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Player Piano: A Novel Paperback – January 12, 1999
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“An exuberant, crackling style . . . Vonnegut is a black humorist, fantasist and satirist, a man disposed to deep and comic reflection on the human dilemma.”—Life
“His black logic . . . gives us something to laugh about and much to fear.”—The New York Times Book Review
From the Publisher
Top Customer Reviews
The basic premise of the story is that American industry is run by a tiny group of wealthy and powerful managers and engineers, while the vast majority of the population are stripped of their well-paying industrial jobs and forced to live as poor, powerless menials.
This elite of managers and engineers live in closed, gated Orwellian communities, where they watch each other closely for the slightest hint of nonconformity or disloyalty to the system.
Vonnegut shows how most managers and engineers have always had a contempt for the average American worker and have been looking for a way to replace them even before WW2. He thought that this would primarily be by automation (as opposed to simply shipping the jobs out of the country.)
Vonnegut also assumed that agriculture would be totally mechanised by large corporations and the small farmer made extinct.
There is also the eerie prediction that the President would be a man of low intelligence who would get elected on the basis of a "three hour television show." It would make no difference because there would be no connection between who was elected and who actually ran the country. Remenber, this was in 1952....
Oh yes, he also predicted that no one would be able to get any job worth having without a graduate degree.Read more ›
Still, this book is a must for Vonnegut fans or even those interested in old science-fiction in the style of Orwell or Huxley. Those looking for Vonnegut's classic deadpan black humorist style won't find it here. The beginnings of it are here, however and Vonnegut's tale of Paul Proteus' rebellion against the oppressive government is still as entertaining and fascinating as it was years ago. Read with the aforementioned 1984 and Brave New World, this book provides a slight contrast by using a different tone and more humor, but the message is still the same, that technology will ruin us all and bring about our ultimate downfall.
Fortunately this book has been reissued so that fans can see how Vonnegut started out, and fortunately, unlike most writers' first novels, Vonnegut's initial effort is just as readable as his later works
Vonnegut is a humanitarian and the message of Player Piano is that people need to have a sense of purpose, and that if you take that away from them - their lives will be empty. Throughout the novel, a leader from another country tours the cities of the United States and having no similar word in his own language, confuses `civilians' for `slaves'. The message of course, is that the civilians, in this machine dominated world, are in-fact slaves.
Similarities between this novel and Brave New World are inevitable, as both novels explore the relationship between technology and happiness, and the role class structure plays in our society. In both Player Piano and Brave New World, the protagonist is unfulfilled by the trappings of the privileged class and longs for something `real'. Player Piano is arguably more hopeful than Brave New World (and certainly 1984) suggesting that people will band together to fight for their freedom, however futile, even if it means that they are doomed to repeat the same mistakes again.
Player Piano is admittedly dated. It is evident from this novel, and others of the era, that people were wary of the advent of computers and the proliferation of machines and technology.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of Vonnegut's early works, he sets the stage & location for many of his future works. Essentially, humans have progressed beyond man vs. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Robert Chalker
Whiny entitled trust fund baby is disillusioned with life and looks to the outcasts of society for help. Lots of machines.Published 1 month ago by Jemellah
This is certainly not the best of Kurt Vonnegut's works. I think one needs to read "Slaughterhouse 5" and "Cat's Cradle" for a sense of Vonnegut at his absolute... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Francis C. Donnelly
I really tried. I powered through no matter how boring and repetitive, and finally got to the end. And now I regret it because it was a obvious, uninspired, non-ending. Read morePublished 1 month ago by alex a
Missed it back when, thought it might be relevant now. I guessed wrong.Published 1 month ago by charles trushell