The Humanoids and With Folded Hands by Jack Williamson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
1947's "With Folded Hands" was a direct libertarian response to the devastation wrought by the two atomic bombs, replacing the obvious threats with very cleverly humanist and helpful sleek black androids that invade to give humanity all it could ever want.
We get most of the story from a refugee's point of view, how he has been running and trying to stop the pervasive and nearly perfectly benevolent humanoids. It reads nearly like a horror novel, a paranoid rambling, at desperate ploy, and it seems perfectly reasonable (after having read The Humanoids).
I should have read this first! :) I think it was pretty much fantastic. Of course we get all the old Asimov Robot stories and even a prototype Prime Directive, and we even get the hints of the Butlerian Jihad reminiscent later in the Dune novels. We can't underestimate the influence of Jack Williamson.
1949 The Humanoids. Of course there have been robots in the golden age of SF, but one little fact should be brought out. Asimov's Robots didn't show up until a few years AFTER Williamson's Humanoids. :) We all know the Laws. Williamson is the prototype, but rather a slightly darker tale. :)
I was first happy to read a novel that is SCIENCE! and later the almost pure escapism, watching how humanity either fell in step with the near-perfect rule of the "Servants" or they'd be subjected to the drug of Euphoricide. :) I love that name. Pure happiness until you stop caring. :)
It turned directly into a pretty cool adventure and an almost impossible quest to change the Humanoid's Prime Directive and give people true freedom again, a pure libertarian ideal of Choice, also a timely theme of Free Will against the Godhead. The adventure was cool and impossible, but then the plot twist was pretty damn cool and a homage to all the old SF pulp classics. The Prime Directive, after all, is the need to make All Men Happy. The twist was pretty damn sweet. :)
I can't believe I've never read Jack Williamson before. I feel very ashamed. This stuff is pretty damn cool. :)
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