Read The Instrumentality of Mankind by Cordwainer Smith Online


14 short stories set in a universe of scanners, planoforming ships and animal-derived Underpeople.1 No, No, Not Rogov! (1959)2 War No. 81-Q (1928)3 Mark Elf (1957)4 The Queen of the Afternoon (1978)5 When the People Fell (1959)6 Think Blue, Count Two (1963)7 The Colonel Came Back from the Nothing-at-All (1979)8 From Gustible's Planet (1962)9 Drunkboat (1963)10 Western Scie14 short stories set in a universe of scanners, planoforming ships and animal-derived Underpeople.1 No, No, Not Rogov! (1959)2 War No. 81-Q (1928)3 Mark Elf (1957)4 The Queen of the Afternoon (1978)5 When the People Fell (1959)6 Think Blue, Count Two (1963)7 The Colonel Came Back from the Nothing-at-All (1979)8 From Gustible's Planet (1962)9 Drunkboat (1963)10 Western Science Is So Wonderful (1958)11 Nancy (1959)12 The Fife of Bodidharma (1959)13 Angerhelm (1959)14 The Good Friends (1963)...

Title : The Instrumentality of Mankind
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780575041677
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 238 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Instrumentality of Mankind Reviews

  • Bogdan
    2019-03-23 23:19

    Usually I don't read too much sci-fi literature, as I tend to prefer contemporary novels and poetry. I had a period during high-school when I was reading almost exclusively sci-fi. It was a period when I also wanted to become and astronaut. I ended up being an economist working more in IT systems for a Procurement center, so you have to imagine that the books I have read shifted a lot since high-school.But I still can appreciate a good sci-fi novel, that for me means one that manages to create a fully functional world in the (preferably distant) future imagined. No doubt this is such a novel. But it is not necessarily a dystopia, although has elements of it. But despite those elements, many stories from this collection end up in a optimist tone. Basically, they all tell how humanity in a distant future started to lose their human traits, having the Instrumentality and technology to keep them forever happy and healthy. Basically, humans became just organic robots. But after each story, something fundamental is changing the mankind and we learn that in even more distant future, the humans regained their humanity. Interesting idea, and quite well proven by the novel, so I'll give it a 4 for premise.Regarding the form, I believe Cordwainer is a talented writer. I admired most his ability to tell the story without bugging the first part with abundant details on how that distant world is working. We learn as we read and after you get used with this, there is no problem. For me the first few stories were harder to read as I usually like more details before I read the more story. But after them, they reused elements from previous stories and all was fine. This is why I'll give it a 4 for form.In terms of originality, as I don't have an extensive knowledge of sci-fi literature (apart from mainstream), I consider it to be quite original. I noticed few similarities (probably an influence of the 60s) with some other novels written at the same time. Meaning some elements from the past of history reused in these stories (nobility could be an example) and some stories have some songs in it. But the rest of the concepts seem quite original, to me. So I will give it a 4 for the level of originality.On the characters, I cannot recall any great character from these short stories. They were interesting, intriguing (especially sub-humans) or fairly average. Most of the time the focus being on the story not on the character development. This worked well for me, so I will give it a 3 for characters.Regarding the complexity and difficulty, there are many concepts that require explanations, which is natural as the stories are set in a distant future. But I did not felt abounding with scientific terms as in case of many other sci-fi novels. So I will rate it with a 2 for complexity and difficulty.In terms of credibility, not debating if the respective changes in human society and technology present in the stories are possible or not, I believe the world created by Smith is fairly consistent with itself. I think that he did not imagined how powerful computers could become, as they play a minor part in his stories. As this is a sci-fi novel, I cannot rate it more than 3 on credibility. This is why my rating for credibility is 2.The last criteria is edition. I liked this e-book as it contained few spelling errors and the formatting was reasonable. But there were several annoying pagination or proof reading errors. Due to this, I'll give it a 2.To summarize, a nice sci-fi novel, one of the good ones from the New Age of Science Fiction. I liked mostly the effort needed to created a logical world that fits the rule sets by itself. All in all, my final rating for it is 3.00, which requires no rounding on Goodreads system.+--------------------------+-----------------+| Criteria | Rating |+--------------------------+-----------------+|Premise | 4 |+--------------------------+-----------------+|Form | 4 |+--------------------------+-----------------+|Originality | 4 |+--------------------------+-----------------+|Characters | 3 |+--------------------------+-----------------+|Difficulty/Complexity | 2 |+--------------------------+-----------------+|Credibility | 2 |+--------------------------+-----------------+|Edition | 2 |+--------------------------+-----------------+|Total | 3.00 |+--------------------------+-----------------+For more details on how I rated and reviewed this novel, please read these guidelines.

  • Kathleen
    2019-04-21 00:35

    I love his pseudonym, which means cobbler..from cordovan, a fine leather from Cordoba, Spain. Nice shoes!See also my "Best of..." review for my mixed feelings on Cordwainer Smith. And in my blog, which sometimes gave a running account of my reading, I compared him to Flannery O'Connor in having a moral world view but not always sounding judgmental, just standing back and showing the behavior of people in stressful situations, or people/animal people/and other world people all bumped up against each other.What I found amazing was how the stories tied together to create a future/history of thousands and thousands of years of various kinds of space travel, governmental systems, and values/practices. The sense of compassionate beings seeking good pervades all, even when that motive leads to odd, failed, or repressive behavior. So, you know, like life!As science fiction goes, though, I still prefer Mary Doria Russell--"Jesuits in space"--The Sparrow and Children of God.And Zenna Henderson, The People series, but that preference is also coming from my teen years. Perhaps a re-read is in order.

  • Sean Leas
    2019-03-30 07:25

    This was a very interesting short story collection, early on we are in the extremely far-off perhaps far-out future. Some of the stories were more haunting than others, but what seemed like a simple foray ends up being such a layered Easter egg of sci-fi goodness that this was a hard book to put down. There were a few that were strictly in the realm of paranormal which was a pleasant break with all of the world-building and golden era sci-fi material. Before I knew it I had completely forgotten about The Instrumentality of Mankind which had a heavy theme in many of the stories and got lost in each brilliant story on their own merits. Smith had such a unique vision in which this will remain one of more memorable books that I’ve read.

  • Bradley
    2019-04-03 06:30

    It's hard to tell what I liked most out of these stories. From Gustible's Planet was probably one of the most memorable for big ideas and big action, but DrunkBoat was seriously creepy and delicious. I'm always of a mind to pity all of his characters to one degree or another, and it looks like it is well deserved pity. Of course, I'm reminded of Bester's work, but this was sufficiently clever and taking a different path entirely that I cannot fault it in the slightest. (I'm only referring to DrunkBoat, here.)The rest of the stories are either also in other editions or are less memorable, but all of them are quite good. I heartily recommend them all.

  • Diane Baker
    2019-03-22 01:34

    Cordwainer Smith is a forgotten author these days, but I urge anyone who sees any book by him to pick it up, take it home and read. (Pay for it first!) Each story is a treasure. I've rationed out my Cordwainer Smith stories so I won't run out. This man is brilliant, and needs to be read instead of so much of the claptrap they keep putting out. "Scanners Live in Vain" and "Ballad of Lost C'mell" are amazing. I don't want to say much about the plots, but will only say that they look simple on the surface, but once you get inside them, they are like beautiful Fabrege' eggs. This book is a good representative volume.

  • John
    2019-04-04 23:32

    What to add to the already glowing praise of Smith? He brought a unique voice to SF, partly because of his Chinese background, partly because I think he had such an amazing mind, almost anything he wrote would have been surprisingly good. If you are an SF Fan and haven't read Smith, I envy you - you have a whole world of surprises awaiting you.

  • Cristina
    2019-03-31 01:37

    Some of the stories are amazing (like the classic "The Game of Rat and Dragon")... I was indifferent to some, and a few of them I disliked but the universe depicted is a consistent one and the theme of human behavior toward animals a very dear one to me.

  • spikeINflorida
    2019-04-07 04:44

    If a young adolescent Phillip K. Dick wrote short stories, I would imagine they would have read something like these very strange, warped, surreal tales.

  • Fabio Quatela
    2019-04-13 01:19

    I just love this collection of short stories. Often, when I recommend a book, I tend to gravitate towards perfect books, carefully crafted with no flaws to be noticed. This one is full of flaws, all kind of them, but the final result is nevertheless stunning and moving. Do I feel at ease recommending it, knowing that most will at least like it? No, I don't. Do I still recommend it? Yes, absolutely: maybe you will not like it one bit, but for others this may be the book of their life.

  • Jesse Lynn
    2019-03-28 23:25

    One of the better science fiction writers of his era, but the stories themselves are a bit dry. Except for "From Gustible's PLanet," which is one of the most hilarious stories I've ever read.

  • Bradu Cristinel
    2019-04-16 04:48

    I have done His shoes...and " gone was me" on the Alpha Ralpha Boulevard. I walked and run, I laugh and had fun. I gleaned unforgettable memory implants into the likeness of a Tyrell's android hunted by a Blade Runner,of Paul Moadib riding sand worms, of Endymion falling in love with Keats' daughter - running from a galactic Inquisition,of Ender's game over - talking with trees, of Chappy in Johannesburg...I went to space three than under foundation of The Foundation, and I liked all the way until the Abbey of new saint Augustine...By serendipity of course, it happens that after The instrumentality of Mankind , I came across with two books of Stephen Hawking. To find out that the SF authors are today, more realistic in describing virtual Universes than the real,but sad to observe - dogmatic scientists,which unfortunately are still calculate the radiant energy from cucumbers...At least, Cordwainer knows his trade in delicate leather and letters.He understood already that the unknown entity, brought by the galactic jailer-bus named Moon, dungeoned within our planet,dreamed his revenge a few billions of years than invented "in the beginning"... the word. The code of life. DNA with the escape purpose. Thus fell on the Mankind 'shoulders, the mighty task to be genetically selected ( from different laboratories, i.e. continents) as the only one specie , able to defy the gravity ...with greedy curiosity. Than to swarm to the stars, for retaliation or else... Or just to spread the "star's dust " between the stars ... chris bradu

  • Simon Mcleish
    2019-04-06 02:37

    Originally published on my blog here in September 2001.The oligarchy which rules mankind in the background to most of Smith's science fiction is known as the Instrumentality. This may make it seem an ideal title for a collection of his short stories, but of these fourteen there are at least six - and I would say seven - which are not part of his ambitious future history. The short stories not in The Instrumentality of Mankind are collected in The Rediscovery of Man, and there the stories are set in the Instrumentality but only four or five deal with the events given the name which provides its title; neither collection really has a title appropriate to its content.The stories in The Instrumentality of Mankind are all in some way "also-rans". (This is not surprising given that the other collection's original title was The Best of Cordwainer Smith.) Many of them have an unfinished feel, which is mainly because the ideas they contain are not as fully developed as they are in Smith's most successful stories. This is the case, in particular, with the stories about the origins of the Vomact family. War No. 81Q, while an immense achievement for a teenager, is clearly juvenile. Gustible's Planet is basically a parody of Smith's usual style.The stories are not without interest, and for many authors this would amount to a pretty good collection. The Instrumentality of Mankind, however, is very much in the shadow of its counterpart.

  • Jerry
    2019-03-24 04:18

    Really nice science fiction fairy-tales, mostly from the same universe (or so) spread over thousands of years. As is becoming a habit with me, I seem to be reading these in reverse order. It looks like most of these stories come before the Instrumentality stories in The Best of Cordwainer Smith.That puts a different light on the somewhat overbearing Instrumentality in the later stories. It was meant to be a very hands-off, not-really-a-government, almost libertarian setup, but that obviously changed over the millennia.One of the non-Instrumentality stories, Western Science is Wonderful, is practically not science fiction/fantasy at all: other than the identification of the Chinese demon as a Martian, there isn’t anything in it to make it other than a sort of modernized fairy-tale. (This Martian’s powers are very similar to those of DC’s Martian Manhunter, who came out a few years earlier.)I think if you enjoy Ray Bradbury, you’ll also enjoy Cordwainer Smith. It’s both more fantasy and less fantasy at the same time. There are rules to the way the world works, but these rules are strange—fantastic, in fact.

  • Andrew
    2019-04-05 07:28

    The blurb on the back cover reads:THE INSTRUMENTALITY OF MANKINDCOMPLETES THE PUBLICATION OF THE SCIENCE FICTION OFCORDWAINER SMITHby Del Rey Bookswith fourteen stories set in his star-spanning futureuniverse of scanners, planoforming shipsthat whisper among the stars, the animal-derivedUnderpeople... perhaps the mostoutstanding and haunting feat of creative imaginationthe field has ever known.Here is the accountof the strange origin of the Vomact family and its rolein founding the Instrumentality,of how one man's love broke the secret ofSpace-Three, of what happens to peopletoo long between the stars-- even of a shape-changingMartian with a passion forgadgets-- in a collection that presents some ofthe strongest work of anunforgettable writer.

  • kXnPunk EvilDemon
    2019-04-12 02:18

    I really enjoyed reading this. It has a nice place among the favorites of mine.The world he created, the way that it's put up and the amazing tech and descriptions are way too fucking hot!!!Love that it's full of short story that all connects together so you can read whatever one around the book.My favorite one is definitely Crunkboat. The guy travelling that wakes up naked on a yard and can't move at first one. Oh yeah, they travel with their mind but arrive in real at destination. Loved the cat co-pilot in an other story, he ruled.So yes, I couldn't do anything else but recommend it.

  • matthew
    2019-04-21 04:37

    the full name of this collection is "the instrumentality of mankind", and i don't know why goodreads can't show that (or "shelf" names with apostrophes, and such...).these short stories are some of the most distinctive in science fiction. smith's voice is unmistakable; his imagination awe inspiring. he also, under his real name, wrote the still-currently-used manual on psychological warfare... so, there's that.

  • Matt
    2019-03-22 06:24

    Good collection of short stories. One of them is somehow a repeat. The stories seemed very focused on what people do when they're left to their own thoughts for long times and how we might deal with that.

  • Pieter Van
    2019-04-09 06:37

    a must for any sci-fi and politically minded person.huge comparison between the book, its inherent message and the current state of world politics and the overall human state today.Cordwainer Smith's commentary is as relevant today as it was when the book was written.

  • Max Nemtsov
    2019-04-17 05:38

    + еще несколько смешных и совершенно гениальных рассказов, особенно про шпионов и военспецов хорошо получается. и да - Херберт Хувер Тимофеев, конечно, очень смешно, но за "Постсоветских православных восточных квакеров" Смиту в Сибири надо памятник где-нибудь поставить

  • reherrma
    2019-03-26 02:33

    Die Saga von der Insturmentalität der Menschheit ist ein gewaltiger Mythos, niemals wurde so komplex, so bizarr und emotional so fesselnd die Geschichte der Menschheit über zig Jahrtausende hinweg sikzziert und literarisch so kompetent umgesetzt...

  • Levi
    2019-04-05 06:24

    Well that was a pleasantly hilarious compilation of vintage sci-fi short stories .

  • Jake
    2019-04-04 00:47

    Some of the stories are weird and others are very interesting. 'Nancy' was my favorite.

  • bluetyson
    2019-04-12 05:43


  • Cait
    2019-03-24 23:19

    SO AMAZING. i love his crazy words and names.

  • Djcolgan
    2019-03-26 00:35


  • Indigo
    2019-04-12 06:25

    When I was reading it I thought it was kind of ridiculous but looking back the stories ended up being mostly memorable in a good way.

  • Jakub
    2019-04-14 01:18

    The author was advertised to me as "bit like Philip K. Dick, but different". Turns out, it was a good " different". It had a bit of Larry Niven too. Color me intrigued.