Player Piano (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.
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.
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 Limbo and Player Pianowere 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.
Topics: Futuristic, Dystopia, 20th Century, Postmodern, Black Humor, Debut, United States of America, Dark, Revolution, Funny, American Author, Robots, Capitalism, Humanism, and Speculative Fiction
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Trovo che Vonnegutt abbia scritto dei romanzi fantastici, questo suo primo lavoro, però, non raggiunge le vette toccate da Cat's Cradle etc..
L'idea: in una America del dopo guerra la società è retta dagli ingegneri che, ideando macchine di ogni genere, hanno reso facile la vita dell'uomo medio. Talmente facile che l'uomo medio non fa nulla, ci pensano le macchine. Vonnegut affronta l'aspetto sociologico di questo possibile futuro seguendo diverse figure: quella ricorrente di Paul, ingegnere senza attaccamento per il proprio lavoro, e altre, alcune sovversive, altre conservative.
L'idea è buona, però rispetto a altri romanzi dello scrittore la narrazione è sotto tono: manca l'enfatizzazione delle assurdità umane.
I think that Vonnegut wrote amazing novels, however this one is not good as Cat's Cradle etc..
The idea is that in a post-war America society is ruled by engineers who, creating every kind of machines, allowed an easy life to the whole population. In fact people do nothing at all since the machines provide to every need. Vonnegut analyses the sociologic point of view of this setting following various characters: Paul, an engineer who does not love his work anymore, and others, some subversive, some conservative.
The idea is good, but the narration could be much better: it lacks the emphasis on human absurd behavior.