Friday night I watched TV, read the paper, and went to bed to read at 2am and slept at 4am. I got up at noon and went to bookgroup. We had a guy who came once or twice a while back, but has been at the last two meetings. He will only come when we're reading books from 1980 or earlier and when one of the guys talked about Charlie Stross' books to him, he just shook his head. There's two problems with his coming: 1) he lectures. I'm not kidding, he has many pages of notes and insists on droning about the book (with which many of us are usually already familiar), 2) we frequently pass things around the circle (made of those 3'x6' tables) -- I usually bring things from the WashPost, one of the guys frequently brings pictures from his most recent motorcycle trip, etc. -- and he will never take them, not even to pass them on.
At least he doesn't come to dinner, which was at Olive Garden. While we were waiting in the foyer, I saw two young guys in suits and a girl in a dress that was appropriate for a dance, but it wasn't until we got our table that we realized there must have been a homecoming last night. Lots of nice outfits, plus some odd ones.
I got home about 7:30pm and went through the mail -- two bills, and an envelope from SWheat Scoop. I thought it probably had a letter in it and maybe a coupon, but it had four $1-off-per-box coupons. Then the next envelope was from SWheat Scoop and I thought that one had the letter; no, five of the $1-off-per-box coupons. I definitely don't mind the coupons, but I did think they would have put in a note. I signed on and paid the bills, read email, and put in that short post.
I did scoop litterboxes and then go to bed and right to sleep at 9pm. I set the alarm for midnight because Junie and I both had to have meds then and Loki got his psuedomeds to be even with Junie. I was awake enough to read Saturday's paper and make Monday's grocery list and then went back to bed. I brought four books home from the library yesterday -- the next bookgroup book, two Richard Jury books, and a new science book -- and I read the first chapter of the science book. It not only had bad proofing, it was boring. I already knew everything in that chapter. It was boring enough that I kept thinking of other things and took a long time to read just that chapter. I'll read the second chapter tonight and if it's as bad, it will go back to the library tomorrow.
I got up late, almost 3pm and haven't done much other than feeding the cats their wet food, be on the computer, and start washing sheets.
The bookgroup book for yesterday was The Humanoids, but it's short and I read the sequel, too. It turned out most of us had read the sequel. All the books (mine were very old from SFBC, everybody else had a new paperback) had "With Folded Hands" at the front, but my book also had a bit from Williamson at the back: "Me and My Humanoids."
"With Folded Hands" is not only the best story of that group, but one of the best stories in SF. A man comes home from his mechanicals shop and finds new robots, humanoids, who look like small black ungendered humans, and will do anything free. People in the city sign on -- why not get the house cleaned, no more work at the office, no more babysitting -- but it turns out that the Prime Directive: "to serve and obey and guard men from harm" is interpreted too strictly. The man tries to get his wife to stop the temporary humanoids and at the same time, checks on the tenant she put in the garage apartment that day.
The tenant said he made the humanoids and is trying to change the Prime Directive. They work together to get a beam that will kill the "brain" on another planet that runs the humanoids. It not only doesn't work, but the humanoids appear at the door. The tenant gives in to the humanoids because he'll die otherwise. The humanoids give almost all humans euphoricide, a drug that makes them happy, but like babies. They aren't allowed to do anything because it might hurt them -- use knives, bathe by themselves, play golf -- so when the humanoids drive the guy home, he sits with folded hands because he can't do anything anymore.
This is like a bigger version of that story. A general has a secret missile compartment and spends all his time worried about what he has to send it at. A little girl, Jane Carter, teleports to see him and tell him that other telurgy people need to see him and he eventually comes. The folks in that group hope to kill the humanoids, but the general doesn't believe in the humanoids yet. Things progress until not only is the general trapped by the humanoids with his missiles removed, he jumps with Jane Carter to the brain world and tries to put in a set of relays that will change the Prime Directive.
It doesn't work, they get caught, and he's put in a cage and watches a new skill -- making humans puppets. He turns up with Jane on another planet and it turns out he can do a lot of telurgical stuff now. The humanoids still find them and eventually make him, all the telurgists, and others into happy beings, with the euphoricide and psychological training.
Williamson's bit at the back says that a lot of people had questions about what happened and he felt that the people who gave in to the humanoids show social culture, but the ones who don't have to, are individualist culture.
The Humanoid Touch
We're in a completely different planet now, and most people no longer believe in humanoids. Unfortunately, they show up and lie to the population extensively, including making themselves look like real people. Our protagonist, who turns out to be a mutant human who can live in a deadly land on the other planet, tried to kill them and then get away, and only he and his father do because they can go into the deadly land. All other humans are then happy with the euphoricide or dead.
Tbis one was nowhere near as good as the first book, much less the story.