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Player Piano

Player Piano is a novel by Kurt Vonnegut, published in 1952, about a near-future society that is almost totally mechanized and automated, eliminating the middle class and creating conflict between the wealthy upper class of engineers that keeps society running and the lower class of people with no skills that can't be replaced by machines.

The name comes from the musical device called a player piano - a piano that plays without human intervention, according to holes previously punched in an unwinding scroll.

Paul Proteus, the novel's protagonist, is the head of industry in Ilium, New York. He is caught in the middle of the conflict, forced to choose whether to continue his work and move on to a future of fame and success, or become the figurehead leader of a rebellion against the machine society. Although the novel is technically science fiction, the sci-fi elements take a back seat to the characters and sociological themes.