Chapter XXIV, PLAYER PIANO

Self has been laughing for two days straight. Ever since she started Chapter XXIV of Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano. She can’t remember reading with this much gusto since — Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior? Wait, that was just two months ago. Anyhoo . . .

In the world of Player Piano, which is supposed to be science fiction but is so AU self wishes she could wake Kurt Vonnegut from his grave and tell him he was in the wrong category, everyone is classified by occupation, and there are book clubs (You’d think that would be the first to go in the world of the future but anyhoo). These clubs are run like so:

pp. 210 – 211

“A lot of research goes into what’s run off, believe me. Surveys of public reading tastes, readability and appeal tests on books being considered. Heavens, running off an unpopular book would put a club out of business like that!” He snapped his fingers ominously. “The way they keep culture so cheap is by knowing in advance what and how much of it people want. They get it right, right down to the color of the jacket. Gutenberg would be amazed.”

“Gutenberg?” said Khashdrahr.

“Sure — the man who invented movable type. First man to mass-produce Bibles.”

Alla sutta takki?” said the Shah.

“Eh?” said Halyard.

“Shah wants to know if he made a survey first.”

“Anyway,” said the girl, “my husband’s book was rejected by the Council.”

“Badly written,” said Halyard primly. “The standards are high.”

“Beautifully written,” she said patiently. “But it was twenty-seven pages longer than the maximum length; its readability quotient was 26.3, and — “

“No club will touch anything with an RQ above 17,” explained Halyard.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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