|About the Book|
A player pianos 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, aMoreA player pianos 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 the illusion of an invisible performer playing the instrument.Vonnegut uses the player piano as a metaphor to represent how the novels imaginary society is run by machines instead of people. Early in the book, Pauls friend & future member of the Ghost Shirt Society, Ed Finnerty, is shown playing a player piano, suggesting the idea of humans regaining control.The novel follows Doctor Paul Proteus, an Ilium Works engineer. In this future USA machines do everything, making people almost afterthoughts. Specialization is the norm. All wealthy upper-class people have doctorate level degrees, with eight years of schooling for everyone. This creates a society of well-educated thinkers, not doers. Paul seems to be on his way up the success ladder in this techno-utopia--a perfect wife, a fast-track position & a shot at a major promotion. But hes plagued with doubts about modern life. Thru a strange series of events, he joins a revolutionary organization, the Ghost Shirt Society, & even becomes its leader, at least in name. The past where humanity was all of the hope for the world is where the ghost shirt society got their inspiration. These Ghost Shirts, their name taken from the Native American Ghost Dance, succeed in destroying much of Iliums mechanized infrastructure. Yet, they realize the lack of hope in their mission. At the end it becomes clear that their goal was to give humanity hope instead of revolutionizing society.