Best 1952 Adventures (8)

By: Joshua Glenn
July 7, 2017

One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1952 adventure novels. Happy 65th anniversary!

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VONNEGUT PIANO

Kurt Vonnegut’s Golden Age sci-fi adventure Player Piano (1952).

During WWIII, while the American (male) workforce was fighting overseas, out of necessity American engineers made tremendous strides in automating most manual labor. Today (in the near future), most Americans are either busy and fulfilled engineers and managers, on the one hand, or discontented idlers, on the other. Paul Proteus, successful and contented manager of the automated Ilium Works, is the son of one of the men who created this new economic and social order; although he’s inherited his father’s reputation, he harbors secret doubts. An anthropologist and Episcopalian minister, Reverend Lasher, persuades Paul that life without meaningful work is boring and inhuman; Paul begins to fantasize about quitting his job and living off the grid. During a retreat for elite engineers, Paul quits his job — at which point Lasher’s secret organization begins to use him as a messianic figurehead for their anti-technology revolution. What will transpire when the revolution begins?

Fun fact: Vonnegut’s first novel was inspired by Brave New World, as well as by his own postwar experience working at General Electric. At the time, he didn’t want it classified as “science fiction.”

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Let me know if I’ve missed any 1952 adventures that you particularly admire. Also, please check out these additional lists. The 200 Greatest Adventure Novels of All Time. THE OUGHTS (1904–13): 1905 | 1906 | 1907 | 1908 | 1910 | 1911 | 1912 | 1913. THE TEENS (1914–23): 1915 | 1916 | 1917 | 1918 | 1920 | 1921 | 1922 | 1923. THE TWENTIES (1924–33): 1925 | 1926 | 1927 | 1928 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933. THE THIRTIES (1934–43): 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943. THE FORTIES (1944–53): 1945 | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 | 1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953. THE FIFTIES (1954–63): 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963. THE SIXTIES (1964–73): 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973. THE SEVENTIES (1974–83): 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983. The goal, eventually, is to publish a Top 10 Adventures list for every year of the 20th century.

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Adventure, Lit Lists

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