Free eBook The HumanoidsAuthor Jack Williamson –

This is an interesting semi hard golden age Sci Fi novel Much of the science is up to date for the time, but it also contains fictional or proposed science which seems to be internally consistent I appreciated the technical details in both the science and the speculative science It is also a fictional proposal of what we now call a GUT or Grand Unification Theory, combining all of the fundamental forces of the universe into one elegant equation He does this by creating 2 additional forces which science has yet to discover Thus we have fictional science as well as real science As usual, I am amazed by what was known in the 30 s and 40 s It is an interesting speculation, especially his putting mind into the equation, explaining paranormal events or behaviors This almost takes on a spiritual dimension and forecasts the philosophical implication of modern physics seen in books such as Dancing Wu Li Masters and He is rather successful in the novel In addition to all of this which for the most part carries the plot, I got a strong sense of the dangers of technology which today have become anti science as well as the notion of freedom But, if you accept the ending, you will discover that science and technology are ultimately good for mankind I had some problems with how this ended in view of the protagonist s point of view which to push and I am not sure I accept the novels conclusion It is however a solution worthwhile contemplating.Reading through the reviews and comments about this novel, I notice the inevitable complaint about the place of women in the novel The 2 women, Forester s wife and Jane, the kid with powers are presented as women or girls were in those days IMO, one should read such older novels in the context of the times it was written It is how it was It provides a point of comparison for the fantastic advances that have occurred in woman s issues since those days Interesting novel. A classic full of great and wondrous ideas hence the two stars instead of one , but some of the very worst writing I ve slogged through in years Williamson never met an adverb he couldn t sophomorically abuse Ugh He also rushed the ending to disastrous effect, which is too bad the book would ve been somewhat less awful had he spent effort on developing the turnabout This juvenile crap makes Asimov s prose seem beautiful by comparison Edit I couldn t in good conscience let the two star rating stand Really, the writing was that awful. Without A Doubt One Of The Most Important Science Fantasy Books Of Its DecadeDamon KnightOn The Far Planet Wing IV, A Brilliant Scientist Creates The Humanoids Sleek Black Androids Programmed To Serve Humanity But Are They Perfect Servants Or Perfect Masters Slowly The Humanoids Spread Throughout The Galaxy, Threatening To Stifle All Human Endeavor Only A Hidden Group Of Rebels Can Stem The Humanoid Tide If It S Not Already Too LateFirst Published In Astounding Science Fiction During The Magazine S Heyday, The Humanoids Science Fiction Grand Master Jack Williamson S Finest Novel Has Endured For Fifty Years As A Classic On The Theme Of Natural Versus Artificial LifeAlso Included In This Edition Is The Prelude Novelette, With Folded Hands, Which Was Chosen For The Science Fiction Hall Of FameWilliamson S Best Novel, A Classic Dystopia And The Single Best Work On Robot S Outside Of The Work Of Isaac AsimovTwentieth Century Science Fiction Writers Interesting in that there s a lot of science, based on an attempt to explore ideas raised by quantum mechanics as opposed to Newtonian physics There I think we ve found it the mechanics of teleportation No transfer of actual substance, but rather an exchange of identities, brought on by controlled probability That gets us around the old electromagnetic problems of inertia and instantaneous acceleration Much is made of something called rhodomagnetics, too.Otherwise, the concept is covered effectively in the short story, With Folded Hands, imo.However view spoiler the ending of this confuses me Is it really bleak, in that Forester is now brain washed Or has he come to see past his hatred to accept the humanoids as partners I do own the sequel so I ll have to check hide spoiler Every so often, I run across a book that has an intriguing idea, but is rather dull and dry for reading Vinge s Rainbows End and Flynn s Eifelheim are two recent examples, and now Williamson s The Humanoids can go on that list I discovered the book through a Webcomic, of all things, but the description of the novel captured my imagination In a distant future, the Humanoids, a race of robots with a prime directive to protect humans at all costs, effectively invades different planets and takes over The Humanoids are so painstakingly dedicated to their directive that humans cannot cook the heat is too dangerous , perform crafts scissors can be dangerous , or even drive cars are too dangerous Once they begin their assimilation into society, the humans begin to feel imprisoned, and any signs of unhappiness on their part is met with a form of lobotomy so that humans no longer feel unhappy It s a frightening concept, and it made me uneasy during much of the novel.The novel is actually a collection of a short story, With Folded Hands, that introduces the Humanoids, and the novel proper, which continues with the concept of their invasion They were both published in the late 1940s, and aside from the usual sexist portrayals of women and men, it s still a timely book The writing style became obtuse in portions, as the author spent a great deal of the narrative discussing the science behind the rhodomagnetic science, but the story itself captured me The story accounts several attempts by humans to stop the Humanoids, only to show them fail each time I felt anxious for the characters to end the tyranny of the overprotective androids, and frustrated when they met with failure each time The Humanoids were just too efficient to defeat.Which brings me to the point of the novel that troubles me It s depressing, to me, to think of a rule such as this, and the novel doesn t bring any clear resolution to the issue that makes me feel any better about it There is a happy ending, of sorts, but it s a case of mutual existence between the Humanoids and the humans, and I almost felt betrayed by that conclusion The story is told in such a way as to make the reader feel as outraged as the protagonists, but in the end, I felt cheated by the ending Was I supposed to Or was I supposed to be accepting of the final outcome between the humans and their captors I enjoyed the novel, because it contained some interesting social commentary, and elicited some genuine emotion from me It was slow going, but ultimately satisfying I would recommend it to anyone wanting to catch up on some of the obscure classic science fiction, and would suggest that they email me about it when they finish it so I can see if I m the only one who feels like I do about the conclusion. The central conundrum this novel explores is the dichotomy between safety and liberty At first glance they seem to be mutually exclusive, an inevitable trade off between one and the other, but is it conceivable that they might ever be reconciled, for humanity to achieve both completely Humanity has spread out across the galaxy but now someone has unleashed a race of supremely powerful robots who s prime directive is to protect all humanity from harm The are going from planet to planet imposing safety and happiness on all humans they find, whether they like it or not All potentially harmful physical or intellectual activities are proscribed and if they re not happy, they are sedated with drugs There is a bewildering array of psudo sciences explored in this novel too Not only were these robots made possible by the discovery of a new rhodo magnetic spectrum of energy but also faster than light travel and bombs exponentially powerful than conventional nuclear weapons Some humans have stumbled upon discovering parapsychological powers which they are using to resist the robotic occupation and these seem to be the unconscious manipulation of yet another spectrum of energy the psychophysical Could these three types of energies be related in some way to form some grand unifying theory of everything including consciousness itself So, this is an action packed novel that is also packed with ideas and revolving around the central question of liberty verses safety And like all great stories, it doesn t attempt to tell you the answer. Classic SF This is a very early SF novel Post WW II from the Golden Age written by one of the Grandmasters of Science Fiction It is Dystopian in nature and involves Technology gone wild The first 50 pages is a novelette With Folded Hands about mechanized robots called Humanoids slowly taking over mankind due to a benevolent Prime Directive which is to Serve and Protect and allow no harm to come to humans They allow no humans to drive, ride a bicycle, have unsupervised sex, smoke, drink, or anything that may allow harm or even unhappiness to come to a human being We soon find that humanity is completely stifled by the Humanoids which will do whatever is necessary to protect humanity include altering their minds The novel The Humanoids was actually a novel length rewrite but actually can be read as a sequel to With Folded Hands In this case, The Humanoids , travel to a remote planet system to bring their Prime Directive to a new group of humans that are involved in a cold war with their neighboring planets They are opposed by a group of dissenters who have developed powers which the author calls Psychophysical clairvoyance, telekinesis, teleportation, etc who join with a scientist who is an expert in a fictional science called Rhodomagnetics The ending has been confused over the years Some finding it ambiguous I highly recommend this book if you appreciate hard science fiction It still holds up well today. The humanoids are out there in a great science fiction story that was written in the late forites, but is still amazing to read today. 3.0 stars Classic science fiction novel by Jack Williamson that explores the same themes and basic set up as his ground breaking novella With Folded Hands While this is a good story, I thought that With Folded Hands was tightly focused, created a better sense of dread and was the superior story That said, this is still a good story and worth the read. The late 1940s was a period of remarkable creativity for future sci fi Grand Master Jack Williamson July 47 saw the release of his much acclaimed short story With Folded Hands in the pages of Astounding Science Fiction, followed by the tale s two part serialized sequel, And Searching Mind, in that influential magazine s March and April 1948 issues Darker Than You Think, Williamson s great sci fi fantasy horror hybrid, was released later in 1948, and 1949 saw the publication of And Searching Mind in hardcover form, and retitled The Humanoids With Folded Hands had been a perfect ly downbeat short story that introduced us to the Humanoids, sleek black robots invented by a technician named Sledge on planet Wing IV The robots built in Prime Directive hmmmwhy does that phrase seem so familiar is To Serve and Obey, And Guard Men From Harm Unfortunately, this leaves mankind with very little to do, as the mechanicals prevent humans from participating in anything that might be potentially dangerous in other words, just about everything Sledge s efforts to wipe out the master brain on Wing IV that is controlling the billions of self replicating mechanicals are, sadly, fruitless, which sets us up for the action in The Humanoids Flash forward 90 years Actually, this novel takes place a good 6,000 years from our present day, the reader infers On an unnamed planet, a physicist named Forester, head of a secret government project that is constructing a prototype rhodomagnetic bomb, comes to realize that the newly arrived Humanoids on his world are a bane, not a boon, to mankind This realization is strengthened when the robots give his wife the brain wiping drug known as euphoride to keep her happy, and when his beloved pet project is dismantled by the Humanoids as being too dangerous for men to engage in Forester joins a band of paraphysical misfits gifted with the powers of clairvoyance, telekinesis, telepathy and teleportation to fight the Humanoids and alter their Prime Directive by going to the distant world of Wing IV itself Readers expecting a traditional humans vs ray zapping evil robots story such as Williamson s 1939 novel After World s End may be surprised to learn that this engrossing tale is anything but The robots here are not at all presented as evil if anything, they are guilty of killing mankind s spirit with too much kindness, and their benevolence is ultimately a mixed blessing at best In the book s ambivalently downbeat ending, a case is made for the Humanoids positive aspects by Sledge himself, here, for some reason, renamed Warren Mansfield that is almost a convincing one Depending on the reader s outlook, I suppose a society in which the individual is free to do nothing but laze, paint, think and play no sports, though too dangerous, say the Humanoids could be regarded as a paradise or a hell The Humanoids, besides offering those convincing sociological arguments, also gives us some impressive pseudoscience to explain the very nature of reality, extrasensory abilities and the binding forces that hold nature together Rhodomagnetism is a made up word that Williamson uses often to describe a source of energy based on a different triad of elements than electromagnetism, and before things are done, Forester comes up with a group of equations involving platinomagnetism that allows its possessor to gain various paramechanical abilities This use of arcane scientific equations to cause changes in the power of the mind was very reminiscent, for this reader, of Henry Kuttner s classic short novel from 1946, The Fairy Chessmen as in that earlier tale, The Humanoids grows increasingly way out as it progresses It is a finely written, suspenseful, action packed yarn that is at the same time chock full of interesting scientific speculations It has been called Williamson s greatest science fiction novel, and while I cannot claim to have read than 1 10 of the author s nearly 80 year output , the greatness of the novel is hard to deny I would never dream of revealing whether or not Forester Co are successful in their efforts against the Humanoids, but can report that the author did come out with a very belated sequel, The Humanoid Touch, in 1980 Say no , right