Half Past Human

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Half Past Human
HalfPastHuman(1stEd).jpg
Cover of first edition (paperback)
Author T. J. Bass
Country United States
Language English
Series The Hive series
Genre Science fiction novel
Publisher Ballantine Books
Publication date
1971
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 279 pp
ISBN 0-345-02306-4
OCLC 2437954
Followed by The Godwhale

Half Past Human, by T. J. Bass (real name Thomas J. Bassler, M.D., a pathologist) is a fixup science fiction novel published in 1971. Two short stories were combined and fleshed out to form this novel: "Half Past Human", first published in Galaxy Science Fiction in December 1969, and "G.I.T.A.R.", first published in If in November and December 1970. The novel belongs to the Hive series, which also includes The Godwhale.

Bass' Hive series of stories are replete with obvious and not-so-obvious references to nomenclature commonly used in pathology, including eponymic puns (note a male character's observation of a female character's attractive "Howell-Jolly body").

Half Past Human was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1971.

Plot summary[edit]

Bass' future Earth is an environment in which the sum of the biota serves as its food chain. Human science has created the four-toed Nebish, a pallid, short-lived and highly programmable humanoid who has had the elements that do not facilitate an underground Hive existence (aggression, curiosity, etc.) bred out of it. The five-toed humans (called buckeyes) wander the biofarms that keep the trillions of Earth's Nebish population fed. All animals other than man are extinct, so meat comes from other humans (and the occasional rat). The conflict between the Hives and the roving bands of five-toed original Humans, who are reduced to savagery and hunted like vermin by Hive Security, forms the backdrop of this novel.

Something strange is happening, as the primitive buckeyes are showing signs of a purpose whose goal is unclear and probably dangerous to the balance of the Hive. There seems to be a third party stirring the pot, campaigning in a relentlessly successful battle with the computer minds that keep this "brave new world" in balance. Agendas beyond the ken of their protagonists begin to come into play, and an epic battle between the Four- and the Five-toed is looming.