Now 2024 Previous Articles Road Essays Road Reviews Author Black Authors Title Source Age Genre Series Format Inclusivity LGBTA+ Artwork WIP

Recent posts

Month in review

Bo at Iditarod Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill
A Buss from Lafayette by Dorothea Jensen
The Cathedral of Fear by Irene Adler
Cave of Bones by Anne Hillerman
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel
A Fatal Chapter by Lorna Barrett
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Giant Days, Volume 7 by John Allison The Good Little Book by Kyo Maclear
Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen
How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringiyimana and Abigail Pesta
The Left-Handed Fate by Kate Milford
Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly
Murder Most Frothy by Cleo Coyle
My Life in Dioramas by Tara Altebrando
Noragami Volume 05 by Adachitoka
Paper Girls, Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan
Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Puerto Rico Strong edited by Hazel Newlevant
Sovereign by April Daniels
Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente
Spy on History: Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring by Enigma Alberti
Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartmen
This Fallen Prey by Kelley Armstrong
Title Wave by Lorna Barrett
Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles
When the Silliest Cat Was Small by Gilles Bachelet
Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth by Jeff Anderson

Children's fantasy that isn't British
March 2018 Sources
March 2018 Summary
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (April 02) It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (April 09) It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (April 16) It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (April 23) It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (April 30)

Road Essays
Mapping Labyrinth (1986)
The Monster in the middle

Previous month

Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

Beat the Backlist 2024

Ozathon: 12/2023-01/2025

Canadian Book Challenge: 2023-2024

Chicken Prints
Paintings and Postcards

Privacy policy

This blog does not collect personal data. It doesn't set cookies. Email addresses are used to respond to comments or "contact us" messages and then deleted.

Player Piano: 04/20/18

Player Piano

Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. is a post war story about out of control automation and the people whose lives are affected by it. I read the book as a narrative analysis dialog with the player piano that features so prominently in season one of Westworld.

Before I read the book, I also hashed out some of my ideas in an off the cuff proto-essay on my Tumblr: The OST of the Uncanny Valley. The opening sequence of Westworld shows skeletal Host fingers playing the opening theme. The fingers happened to be rotoscoped 3D animations of the show's composer which brings its own special level of uncanny valley into the experience.

The use of the player piano / Host / rotoscoped composer to play music in Westworld I still need to address in a fully realized essay. Suffice it to say it was the inspiration for me looking for books featuring player pianos. One of the titles that cropped up was Vonnegut's.

The title is a metaphor for the post war automation this particular town is experiencing. On one side of the river are the factories. On the other side of the river are the engineers. The factories, once employing people to build things now uses robots to do the same. Of course that has happened but these robots are more like player pianos in that they run on the recorded movements of the most efficient human employees.

Beyond the uncanny valley of half a town being given over to automation, there is a weird, racist pseudo-Arab sounding delegation that has come to learn about the automation process. Their presence happens to coincide with a laid-off worker rebellion.

Then on a more personal level, there is the failing marriage of one of the few remaining human workers in this town who ends up having an affair whilst out on an all night drinking binge.

The book isn't my favorite Vonnegut. Nor is it in the realm of my favorite. But it did serve as a way to think through the player piano motif of Westworld.

Three stars

Comments (0)

Lab puppy
Email (won't be posted):
Blog URL:

Twitter Tumblr Mastadon Flickr Facebook Facebook Contact me

1997-2024 Sarah Sammis