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Book Reviews of Player Piano

Player Piano
Author: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
ISBN: 555
Rating:
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0 stars, based on 0 rating
Book Type: Paperback
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11 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Player Piano on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Vonnegut is always a good read.
reviewed Player Piano on + 15 more book reviews
May seem archaic, but the man versus machine conflict is still applicable today.
reviewed Player Piano on + 5 more book reviews
Good book, but a completely different "voice" than most of Vonnegut's work.
Jennmarie68 avatar reviewed Player Piano on + 217 more book reviews
This was my first Kurt Vonnegut book (other than Man Without a Country) and I was as happy with the book as I thought I would be. His witting style was very easy for me to read. I literally couldn't put this one down. I like the idea of technology causing problems. Even as technology friendly as I am I can see that someday there could be a meltdown and technology will be at the center of it.

Mr. Vonnegut's look into the future, from the past, was very interesting. More so to see what his idea of technology in the future would be like, and to compare it to what really exists today.

Being that this was my first Kurt Vonnegut book I am looking forward to reading even more.
reviewed Player Piano on + 5 more book reviews
I'm prejudiced when I review a Vonnegut book. Because he has been one of my literary idols for years. You can definitely tell that this was his first novel, after spending so much time crafting his short fiction. So many little plotlines and vignettes are introduced and brought to a climax much within the overall plot of the novel. Like he just couldn't help himself telling a few short ones while working on the big picture. I can't say this is his best work, but it is a very good one. Had I been reading it at the time of its publication, I would have closed the book excited, anticipating the next novel from a major new talent. But, as I've just now read it for the first time, I can say that he definitely lived up to the promise of this first novel.
reviewed Player Piano on + 167 more book reviews
Want the computer to solve all your problems? Want machines to give you everyting you need? Want to be taken care of from cradle to grave by an industrial society that knos what is best for you? Want tofind out what hell is really like?

Come visit a world betwee, Alice in Wonderland and Animal Farm.
reviewed Player Piano on + 12 more book reviews
The automated "society of the future" described in this Vonnegut classic is a lot closer than you may think!
jael avatar reviewed Player Piano on + 34 more book reviews
To date, this is the only Vonnegut book I like.
reviewed Player Piano on + 7 more book reviews
Mind blower
terez93 avatar reviewed Player Piano on + 273 more book reviews
The cover description calls this a chilling tale, and it is, in many respects, not the least for how much it reveals of what KV and I seem to have in common sometimes, including an inherent distrust (fear and loathing, perhaps?) of technology, which, like his themes of war and familial estrangement, make frequent appearance in his works. The disdain for modernity likely stems at least in part from his experiences in the war, and in the incredible proliferation of automation in the years after its close, when the world rapidly changed, and according to many, not for the better. Being something of a confirmed Luddite myself, I have long taken the position, as KV would, by the tenor of this novel, that automation is anathema to the art of living.

This novel is, in a way, a modern Luddite tale, which paints a portrait of a disturbingly peaceful, quasi-dystopic world founded on a dynasty of meritocracy-dystopic for the masses, but not necessarily for the proliferation of "doctors," seemingly the only ones who have any prospect of climbing out of the haunts of the masses of poverty-stricken citizens across the river, to which they have been sentenced for life by an automated sifting-machine supercomputer which prints their futures on cards that determine the course of their entire lives. It's a dark journey where the protagonist, Dr. Paul Proteus, slowly comes to this realization, and finally chooses to rebel against the "system," first more subtly by purchasing a farm (Bought the Farm?) no one else wants because the deed prohibits it from ever being automated or changed, much to the chagrin of his wife, who is married to the system and wants great things for her husband, and then by outright rebellion, admitting his leadership of and allegiance to the Ghost Shirt Society, to which he has dubious ties.

As other reviewers have noted, this novel isn't very Vonnegut-like, probably because it was his first, and he hadn't developed the particular style of thinly veiled diatribe that we've all come to know and love. This story reads more like an allegorical dark fantasy reminiscent of Orwell, who likewise warned of the evils of rampant technological development, which would ultimately lead to dehumanization and the commoditization of every element of life, that is, everything that makes life worth living. The end of this novel does indeed show some early indications of Vonnegut's style, and, in my opinion, his ultimate message: that everything is futile. Even the cryptic Ghost Shirt Society is seemingly so enmired in the system they ostensibly hate and seek to replace that they write letters, even treasonous ones declaring war on The Machine and its proponents, in committee, and hold bureaucratic planning meetings reminiscent of those they've engaged in all their working lives. Not to worry, however: they finally get their act together and rebel in proper revolutionary form, engaging in some real-life, Old-Fashioned machine-breaking like their Luddite ancestors of old. Indeed, this novel definitely harkens back to that time, when at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, skilled workers like lace makers broke into factories to smash the machines that were rendering them (in particularly, their highly skilled and highly paid jobs) obsolete, a heretical crime in some cases punished by death by hanging.

The ultimate message here is powerful, although the end, in true KV fashion, almost descends into farce in the revolutionary activities of the Ghost Shirts. The labor-saving devices humans developed to make life easier, would, they theorized, carried through to its logical conclusion, ultimately render humans slaves to the machine, with every facet of life regulated by the clockwork automatons delegated to run the world with ruthless efficiency and soulless mathematical precision. This new post-war reality clearly disturbed KV, enough to embark on an entirely new career and to take his life in an unknown direction, such was his fervor to warn the world of the perils to come. Clearly, it's a worthwhile message.

--------------NOTABLE PASSAGES------------

...things really were better than ever. For once, after the great bloodbath of the war, the world really was cleared of unnatural terrors-mass starvation, mass imprisonment, mass torture, mass murder. Objectively, know-how nd world law were getting their long-awaited chance to turn earth into an altogether pleasant and convenient place in which to sweat out Judgment Day.

Doctor doesn't use his head and education to figure out what's the matter with you. Machines go over you-measure this, measure that. Then he picks out the right miracle stuff, and the only reason he does is on account of the machines tell him that's what to do. **Prophesy, indeed.

Now the machines take all the dangerous jobs, and the dumb bastards just get tucked away in big bunches of prefabs that look like the end of a game of Monopoly, or in barracks, and there's nothing for them to do but set there and kind of hope for a big fire where maybe they can run into a burning building in front of everybody and run out with a baby in their arms. Or maybe hope-though they don't say so out loud because the last one was so terrible-for another war. 'Course, there isn't going to be another one.

The truth can never be spoken without someone getting hurt.

It hurts a man a lot to be forgotten. You know, to have the fellers in charge... just sort of look right through him like they don't see him. A guy like to know somebody thinks enough of him to look out for him.

Somehow the idea of a wrecker of machines had become the smallest part of the word [saboteur], like the crown of an iceberg. The greatest part of its mass, the part that called forth such poisonous emotions, was undefined: an amalgam of perversions, filth, disease, a galaxy of traits, any one of which would make a man a despicable outcast. The saboteur wasn't a wrecker of machines but an image every man prided himself on being unlike. The saboteur was a man, who, if dead, would no longer make the world a trying place to live in.

...somebody's just got to be maladjusted; [] somebody's got to be uncomfortable enough to wonder where people are, where they're going, and why they're going there.

A step backward, after making a wrong turn, is a step in the right direction.

The sovereignty of the United States resides in the people, not in the machine, and, it's the people's to take back, if they so wish. The machines... have exceeded the personal sovereignty willingly surrendered to them by the American people for good government. Machines and organization and pursuit of efficiency have robbed the American people of liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Sordid things, for the most part, are what make human beings... That's what it is to be human, I'm afraid
roach808 avatar reviewed Player Piano on + 143 more book reviews
Not my favorite Kurt Vonnegut, but his usual style of quirky characters that seemingly don't match, but come together in the end. In this future society we're over reliant on computers, our IQs and having a classification code. But what happens when things start to unravel is anyone's guess.