Player Piano


In Player Piano, everything is controlled by machines and computers and depends on productivity. The managers and engineers only create new programs for more productive production. Even the rates of production and consumption are calculated by a computer (EPICAC), which is seated in the large Carlsbad cavern system. The EPICAC computer even determines the people's careers and in this way their whole lives. It gives intelligence tests to everyone, and on the basis of their results it sorts people into two categories - suitable for university entering exams and suitable for 'work'. The university studies allow their graduates to become managers, engineers, writers or public relation workers. You may become a writer only if you get a university degree, the literature is heavily censored and you may write only "suitable" facts and create stories about authorized settings. Ordinary people were degraded into a role of passive consumers. They do not have to work anymore; the only really working jobs are either supervisors in industry or agriculture, or reconstruction and restoration groups, or soldiers. But supervisors do not have any work; reconstruction and restoration workers are too numerous to work really; and soldiers are bullied cruelly. The majority of population is bored since they have everything they need, all their homework is done by automatons and machines, and their only job is entertainment.
Dr Paul Proteus lives in the city of Ilium, N.Y. The city is divided into three major parts: the managers and engineers are in the northwest, in the northeast there is a large industrial plant, quite a large city by itself, and in the south across the river there is the town for ordinary people, who are the rough majority. He is employed in the Illium Industrial Plant as a general manager. His only work is to rule the factory so that its productivity still increases and so that there are no saboteurs. Computers control all the other. He is a married, thirty-five-year old, tall, and thin man of darkish skin. His father was a celebrated founder of the local industrial plant and its first general manager. All Paul's career is before him, waiting for him. He is a candidate for a better job, and he might grow up in the hierarchy of the American industry to be offered the seat of general manager of the state industrial division. His wife Anita relies on him and she still keeps telling him to be a correct son of his father. She trains him in the hierarchy rules and opportunism. He feels he should follow his father's tracks, but he is not very fond of being a general manager. He doesn't not know of any better job, and in fact he even would not want to get any. He tries to be as best a s possible although he finds no interest in his job. His kind and fatherly superior Kroner relies on him because he used to be an old friend of Paul's father in the days of his life. Kroner sees the old Dr. Proteus in Paul and treats him so. He trusts in Paul's powers and abilities and he would like to see the young engineer in the highest possible post.
Paul has got an old university friend, a character who is very important for this book. His name is Ed Finnerty. He is the fatal character for Paul because he is the one who makes Paul realize his real position and all the people's real positions. He is a drunk and stupid person who is also dirty. He is only able to see the life and his own role in it as it really is. Ed Finnerty is the one who shows Paul the real life of the ordinary people beyond the river. The life they lead is terribly poor and pitiful despite all the technology that serves them. They are slaves of technology. They are so bored that they find entertainment in the meanest things like sitting in pubs and drinking till loss of consciousness. Ed visits Paul one evening and takes him to a pub. There they get in contact with some interesting people including some revolutionaries. Some of the people he meets there speak to him nicely and are glad to see him as the one who helped them find a job. Those are the workers from his