Summary

Kurt Vonnegut's first novel spins the chilling tale of engineer Paul Proteus, who must find a way to live in a world dominated by a supercomputer and run completely by machines. Paul's rebellion is vintage Vonnegut – wildly funny, deadly serious, and terrifyingly close to reality.
As an added bonus, when you purchase our Audible Modern Vanguard production of Kurt Vonnegut's book, you'll also receive an exclusive Jim Atlas interview. This interview – where James Atlas interviews Gay Talese about the life and work of Kurt Vonnegut – begins as soon as the audiobook ends.
©1980 Kurt Vonnegut (P)2008 Audible, Inc.
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Critic reviews

"Mr. Vonnegut is a sharp-eyed satirist." ( The New York Times)
"One of the best living American writers." (Graham Greene)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Matthew on 18-09-16

Uncanny prediction of today's world of automation.

I love Vonnegut's world view and style; his irreverence towards authority and satirical perspective. What makes him a superior satirist is how he doesn't need to resort to the hysterical. He's measured. His worlds, however inventive, are believable extrapolations of the real one.

I also think his irreverence is particularly mature. In this story which critiques thoughtless, directionless automation of industry in the name of unqualified "progress", he's very aware of the negative consequences of a luddite approach to technology. He's not so irresponsible to say "smash the system" and then walk away without any solutions. He also asks "and then what?" I'm not even sure he's on the side of his heroes who hope to smash the machines and return control to the people. My take home from this is we're damned if we do, damned if we don't when it comes to the use of tech. The best we can do is exploit tech in service of the sort of society we want, and not just for efficiency's sake, choosing carefully what we implement and what we don't for everyone's benefit.

As someone working in AI and concerned about the social and political ramifications of it, I can't believe Vonnegut was so "on it" over 50 years ago. We live in a prepubescent version of the tech utopia/nightmare he predicts. He's one of those writers who can look around him at our madness and synthesize it into a coherent criticism, show us common sense and suggest the humane thing to do.

One of my top ten novels.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By K. Fearnley on 16-09-16

Still great, don't worry about it being dated

Despite being full of technical stuff dated in the 50s, the issues and ideas are still relevant and the story telling is timeless. Very well read, with good voice acting across the range of characters. A funny and thought provoking book.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
1 out of 5 stars
By Christopher Bowers on 18-09-17

Poor narration

I am a huge Kurt Vonnegut fan, and was hoping to really enjoy listening to this book. I love the story, but the monotone (digitally sourced?) narration makes this impossible to listen too. Do not buy Kurt Vonnegut books from this series!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Pla77 on 08-02-16

Relevant today

This is particularly relevant given the rise of AI and references to vacuum tubes can easily be replaced with transistors without batting an eye. Like most Vonnegut he creates the engine, gets it running, takes a short drive and abruptly abandons it.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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