает, почему так написано, вообще не догоняем, что происходит, значит отмечаем находку
  2. анализ “любопытных” предложений, конструкций, выражений (грамматика и прагматика наши лучшие друзья)
  3. прогонка проработанного материала через правое полушарие
  4. задействование “освоенных” предложений, конструкций, выражений на письме, в устной речи (идеально, с носителями языка)
    …то результаты будут совершенно иными, нежели чем “со всем готовеньким”.

А именно, выработка силы воли, языковой интуиции, внимательности, любопытства и реальное улучшение навыка английского языка.

Ниже представлены предложения, которые заинтриговали меня при прочтении книги / прочтении рассказа / прочтении комикса / просмотре фильма / просмотре игрофильма. То есть, я сделал первый пункт из четырех выше и поделился результатами с Вами. За Вами остаются остальные три.


If you feel like up to the challenge, then below is my list of the cherry-picked sentences with curious grammar and vocabulary findings from the book “The Sirens of Titan”.

Study hard!

“They tell me you are possibly the luckiest man who ever lived.”

That might be putting it a little too strong,” said Constant.

“An architectural accident—” said Rumfoord, closing the door and looking up at the ceiling.

Pardon me?” said Constant

I guess somebody up there likes me

Gimcrack religions were big business.

Mankind, ignorant of the truths that lie within every human being, looked outward—pushed ever outward

What were people like in olden times, with their souls as yet unexplored?

and the crowd was emphatically not invited to feast its eyes.

The crowd galloped away to see the miracle at the intersection

The most learned and trustworthy men in the world had begged heartbrokenly for the privilege of seeing a materialization

No matter how the great men worded their requests, they were turned down cold

Now the crowd had been decoyed away from the estate to permit the untroubled arrival of a rented limousine at the small iron door

the richest American-and a notorious rakehell.

The moral: Money, position, health, handsomeness, and talent aren’t everything.

He passed the dog’s skeleton briskly, looking at his solar-powered watch as he did so.

and she in turn was insisting that Malachi Constant behave, as best he could, like the gentleman he was not.

He had never, so far as he knew, been outside the gaseous envelope of his native planet, the Earth. Apparently he was about to learn otherwise.

Constant was following a damp green path the width of a lawn mower

He held up his watch to sunlight, letting it drink in the wherewithal that was to solar watches what money was to Earth men.

thinking how delighted Mrs. Rumfoord would be were the vulgar, parvenu Mr. Constant of Hollywood to spend his entire visit treed on the fountain by a thoroughbred dog

the fact that the quondam master of the house

watching the teenyweeny bowl at the tippy-tippy top

and hallucinations, usually drug-induced, were almost all that could surprise and entertain Constant any more

Winston Niles Rumfoord’s smile and handshake dismantled Constant’s high opinion of himself as efficiently as carnival roustabouts might dismantle a Ferris wheel.

Constant ransacked his memory for past proofs of his own greatness

It was one of the few things in life I ever really wanted with all my heart when I was a boy—this little room

I’m sorry my wife was too indisposed to come downstairs—to meet you,

clearly defined for anyone with an eye for definitions

If Rumfoord accused the Martians of breeding people as though people were no better than farm animals

Healthy, charming, wise children were the desiderata

but pure of any drives that smack of the misfit or screwball.

In short, on the basis of horse sense and the best scientific information, there was nothing good to be said for the exploration of space.

The time was long past when one nation could seem more glorious than another by hurling some heavy object into nothingness

What makes you think you’re going anywhere?”

and will keep on running at that speed for all eternity, if God wills it

is that valve closed, is that wire tight, is that tank full?—and on and on and on to eleven thousand things to check.

“Sorry,” said Rumfoord, “I know nothing about any message.” He cocked his head quizzically

Blast was a weak, prissy, Eagle-Scoutish word for Constant to use

You think I’m love-starved

show Rumfoord what a celestial lulu he had given the gate to

Their beauty was to the beauty of Miss Canal Zone as the glory of the Sun was to the glory of a lightning bug

It’s the great becoming that makes the light and the heat and the motion, and bangs you from hither to yon

I could hob-nob with the great and near-great, and perform before the crowned heads of Europe

You’ll pardon me,” said Beatrice, “if I fail to appreciate sarcasm and all the other brilliant nuances of your no doubt famous wit …”

The insane, on occasion, are not without their charms

“I think they’d be delighted if someone would buy it back at five cents on the dollar.”

Since it was foreordained that he and Beatrice were to come together again

to send her so much as a get-well card.

would have to damn well come to him—like any other bimbo.

The cries of the crowd, taken together, were a collective cry of indignation and pain

“The hell with the human race!” said Beatrice.

“You’re a member of it, you know,” said Rumfoord.

What would you have me do?” said Rumfoord.

“You could have told me this stock-market crash was coming!”

“But that wouldn’t help you any.”

I don’t see why not,” said Beatrice.

Sometimes I think it is a great mistake to have matter that can think and feel. It complains so.

It hardly helps to panic, do you think?

and the discomfiture of Beatrice Rumfoord at the top of the stairs …

To see one of these letters was to see them all

Rumfoord loved nothing more than a thumping good fraud

Beatrice, already ghostly in a white peignoir, turned the color of lead.

Well—who knows—maybe human beings will last that long, just on the basis of pure cussedness.

sleeping the sleep of a drunkard

The swimming pool looked less like a facility for sport than like a punchbowl in hell.

I’m beginning to catch on that you’re not nearly as omniscient as you pretend to be

It so happens I want something very much. I want a number of things very much.

You could have spared me what I’m going through now.”

and their space-annihilating concupiscence seemed centered on mentholated smoke alone.

“This silence—this hiding in the magazine—this is the sum and total of your rebuttal?”

If you had one shred of concern for me, couldn’t you tell me exactly how

and I frankly can’t understand how they can say such a thing, because there is now more opportunity for progerse on all fronts than at any time in human history

it isn’t the American way to take no for an answer where progerse is concerned.

If people listened to people like you, there wouldn’t ever be any progerse

And besides,’ I tell them and I tell you and I tell everybody, ’we don’t have to put people in the rocket ships. We will use the lower animals only

Malachi Constant of Hollywood, California, came out of the rhinestone phone booth cold sober.

He had succeeded to a shocking degree

then you were proud to be a son of a whore, if that’s what a whore was

Hell,” she said, “I had an unhappier childhood than you did.”

My mother was a whore and my father never came home, either—but we were poor besides

“When I was ten years old,” said Beatrice, “my father got it into his head that it would be fun for me to ride a roller coaster

“We turned around and came home,” said Beatrice proudly. Her eyes glittered, and she nodded abruptly. “That’s the way to treat roller coasters,

it will be revealed to you just how ruthlessly I’ve been used, and by whom, and to what disgustingly paltry ends.

So far, no one had asked the architect to name them. That was lucky, because he couldn’t have done it.

The answer is: He eats dates from the calendar and drinks water from the springs of the bed. This comes very close to describing the genesis of Magnum Opus

“I have also been to Harvard Business School.”

That may be so,” said Constant, “but I don’t think you can hurt me. I don’t owe the Federal Government a dime.”

Just fall through the hole in a privy and come out smelling like a rose

And most eerie of all, pencils and pads were scattered at random through the air

He was exceedingly thin—always had been

Fern read two books a day. It has been said that Aristotle was the last man to be familiar with the whole of his own culture

and Fern was the first to admit that it was a mouse, and a mangy mouse at that

When you get right down to it, everybody’s having a perfectly lousy time of it, and I mean everybody. And the hell of it is, nothing seems to help much.

Malachi Constant had still to get it through his head that his luck was gone—every bit of it

they pretended that their successes depended on their knowing their elbows from third base.

A guy is entitled to a mistake now and then

and you’ve done what I would have said was impossible

There is a riddle about a man who is locked in a room with nothing but a bed and a calendar, and the question is: How does he survive

“Suppose you tell me,” said the young visitor, “what it was you learned about Indiana Novelty that made you think it was a shrewd investment?

I was simply asking for my own curiosity.

impressed by this monument to hypocrisy and sharp practice

there are gigolos and party girls and New Yorkers who are grateful for this relief from biology

And, while the litigants may not be able to get blood from turnips, they can certainly ruin the turnips in the process of trying.

The Wilburhampton Hotel was a frumpish, three-story Tudor structure across the street from the Magnum Opus Building

they were indistinguishable from millions of other American barflies on the first day of the New Age of Space

It was easy to believe that they had begun the voyage nattily

we got so rich and then lost the boodle again

could say no whenever she pleased—and make it stick

immaculate little girl in white, with a white pony all her own

It was a matter of indifference to her whether The Rumfoord was a fizzle or not.

Incipient baldness had isolated a dramatic scalplock

The stake was nineteen feet, six and five thirty-seconds inches high, not counting the twelve feet, two and one-eighth inches of it embedded in the iron

what Combat Respiratory Rations or CRR’s or goofballs were—had to tell him to take one every six hours or suffocate

Unfortunately, this problem of recontamination seems insoluble

this sharpness of Boaz’s eyes disquieting—increasingly so, as Boaz continued to stare

You boys ain’t got it so bad,” he said to his rigid squadmates. “You oughta see how we treat the generals, if you think you’s bad off”

And he was too good a soldier to go around asking questions, trying to round out his knowledge.

he was afraid that he would forget himself and offer an enlisted man a drink.

The only thing anybody could think of to do with them was to housebreak them

this big guy and his dog show up at the meetings, and just snow everybody under

It made him his own hero in very trying times.

As the popular doggerel has it: Willy found some Universal Will to Become, Mixed it with his bubble gum

“Who brought me here?” said Unk.

“The military police, bless them,” said the man.

He was fully prepared to do this—was desperately prepared—

In two shakes of a lamb’s tail, they were twinkling in space eternal

Cosmic piddling seldom pays: Poor Willy’s six new Milky Ways.

She had been shanghaied while trying to sell a copy of The Watchtower to a Martian agent in Duluth.

The fielder ritually cursed his luck.

His hair was shaved off, and the doctors and nurses joshed him about having entered adulthood

There was a rebus of her name on her sweatshirt

And out of the night loped the dog—as big and terrible as a tiger

many’s the time I’ve wished I was Stony, and many’s the time I’ll wish it again

But he was free to wear any uniform that caught his fancy, regardless of how much hell anybody else had to go through for the privilege

the very saddest love story I ever hope to hear took place on Mars.

having been rather underprivileged spiritually on Earth, and assumed, as spiritually underprivileged persons will, that the uniform said lovely things about him.

“boy—you ever put your buddy through hell. I mean! How you get here?”

Pretty good joke on her husband, eh, Unk?”

They were told to come out with their hands up, or the meat market would be blown to bits. “Nuts!” yelled the real commander of the Parachute Ski Marines.

“What he take those candlesticks for, Unk?” said Boaz.

Damn if I know,” said Unk. “Damn if I care.”

You there, buddy?” said Boaz, amazed.

Where would I go?” said Unk. “You think you vaporized me?”

It was installed at the insistence of Martian mental-health experts, who said that human beings were always happier with machinery

And, in a freak of war, one wild shot missed the moon and hit an incoming formation of space ships that carried 15,671 Martian Imperial Commandos

Without Boaz, their real commander, to radio-control them, they fought listlessly, to say the least.

They were grateful for the opportunity to work like termites on the sills of the established order.

Unk and Boaz were very lonely and mystified out there in space

mounted their hopeless attacks, and died gladly

The harmonium is a cave-dweller. A more gracious creature would be hard to imagine.

They have no more thickness than the skin of a toy balloon.

There is one last characteristic of the creatures that has not been explained on utilitarian grounds

To make their misery complete, the pilot-navigator decreed that night should fall in the cabin.

He slammed shut the inner door, but not before he and Unk had hemorrhaged in the act of shouting for joy.

This it proceeded to do—grindingly. Steel members groaned

Unk moved his head to one side, looked through the porthole obliquely

The lichen-green uniform and black fiber boots of the Martian Assault Infantry had been scoured to threads and dust by the touch of stone

His progress was knobby and ramshackle

he would hack away wads of thatch with a butcherknife

True—Unk had walked fifty miles to every mile walked by Boaz

and he just got madder. Never helps to get mad.

What’s that you say?

In some areas, his plans were horribly flimsy

The shoes he issued his ordinary troops, for instance, were almost a satire on the temporariness of the jerry-built society of Mars

The ironing boards were six feet apart, and spanning them was a stretcher

anything can happen, and it usually does

The surface of Earth heaved and seethed in fecund restlessness

The daintily tart rain fell on a green place where there was a great deal of death

The only garment he wore was a clinking breechclout made of wrenches and copper wire.

He rested his hand on a head-stone, more for the feel than the support of it.

When the bell was rung madly, the parishioners were to feel ecstasy

Water crept under a loose shingle in the roof

Redwine listened to the rain, and imagined that it spoke Chaucerian English

Time had been kind to Redwine.

He went down the aisle and through the arch under the steeple

the other young proselytizers had threatened

“The friendly crowd out there,” continued Redwine, “could turn quite ugly quite fast …”

“But I hate him all the same,” said Bee.

That’s your privilege,”

And everybody seemed to adore him so.

The rule was that the concessionaires had to close their shutters five minutes before Winston Niles Rumfoord and his dog materialized

Under the direction of Rumfoord, the staff defended Chrono against all charges.

The commonest charges brought against Chrono were larceny by sleight of hand

Brackman was portly and balding now

The ship was kept in constant readiness. What was reputedly the longest free-standing ladder in history

their beliefs amplified, clarified, and vivified by a factor of ten.

who fancied himself the chief cynic of the booths

typesetter still wanted, technically, on charges of bigamy

“Could we have done any better if he’d left us in charge of our own lives?” said Bee. “Would we have become any more—or any less?

The idea did not startle him, could not startle him

The Space Wanderer’s mind did not teem with questions.

Bee was not drawn to the scrawny, bearded, happy boob in lemon-yellow long underwear

“… to you was your being born. Would you like me to tell you what you were named when you were born?”

Please do,” he said.

The greeting was ingenuous, cheerful, and winsome

To the extent that crowds can be good things, the crowds that Winston Niles Rumfoord attracted to Newport were good crowds

Malachi Constant became a student, to the exclusion of all else, of the apparatus on which he was about to perform.

that no course save the course to the space ship was open to him

Constant forced his attention on her, and she bore him this son

admired Beatrice for her touch-me-not breeding is at least

“Skip—?” said Salo.

Do you have to call me that?” said Rumfoord.

No,” said Salo.

Then don’t,” said Rumfoord.

“I thought we were friends.”

“Let’s say we’ve managed to be of some use to each other, and let it go at that,”

The water itself was contained in a gold mesh reticule

copies of the crippled ship did yeoman service for the Martian war effort

then the civilizations would poop out without having finished the messages.

Salo’s people had so much to do with gumming up the history of Earth

Salo had found Rumfoord to be, still, a surprisingly parochial Earthling at heart

had to have a purpose, and that some purposes were higher than others.

The big eye was a glutton for great theater

There was an unusual tang in the air

the three beautiful human females who had been offered to the lecherous Malachi Constant so long ago

and used me like a handy-dandy potato peeler!

A less aristocratic woman might have put him through hell

Flashing the light into the eye was not a piece of skylarking on Chrono’s part

I was designed and manufactured, and no expense, no skill, was spared in making me dependable, efficient, predictable, and durable

We shall see what we shall see

That so?” said Beatrice, looking up from her writing.

That’s so,” said Constant.

You are tired, so very tired, Space Wanderer

wearing nothing but a neatly-trimmed, white vandyke beard

“’I would be the last to deny,’ ” said Beatrice, reading her own work out loud, ” ’that… ’”

I don’t guess I can put off digging up the pipes much longer.

“If you or your son would like a ride back to Earth,” said Salo, “it wouldn’t be much out of my way.”

but Constant, after the fashion of old men, could not be shaken from his first decision.

Wow, it seems you’ve made it to the end of this new-vocabulary-grammar-intensive article… But did you actually work through all the findings?  No shirking? Sweet! That’s what I call being persistent at mastering English!


russia-flag Вы дочитали и проработали статью до конца? Так держать!

Если Вы дочитали до конца эту статью, то я уверен, что Вы узнали много нового про английский язык (при условии, что Вы действительно проработали предложения выше).

Проработать так много материала это совсем не шутки, а вполне серьёзный подход к делу.

Теперь же дело за малым: эффективно всё перенести в речевой актив и начать всласть применять новые знания на практике (пункт 3 и 4, соответсвенно).

Спасибо за то, что уделили время.

Удачи в Вашем языковом путешествии!


I am crazy enough to do the whole nine-yards over again. Please bring me to the beginning of the sentences. Yeah!

Did you know that you are more than encouraged to go ahead and tell me in the comments section below how the whole process went?

With that, thanks for taking your time accepting the challenge, reading and working through the article.

Until next time!


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