The book itself was an interesting read, not necessarily the best book I'd ever read, but compelling enough for me to finish it.
That being said, sometimes the sexism in early science fiction is so glaring that it makes it hard for me to enjoy it. It's intriguing to notice that men who attempted to envision the future with insights about scientific advancements, and the political consequences, were usually quite dull-witted as far as imagining a future in which women had anything essential to contribute to the world.
The women in Player Piano are merely props for the men of the story. They are flat characters.
Anita, the wife of Paul Proteus, the protagonist of the story, doesn't work and spends all of her time nagging Paul. Paul values her only because she is a "sexual genius".
Paul's secretary, Katharine, does nothing more than mope over her relationship with another engineer. She does nothing productive and only answers the phone.
My bone of contention isn't that Vonnegut doesn't have more female characters, it's that the female characters he has drawn are so stereo-typically caricatured that they might as well not exist. It isn't even that they are stereo-typically feminine as much as they are a particular 50's-style stereotype...of the woman in the apron making pot roast and planning dinner parties, and laying out her husband's clothes for the next day after she's brought him a cocktail.
After just a couple of chapters of this nonsense I recalled reading The Voyage of the Space Beagle, an early space opera written at about the same time as Player Piano. The story followed a spaceship exploring the galaxy as it encountered various alien species which usually were malevolent. The crew fights off each species in different ways, led by Dr. Elliot Grosvenor. At one point in the story, the author explains that there are no women on board because it is a scientific expedition and women would just be a sexual distraction.
Because everybody knows that women couldn't be scientists, or spaceship engineers, or explorers. Women are really only good for one thing--to be sexual partners for men.
Huxley's, Brave New World, has female characters which are a bit more fleshed out, but even the male characters, while discussing one of the female characters, go on about how sexually pneumatic she is.
It occurred to me that Tolstoy was more respectful of women in Anna Karenina, written between 1873-1877, than these men in the twentieth century were. While most of Tolstoy's female characters inhabited the typically feminine spheres of home and children, they were never trivialized. Their thoughts and feelings were as valid and truthful as the the thoughts and feelings of their male counterparts. He respected women as people, capable as any man of true emotion, understanding, and sentiment.
Perhaps the type of men that wrote early sci-fi were the type of men who were so interested in machines and science, that they had little time to ponder the complexity of human relationships and women. Maybe they were the early predecessors of the nerdy sci-fi geeks who spend all their time researching the Klingon language and attending Comic-Con.
Whatever the reason for their lack of insight into social advances, it's always a disappointment to read such unvarnished drivel in a genre I enjoy.