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The Humanoids by Jack Williamson
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The Humanoids (original 1949; edition 1969)

by Jack Williamson

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4241124,938 (3.64)5
Member:EdwardShuman
Title:The Humanoids
Authors:Jack Williamson
Info:Lancer Books, Inc., mass market paperback
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:fiction, science fiction

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The humanoids by Jack Williamson (1949)

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Great read. This book was well ahead of it's time as SF should be. Unexpected plot twist keep it interesting. The surprise ending leaves you uncomfortable.

OK, here is the lecture for people who review speculative fiction written before they were born. Predictions of future tech may not be what we now have. It's speculation. Predictions of event dates may be inaccurate. Yes, we know the moon landing was 1969 but classic SF authors had to guess. The use of language may be dated unless the author decided to invent new words, phrases, and social references for the story. It's an artistic choice. Invented language ends up being foreign to the author's contemporary readers as well as modern readers which can be good or bad. The technology of another world may not be like ours. Need I mention it's another world.

This book does have some old cultural references which the author should have avoided in case the book's popularity lasted beyond his life but, who knew that at the time. Don't forget Williamson is the inventor of ideas and words that are still used by SF writers today. Have you ever heard of "terraforming"? ( )
  ikeman100 | May 13, 2017 |
It’s psychics versus robots!

We´re not in Asimovian territory...

And it gets weirder from there. I’m not sure if it’s just the nature of Golden Age SF, but this book is a real mess. I remember reading it a long time ago in my teens. The pacing is weird, as Jack Williamson goes through the key moments (like the humanoid takeover of Starmont society), as well as having characters totally disappear (the entire psychic team mostly fades away after an elaborate introduction, eg, Graystone the Great" simply vanishes!).

Plot-lines are foreshadowed without paying off (there are lots of hints about the mysterious origin of Forester’s friend Ironsmith, but he’s really just a robot-loving, wife-stealing jerk).

The ending is also a bit of a mess. There’s some unintentional (I think) ambiguity, that gets nowhere.

I should have known better than to start re-reading Golden Age SF at my age... I have a few more in store to read: Heinlein, Phil Dick, Le Guin, Vance, Wolfe, Silverberg, etc.
" ( )
  antao | Dec 10, 2016 |
I liked the story and unique characters but not the ending. I think the wrong faction
'won'. ( )
  Bruce_Deming | Feb 5, 2016 |
This omnibus contains the classic 1947 science fiction “With Folded Hands” and its sequel the short novel “The Humanoids”, originally published in 1948 as “ … And With Searching Mind”. The collection is capped off with a short but significant afterword by Williamson about the works, “Me and My Humanoids”.

“With Folded Hands” is not only a classic science fiction story but, in its own way, a very memorable horror story about the ultimate paternalistic state, a smothering existence of passivity and futility run by the implacable, incorruptible humanoids – humanoids that efficiently discharge their mandate to “Serve and Obey and Guard Men from Harm”. Even suicide is not an escape route from this world. It can be read as a political and cautionary tale about utilitarian politics and making mere happiness the goal of all life. And, for those who might sneer at the outdated technological aspects that are the rationalizing instrumentality of this parable, I think it very possible that its centrally controlled, humanoid robots could be technologically updated to make the same point.

After detailing the trials and tribulations and revolt of Underhill, a seller of robots in “With Folded Hands”, “The Humanoids” starts out with an orphan girl mysteriously showing up at a top secret scientific project. (The desert landscape, the mentions of atomic war devastating several planets, and a sort of Mutually Assured Destruction, all bring the Cold War and its beginnings in the Manhattan Project and Hirsohima to mind.) Forester, leader of the project, is invited by a band of rather pathetic people to join a revolt against the humanoids coming soon to this world. Initially dismissive, Forester soon comes to learn the truth and horror of the humanoid rule and find out that one man in his project, the indolent but mathematically brilliant (and also one-time suitor of Forester’s wife) Ironsmith, seems to have been made some sort of deal with the humanoids to sell humanity out. Can Forester and a band of reputed psychics put an end to the humanoids – and will Ironsmith let them?

I think the intended message of the novel’s end is clear, but Williamson said it was interpreted ambiguously. He has some interesting things to say about how the humanoid-human conflict is not just about technology but the older conflict between those who compromise with a social order and its restrictions and are rewarded and those who don’t and are destroyed. He notes how this conflict was played out in his earlier life as a loner from rural New Mexico learning to live in greater society.

“With Folded Hands” is still worth reading. The sequel is largely unnecessary, but it is fast-moving and of an interest for its moody descriptions of alien worlds, Cold War feel, and as an example of editor John W. Campbell’s interest (which eventually led him to introduce Dianetics to the world) in stories of humans with innate psychic powers. Williamson’s afterword is necessary in confirming one’s take on the novel’s end. ( )
  RandyStafford | Jun 2, 2013 |
I have the 1982 GB edition. ( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Williamson, Jackprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Emshwiller, EdCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312852533, Paperback)

On 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 late.

Fist published in Astounding Science Fiction during the magazine's heyday, The Humanoids--sceince fiction grand master Jack Williamson's finest novel--has endured for fifty years as a classic on the theme of natural versus artificial life.

Also included in this edition is the prelude novelette, "With Folded Hands," which was chosen for the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:50 -0400)

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