Corporate science was not new by the time that both Vonnegut brothers went to General Electric to work. It is interesting that Vonnegut worked at GE, since it was the first American company to make a concerted effort to cultivate a lab of scientists and engineers as full-time employees of the company. Historians of the industrial research lab at GE, such as Julia Blackwelder, George Wise, and even to some extent the biographer Strand, all note that there was something unique about the lab that was separate and elevated from the rest of the company, that the scientists within the lab were their own versions of company celebrities. These historians also note the importance of big-name, big-ego scientists in this lab as driving the dynamic of the work being done, such as Charles Steinmetz and Irving Langmuir: Steinmetz was a mathematician and the cultivated face of GE at the beginning of the twentieth century, while Langmuir was the first American corporate scientist to win the Nobel Prize. Roland Marchand and Michael Smith note, in “Corporate Science on Display,” that while much of the purpose of these labs was innovation for the companies behind them, there was also a great deal of effort to capitalize on these “great men of science” for the purposes of publicity, with the scientific innovations of companies like GE showing up in places like Disneyland in the 1950s, as John Findlay discusses. Patrick McGrath points out that as long as they were creating results, scientists continued to gain authority in the United States. Vonnegut would agree with many of these assertions about corporate science and saw these trends as dangerous after his short tenure working in the public relations office at GE mainly because it was a slippery slope towards scientists being allowed to work on any projects without questioning the ethics of those projects.[1]

Out of Vonnegut’s time at GE came both Player Piano and Cat’s Cradle, and with those two novels, criticisms of corporations and corporate science. Vonnegut believed that he had a job for life at GE, if he wanted it, “womb to tomb,” as the saying went in corporate life at the time, ­ an extended family of professionals all engaged in furthering the company’s work.[2] However he was uneasy about his role as an organization man, which put him at odds with the changing economic landscape of the post-war period. He was not the only one who felt uneasy about a growing corporate culture. The term “organization man” was made famous by William Whyte’s book of the same name from 1956 and described the men who work for a company solely for the purposes of promoting that company, climbing the corporate ladder. While I have yet to find direct evidence that Vonnegut ever read Whyte, in many instances he voices concerns about corporate science similar to Whyte’s criticisms of corporations, especially the loss of autonomy that comes from corporate work. Whyte argued that Americans of this era became convinced that organizations and groups could make better decisions than individuals, and thus that serving an organization became logically preferable to advancing one’s individual creativity. Whyte rejected this idea, claiming that individual work and creativity can produce better outcomes than collectivist processes. He observed that organizations gave rise to risk-averse executives who could expect jobs for life if they made no egregious missteps.[3]

Vonnegut was uncomfortable at General Electric for two distinct reasons. First was the corporate environment itself. His job in the public relations department, specifically working to promote the work of the company, only made matters worse, since he was promoting the very thing that made him uneasy. Second, the work that General Electric was doing, both in its industrial research lab and on the factory lines, required that a small piece of the individual had to be given up when working to create different technologies. In a speech given to students at MIT in 1985, Vonnegut states, “In order to survive and even prosper, most of you will have to make somebody else’s technological dreams come true—along with your own, of course. You will have to form that mixture of dreams we call a partnership—or more romantically, a marriage.”[4] Vonnegut sees the give and take necessary for twentieth-century life and science, even if many aspects of corporate production were unsettling to him.

Vonnegut saw there were two distinct classes of workers taking part in corporate science and technological innovation: the corporate scientist and the corporate man. The corporate man lacks a level of agency that a corporate scientist possesses. These corporate men are the organization men that Whyte discusses. One could be a scientist working for a corporation and not be a corporate scientist, however, which is undoubtedly how Vonnegut saw Bernard in his tenure at General Electric, and how most scientists are depicted at General Forge in Cat’s Cradle. The key difference between Hoenikker and all the other scientists at General Forge was that Hoenikker could pursue whichever projects he wished to pursue (this is how he was able to work on ice-nine in the lab). The other men in the lab had to work on the projects assigned to them. Men like Hoenikker and Langmuir could drive the narrative to their own end, while men like Bernard, and even Hoenikker’s boss, Dr. Breed, are more cogs in the machine, than purveyors of their own fate. Vonnegut is also taking something from other forms of dystopian fiction from this period (Player Piano is often characterized as a dystopian novel). Protagonists in dystopian fiction are usually portrayed as resisting organizational structures.[5]

At General Electric, the industrial lab was conceived in 1901 from the mind of mathematician Charles Proteus Steinmetz, who became the public face of the company after the death of Edison.[6] After Steinmetz, GE would come to be known for the Nobel Prize-winning chemist Irving Langmuir.[7] It was within this lab that Langmuir came of age as a scientist and where Bernard would eventually be hired. To understand Vonnegut’s thoughts about corporate culture and corporate science, it is first important to understand Irving Langmuir and his relationship with Bernard and the work which they did together in the lab at GE. This is because Langmuir was, by Vonnegut’s own account, the perfect example of a corporate scientist, and his influence is seen especially in Cat’s Cradle.

A product of the lab since nearly its very beginning (he started to work at GE in 1909), Irving Langmuir had won a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1932, and, by 1940, was the highest paid employee at GE after the CEO.[8] Like Bernard, Langmuir was a trained chemist. His early work at GE revolved around the so-called “General Electric Project,” otherwise known as the light bulb. During the 1920s, he worked to create a gas-filled incandescent lamp. In 1932 Langmuir’s Nobel Prize was for discovering microscopic surface films. By the late 1930s, Langmuir had turned from chemistry to other fields of interest. During World War II, he worked with the military to improve naval sonar for submarine detection and worked on projects aimed at de-icing the wings of aircraft while in flight, similar in many ways to his Nobel Prize-winning work in microscopic films.[9] After the war, Langmuir was allowed complete discretion to work on whichever projects he so chose and compiled a team of other scientists to work with him. In 1946, he chose Bernard Vonnegut and Vincent Schaefer to work with him on “Project Cirrus” to study controlling the weather, a project sponsored by the Department of Defense which had had contracts with General Electric since the Second World War.[10] The aim of the project was seeding clouds to create rain using silver iodide, a discovery made by Bernard.

Under his advice, General Electric publicized the findings of the “Project Cirrus” group, touting it as the first steps of human control of the clouds and announcing the next steps, which were moving the experiments outdoors, despite the hesitations of both Schaefer and Bernard. Bernard had environmental concerns over shooting silver iodide into the atmosphere. From what they had seen in their experiments in the lab, silver iodide seemed to remain present in clouds for a very long time, and it was difficult to control the spread of the molecules once they interreacted with water. Knowing how variable the project was within the controlled environment of the lab, Bernard did not think it would be a good idea to start shooting silver iodide into the atmosphere. Regardless of his hesitations the project moved forward to on-site testing in New Mexico. In the end, the team was unable to replicate the lab experiments outside on a large enough scale, so General Electric and the Department of Defense decided not to continue to invest large sums of money into the project.[11] The project was scrapped in 1949, and a year later, in 1950, Langmuir retired from GE. Bernard left two years later.[12]

Both Kurt and Bernard were critical of Langmuir, but for different reasons. Bernard saw a level of neglect on the part of Langmuir in his thinking, especially regarding the environment. “Project Cirrus” aimed to inject chemicals into the atmosphere to produce rain, and it was unclear what negative effects an experiment like that could have. He did not give any interviews about “Project Cirrus” until after Langmuir died in 1957, at which point he came out quite critical of the entire project. In the interview he gave with B.S. Haven in 1957, Bernard stated in relationship to contemporary uses of cloud seeding by major corporations and the Federal government, “This is bad, I think, because I think they’re playing with fire releasing this stuff all over the place and I think it’s a shame they haven’t shown any sense of public responsibility particularly when they deny it has any large scale effect to stink up the atmosphere for hundreds or thousands of miles downwind producing God knows what effect.”[13] Bernard’s criticism of Langmuir is important because it highlights what he feels is important about science and its wider implications, and for Bernard, environmental implications were key. Langmuir was never overly concerned with the environment but this does not make him unique for this period. In a period of unbridled enthusiasm for science and technology, Langmuir’s attempt at injecting a level of machine-like order to the physical world without much regard for the effects, was in line with other scientists of this period.[14] While there were some, such as Rachel Carson, who shared in Bernard’s ecological concerns about our attempts at controlling nature, it is Bernard, not Langmuir who is more the outlier.

Kurt was more generally critical of the person of Langmuir: he seemed to be the absent-minded, unfeeling caricature of twentieth-century science. In his late life, after leaving General Electric, Langmuir is credited with coining the term “pathological science,” by which he meant science tainted by unconscious bias. Langmuir had spent much of his career cautioning against the idea of “science for science’s sake.” He was, at heart, a pragmatist. Moreover, he did not believe that morality and personal beliefs had a place in science, falling into a similar view of science as those who believed objectivity is key to good scientific practice. That would turn out to be one of the major differences that Kurt had with Langmuir: his lack of concern for the morality of his projects.[15]

In three separate interviews, in Playboy, The Nation, and The Paris Review, Vonnegut discusses that Langmuir is his inspiration for Hoenikker for various reasons.[16] Many of the anecdotes he tells about Hoenikker are true for Langmuir, the similarities between General Forge and General Electric in terms of their industrial labs lends further credence to this connection. Vonnegut’s purpose here was not to simply criticize a man he did not like—he was writing a caricature of a scientific type. The person of Langmuir and the character of Hoenikker are different. What Vonnegut saw as a lack of morality in science in the case of Langmuir was just a different type of morality than that of Vonnegut. Langmuir cared deeply about preventing a nuclear war and he was vocally against the use of the bomb. While Langmuir is certainly the inspiration for Felix Hoenikker, Vonnegut takes the idea of the amoral and indifferent scientist to a new level with Hoenikker specifically to create a caricature of the extreme type of scientist that Vonnegut imagines, in a way that does not represent the actual character of Langmuir.

Vonnegut related corporate culture to the military, both due to its highly hierarchical structure and because of the close connections between American corporations and the United States military during this period. This may be because he was only a few years out of the military when he went to work at GE with little experience outside of his time spent as an infantry man. That view of corporate culture spills over into both of the novels discussed here: that strict hierarchies are dangerous to the practice of science and to the lives of workers.[17]

In Player Piano, “Ilium was a training ground, where fresh graduates were sent to get the feel of industry and then moved on to bigger things. The staff was young, then and constantly renewing itself.”[18] More than just a training ground to produce new workers, Vonnegut creates a character that represents himself and his discomfort with what he sees as the soul-crushing task of giving up one’s sense of personal identity working for a large corporation or company. Vonnegut uses Paul to voice his discomfort.

When Paul thought about his effortless rise in the hierarchy, he sometimes, as now, felt sheepish, like a charlatan. He could handle his assignments all right, but he didn’t have what his father had, what Kroner had, what Shepherd had, what so many had: the sense of spiritual importance in what they were doing; the ability to be moved emotionally, almost like a lover, by the great omnipresent and omniscient spook, the corporate personality. In short, Paul missed what made his father aggressive and great: the capacity to really give a damn.[19]


Paul does not fit in Ilium any more than Vonnegut fits in at GE. Both feel a sense of loss as to their place in the giant corporations, feeling like nothing more than cogs in a machine, having their individuality suppressed for the greater good of the corporation.

There is a similar dynamic apparent at the beginning of Cat’s Cradle, where the dangers of corporate culture are much less overt than they are in Player Piano. The reader is only briefly allowed to interact with the General Forge and Foundry Company, where Felix Hoenikker worked on the bomb and ice-nine. Similar in scope to the actual General Electric company, there are large swaths of employees at the company who hold jobs much in the same vein as Vonnegut did: secretaries, less brilliant researchers, supervisors, company men. These workers are told what to do and when to do it, without knowing the full scope of how they are contributing to the scientific endeavors of the company. Figurative cogs in a machine, doing their specific work without being privy to the entire picture.[20] Meanwhile, Felix Hoenikker was a brilliant man who was left to his own devices, allowed to pursue any research topic that tickled his fancy at the moment. Dr. Asa Breed, Hoenikker’s boss even seems proud of allowing Felix to really do whatever he wants, stating, “Pure research men work on what fascinates them, not on what fascinates other people.” [21] Knowledge is the ultimate goal of General Forge. To allow a man to just do whatever he wants, regardless of the consequences, fits perfectly with the “Project Cirrus” experiments of Langmuir and Bernard, something which both Bernard and Kurt found to be problematic in the real-world case of cloud seeding.

While the pursuit of knowledge is a perfectly admirable goal for science, one which we saw many times throughout the twentieth century in events like the discovery of Penicillin and the race to the moon, one which can unite people and give them hope, Vonnegut is arguing for the need to consider people and practicality when pursuing knowledge. Vonnegut’s character of Dr. von Koenigswald in Cat’s Cradle, the former SS doctor for Papa Monzano as he is dying in San Lorenzo, tells Jonah, “I am a very bad scientist. I will do anything to make a human being feel better, even if it’s unscientific. No scientist worthy of the name could say such a thing.”[22] While he is a former officer for the SS (which is a condemnation of the man’s past behavior), he is ironically a moral converse to Felix Hoenikker who is Vonnegut’s ultimate amoral scientist.[23]

In Cat’s Cradle, the first description of Felix Hoenikker, given by his son Newt, states, “he was one of the best protected human beings who ever lived. People couldn’t get at him because he just wasn’t interested in people.” Hoenikker is simply oblivious to the fact that other people exist in the world. The humor and satire that arise from the character Hoenikker, however, were not always made up. Some of the passages are true anecdotes of Langmuir and of the work which Bernard helped with in the industrial research lab, such as an incident where, on the morning of his Nobel prize win, he left a tip on the table for his wife after breakfast, showing how little regard he had for her.[24] Bernard’s discovery for the uses of silver iodide bears a striking similarity to the Hoenikker children discovering the uses for their recently deceased father’s final project, killing the family dog with what they would soon discover was ice-nine.[25] A kernel of the idea for the story in Cat’s Cradle comes from Irving Langmuir. In the 1920s, much before Kurt and Bernard’s time at GE, H.G. Wells visited the industrial research lab, where he met Irving Langmuir. Langmuir proceeded to tell Wells an idea he had for a science fiction story, about a substance called ice-nine which raises the freezing temperature of water.[26] This is a story that Vonnegut was well aware of since it was company lore by the time the Vonnegut brothers came to GE, and played into his understanding of Langmuir.

Embedded within these criticisms of corporate life (the strict hierarchy that robs a person of individuality and purpose, practicing science for the sake of doing science, amoral scientists and the dangers they present) is the cautionary tale of what is produced when people are brought up in this corporate environment. In Player Piano, the chief criticism that Vonnegut brings to Anita at the beginning of the text is that she “had the mechanics of marriage down pat,” and that she “was thorough enough to turn out a creditable counterfeit of warmth.”[27] Here was a woman that had tricked Paul into marrying her in order for her to move up the corporate ladder, and not be left behind in the Homestead, due to her lack of talent.[28] Later, when Paul has made a fool of himself on the company retreat, and clearly is planning on leaving his job, and disrupting her comfortable way of life, Anita lashes out at Paul for also being mechanical, having come up in the corporate setting himself, saying “I wasn’t any damn use to you is all! Finnerty was right, all you need is something stainless steel, shaped like a woman, covered with sponge rubber, and heated to body temperature.” She makes a fair point. Paul is just as removed from his humanity as it would seem Anita is; neither is able to connect with other people. However, Paul is much more disillusioned with his technological life than his wife, yearning for the simplicity of the farm, and the possibility of a normal domestic life. Anita is correct that technology has changed Paul into something less human than he used to be and that his expectations about people are not realistic but instead based upon fantasies of life without technology that have been tainted by that technology.

For Anita and Paul, the only consequence of their corporate upbringing and cold nature is the overthrow of the doctors and engineers, completely disrupting everyone’s way of life. In Cat’s Cradle, Felix’s amorality and lack of humanity have much more dire consequences. Emily Hoenikker dies when all her children are quite young, leaving Angela to raise the two boys without the help of her father. Felix’s disinterest in his children left them all scarred in one way or another. However, he instilled in them an interest in science and his work, and upon his death, they were left with a small piece of ice-nine, the thing of which he was most proud of, leaving them no instruction as to what it was or how it could be used.[29] “Angela, Franklin, and Newton Hoenikker had in their possession seeds of ice-nine, seeds grown from their father’s seed—chips, in a manner of speaking, off the old block.”[30] Hoenikker’s indifference to the uses of his discoveries spills over into an indifference to the moral education of his children, whom he neglects. Eventually it leads to the end of the world.

Vonnegut was not alone in attacking corporate science. His stories lent their voice to one side of a debate between those who found corporate science good and those who were like Vonnegut very critical of it. During this period, corporate science actively crept into entertainment, where we see some opposition to Vonnegut’s criticisms of corporate science. Most notably there is the entire early conception of Disneyland in Southern California. “If an organization’s ability to affect language is any measure of its influence, then the Walt Disney company has been one of the most influential organizations in the English-speaking world.”[31] Outside of Disney’s influence on the way that we speak, and even imagine at this point, is the influence that the Disney parks have played on the American psyche since Disneyland first opened in July 1955. One major aspect of that park was the creation of the Tomorrowland exhibit, which featured prominent companies, and the technologies which they were producing in order to bring about a new conception of an American future. Prominent American corporations, eager to be associated with Disney and to pronounce to their public how they would improve the world of the future, sponsored their own displays in the style of capitalist realism. The General Electric Company planned exhibits to dramatize progress through electricity. First in unrealized proposals for an “Edison Square” and then in the Carousel of Progress, G.E. identified itself with a future of spaceships landing on Venus, interplanetary television, electrically powered rapid transit, nuclear power, and enclosed, climate-controlled downtowns. Observers took such predictions seriously. When Vice President Richard Nixon officiated at the opening of the Disneyland Monorail in 1959, he joined reporters in viewing it as a plausible solution to “grave traffic problems in urban areas.”[32]

While corporations such as the Walt Disney Company were quick to promote the wonders of corporate science and the corporate environment which bred such advancements, the early twentieth century and the 1950s, saw many works of art that actively criticized corporatism, much in the same way Vonnegut did. It would be foolish of me to discuss literary criticisms of corporatism without pointing to the work of Aldous Huxley, and his work Brave New World (1932). While it is published a full two decades before Player Piano (and is often the work which Player Piano is most often compared to), Huxley presents a world which literally worships corporate culture, and the father of American automation, Henry Ford. The official propaganda of Huxley’s World Government glorifies science as a central value of the society, the technological capability of the giant government-industrial complex that rules the society functioning as a main symbol of its power.

More contemporary to Vonnegut and the two novels discussed here are pieces of fiction, both written and on the big screen, such as The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit and The Man in the White Suit. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit was first published by Sloan Wilson in 1955, and subsequently made into a film in 1956. It tells the tale of an American’s search for purpose in a world dominated by business, a suburban tale of quiet desperation. Tom Rath is haunted by his past in the military and is growing increasingly discontent with his climb up the corporate ladder, and he eventually leaves his job in the search of some sort of new life, which will better fulfill him and his family. It exemplifies a shift in managers being portrayed in fiction, as well as movies, as ambivalent rather than corrupt, which was the trend in the Great Depression. On the other hand, the film The Man in the White Suit (1951) presents a chemist who has too much humanity for the corporation in which he works, and when he discovers that his invention is going to be used for nefarious purposes, steals the glowing white suit and, quite literally, runs from corporate life. Both pieces of fiction present arguments similar to Player Piano and Cat’s Cradle, wishing for something more from corporate America, demonizing the removal of humanity from corporate life.

Vonnegut’s key criticism of corporate science is that doing science without explicitly considering cost or benefit to people results in dangerous science and technology being created. In Player Piano, climbing the corporate ladder by competing to create the most useful automation technology leads to humans being replaced on a massive scale and to people leading what Vonnegut deems to be useless lives. Meanwhile, the freedom that characters like Hoenikker are accorded in this corporate science structure can allow for dangerous technologies, such as ice-nine, to escape the control of humanity. Feeling disillusioned by the promises of a steady income and work, while systematically having his individuality stripped from him, was clearly not unique to Vonnegut. However, his commentary on the dangers of allowing science to be done by these large institutions, both major corporations and the United States government, speaks to wider fears about the purpose of science in a post-war world. Vonnegut is not unique in fearing the road that corporate science might take us down. Marchand, Smith, and McGrath all point to general attitudes towards corporate science that shifted during the early twentieth century, as a result of the prosperity of the country. McGrath makes the argument that through this century, we see a general shift of power from elite individuals to elite institutions.[33] While in many cases this may be true, that the power lies with the corporations, not the corporate scientists, Vonnegut would not be so quick to dismiss the power of the individual scientist to do harm, as he tries to show with Felix Hoenikker. While it could be argued that Hoenikker stands in for more than just a person, as a representative of an entire institution or practice of science, Vonnegut carefully chooses to make the life choices of a few individuals responsible for all the events that follows.

[1] Julia Blackwelder. Electric City: General Electric in Schenectady. (College Station, Texas: Texas A&M Univerity Press, 2014); George Wise. Willis R. Whitney, General Electric, and the Origins of the US Industrial Research. (New York, New York: Columbia University Press, 1985); Ginger Strand, The Brothers Vonnegut: Science and Fiction in the House of Magic. (New York, New York: Farrar, Strause, and Giroux, 2015); Roland Marchand and Michael Smith, “Corporate Science on Display.” In Scientific Authority & Twentieth Century America, 148–82. (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997); Mark Findlay. Magic Lands: Western Cityscapes and American Culture After 1940. (University of California Press, 1993); Patrick McGrath. Scientists, Business, and the State, 1890-1960. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002).

[2] Charles Shields. And So It Goes. (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2011): 99.

[3] William Whyte. The Organization Man. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956): 4.

[4] Kurt Vonnegut, “Speech at MIT” (1985), in Fates Worse than Death: An Autobiographical Collage of the 1980s by Kurt Vonnegut (New York: G.P Putnam’s Sons, 1991): 118.

[5] David Seed. ““The Flight from the Good Life: ‘Fahrenheit 451’ in the Context of Postwar American Dystopias.” Journal of American Studies 28, no. 2 (1994): 239.

[6] George Wise. Willis R Whitney, General Electric, and the Origins of Us Industrial Research (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985).

[7] Albert Rosenfeld. The Quintessence of Irving Langmuir. (New York: Pergamon Press, 1966).

[8] Ibid., 136.

[9] Ibid., 190.

[10] Albert Rosenfeld. The Quintessence of Irving Langmuir. (New York: Pergamon Press, 1966): 299.

[11] Cloud seeding is still practiced in some areas of the world, such as Australia and the People’s Republic of China; however, it has been a controversial topic since its inception and most climate scientists frown upon its practice.

[12] Albert Rosenfeld. The Quintessence of Irving Langmuir. (New York: Pergamon Press, 1966): 301

[13] Bernard Vonnegut. Interview with B.S Havens, February 12, 1957. Transcript in Vonnegut Papers.

[14] David Kinkela. “The Ecological Landscapes of Jane Jacobs and Rachel Carson.” American Quarterly 61, no. 4 (2009): 909.

[15] David Hayman, David Michaelis, George Plimpton, and Richard Rhodes. “Kurt Vonnegut, the Art of Fiction” in The Paris Review No 69 (Spring 1977): 37.

[16] “Kurt Vonnegut Interview.” Playboy. July 1973; Robert Musil. “There Must be More to Love than Death: Interview with Kurt Vonnegut” in The Nation (August 1980); David Hayman, David Michaelis, George Plimpton, and Richard Rhodes. “Kurt Vonnegut, the Art of Fiction” in The Paris Review No 69 (Spring 1977).

[17] “The civic managers were the career administrators who ran the city. They lived on the same side of the river as the managers and engineers of the Ilium Works, but the contact between the two groups was little more than perfunctory and, traditionally, suspicious. The schism, like so many things, dated back to the war, when the economy had, for efficiency’s sake, became monolithic. The question had arisen: who was to run it, the bureaucrats, the heads of business and industry, or the military? Business and bureaucracy had stuck together long enough to overwhelm the military and had since worked side by side, abusively and suspiciously, but, like Kroner and Baer, each unable to do a whole job without the other.” Kurt Vonnegut. Player Piano. (New York: Dial Press, 2006): 81-83.

[18] Kurt Vonnegut. Player Piano. (New York: Dial Press, 2006): 42.

[19] Ibid., 90.

[20] Kurt Vonnegut. Cat’s Cradle. (New York: Dial Press, 2010): 38.

[21] Kurt Vonnegut. Cat’s Cradle. (New York: Dial Press, 2010): 49.

[22] Ibid., 219.

[23] In literature, amoral scientists are often powerful people, eminent in government policy-making or acting as advisers to the military-industrial complex, their impact may be pervasive and insidious. Roslynn Haynes discusses this at length in From Faust to Strangelove: Representations of the Scientist in Western Literature. There’s a frequently invoked assumption that science is value-free, that science is neither good nor bad, only its applications, symptomatic of the paradigm of amorality in science is the realization in the twentieth century of two of the alchemists’ dreams: the creation of mechanical ‘human’ beings and the discovery of the source of almost limitless power. The unfeeling scientist who has reneged on human relationships and suppressed all human affections in the cause of science. Most enduring stereotype of all and still provide the most common image of the scientist in popular thinking. In the 20th century, his emotional deficiency is condemned as inhuman, even sinister, but in a less extreme form it is also condoned, even admired, as the inevitable price scientists must pay to achieve their disinterestedness.

[24] Tom McCartan. Kurt Vonnegut: The Last Interview and Other Conversations. (New York: Melville House, 2011): 37.

[25] Kurt Vonnegut. Cat’s Cradle. (New York: Dial Press, 2010): 241.

[26] James Fleming. Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010, Kindle Edition): 46.

[27] Kurt Vonnegut. Player Piano. (New York: Dial Press, 2006): 17.

[28] Though, to be fair, it would seem that Anita has many talents that cannot be replaced by a machine, even if they are not beneficial to society as a whole.

[29] Kurt Vonnegut. Cat’s Cradle (New York: Dial Press, 2010): 246.

[30] Ibid., 53.

[31] John Findlay. Magic Lands. (Berkley: University of California Press, 1993): 52.

[32] John Findlay. Magic Lands. (Berkley: University of California Press, 1993): 71.

[33] Patrick McGrath. Scientists, Business, and the State, 1890-1960. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002): 1.