Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “They'd Rather Be Right ” as Want to Read:
They'd Rather Be Right
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

They'd Rather Be Right

3.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  645 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
Bossy was right. Always. Invariably. She was limited only in that she had to have facts -- not assumptions -- with which to work. Given those facts, her conclusions and predictions were inevitably correct.

And that made Bossy a 'ticking bomb.'

Bossy had been designed as a servomechanism for guiding airplanes. But she became something much greater: a hypercomputer. Soon the
Paperback, 173 pages
Published 1981 by Starblaze / The Donning Company (first published 1954)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about They'd Rather Be Right, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about They'd Rather Be Right

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,860)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Apr 21, 2016 Brad rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, satire
Oh goodness. This 1955 Hugo winner nearly broke the Hugos. It was actually downright bad in parts, a catastrophic mess in others, and the handwavium was practically everywhere you looked, even in basic logic and common knowledge. I almost gave the novel a one star for all the clichés and the grab-bag of old SF tropes mixed together to create... a single clever idea that was subsequently beat into a fleshy pulp.

Oh my.

So why am I giving this three stars? Because I realized something fairly late in
Aug 15, 2011 Nathaniel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
The Forever Machine (originally "They'd Rather be Right") was the second novel to win the Hugo award for best novel in science fiction back in 1955. As part of my quest to read every Hugo-winning novel, I struggled all the way to the bitter end.

Part of what makes this book hard to read is that it has so much potential. The fundamental thesis of the book is that human beings are inextricably mired in prejudice and ignorance that education cannot correct. As Joe, the central protagonist puts it,
Jul 24, 2008 Mark rated it did not like it
Often derided as the worst book ever to win a Hugo, They'd Rather Be Right is a prime example of the disposable pulp fiction that flourished during Sci-Fi's "Golden Age." The novel's central character, Joe, is basically a benevolent version of The Mule from Asimov's Foundation and Empire, the most obvious regurgitation in a work defined by its tendency to retread ideas that even then were already thoroughly explored.

Clifton's interest in the then-promising science of psychology is as enthusiasti
Neus Cámara gutiérrez
Sinceramente me esperaba mucho más.
Me ha parecido muy 'estadounidense' y el mundo de la telepatía y todo eso, está bien, pero no me ha interesado demasiado como lo abordan.

Cita preferida:
"La verdad asusta al ser humano. Este planta falsas ideas en los escombros de su mente para esconderse de la clara luz blanca que trae la verdad. Sus razonamientos derrotan la sabiduría de la verdad. En sus prejuicios y en sus ideas preconcebidas, el ser humano dicta, con antelación, la forma que ha de tener la
Kelsey Cretcher
(2/63) In my Hugo Read-Through
They’d Rather be Right (The Forever Machine) by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley, was originally serialized in Astounding Science fiction in 1954. It controversially received the second Hugo Award for a novel in 1955. Historically this book has been regarded as the “worst” Hugo Award winner ever and has been accused of plot holes, poor writing, and even has made some critics question the public who chose it for a win.
I went into this book apprehensively, not
Tom Hudson
The second Hugo-winning novel, written in 1954, was a disappointing example of a good idea that ends up nowhere interesting. Takes place in late twentieth century or early twenty-first, in a society that is crumbling because opinions that disrupt the status quo are universally quashed. In that society, the government sponsors a university project to create a machine that is meant to prevent accidents before they happen, and the only way to do that is effectively recreate the human mind. The proj ...more
Aug 30, 2007 Ferret rated it liked it
Shelves: sf, hugoquest
By far not the best of the Hugos, but it's an engaging little story.
Jun 24, 2012 Brian rated it it was ok
I picked up this book, as it seems almost anyone who reads it these days does, simply because it has a reputation for being 'The Worst Book to ever win a Hugo Award." How can you resist a reputation like that? It took quite a bit of effort to track down a copy too, (+10 points to Sony's ebookstore for having a copy, -15 for charging 8 bucks for an out of print book in a format unreadable by half my devices) but once I secured one, I settled in for what I expected to be a laughable ride.

I spent t
Dec 03, 2012 Myriad rated it it was ok
Shelves: hugo, science-fiction
The ideas in this book are challenging and interesting and provoke some interesting meditations on the human condition. However, the style of the book is exceptionally off-putting, so it takes a good deal of willpower to look past it and actually engage with those ideas.

Mostly this book feels like the self-important theorizing of a young white man who is overly impressed with his own philosophical genius. The sentences are too long and the language too clumsy. The main character, Joe, is a very
Jul 25, 2015 Bruce rated it did not like it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
I'm at a loss how this novel won the Hugo.

I'd like to believe it is an unfortunate victim of the ever improving standards against which Hugo candidates are measured, or that there was a dearth of competitive candidates in 1954-55. But then I recall that that was the same publication year as "I am Legend", "Brainwave" and all three novels of Tolkein's "The Lord of the Rings" saga.

They could have done better.

That said, it did win and warrants a (quick) read if only to serve as a cautionary lesson
Steven Huddleston
This book cleverly and compellingly explores the question of how our dogmatic, deeply-rooted beliefs may (indeed, do) prevent us from advancing, or even availing ourselves of advances and new knowledge that would significantly, even dramatically improve our situation (social/philosophical inertia). More directly, it explores the question of whether the actual truth is preferable or “healthier” than our perceived “truth”—in short, what we think the truth should be versus what it is—and the price ...more
Michael Burnam-fink
May 07, 2015 Michael Burnam-fink rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi, 2015, hugo-award
Rumor (okay, other reviews on Goodreads) has it that this is the worst book ever to win the Hugo. I don't know if that's true-yet. I do know that this is not a good book from any kind of literary perspective, and one that buries its occasional good ideas under tedious essays.

The story begins with Joey, an 8 year old boy in a working class family who is a telepath. Unique in the world, a basic extrapolation of 1950s America, he discovers a sympathetic university psychiatrist who tells him to conc
Apr 02, 2015 Erika rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While I think it’s well and good to postulate on the idea of immortality, I also think Mark Clifton and Frank Riley left something to be desired in the presentation. We don’t necessarily get the most interesting narrator and that is part of the problem. Joe Carter is a telepath. He’s self-congratulatory and arrogant, one of a three-man team who creates a cybernetic brain capable of using psychosomatic therapy to eliminate human error in judgment and in the process rejuvenates cells. They call th ...more
Aug 25, 2015 Allie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I think They’d Rather be Right was a pretty controversial Hugo win at the time, and it has since earned a reputation as one of the weakest Hugo award winners. It hasn’t aged well at all, and many of its ideas about the future are entertainingly wrong. The novel also carries some pretty blatant biases that I don’t agree with, which I find kind of ironic in a book that is about the need for humanity to throw off their prejudices and preconceptions. I liked how they ended up dealing with Bossy, tho ...more
Dec 16, 2008 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Although this novel about a super computer is a bit dated and silly it makes some good points, and it is a quick easy read, unlike most science fiction novels.

The main theme of the book is that science and human advancement is greatly impeded by the establishment’s refusal to think outside the box.
Sep 04, 2014 Joel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I'm glad I didn't read any reviews before reading the book. I'm completely baffled why this book is panned so heavily. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Yes, there were some typos in the printing. Big deal. I thought the story was captivating and there was some interesting commentary on human psychology, especially toward the end.

Avoid the naysayers and give this book a try. I think the majority of the negative reviews are from people who have accepted the opinion that this is "the worst book to w
Varlan Georgian
May 19, 2013 Varlan Georgian rated it did not like it
I don't understand how this book win the "HUGO" award.
Lance Schonberg
Apparently a sequel to two shorter works, “Crazy Joey” (written with Alex Apostolides) and “Hide! Hide! Witch!” (written solo), both published in Astounding in 1953. They’d Rather Be Right appeared in the same magazine as a serial in 1954. Both of these stories are alluded to in the early pages of They’d Rather Be Right, not by title but in general background information. We don’t actually get the content of either, but are left to assume what might have happened based on hints dropped in the te ...more
Jeff Stockett
Considering that this book was written before my Dad was born, it's understandable that it's a little dated. Some of the "futuristic" technologies that are presented in this book include artificial intelligence, computers that understand speech, and a global network whereby computers can communicate with each other (what we would term the internet). The book makes a point to show how radical these ideas are by the surprised reactions of various characters when they encounter these technologies. ...more
Jun 09, 2013 Jordan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
1955 Hugo award winner. I've been trying to read all the Hugo winners, and I've definitely been putting this one off for a while. Probably because it's known as the worst book ever to win a Hugo award. So, not something I was particularly looking forward to reading. And it lived up to its reputation. Somewhere in there, there was a half-way interesting book. Unfortunately it was buried under crappy philosophical rambling and boring characters.

The main character, Joe, you first meet as a kid tryi
This totally isn't deserving of the title "Worst Book Ever to Win a Hugo". I started this book with high hopes for how terrible it was going to be and now I'm a little disappointed. In fact, this book is eerily similar in many ways to The Demolished Man, which won the first Hugo two years before this did and is a beloved classic. They both use telepathy to ask questions about society, they both feature a dated super computer. Although Clifton did a better job with his, which can understand speec ...more
Lindsay Stares
They'd Rather Be Right (also known as The Forever Machine)
Mark Clifton and Frank Riley, 1954

Premise: A telepathic college student helps two professors to create a machine, called Bossy, that can answer hard questions, do complicated tasks, oh, and make people young and beautiful indefinitely. Of course, it only works on you if you can let go of your deeply held prejudices about how the world should be. Obviously, everyone wants the machine.

I don't think this was nearly so bad a book as it has a
Mar 11, 2010 Aaron rated it did not like it
1955 Hugo Winner

Overall not a very good book. On top of upwards of 10 typos through the book, that really kills my mood.

The book had alot of discussion about immortality which I find interesting. Sadly, it didn't even touch on some of the more interesting aspects of immortality. With no death, the world would be an overcrowded, busy place. Also the most fascinating thing for me would be the change in the world economy. Health care is essentially useless, elderly care is gone. The whole worlds in
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book has multiple times been dubbed the "worst book ever to win the Hugo". While it wasn't absolutely awful, I can't say that it blew me away.

When Professors Hoskins and Billings build a sort of cybernetic brain machine that runs folks through a rigorous transformation process to modify them into younger, stronger, smarter, telepathic versions of themselves, the world goes crazy. The people want the machine, the government wants the machine, everyone wants the machine...

Touching on the idea
Steve LaForest
Apr 05, 2015 Steve LaForest rated it did not like it
The absolute worst Hugo award winner - bar none! This is the reason they invented the "no award" category, because sometimes it would be better if there were no winner at all, than something that is poor!
Jack Hwang
This SF novel is poorly written and difficult to read through. Authors' intention were commendable but their effort came out short. This is probably the worst Hugo award winner.
Michael Mcnally
If not for the fact that it won the Hugo in 1955, The Forever Machine would probably be long forgotten by now. If there was a retro Hugo for that year, it is doubtful that it would win again, competing with Asimov's Caves of Steel and Matheson's I am Legend.

But for the fact that I am reading my way through the Hugo winners, I probably wouldn't have read this, or finished it if I started. The characters have no depth and the plot really doesn't work, full of pseudo-science and contrivances. The
Well, I can't say I enjoyed it. To me this was a mess of a book. It's like there were 4 or 5 completely separate science fiction "ideas" that the authors wanted to explore, but they didn't hang together at all. Immortality, telepathy, computers that make decisions for humanity, and "single-value" vs "multi-value physics" (whatever THAT is) all make cameo appearances amid a very light framework of a plot that could have been MUCH more interesting. There's much better classic sci-fi out there, so ...more
Ryan Elder
I'm sure it had good ideas in 1956 but it's pretty bad by today's standards. Oh well, another Hugo winner down.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 95 96 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Wanderer
  • A Case of Conscience (After Such Knowledge, #4)
  • The Mule: From Foundation And Empire
  • No Enemy But Time
  • Dreamsnake
  • Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
  • Cyteen (Cyteen #1-3)
  • Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax, #1)
  • This Immortal
  • The Falling Woman
  • The Snow Queen (The Snow Queen Cycle, #1)
  • Way Station
  • The Healer's War
  • Double Star
  • A Time of Changes
  • The Einstein Intersection
  • The Enemy Stars
  • Stand on Zanzibar
Mark Clifton (1906 - Nov. 1963) was an American science fiction writer. Clifton began publishing in May of 1952 with the often anthologized story "What Have I Done?".

Most of his work fits into one of two series. The "Bossy" sequence was written alone, and in collaboration with both Alex Apostolides and Frank Riley. The "Ralph Kennedy" series, which is lighter in tone, was mostly written solo, incl
More about Mark Clifton...

Share This Book