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The Instrumentality of Mankind (Instrumentality of Mankind)

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,110 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
14 short stories set in a universe of scanners, planoforming ships and animal-derived Underpeople.

1 No, No, Not Rogov! (1959)
2 War No. 81-Q (1928)
3 Mark Elf (1957)
4 The Queen of the Afternoon (1978)
5 When the People Fell (1959)
6 Think Blue, Count Two (1963)
7 The Colonel Came Back from the Nothing-at-All (1979)
8 From Gustible's Planet (1962)
9 Drunkboat (1963)
10 Western Scie
...more
Mass Market Paperback, 238 pages
Published April 12th 1979 by Del Rey (first published 1974)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Bogdan
Mar 22, 2015 Bogdan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: new-world
Usually I don't read too much sci-fi literature, as I tend to prefer contemporary novels and poetry. I had a period during high-school when I was reading almost exclusively sci-fi. It was a period when I also wanted to become and astronaut. I ended up being an economist working more in IT systems for a Procurement center, so you have to imagine that the books I have read shifted a lot since high-school.

But I still can appreciate a good sci-fi novel, that for me means one that manages to create a
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Kathleen
I love his pseudonym, which means cobbler..from cordovan, a fine leather from Cordoba, Spain. Nice shoes!

See also my "Best of..." review for my mixed feelings on Cordwainer Smith. And in my blog, which sometimes gave a running account of my reading, I compared him to Flannery O'Connor in having a moral world view but not always sounding judgmental, just standing back and showing the behavior of people in stressful situations, or people/animal people/and other world people all bumped up against e
...more
Sean Leas
Aug 18, 2014 Sean Leas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting short story collection, early on we are in the extremely far-off perhaps far-out future. Some of the stories were more haunting than others, but what seemed like a simple foray ends up being such a layered Easter egg of sci-fi goodness that this was a hard book to put down. There were a few that were strictly in the realm of paranormal which was a pleasant break with all of the world-building and golden era sci-fi material. Before I knew it I had completely forgotten ...more
Brad
May 26, 2014 Brad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to tell what I liked most out of these stories. From Gustible's Planet was probably one of the most memorable for big ideas and big action, but DrunkBoat was seriously creepy and delicious. I'm always of a mind to pity all of his characters to one degree or another, and it looks like it is well deserved pity. Of course, I'm reminded of Bester's work, but this was sufficiently clever and taking a different path entirely that I cannot fault it in the slightest. (I'm only referring to Dru ...more
spikeINflorida
If a young adolescent Phillip K. Dick wrote short stories, I would imagine they would have read something like these very strange, warped, surreal tales.
John
Dec 20, 2012 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What to add to the already glowing praise of Smith? He brought a unique voice to SF, partly because of his Chinese background, partly because I think he had such an amazing mind, almost anything he wrote would have been surprisingly good. If you are an SF Fan and haven't read Smith, I envy you - you have a whole world of surprises awaiting you.
Diane Baker
May 03, 2014 Diane Baker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cordwainer Smith is a forgotten author these days, but I urge anyone who sees any book by him to pick it up, take it home and read. (Pay for it first!)

Each story is a treasure. I've rationed out my Cordwainer Smith stories so I won't run out. This man is brilliant, and needs to be read instead of so much of the claptrap they keep putting out. "Scanners Live in Vain" and "Ballad of Lost C'mell" are amazing. I don't want to say much about the plots, but will only say that they look simple on the
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Simon Mcleish
Dec 21, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in September 2001.

The oligarchy which rules mankind in the background to most of Smith's science fiction is known as the Instrumentality. This may make it seem an ideal title for a collection of his short stories, but of these fourteen there are at least six - and I would say seven - which are not part of his ambitious future history. The short stories not in The Instrumentality of Mankind are collected in The Rediscovery of Man, and there the stories are set
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Nicolas
Premier des tomes de la nouvelle édition(1) des Seigneurs de l’Instrumentalité, ce recueil de nouvelles (on pourrait presque dire fix-up) nous dresse un portrait du futur proprement fascinant : partant de la guerre froide, les différentes nouvelles détaillent les étapes qui permettront à l’humanité de se libérer des chaînes de la mortalité, du système solaire, et peut-être même celles de sa propre humanité...
Ce qui est, dès le départ, très intéressant, dans ce récit, c’est qu’à chaque fois l’au
...more
Andrew
May 22, 2007 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The blurb on the back cover reads:

THE INSTRUMENTALITY
OF MANKIND

COMPLETES THE PUBLICATION OF THE
SCIENCE FICTION OF
CORDWAINER SMITH
by Del Rey Books
with fourteen stories set in his star-spanning future
universe of scanners, planoforming ships
that whisper among the stars, the animal-derived
Underpeople... perhaps the most
outstanding and haunting feat of creative imagination
the field has ever known.

Here is the account
of the strange origin of the Vomact family and its role
in founding the Instrumentali
...more
Pieter Van
Jul 29, 2016 Pieter Van rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a must for any sci-fi and politically minded person.
huge comparison between the book, its inherent message and the current state of world politics and the overall human state today.
Cordwainer Smith's commentary is as relevant today as it was when the book was written.
Max Nemtsov
Nov 22, 2014 Max Nemtsov rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
+ еще несколько смешных и совершенно гениальных рассказов, особенно про шпионов и военспецов хорошо получается. и да - Херберт Хувер Тимофеев, конечно, очень смешно, но за "Постсоветских православных восточных квакеров" Смиту в Сибири надо памятник где-нибудь поставить
Reinhold
Die Saga von der Insturmentalität der Menschheit ist ein gewaltiger Mythos, niemals wurde so komplex, so bizarr und emotional so fesselnd die Geschichte der Menschheit über zig Jahrtausende hinweg sikzziert und literarisch so kompetent umgesetzt...
Matt
Jun 30, 2015 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good collection of short stories. One of them is somehow a repeat. The stories seemed very focused on what people do when they're left to their own thoughts for long times and how we might deal with that.
Jakub
Dec 25, 2014 Jakub rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author was advertised to me as "bit like Philip K. Dick, but different". Turns out, it was a good " different". It had a bit of Larry Niven too. Color me intrigued.
kXnPunk EvilDemon
I really enjoyed reading this. It has a nice place among the favorites of mine.

The world he created, the way that it's put up and the amazing tech and descriptions are way too fucking hot!!!

Love that it's full of short story that all connects together so you can read whatever one around the book.

My favorite one is definitely Crunkboat. The guy travelling that wakes up naked on a yard and can't move at first one. Oh yeah, they travel with their mind but arrive in real at destination. Loved the ca
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Djcolgan
Jun 18, 2016 Djcolgan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Classic.
matthew
Sep 18, 2008 matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no scrubs
Shelves: dear-to-my-heart
the full name of this collection is "the instrumentality of mankind", and i don't know why goodreads can't show that (or "shelf" names with apostrophes, and such...).

these short stories are some of the most distinctive in science fiction. smith's voice is unmistakable; his imagination awe inspiring. he also, under his real name, wrote the still-currently-used manual on psychological warfare... so, there's that.
Jake
Sep 14, 2014 Jake rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of the stories are weird and others are very interesting. 'Nancy' was my favorite.
Cristina
Some of the stories are amazing (like the classic "The Game of Rat and Dragon")... I was indifferent to some, and a few of them I disliked but the universe depicted is a consistent one and the theme of human behavior toward animals a very dear one to me.
Indigo
When I was reading it I thought it was kind of ridiculous but looking back the stories ended up being mostly memorable in a good way.
Levi
Jan 18, 2015 Levi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Well that was a pleasantly hilarious compilation of vintage sci-fi short stories .
Cait
Sep 13, 2010 Cait rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
SO AMAZING. i love his crazy words and names.
bluetyson
isbn,original
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11390
Pseudonym of:
Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger

Linebarger also employed the literary pseudonyms "Carmichael Smith" (for his political thriller Atomsk), "Anthony Bearden" (for his poetry) and "Felix C. Forrest" (for the novels Ria and Carola).

Linebarger was also a noted East Asia scholar and expert in psychological warfare.
More about Cordwainer Smith...

Other Books in the Series

Instrumentality of Mankind (8 books)
  • The Rediscovery of Man
  • Norstrilia
  • The Planet Buyer
  • The Underpeople
  • We the Underpeople
  • Il ciclo della strumentalità: Tomo primo
  • Il ciclo della strumentalità: Tomo secondo

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