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The Humanoids

(Humanoids #1)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  997 ratings  ·  73 reviews
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 Asto
Paperback, 299 pages
Published January 15th 1996 by Orb Books (first published May 1948)
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3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  997 ratings  ·  73 reviews

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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 rated it it was amazing
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 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
Marc Murison
Mar 15, 2014 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
Jun 06, 2012 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
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
P.S. Winn
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 17, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, gave-up
Awful, just couldn’t finish reading it.
Feb 24, 2010 rated it liked it
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 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
Jeff Brateman
Jul 21, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Wow, chemistry & transmutation of elements, and teleportation! A robotic thriller, it moves, is dramatic and reaches toward climaxes covered in angst & helplessness, similar to Marvel and other comic superhero set-ups.

Kind of dated, like with its helpless girl Jane & unfaithful wife, the all-male gang, but no huge complaint here. The latter part of book really becomes a lesson in, gosh, like everything: quantum mechanics, alchemy, the prima materia, Williamson goes there, to the poin
Joseph Hirsch
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is maybe one of the most poignant and elegiac pieces of science fiction I've ever read. In terms of its power as an allegory for what humanity may be facing, in the present and in the future, it's just a step behind maybe "1984" and "Brave New World." The only reason I would rate it as four instead of five stars is that in the last act there's a bit too much quantum mysticism (Williamson lays it on incredibly thick with the exposition and "rhodomagnetics") and there's also a lot of Deus ex ...more
Jul 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This is a novella preceding a novel on the topic of technology serving our needs vs. technology taking over our lives. I read it again after many years because I had forgotten some of the details.

Although it's sci-fi, the cautionary tale is still relevant. Should we invent and use tireless, perfect machines to anticipate and fulfill our every need? Should we give them the power to make our decisions for us, to prevent us from possible harm, and to restrict our personal freedoms "for our own good
Dec 08, 2017 rated it liked it
This is one of those science fiction classics that must have broken new ground when it came out in the middle of the 20th century and inspired a generation of science fiction authors -- but I can't say it holds up today. Its themes are familiar: androids created to serve humanity instead seek to enslave us in order to protect us, and one intrepid scientist is the last hope to stop them. There is the expected sexism of the period, and the libertarian message that clearly leads directly to Heinlei ...more
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Humanoids' compelling premise is what if there were androids created to keep all humans healthy, content, and safe all the time? What if they solved all social problems?

...But they prevented people from taking risks, doing anything dangerous, learning to cope with conflict?

Not only does the book make you rethink the limits of technology, but it also makes you think about trigger-warnings and the so-called "nanny state" which passes laws that seem overly preoccupied with people's safety. The
Erkki Toht
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lugesin kunagi "With Folded Hands...", mille edasiarendus "The Humanoids" on. Androidide ja inimeste vahelisi suhteid kujutatakse sageli vastanduse kaudu, kuigi kindlasti ei saa öelda, nagu oleks romaan mustvalge. Heatahtlike robotite invasiooni olukorras on inimestele jäänud vähe valikuid, aga robotitel endil pole üldse valikuid, vaid nemad täidavad oma Esimest direktiivi. Tegelasi oli õnneks vähe ja olulisi tegelasi näidati huvitavate ja muutumisvõimelistena.
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic SciFi A short story & novella with author's comments on both. Somewhat of a comment of the Right's view of the Left in the humanoid's solicitous goodwill.
I'm not sure if Williamson's humanoids pre or post date Asimov's positronic brain stories, but the "To Serve & Obey & Guard Men From Harm" prime directive parallels Asimov's 3 rules.

6/10. Media de los 7 libros leídos del autor : 6/10

Considerado uno de los grandes de la era de los clásicos de la CF, esta novela es de los 50 y está considerada como una de las mejores suyas, con intriga, ritmo …y un sabor a otros tiempos y a una cierta ingenuidad que se notan mucho. NO me encantó.
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
5 stars for the introductory novella "With Folded Hands"

3 stars for The Humanoids. The main premise holds up and is still intriguing and horrifying but the humanoids themselves don't show up until 60 pages in to a 300 page book, and there's way too much peripheral story that I did not care about.

Than novella though. Goddamn that was good.
Mar 30, 2018 rated it did not like it
What a disgusting set of endings! What a loser philsophically this Author is!! MAin hero in second story the humanoids is literally cucked by the bad guy! Sickening!!! Disheartening and depression what utter crap!! Mega disappointed!!
Jan 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urania, fantascienza
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
Mar 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-f-grandmaster
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 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 rated it did not like it
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
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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".

Other books in the series

Humanoids (3 books)
  • With Folded Hands...
  • The Humanoid Touch (Humanoids, #2)