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The Humanoids (Humanoids #1)

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  868 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
"Without a doubt one of the most important science-fantasy books of its decade." - Damon Knight

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
Leather Bound, 238 pages
Published 1987 by Easton Press (first published May 1948)
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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 more 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.
Aug 18, 2011 Sandy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 Se ...more
Sep 11, 2016 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 cov
Jun 06, 2012 Simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Marc Murison
Mar 15, 2014 Marc Murison rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
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 more 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 tw
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 ...more
Aug 01, 2010 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
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 ...more
Jan 18, 2016 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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, d
Jeff Brateman
This is a great introduction to sci-fi for anyone who lived during the first half of the 20th century. Unfortunately, for the rest of us, the concepts are a bit dated, sexist, and silly. Williamson drags along the journey of The Humanoids conquering of the world during the short story "With Folded Hands", and one remaining chance for humanity to save itself in the actual novel. The short story was great, and I wasn't eager to start the novel after the story, because it felt so complete on its ow ...more
William Bibliomane
In a remote future, the Humanoids have come to an unnamed, Earth-like world. The Humanoids wish only to serve, to keep you from harm, and to deprive you of anything that makes you unhappy or agitated. How far they are willing to go to achieve this end, however, is the terrifying reality faced by those whom they invade.

Full review here:
I have the 1982 GB edition.
Jan 27, 2008 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
(from my book lover's journal at the time of reading)
A book about men, not Man—well, that's a bit extreme: women characters are negligible except for little Jane the psychomechanical prodigy. I could not fathom Ironsmith's psyche, but that might be good. Aside from the excessive use of adjectives and adverbs—nearly every verb and noun had at least one modifier—and the terrible copy-editing, this editor dude (i.e., i) raced through the prose eager to ingest it all quickly. A touching story, i fel
Feb 26, 2017 Meitnerio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
El libro se lee muy fácilmente, Capaz de agradar tanto a los fans del género (siempre que sean capaces de apreciar una propuesta de menos de 200 páginas) como a los profanos (que no se asustarán con una desmedida cantidad de letras xD). Es realmente interesante y permite reflexionar y detenernos sobre aspectos de nuestra sociedad en los que no habríamos reparado. Sin embargo, su reducida longitud, la obviedad de su mensaje y su excesiva simpleza le impiden dejar poso y marcarse en nuestra memor ...more
MB Taylor
Nov 09, 2011 MB Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished reading The Humanoids last night. I love good SF from the Golden Age, and this is an excellent example. The edition I read includes both The Humanoids novel and the short story “With Folded Hands” (1947) its prequel. Both are very good, although I think I might have enjoyed “With Folded Hands” a bit more.

The Humanoids is a robot story (and I love robot stories). Well The Humanoids is a story about the relationship between robots and humans. Williamson’s humanoids have a Prime Directi
Gardy (Elisa G)
May 18, 2011 Gardy (Elisa G) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantascienza, urania
Il confronto / scontro tra esseri umani e androidi più o meno tecnologici nei suoi innomerevoli sviluppi sembra ricalcare il più antico topos del cofronto tra fredde, perfette divinità e caldi, perfettibili umani.
Se ogni filone letterario pare sempre perdere nella notte della civiltà, questo romanzo di Williamson pone un interrogativo ancora oggi sconcertantamente attuale: quanto gli umani sono in grado di gestire il progresso tecnologico da loro ottenuto e quanto questo può donare loro la felic
Well that was interesting. Classic sci fi from a future grandmaster. I found this to be a relatively fast paced story but, there were some issues that made for difficult reading at times:

- Williamson has created a fictional science and goes through great lengths to follow through the scientific development of the theories. I come from a science background so I found myself working to think through these parts. Problem is, this isn't a textbook I'm studying so I didn't always want to make that ef
Mar 30, 2012 Denis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: softcover
This is the novelized or expanded version of the great shorter novella "With Folded Hands" written in 1947 during the aftermath of WWII and the disastrous deployment of the atomic bomb. The point is made that by exploiting a new technology developed with all the best intentions (in this case a Humanoid robot that is designed in the Asimov "Three Laws Of Robotics" fashion, meaning it will not hurt a human being) can have devastating effects.

In Williamson's story, just about everyone in society ac
Manuel Antão
Apr 26, 2013 Manuel Antão rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
It’s psychics versus robots!

WeÂre 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 Gr
Jun 19, 2014 Dean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, sci-fi
A disturbing and thought provoking sci-fi about a so called benevolent race of robots who's prime directive is 'to serve and obey and guard men from harm'. It's quite amazing that this book was first published in 1948. Although the style is a bit dated it is still a good read. There is a bit too much science at the begining of the story which is a bit of a struggle but after flicking through those bits the story made up for it. What I like about Science Fiction is the ideas they explore. The Hum ...more
Nov 06, 2014 Randy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jack Williamson was one of the most important science fiction writers in the 20th century, so after reading a few of his short stories I purchased this book. The story describes how humanoids take over planets with the Prime Directive to protect humans, but they don't allow anything that might harm humans such as driving, shaving, etc. In effect they become the masters. A small group of rebels tries to stop the humanoids. Read the book to see how it ends!

Mr. Williamson introduced a number of wor
Mi ha lasciato sensazioni simili a quelle che mi ha dato la lettura di Arancia Meccanica (o la visione del film), perchè il libro, una volta tolto il contesto fantascientifico, tratta del libero arbitrio umano.
Nella parte iniziale l'arrivo degli umanoidi segna per molte persone l'annullamento della possibilità di fare qualunque cosa: gli esseri umani sono fragili e tutto è troppo pericoloso.
Il romanzo segue i tentativi di Clay Forester di liberarsi degli ingombranti robot scontrandosi anche con
Jan 29, 2017 Sargeatm rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Ein Klassiker, der mich gar nicht überzeugen konnte. Da wäre zum einen die altertümliche Sprache (in der Übersetzung). Dazu kommt ein Protagonist, der ein totaler Unsympath ist. Mein Hauptproblem war aber die Story selber, die (wie ich hinterher erfuhr) von Novelle auf Romanlänge aufgeblasen wurde (um dann in drei Teilen in einem SF-Magazin der 1940er veröffentlicht zu werden).
Die Geschichte wirkt wenig strukturiert - da werden Figuren urplötzlich "vergessen". Und die Spannung ist leider auch ni
Bruce Mohler
This book may be "classic" Science Fiction but, like other Sci-Fi classics, it has a very confused world view.

At one point, it talks about man's self-destructive nature and the need for humanoids to serve and protect man. Then it talks about perfect robots, but how can self-destructive man create something that is perfect? Pure science and parapsychology duke it out on distant planets. The book talks about evolution and love, two things which, if not mutually exclusive, at least aren't directly
Sean Leas
Apr 05, 2014 Sean Leas rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Loved this book, it is the epitome of really good Golden Age SF and of the robot stories that I've read this may be the best. A solid story line with a lot the techno-babble that fills a great deal of Golden Age Science Fiction books. It also holds up well and plays to our inherent fears of losing sovereignty to our robotic overlords; when the tool becomes the master type of fare. I read a collector’s edition from the late 80’s and had some very nice illustrations sprinkled throughout the book, ...more
May 09, 2015 Mike rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This edition contains a short(ish) work With Folded Hands as well as The Humanoids. With Folded Hands is a prequel to The Humanoids and I actually thought it was the better of the two. It was a nicely thought out with a different finish that I didn't expect.

The Humanoids itself I found to be rather a disappointment. At first I was okay with it, then as it got more
and more into teleporting etc. I just began to lose interest and found it rather boring.

Without With Folded Hands, this would have b
Richard Gombert
Mar 27, 2011 Richard Gombert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
I picked up this book to read on my way to the 2011 Jack Williamson Lectureship (35th year).

This is frequently referred to as a Classic of Science Fiction and one of Mr. Williamson's most recommended books.

I found it to be very enjoyable. The plot was good, the story was well written and moved at a good pace. The story was not too long (about 200 pages).

I do think that many newer/younger readers might have difficulty reading it. Mr. Williamson uses the tern "rhodomagnetic" and that has fallen ou
Apr 16, 2016 Kenneth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first story in this volume, "With Folded Hands", is a classic dystopian story of robots taking over and killing human freedom with kindness - they were programmed "To Serve and Obey, And Guard Men from Harm". The following novel, "The Humanoids" is an expansion set quite some years later on another world that the robots arrive at and take over, and how the resistance works out. Will the robots succeed or not? A real page turner.
Jennifer Hughes
I picked this up on a whim at the library. I was intrigued by the idea of reading something by a pioneer of the science fiction genre. I felt like it was worth reading for that reason, but it was probably more of an academic kind of enjoyment than a pure lose-yourself-in-a-book kind. I think I prefer Verne for the good old sci-fi, and for the mid to late 20th century it's hard to find anyone who compares to Asimov and Bradbury, in my mind.
Jan 30, 2011 Bill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I hadn't read anything by Jack Williamson previously and saw this in one of my used book stores. It looked interesting and didn't let me down. A bit of a slow start, but it quickly found its footing and was nicely paced. A story in the Isaac Asimov vein; dealing with humanoids, how they serve/ rule humans and certain of mankind's efforts to fight them. A story with some science as well, which made it even more interesting. Good story.
William Zupancic
THIS WAS ONE '' WONDERFUL '' STORY !!!!!!!!!!!!!
AND ,,,,, I MET '' HIM '' ..... A FEW TIMES !!!!
THE '' MASTERS '' .... OF .............. >>> SCIENCE FICTION <<<
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John Stewart Williamson who wrote as Jack Williamson (and occasionally under the pseudonym Will Stewart) was a U.S. writer often referred to as the "Dean of Science Fiction".
More about Jack Williamson...

Other Books in the Series

Humanoids (2 books)
  • The Humanoid Touch (Humanoids, #2)

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