3.0 stars Classic science fiction novel by Jack Williamson that explores the same themes and basic set up as his groundbreaking novella With Folded Hands While this is a good story, I thought that With Folded Hands wastightly focused, created a better sense of dread and was the superior story That said, this is still a good story and worth the read. 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 itthe 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 coveredeffectively in the short story, With Folded Hands, imo.However (view spoiler)[the ending of this confuses me Is it really bleak, in that Forester is now brainwashed? Or has he come to see past his hatred to accept the humanoids as partners? I do own the sequel so I'll have to check (hide spoiler)] The late 1940s was a period of remarkable creativity for future scifi Grand Master Jack Williamson July '47 saw the release of his muchacclaimed short story With Folded Hands in the pages of Astounding ScienceFiction, followed by the tale's twopart serialized sequel, And Searching Mind, in that influential magazine's March and April 1948 issues Darker Than You Think, Williamson's great scifi/fantasy/horror hybrid, was released later in 1948, and 1949 saw the publication of And Searching Mind in hardcover form, and retitled The Humanoids With Folded Hands had been a perfect(ly downbeat) short story that introduced us to the Humanoids, sleek black robots invented by a technician named Sledge on planet Wing IV The robots' builtin Prime Directive (hmmmwhy does that phrase seem so familiar?) is To Serve and Obey, And Guard Men From Harm Unfortunately, this leaves mankind with very little to do, as the mechanicals prevent humans from participating in anything that might be potentially dangerous; in other words, just about everything! Sledge's efforts to wipe out the master brain on Wing IV that is controlling the billions of selfreplicating mechanicals are, sadly, fruitless, which sets us up for the action in The Humanoids.Flash forward 90 years (Actually, this novel takes place a good 6,000 years from our present day, the reader infers.) On an unnamed planet, a physicist named Forester, head of a secret government project that is constructing a prototype rhodomagnetic bomb, comes to realize that the newly arrived Humanoids on his world are a bane, not a boon, to mankind This realization is strengthened when the robots give his wife the brainwiping drug known as euphoride to keep her happy, and when his beloved pet project is dismantled by the Humanoids as being too dangerous for men to engage in Forester joins a band of paraphysical misfitsgifted with the powers of clairvoyance, telekinesis, telepathy and teleportationto fight the Humanoids and alter their Prime Directive by going to the distant world of Wing IV itself Readers expecting a traditional humans vs rayzapping evil robots story (such as Williamson's 1939 novel After World's End) may be surprised to learn that this engrossing tale is anything but The robots here are not at all presented as evil; if anything, they are guilty of killing mankind's spirit with too much kindness, and their benevolence is ultimately a mixed blessing at best In the book's ambivalently downbeat ending, a case is made for the Humanoids' positive aspects (by Sledge himself, here, for some reason, renamed Warren Mansfield) that is almost a convincing one Depending on the reader's outlook, I suppose a society in which the individual is free to do nothing but laze, paint, think and play (no sports, though; too dangerous, say the Humanoids!) could be regarded as a paradise or a hell The Humanoids, besides offering those convincing (?) sociological arguments, also gives us some impressive pseudoscience to explain the very nature of reality, extrasensory abilities and the binding forces that hold nature together Rhodomagnetism is a madeup word that Williamson uses often to describe a source of energy based on a different triad of elements than electromagnetism, and before things are done, Forester comes up with a group of equations involving platinomagnetism that allows its possessor to gain various paramechanical abilities This use of arcane scientific equations to cause changes in the power of the mind was very reminiscent, for this reader, of Henry Kuttner's classic short novel from 1946, The Fairy Chessmen; as in that earlier tale, The Humanoids grows increasingly way out as it progresses It is a finely written, suspenseful, actionpacked yarn that is at the same time chockfull of interesting scientific speculations It has been called Williamson's greatest science fiction novel, and while I cannot claim to have readthan 1/10 of the author's nearly 80year output (!), the greatness of the novel is hard to deny I would never dream of revealing whether or not Forester Co are successful in their efforts against the Humanoids, but can report that the author did come out with a very belated sequel, The Humanoid Touch, in 1980 Say no , right? The central conundrum this novel explores is the dichotomy between safety and liberty At first glance they seem to be mutually exclusive, an inevitable tradeoff 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 safety and happiness on all humans they find, whether they like it or not All potentially harmful physical or intellectual activities are proscribed and if they're not happy, they are sedated with drugs There is a bewildering array of psudo sciences explored in this novel too Not only were these robots made possible by the discovery of a new rhodomagnetic spectrum of energy but also faster than light travel and bombs exponentiallypowerful than conventional nuclear weapons Some humans have stumbled upon discovering parapsychological powers which they are using to resist the robotic occupation and these seem to be the unconscious manipulation of yet another spectrum of energy; the psychophysical Could these three types of energies be related in some way to form some grand unifying theory of everything including consciousness itself?So, this is an action packed novel that is also packed with ideas and revolving around the central question of liberty verses safety And like all great stories, it doesn't attempt to tell you the answer. 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 over The Humanoids are so painstakingly dedicated to their directive that humans cannot cook (the heat is too dangerous), perform crafts (scissors can be dangerous), or even drive (cars are too dangerous) Once they begin their assimilation into society, the humans begin to feel imprisoned, and any signs of unhappiness on their part is met with a form of lobotomy so that humans no longer feel unhappy It’s a frightening concept, and it made me uneasy during much of the novel.The novel is actually a collection of a short story, “With Folded Hands,” that introduces the Humanoids, and the novel proper, which continues with the concept of their invasion They were both published in the late 1940s, and aside from the usual sexist portrayals of women and men, it’s still a timely book The writing style became obtuse in portions, as the author spent a great deal of the narrative discussing the science behind the rhodomagnetic science, but the story itself captured me The story accounts several attempts by humans to stop the Humanoids, only to show them fail each time I felt anxious for the characters to end the tyranny of the overprotective androids, and frustrated when they met with failure each time The Humanoids were just too efficient to defeat.Which brings me to the point of the novel that troubles me It’s depressing, to me, to think of a rule such as this, and the novel doesn’t bring any clear resolution to the issue that makes me feel any better about it There is a happy ending, of sorts, but it’sa case of mutual existence between the Humanoids and the humans, and I almost felt betrayed by that conclusion The story is told in such a way as to make the reader feel as outraged as the protagonists, but in the end, I felt cheated by the ending Was I supposed to? Or was I supposed to be accepting of the final outcome between the humans and their captors?I enjoyed the novel, because it contained some interesting social commentary, and elicited some genuine emotion from me It was slow going, but ultimately satisfying I would recommend it to anyone wanting to catch up on some of theobscure classic science fiction, and would suggest that they email me about it when they finish it so I can see if I’m the only one who feels like I do about the conclusion. 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 spenteffort on developing the turnabout This juvenile crap makes *Asimov's* prose seem beautiful by comparison.[Edit: I couldn't in good conscience let the twostar rating stand Really, the writing was that awful.] 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, drink, or anything that may allow harm or even unhappiness to come to a human being We soon find that humanity is completely stifled by the Humanoids which will do whatever is necessary to protect humanity include altering their minds The novel The Humanoids was actually a novel length rewrite but actually can be read as a sequel to With Folded Hands In this case, The Humanoids, travel to a remote planet system to bring their Prime Directive to a new group of humans that are involved in a cold war with their neighboring planets They are opposed by a group of dissenters who have developed powers which the author calls Psychophysical (clairvoyance, telekinesis, teleportation, etc) who join with a scientist who is an expert in a fictional science called Rhodomagnetics The ending has been confused over the years Some finding it ambiguous I highly recommend this book if you appreciate hard science fiction It still holds up well today. Ugh really struggled with this one Was ready to have some fascinating deeper down the rabbit hole since this was meant to be better than his precursor short story, With Folded Hands Unfortunately this got taken in too many directions that just didn't gel with me The telekinesis of the mutants (for lack of a better title of these superhero types) was just too much So many great questions that could have been tackled (and have been raised by later stories across the genre) like: What does it mean to have a consciousness inputted into a new robotic body? What does a new dangerously benevolent robot race want? Or what are their goals? Is there a single mastermind in the middle or is it an interconnected consciousness of drones? What would happen to those that survive such a robot takeover? What if there are planets formerly outside of the reach of such 'Humanoids' who then are introduced to them, how will they interact with them and should they embrace them into their society what will happen if they start to drug lobotomise the population ie the premise of this book? So many interesting ways this book could have gone, its a great premise, and off the strength of With Folded Hands raised expectations were not met Disappointing. On the far planet Wing IV, a brilliant scientist creates the humanoidssleek black androids programmed to serve humanityBut are they perfect servantsor 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 tideif it's not already too lateFist published in Astounding Science Fiction during the magazine's heyday, The Humanoidssceince fiction grand master Jack Williamson's finest novelhas endured for fifty years as a classic on the theme of natural versus artificial lifeAlso included in this edition is the prelude novelette, With Folded Hands, which was chosen for the Science Fiction Hall of Fame 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.