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Player Piano: A Novel [Paperback]

Kurt Vonnegut
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 19.00
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Book Description

Jan. 12 1999

Kurt Vonnegut’s first novel spins the chilling tale of engineer Paul Proteus, who must find a way to live in a world dominated by a supercomputer and run completely by machines. Paul’s rebellion is vintage Vonnegut—wildly funny, deadly serious, and terrifyingly close to reality.


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Player Piano: A Novel + The Sirens of Titan: A Novel + Mother Night: A Novel
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Review

“A funny, savage appraisal of a totally automated American society of the future.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“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

Vonnegut's spins the chilling tale of engineer Paul Proteus, who must find a way to live in a world dominated by a supercomputer and run completely by machines. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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ILIUM, NEW YORK, is divided into three parts. Read the first page
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vonnegut's first a good indication for later Aug. 2 1997
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A lot of people, even Vonnegut fans, probably haven't heard of this book, for whatever reasons. Vonnegut really doesn't discuss it that much, mostly because he dislikes the label of science-fiction, which this book, along with The Sirens of Titan and even Slaughterhouse-Five, clearly is.

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
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1.0 out of 5 stars A disappointingly dull book April 29 2004
Format:Paperback
As a fan of Vonnegut's writing, I was extremely disappointed with this book. It has a good story premise but it doesn't really go anywhere. The basics of this story: Vonnegut depicts America as a land run by machines. All the humans must have a doctorate in order to be considered qualified for any jobs because machines have been built that efficiently replace lower workers. There is very little mention of children, but the few that are brought up merely point out the struggles of trying to pass tests for degrees and then fighting 500 others for the one job opening available. The protagonist, Dr. Paul Proteus, gets fed up with his machine dominated environment but doesn't have the will to commit himself to opposition until he is forced into it. There is a second story line with a diplomat from another country touring America as his host tries to convince him of the need to replace humans with machines in his own country. The host fails in his mission as things fall apart in the end.
Basically, I thought there were too many strings left hanging in this book. Vonnegut would start off on a tangent, with such extreme description, but then there was no real resolution. Like, what happened to the farm? I was especially disappointed in the ending, expecting more out of Dr. Proteus than was given. So many things were left unexplained that I felt like I was wasting my time reading this book. I would become interested in one aspect only to find myself filled with more questions left unanswered.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Too-Successful Revolution May 19 2003
Format:Paperback
Player Piano is the story of an unlikely uprising against an over-industrialized society, which proved to be too successful and reminds the reader to "be careful what you wish for." Doctor Paul Proteus, manager of the Ilium Works plant responsible for the industrial output and energy production of Ilium, New York and the surrounding area, sought to escape his predestined vocational life. One of the people he encounters in this quest summarized nicely the disenchantment Proteus and his cohorts felt with technology, and the trail of obsolete men left behind in its wake.
"The machines are to practically everybody what the white men were to the Indians. People are finding that, because of the way the machines are changing the world, more and more of their old values don't apply any more. People have no choice but to become second-rate machines themselves, or wards of the machines."
Proteus' rebellion against his industrialized world starts quietly enough, with the acquisition of a farm and the conscious sabotage of a promotion he deserved. However, he eventually crosses paths with radicals who saw fit to not only stem the tides of mass-production, but to destroy all of the machines in the process.
Interesting enough story-line, right? Yes, but the story's potential is better than its execution. Many great ideas are left unpolished. Besides Dr. Proteus, there are no sympathetic characters in this tale, which made it difficult to root for the revolution's failure or success. Plus, things spiraled so badly out of control that you don't even know if success was achieved by anyone's measure. This book was one giant crescendo, and the actual revolution occurs in about five pages at the end, hastily described and leaving way too much to the imagination.
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4.0 out of 5 stars player piano Jan. 7 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
player piano is vonnegut jr.'s first novel describing the completely automated future of illium new york. the machines have taken the jobs of the people who were not the best and brightest and left those people to work either as the highway repair crew known as the reeks and wrecks or as soldiers in the army .for the few who were extremely talented or extremely smart there were jobs as managers or egineers in the factorys of illium. these people were considered upper class and rarely came into contact with the lower class because there societies were divided by a river. the upper class striving too make things easier for man kind and the lower class looking for a place where they are needed. the lower class secetely organizes a revolt through an underground group known as the ghost shirt society.after succesfully destroying most of the machines in their city they begin picking through the wreckage thinking up machines they could build with the severed pieces.basically they were chomping at the bit too rebuild there dilema that caused the revolt in the first place.it just shows human nature . vonnegut jr was very creative in his depiction of the future.the main character doctor paul proteus is a up and coming manager at the illium works and through the book he begins too sympathize with the common people eventually he quits his job and joins the ghost shirt society after the revolt began ended succeeded and failed proteus turned him self into the police who were surronding the city
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Novel!!
This is Kurt Vonneguts 1st novel..the pre curser to many to come and one of my favorites...Its kind of 1984 or Brave New World in the sarcastic and witty Vonnegut style..
Published 8 months ago by David R. Arden
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Price - Great Condition.
Book arrived much faster than advertised. Started reading right away. I found it a little difficult to get into, but great idea nonetheless and I look forward to finishing it. Read more
Published 16 months ago by David Schwartz
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing Vonnegut adventure
I feel bad for writing this, but I was disappointed with Player Piano. I say this because Vonnegut is, hands down, my favorite writer and one of the first writers I truly took cues... Read more
Published on Feb. 6 2011 by SBuckle
3.0 out of 5 stars Still relevant in 2004?
The scenario of Player Piano is just a little unrealistic, when compared to today's reality: yes, computers seem to be taking over much of the work formerly done by humans (or... Read more
Published on April 14 2004 by Kris
5.0 out of 5 stars top 2
This is one of my two favorite Vonnegut books (along with Galapagos), but I disagree with those who have posted the opinion that the true value of the book is Vonnegut's earily... Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars One to add to my collection
Some books I can plow through in an afternoon, regardless of the number of pages. However, every time I read something by Vonnegut, it becomes so deeply philosophical and... Read more
Published on Aug. 11 2003 by Tom Roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars one to add to my collection
Some books I can plow through in an afternoon, regardless of the number of pages. However, every time I read something by Vonnegut, it becomes so deeply philosophical and... Read more
Published on Aug. 11 2003 by Barbara Reynoso
4.0 out of 5 stars Vonnegut's First Novel
His writing style was not fully developed, and the series of events went in order, but for his first novel, Player Piano is a great book about a totalitarian soicety, a revolt... Read more
Published on April 22 2003 by K. Bentley
5.0 out of 5 stars Still a good read after many years.
This book offers an interesting view of social politics as they were in the 50's, and still are. This book tells us what we are all rather blind to see, which is that we really do... Read more
Published on March 25 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars Out of line
I'm slowly working my way throught the Vonnegut library; I've read about 12 books so far. Player Piano is far, far below the rest. Read more
Published on Feb. 12 2003 by Michael D. Fleetwood
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