Player Piano

Player Piano

eBook - 2002
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Rosetta Books

<p><i>Player Piano</i> (1952), Vonnegut’s first novel, embeds and foreshadows themes which are to be parsed and dramatized by academians for centuries to come. His future society--a marginal extrapolation, Vonnegut wrote, of the situation he observed as an employee of General Electric in which machines were replacing people increasingly and without any regard for their fate--is mechanistic and cruel, indifferent to human consequence, almost in a state of merriment as human wreckage accumulates. Paul Proteus, the novel’s protagonist, is an engineer at Ilium Works and first observes with horror and then struggles to reverse the displacement of human labor by machines.</p><p>Ilium Works and Paul’s struggles are a deliberately cartoon version of labor’s historic and escalating struggle to give dignity and purpose to workers. The novel embodies all of Vonenegut’s concerns and what he takes to be the great dilemma of the technologically overpowered century: the spiritual needs of the population in no way serve the economies of technology and post-technology. Vonnegut overlies this grotesque comedy over tragedy, disguising his novel in the trappings of goofiness.</p><p>Not published--at Vonnegut’s insistence--as science fiction, the novel was nonetheless recognized and praised by the science fiction community which understood it far better than a more general readership, a dilemma which Vonnegut resentfully faced throughout his career. Bernard Wolfe’s dystopian <i>Limbo</i> and <i>Player Piano</i>were published in the same year to roughly similar receptions; two “outsiders” had apotheosized technophobia as forcefully as any writer within the field. Throughout his career, Vonnegut was forced to struggle with his ambivalence about science fiction and his own equivocal relationship with its readers.</p>

Publisher: New York : RosettaBooks, 2002
ISBN: 9780795302527
Branch Call Number: OVERDRIVE
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


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Apr 20, 2018

I had to keep reminding myself that this book was written in 1952. In so many ways it seems that Vonnegut had a crystal ball. The story is still timely. Even Dan Brown’s latest book talks about artificial intelligence taking control away from humans.

The plot is totally unpredictable. Vonnegut was an excellent writer & this is an excellent book. Yet, I didn’t particularly enjoy reading it; at least it took me more than 60% to really get interested. I found his later books to be more fun to read. At least I think I did. I read them when they were new. I’m eager to see if I enjoy them as much after the passage of 5 decades.

Aug 02, 2016

Amazingly prescient book about a society increasingly familiar. My favorite Vonnegut book

Jun 22, 2016

This was my first taste of Vonnegut and remains my favorite. An excellent and cautionary tale of what our future may hold.

Apr 06, 2014

how in the hell did I miss this? Read everything else by him...

Dec 22, 2009

A perfect satirical view of humanity.


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