The Humanoids by Jack Williamson

 

Science Fiction

The humanoids The HumanoidsJack Williamson; Tor 1996WorldCatincludes “With Folded Hands”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if androids or “mechanicals” came and took away all our labor, their whole purpose being to “serve and obey”? Housekeepers will no longer have to clean or cook. Manufacturing businesses will no longer need human employees because the mechanicals do the work better and cheaper. But humans won’t have to worry about money or how to live – the mechanicals will provide everything needed.

Wood houses are replaced with energy efficient, fireproof plastic materials. Mechanicals drive buses and cars, protecting humans from harmful accidents. Banks are no longer necessary because the mechanicals provide all our wants and needs – as long as those needs are not harmful.

Do you want to smoke? Forget it, that will endanger your life. Would you like to go fishing? No, you can’t do that because you might cut yourself on the fishhook or get tangled or worse, strangled, in the fish line. Would you like to take up gourmet cooking? The stove is dangerous. Let’s not even discuss the sharp knives in the kitchen. Do you like to read? The mechanicals have removed all books with violence or sadness in them. How can humans be happy if they are reminded of sadness? The same is true of movies. Alcohol is dangerous to the liver. Candy can make you overweight, thus harming yourself. Do you like the challenge of your job? If the mechanicals haven’t taken over the work, the job has probably been eliminated due to lack of need. You won’t starve or go homeless – that would be harmful. Instead the mechanicals will cocoon you in your home and provide everything needed to keep you comfortable.

The Humanoids is utopia over the edge. The scientist who created them was tired of war, so designed a mechanical being that protected humans from themselves. The scientist was out of touch, isolated. He didn’t realize what happened until it was too late. Once the androids had “cared for” everyone on his planet, they started to look for other worlds with humans in need of their care. Each unit is a small part of a collective brain. Destroying one won’t make a difference. Another comes along immediately to replace the first one.

This book also includes the short story, “With Folded Hands.” The short story is a vivid picture of what happens when the mechanicals come to a new planet to “serve and obey” the humans living on it. The short story is excellent. The book gets vague in places, but is enjoyable. Asimov’s robots follow 3 laws that work well. Williamson’s mechanicals follow 2 guides that dehmanize man. These are the man made machines that can take over the world.

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