Author Case Study – Additional – Stanley G. Weinbaum [5w4]

Note: as noted below I worked from a printed version of the book (as pictured). However, an e-book version is available here which may be interesting for reference:


Stanley G. Weinbaum was a writer in the 1930s, who generated a couple of critically-claimed books but had only a small output, having died quite young (aged 33, of lung cancer; characters in his book likewise have a huge cigarette input; contextually, heavy smoking would not normally be a 5 indicator as such but could reflect some of the 4 influence, and is more ubiquitious in the 30s).
I first read Weinbaum a long while back and pegged him as a 5, and was rereading him recently in the search for a 5w6 that would be interesting to profile. He appears to be, pretty clearly now, actually a 5w4, but still some aspects of his work may be interesting enough to merit some discussion, even though I already have a 5w4 listed (John Brunner).
Discussion here is based on the one book I have of his, “The New Adam”. A read of this gives a very definite 5 vibe however; the premise and descriptions of habits and interactions of the characters had me convinced on the re-reading that he was a Five by about page 14, then of the wing (additionally confirming this) before about page 100. Given that his type is so readily discernible, the author was probably not particularly healthy.

The book itself has the blurb:

Edmond Hall was born a genetic freak. His brain – and the powers it could weird – set him above the world of ordinary man. He was the successor of mankind in the evolutionary scale. But to the normal beings around him Hall was a freak, a monster, a new Adam in a world of frightened sub-men.

The front of the book (at least in the reprint of it I have – Sphere books, 1974) rather than a text excerpt from further in to draw the reader, states, somewhat pretentiously:

Stanley G. Weinbaum was one of the most original of all science fiction writers. His ambition was to create a novel that was more adventurous and more mature than any ever written in the field – a novel that would immediately rank as a classic. It took him nine years to write The New Adam and when he had finished, Weinbaum had achieved his lofty goal.

Initially reading this I was unimpressed since the theme is also one in e.g. Olaf Stapledon’s Odd John (1935), however, ‘The New Adam’ appears to have been published post-humously and he couldn’t be aware he’d been scooped…arguably, by taking so long to write it). Stapledon’s type is still under investigation.

Its difficult to say if the blurb is the author’s writing, although the details included there (nine years to write) suggest it may be. The style of speaking is fairly consistent with that of the character’s in the book – “Edmond” generally comes across as supercilious and takes whatever opportunity he can to emphasize that he’s smarter than people he meets, concluding that human (males anyway) inherently hate him because “man hates his masters, while woman loves them”. In context of say, Horney’s theories as to idealized image, this could be conjectured to be a neurotic need to feel superior, which he feeds by disparaging others. However, he is largely not consciously aware of this because of this because of a self-image where he just appears to himself as intellectually superior and so is only being logical or truthful to others as to their ‘shortcomings’. Any threat to the self-image would show that its actually ‘necessary’ rather than purely a logical construct.
Either wing seem to do this (e.g. compare Isaac Asimov as an example of 5w6), although the intensity of this here again points to a fairly unhealthy personality.
As compared to, say, type Three, there is relatively little need for external validation to support the image. As usual for a Five, the character is depicted as wanting to avoid exposure or drawing attention to themself. Even a business deal set up (after creating an invention that will provide passive income) involves limited contact with people.

The book deals with the superman Edmond growing up to realize he’s different to / smarter than everyone else, making a fortune to secure his independence, while the core of the book really is his romantic entanglements (see later).

The first few pages show the characters’ home life, where they behave in a fairly Five-ish fashion. The protagonist’s mother dies in childbirth, “She would not have a hospital, this is what comes of home births” the doctor says (rather tactlessly); the father “says little, and there’s,little, indeed, that he could say“. The father, described as a quiet and practical lawyer, goes on to have lonely evenings where he “read and smoked“, and is likewise solitary – moving his office to his home and getting a telephone “as good as being downtown, and it saved the streetcar ride“. They have a relationship that’s somehow distant despite being virtually alone together (when the father dies later, Edmond’s feelings – if any – are unrecorded; it doesn’t say that he doesn’t care, but doesn’t really go into this deeply at all). Edmond himself is described as ‘queer’ – a primarily social effect, since he’s largely human-looking aside from an extra joint in his fingers. [Though compare e.g. with Brunner’s “Telepathist”]. The character actually has only very limited mutant powers – he seems to have a sort of hypnotic ability at one point, but largely is just intellectually superior.
At some point we discover he has the ability to concentrate on two things at once – sometimes described as a “second self”.”He himself could with perfect clarity pursue two separate and distinct trains of thought at the same time.” and:

“He was not yet really lonely. He watched the panorama of city and college, and was fairly content with his own company. There still grew in him the sense of superiority, of contempt for these single-minded beings about him. To see only one side of anything! To be unable to toss thoughts back and forth within one’s self, never to know the strange conceptions that are beyond expression in language! No wonder they herded together for company!

This would be one of a couple of really interesting points in the book, since we can compare the idea here, to Gurdjieff concept of “understanding” as opposed to knowledge, meaning that something is viewed from multiple sides at once through being processed via ‘intellect’, via ‘sensation’ and via ‘feeling’ (three-centeredly), to get different perspectives. The view above, then, is a view that seemingly would be created by someone using primarily just the intellectual centre, and describing a mutant which has in effect two separate intellectual centres, and so generates ‘understanding’ that way – although it seems likely his different ‘minds’ would actually arrive at similar conclusions. This would be a fairly interesting variation on the usual idea of ‘man number three’ (enneatypes 5,6,7: Five especially as the ‘overdevelopment’ member of the triad) that transcendence is becoming a bigger man number three (i.e. smarter).

(As a comparative theme: The evolution to become just a bigger brain shows up in Edmond Hamilton’s “The Man Who Evolved” [5w4], while some of the 5w6s have idea of future man as a bodiless energy being (Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001; Asimov’s “The Last Question”) – perhaps a sort of translation of religious ideas of the soul into a SF context. Poul Anderson, much later in the SF timeline, has a mutant in Tomorrow’s Children who has the ability to solve multiple problems at once (e.g. making it easy for him to work out the Three Body Problem), although I believe Anderson may be an Eight.)

Overall in terms of centre use, ‘intellectual’ is clearly dominating. Science in the book is fairly good, and is paired with philosophizing (more typical of /w4).
Generally, the character comes across as being fairly unemotional as regards people, but with personal emotions sometimes evident, and generally having a negative character (reflecting wing 4). A major part of the book is about Edmond getting involved with a human woman who physically attracts him before finding another mutant, who is his intellectual equal and who has his child but doesn’t excite him physically. He leaves his mutant wife for his human wife, despite realizing that the relationship will, over time, cause him to eventually die (of exhaustion, apparently).
He describes love as having ‘an intellectual component and a physical component’ – but forgets the feeling component – with the two paramours representing each one component, then. Perhaps limited empathy is seen for either love interest – they play parts as being dumped and picked up again fairly passively – one due to loving him and the other in a detached, logical fashion.

Another theme throughout is an idea of futility which reflects the Four influence; Edmond believing that his superior intellect is also giving him a capacity to suffer, eventually, effectively choosing suicide by being with his human wife. He contemplates the idea that ‘all truth is relative’, to him implying that ‘the sum of all knowledge is zero’.
Also evident is an interest in poetry (another 4 indicator) that occurs frequently throughout the book, characters talking to each other in verse occasionally, and the idea of ‘recurrence’. As I think I noted in Brunner’s post, this is an idea which seems particularly related to 4 and 4 themes; a belief that time is a circle and so that in some way the universe will rerun itself and occur again. Edmond speculates that it may be a spiral, so that things may end slightly differently the next time. John Brunner covers almost exactly the same concept in his love story in “Not Before Time” (see the Brunner case study); it is also spoken of by Ouspensky in the Fourth Way (and seems to have been an original idea of his, rather than comign from Gurdjieff). A probably Four movie covering this theme specifically would be “The Discovery”, where a huge surge in suicide rate occurs after a discovery the afterlife exists; in the end they discover that the afterlife is a rerun of your life where you can fix all your mistakes. [Hope].

Jungian Functions: Other characters in the book aside from the two women are a human rival for the affections of his human wife, Paul, who operates occasionally as a sidekick but largely dislikes him, and a physicist “Alfred Stein” who shows up from time to time, e.g. to have bits of particle theory or whatnot explained to him. The name similarity to Albert Einstein is fairly obvious, presumably making him a sidekick to emphasize the intellectual superiority of the main character. At an MBTI function level, Stein could be argued to possibly represent extraverted intuition [Ne]; Arguably this is also apparent in a certain facility at business etc. type dealings that’s evident – externally focussed intuition.

Meanwhile female mutant Sarah Maddox as, an artist (painter) may be introverted-sensation [Si], and Paul as the bad guy, extraverted feeling [Fe]. Paul also has artistic traits in being a poet, but isn’t as good as the main character; he also operates to explain human behaviour at points and is in love with Vanny, the human woman. Overall then, function setup is the same as in Brunner (“INTP”).


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