The Humanoids.

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#1
Are there any more fans - out there - of Jack Williamson's The Humanoids?

I'm not sure if they were intended as a deliberate satire on Asimov's "3 laws of robotics", but in any case they effectively were! The motto: "to serve and obey and protect men from harm" gets taken to ridiculous extremes. For example, humans are not even allow to open doors (which might cause injury!). Anything dangerous is forbidden, and people who don't "find happiness" in a few approved activities are forcibly drugged!

There were only 3 books, 1 novella With Folded Hands, and 2 novels The Humanoids and The Humanoid Touch, but all good.

Jack WIlliamson was one of the first "SF" writers - contemporary with EE (Doc) Smith, and I assumed he was long dead, but he's still alive and writing!

(In the 2 last books, humans fight Humanoids with "psychic powers", irrelevant and unconvincing, and probably influenced by Astounding editor John Campbell's then new-found obsesion with esp, as derived from J B Rhine's books).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Williamson .

www.scifi.com/sfw/issue406/classic.html .
 

T_G

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#2
No, haven't heard about this one. Will have a peek, but still got George Smith to read, and also I just bought a book by FELIX C. FORREST called Ria. (of course it is another name used by Cordwainer ...).

Must read faster!
 
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#3
Thanks for replying, T G, yes fair enough, we've all got many things we must do. Who gets time to read books any more, especially old sf ....... ?

However, I'm encouraged by the resurgence of interest in "classic" sf, until recently mostly out of print, but now back in print again, so interested people can at least read them!

The way telepathy was "added" to stuff like Venus Equilateral, Humanoids, Lensmen (not to mention The Foundation) - due to Campbell's "constant pushing" - is something that interests me personally. There's an argument that, having first created science fiction, he then destroyed it again via this obsession! He certainly went a "bit off the rails", helping start Scientology and promoting the Dean Drive, etc.

In my view, the best ever telepathy novels are those of Dan Morgan: The New Minds, The Several Minds, The Mind Trap, The Country of the Mind. Develops possible social implications of esp, along with a nice slice of 1960s/70s British sociology. I see (at least) The New Minds is back in print, but there's little or nothing about Dan Morgan's novels on the Internet.

(sorry, but I'm not a Cordwainer fan!).
 

T_G

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#4
lol no worries about Cordwainer.
I got a question maybe you would know: I am trying to find the first or second SF book I ever read, one of them is childhoods end by ACK, but the other I am not sure. All I remember is that the plot was about 4 weird children (or people) who all had some sort of "abilities". But only when they came together they formed a "Gestalt" and
could "do" stuff. Does that ring any bells?
 
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#5
TG, that sounds like "More Than Human" by Theodore Sturgeon. Maybe not, but probably is.

Got a copy, but haven't read it! Personally, I find him a bit unreadable. But he's famous as "Kilgore Trout", in Kurt Vonnegut's novels (why Vonnegut picked on him - in particular - I've no idea!).

http://home.earthlink.net/~cjk5/sturgeon.html .

For Kilgore Trout: www.geocities.com/Hollywood/4953/trout.html .

Sorry about Cordwainer, yes he's very good, it's just that I personally don't like him (with Sci Fi, it's about books you enjoy!).

I'm afraid I don't like Clarke either, including Childhood's End (a novel much admired by C S Lewis!). I think Clarke's best are Glide Path (historical) and A Fall of Moondust (thriller, with sci fi trappings).
 

T_G

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#6
Thanks, that does look like it!! Will get me a copy and see if it is. But the mutants and children sounds about right. I got already 5 books I need to read other than that, so it is going to be some while.

So you don't like Assimov either?
 
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#7
Yeah, it's a question of having the time, especially if you've got family commitments, for many people reading is an "unaffordable luxury" (timewise!) .....

The other possibility was John Wyndham's The Crysalids, but the Gestalt bit suggests Sturgeon.

Dislike Asimov? Nope, I'm a geat fan! Highly populist, and readable, but also very good (why should these conflict?). His later attempts to "tie up the lose ends", in books like Foundation And Earth, etc, weren't as "fresh" as the original stuff, but still interesting. As he said himself, he didn't aim for a particular writing "style", but only to say what he wanted clearly.

He also wrote detective fiction! And - of course - a huge amount of "pop science". The Asimov Guide To Science is still one of the best layman's introductions and reference.

(I was referring to John Campbell's esp obsession "influencing" much sf, which it quite clearly did, but not saying that this made The Foundation series worse, although it might have been different!).

There are particular reasons I don't like most of Clarke's fiction, (which is another subject ......).
 
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#8
Have looked inside my copy of The Humanoids, and there's this dedication: "To John W Campbell junior, who pointed out some consequences of With Folded Hands". I assume that means the added telepathy bit, but it doesn't say, so a bit maddening .....!

Back to Asimov, his Susan Calvin (roboticist, in I Robot etc) is one of the most interesting sci fi characters ever created!
 
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#9
To T.G. ......

I've just read Baby Makes Three, the original (short story) version of More Than Human. Great. Stugeon's initially difficult to get into - maybe the reason Vonnegut chose him - but then the interesting storyline "carries" you.

Will now read longer version More Than Human, when I find my copy. Interesting to compare, shorter versions are usually better (stuff added to make a novel - for commercial reasons - is often just "padding").

I looked for something about telepathy, influencing George Smith (above), in John Campbell's collected letters (then I could say, "aha told you"). Alas, nothing there (which doesn't mean there wasn't a letter ....).
 

T_G

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#10
Well, I got to buy one fors. Will ask my dad if he still has the one I read. I got all curious now!
 
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