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Player Piano

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  32,796 Ratings  ·  1,114 Reviews
A player piano's keys move according to a pattern of holes punched in an unwinding scroll. Unlike music synthesizers, the instrument actually produces sound itself, keys moving up & down, driving hammers striking strings. Like its counterpart, a player piano can be played by hand also. When a scroll runs the ghost-operated instrument, the movement of its keys produce t ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1952)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Petergiaquinta
It’s been almost thirty years since I read Player Piano, and all I had retained from that first read was the name of the main character, a faint recollection of the novel’s focus on a future world heavily reliant on automation, and a vague sense of not liking the book all that much despite Vonnegut being one of my favorite authors. I had hoped to like the book better as a seasoned adult, but instead I found re-reading Player Piano to be a tedious chore which surprised me, as this year I have ret ...more
graycastle
Jun 07, 2007 graycastle rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
There was a period in my life when I read all the Vonnegut I could get my hands on, which is mostly a very rewarding experience, but oh man, this is terrible. It's his first novel, and it really should've been a short story - even as a short story, it would've been forgettable. Classic scifi man/machine themes unleavened by the irony I would usually expect from Vonnegut, drawn out far too long, with characters who lack depth or interest. Read, I dunno, anything else by Vonnegut instead, and you' ...more
Joshum Harpy
May 27, 2012 Joshum Harpy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was working as a janitor the day that Kurt Vonnegut died. Sweeping the floors, I listened as the news came over talk radio and I remember distinctly standing up stiff and staring hard at the speakers while the news sank in. I had recently heard in interviews and read Vonnegut sharing his feelings about his own death. That he had reconciled himself to it and felt that he had done much with his life, that he was ready to go (I'm paraphrasing, of course his words were funnier and more acidic). St ...more
Matt  Dorsey
Nov 06, 2007 Matt Dorsey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Is it acceptable to call a soft sci-fi dystopian novel badass? Does that reveal the total nerd at the core of my character?

The only reason I can see for this book not to be mentioned as one of Vonnegut's greats is that it's edged out by the half-dozen or so outright masterpieces in his canon. But for a first novel, this is ace. It's Vonnegut's most conventionally structured novel, and possibly even his least original. The plot is more or less a tweaking of Huxley's 'Brave New World' (Vonnegut h
...more
Annerlee
Presents a thought provoking, dystopian future, where only the 'know-how' of engineers and managers is valued. Everyone else has been replaced by machines and consigned to the scrapheap, in the interests of efficiency and the greater good!

Despite the omnipresence and virtual omipotence of machines, human society is still human society. 'Who you know' and 'who you are' can still get you places, the manager class is dangerously infantile and the 'outcasts' are ingeniously subversive and non-confo
...more
Jason Koivu
Apr 11, 2016 Jason Koivu rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Hands down the most depressing of the Vonnegut books I've read. Luckily, I read this 20 years ago, so I don't remember why. Even so, the miasma of sadness still lingers to this day.
Alex
For his first book in 1952 Kurt Vonnegut made an entry in a long string of dystopian novels stretching back to (where else) Eugene Zamyatin's 1921 classic We. It's not the best entry.

The We Lineage
In order of quality:
1984
We
Brave New World
Player Piano
Anthem

These books all deal with futures in which social class has ossified and production has mechanized. They deal with the automation of society, and with socialism (in wildly different ways).

Vonnegut was a socialist. The way he deals with it is b
...more
Chloe
For some reason I had thought that I had long ago run through the works of Kurt Vonnegut. He was one of the first writers whose books I can remember consciously deciding that I needed to read each and every one of. The moment is still clear in my memory- I had just been introduced to Kilgore Trout and his trunk of pulp novellas in Breakfast of Champions. I'm not quite sure what happened with that goal, but I'm guessing I lost the thread of the quest sometime after reading Galapagos back in high ...more
Lyn
Feb 17, 2015 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut was his first novel, first published in 1952. Early fiction from Vonnegut is told in a more straightforward fashion than Vonnegut readers will be accustomed to from his later works, but his imagination and wit are still unmistakable.

This is a dystopian work describing a United States after a third war where machines have taken the place of 90% of industrial workers. Government work available to displaced workers comes from either the Army, emasculated and bureaucra
...more
Hank
Aug 19, 2008 Hank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: managers and corporate cheerleaders.
Shelves: dystopian
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris Dietzel
Nov 11, 2014 Chris Dietzel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In reading this I was surprised to find a book that wasn't filled with Vonnegut's usual sarcasm and absurdity (in a good way). Then I realized this was his first book and that he was still probably finding his voice as a writer when he wrote it. Instead of relying solely on comical misunderstandings and dialogue, you find a more genuine story of people struggling to find a purpose in an unhappy world. Although nothing for me will ever match 'Slaughterhouse-Five,' I enjoyed this more than books l ...more
Alan Chen
Mar 31, 2016 Alan Chen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Proteus is in charge of the Ilium works and at 36, is prominently placed in the company and only looking to move up. The company is mostly run by supercomputers and had very little use for humans. In fact, most humans now either go into the army, do public works that really aren't necessary or just collect checks for doing nothing. You get placed in a job by your IQ and there's nothing you can do if your IQ/personality test doesn't find you fit to do. While Proteus has been content moving up in ...more
Lee Sree
That's not the Vonnegut I like!

It was just so dead serious and extended to the max, while it was more of a short story material. I find that book way too long, colourless and just plain boring. I really hated the main character, whose only goal in life was to be a part of something. I felt sorry for him and his inability to see that everyone around is only trying to use him, starting from his own wife, ending at the system. Or maybe he did know that but didn't complain because it satisfied his
...more
Aloke
May 19, 2016 Aloke rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, scifi
Despite its science fiction trappings this is really a fun house look at the present. Writing in 1952, Vonnegut depicts a world where automation has rendered most jobs obsolete except for a small cadre of managers and engineers who administer the factories and create new machines. Those put out of their jobs are provided a safety net of medical care, housing, income, etc. but deprived of meaningful work they are resentful of the status quo. Of course this sounds prescient today with threats of A ...more
Nikki
Apr 26, 2010 Nikki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(written in 2008)
I’m always a fan of Vonnegut. I loved this book. What made it so fascinating (what makes all his books so fascinating actually) was that pieces of it were eerily close to the attitude of the world today. Every once and a while something would be familiar enough to make you think that perhaps this world isn’t so far off. And that is a scary thought. Makes you honestly wonder what mankind is capable of. How much freedom are we willing to give up for security? What are we willing t
...more
Rob
Jun 11, 2012 Rob rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I can't really explain why I didn't like this one more than I did. I did some vigorous head-nodding with the message, and it's an at-least-decent showing for a first novel, and there are moments that seem downright prescient for something written 60 years ago. So why did I keep nodding off in the middle of it? Why did I entertain thoughts of abandoning it? It's a 2-star book with several 4-star moments, but not enough to average out to 3-stars. Not for me. Were my expectations too high? Was I sp ...more
Ryan
Nov 21, 2008 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's pretty amazing that Vonnegut could write so brilliantly about a technological backlash in a computerized society well before the age of the PC and the internet. Besides the fact that vacuum tubes are considered high tech in this book, it could have been written yesterday. You know, if he hadn't died. I didn't love the way the book wrapped up, but I'll cut him some slack since it was his first.
Tyler Jones
Dec 03, 2014 Tyler Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are probably several reasons why Kurt Vonnegut was such a popular writer, but I will give you two.

Reason one: His personality. Vonnegut had a distinct voice. Sarcastic and biting, yet also forever sticking up for the little guy. He was funny as hell. He had Personality - and it was this Personality that his readers adored. With each successive novel, his readership craved more of the same, which meant that the actual plot of the books became less important than the voice of Vonnegut himsel
...more
Nathan Titus
Mar 06, 2015 Nathan Titus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vonnegut is one of my favorite writers, and this is my favorite book by him. However I don't consider it exactly a Vonnegut book because it is absolutely unlike anything else he has ever written.

Vonnegut likes to brag that he has never written a book with a villain in it. To that I add that he has never written a book with a hero in it except for Player Piano. His other characters are merely protagonists, people who do not even so much as have things happen to them as observe that things happen.
...more
MJ Nicholls
Oct 10, 2010 MJ Nicholls rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, merkins
Vonnegut's first novel (circa 1952!) bears little relation to his later, greater works, barring the subject matter. Player Piano is an ambitious speculative story about evil man-made machines turning society into one big fascist corporation. Yes, yawn, but this was seven years after D-day. Time has not been kind.

His storytelling is lucid, amusing and real, but falls away in the second half. This book is twice the length of his other works, and too self-consciously first-novelly to sustain intere
...more
Michael
For me this is an A-typical Vonnegut. This read did not flow the way his other books did for me. I couldn't really identify with any of the characters. While reading my mind would sometimes drift to ideas previously given to me in other books...like Atlas Shrugged or 1984...machine taking over etc. etc.....the 1% vs the 99% yada yada yada. I felt like he was trying to convert me rather than entertain me. I'm still a Vonnegut fan, but this one and me just dance well together....we didn't gee haw. ...more
Erik Graff
Aug 11, 2014 Erik Graff rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Vonnegut fans
Recommended to Erik by: Martin Steinfels
Shelves: sf
At a friend's suggestion, I gave Vonnegut a second chance, not allowing myself to be impressed by the flippancy of his Cat's Cradle in high school. Picking up three of his other novels, I delved into them, one after another. While the others were highly entertaining, Player Piano, the most ostensibly serious of the lot, was almost a painful read--perhaps because Vonnegut was still learning the craft of writing.
William
Dec 02, 2014 William rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not the best Vonnegut. Confused message, rather boring plot, and not even funny. The only interesting aspect for me was the old science fiction standpoint, seeing a little how people in the past thought the future would be and how it might be different if it were written today. But I'd skip this one in general.
Pamela Mclaren
Nov 23, 2015 Pamela Mclaren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
This is a hard book to describe. Well written, well paced and a great story but it scared and depressed me a bit because we are coming close to this. Right now, we are creating computers that can do ever more things -- put together things, compute things, etc. Its as if this could come very easily to real life.

Its a story set sometime in the future where machines are pretty much doing everything and the only positions of value are those that machines can't do. There are two groups of people -- t
...more
Brent Mckay
Interesting, like all Vonnegut. Reading this debut, however, reminded me of early Richard Pryor, George Carlin, or Chris Rock, when they were still honing the styles that would make them great.

This is a dystopian depiction of humans too reliant on machines. It's a treatise on what humans do after they've engineered their usefulness away. Many authors have covered this territory more presciently and much of it feels dated. The most interesting element was Vonnegut's depiction of corporate think--
...more
Adam Floridia
Jun 18, 2014 Adam Floridia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vonnegut
I optimistically hoped that re-reading Vonnegut's canon would get me out of my current, severe!, reading slump. I ambitiously even thought that I might be diligent enough to take copious notes, add to my thesis, and publish a book!

Nope. Somehow a new house with all the accompanying new projects and a new child with all the accompanying needs and the same old two year old with more energy than ever have managed to keep me in my slump.

Plan B. Keep reading when the urge strikes and, in lieu of writ
...more
Mike Gyssels
Dec 22, 2012 Mike Gyssels rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Vonnegut establishes himself as a satirical juggernaut in his first novel, and true to the jacket, his commentary is extremely close to reality. Though more grounded in the technological reality it was written in than say Huxley or Orwell (all technological apparatuses operate based on tapes and recorders), Vonnegut's vision of the future is no less haunting and truly uncanny.

The satire offered by the "Shah" is harsh, poignant, and altogether hilarious--this novel is everything that the "black
...more
Katya
Apr 21, 2016 Katya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Хм... Какое-то противоречивое чувство после прочтения. Это прекрасная утопия о мире машин, где человек априори счастлив, ведь у него всё для этого есть. Однако появляются бунтовщики, оппозиционеры, те, кто чем-то недоволен. Как бы сказал один герой "ну так это было всегда". И вот история о бунте против мира машин, написанная прекрасно, с интересным сюжетом. Но... другие произведения Воннегута мне понравились больше. В общем и целом книга не "цепляет", увы...
Shannon Greaney
Having readSlaughterhouse Fivelast year, I had big expectations for Kurt Vonnegut’s first novel,Player Piano,butI should have paid attention to how many times I nodded off while trying to complete this novel. What I also should have done was consider the importance of this being a first novel – that Vonnegut hadn’t found his voice yet and was still merely crafting words on paper.Player Pianois no work of art, which I find disappointing from a dystopian novel. Credit where credit is due though, V ...more
Julie
Jun 21, 2014 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julie by: Brion
Soooooo..... this got assigned to me by my brother. It is his favorite Vonnegut novel. I have to say, that while I didn't dislike it, I didn't love it either. I think out of the Vonnegut novels I have read (this one, Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat's Cradle) I liked the other two more, probably because each one had more of a sci-fi element to it.

That's not to say that the concepts presented here aren't interesting. It pits man against machine, not in, say, a "giant-robot-attacking-the-city" way, but
...more
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Kurt Vonnegut, Junior was an American novelist, satirist, and most recently, graphic artist. He was recognized as New York State Author for 2001-2003.

He was born in Indianapolis, later the setting for many of his novels. He attended Cornell University from 1941 to 1943, where he wrote a column for the student newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun. Vonnegut trained as a chemist and worked as a journali
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“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.” 6838 likes
“And a step backward, after making a wrong turn, is a step in the right direction.” 207 likes
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