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First came the news that a flying saucer had landed in Iowa. Then came the announcement that the whole thing was a hoax. End of story. Case closed. Except that two agents of the most secret intelligence agency in the U.S. government were on the scene and disappeared without reporting back. Then four more follow up agents also disappeared. So the head of the agency and his t First came the news that a flying saucer had landed in Iowa. Then came the announcement that the whole thing was a hoax. End of story. Case closed. Except that two agents of the most secret intelligence agency in the U.S. government were on the scene and disappeared without reporting back. Then four more follow up agents also disappeared. So the head of the agency and his two top agents went in and managed to get out with their discovery: an invasion is underway by slug-like aliens who can touch a human and completely control his or her mind. What the humans know, they know. What the slugs want, no matter what, the human will do. And most of Iowa is already under their control. Sam Cavanaugh was one of the agents who discovered the truth. Unfortunately, that was just before he was taken over by one of the aliens and began working for the invaders, with no will of his own. And he has just learned that a high official in the Treasury Department is now under control of the aliens. Since the Treasury Department includes the Secret Service, which safeguards the President of the United States, control of the entire nation is near at hand.


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First came the news that a flying saucer had landed in Iowa. Then came the announcement that the whole thing was a hoax. End of story. Case closed. Except that two agents of the most secret intelligence agency in the U.S. government were on the scene and disappeared without reporting back. Then four more follow up agents also disappeared. So the head of the agency and his t First came the news that a flying saucer had landed in Iowa. Then came the announcement that the whole thing was a hoax. End of story. Case closed. Except that two agents of the most secret intelligence agency in the U.S. government were on the scene and disappeared without reporting back. Then four more follow up agents also disappeared. So the head of the agency and his two top agents went in and managed to get out with their discovery: an invasion is underway by slug-like aliens who can touch a human and completely control his or her mind. What the humans know, they know. What the slugs want, no matter what, the human will do. And most of Iowa is already under their control. Sam Cavanaugh was one of the agents who discovered the truth. Unfortunately, that was just before he was taken over by one of the aliens and began working for the invaders, with no will of his own. And he has just learned that a high official in the Treasury Department is now under control of the aliens. Since the Treasury Department includes the Secret Service, which safeguards the President of the United States, control of the entire nation is near at hand.

30 review for The Puppet Masters

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    Putting this book down I cannot help wondering if Bob wrote this for the excuse to see, at least in his mind, a nation wearing no clothes. You see, this is about an invasion of body snatchers type event, the aliens being large slug like creatures who affix themselves to the hosts’ skin. So, one method of finding the insidious creatures is an ordinance where everyone must be nude. Clever! You are a devil, Bob Heinlein. First published in 1951, this is a couple decades before he took the turnpike exi Putting this book down I cannot help wondering if Bob wrote this for the excuse to see, at least in his mind, a nation wearing no clothes. You see, this is about an invasion of body snatchers type event, the aliens being large slug like creatures who affix themselves to the hosts’ skin. So, one method of finding the insidious creatures is an ordinance where everyone must be nude. Clever! You are a devil, Bob Heinlein. First published in 1951, this is a couple decades before he took the turnpike exit to weirdville, and this is not bad at all, but we may be seeing early glimpses. Heinlein took the concept of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Jack Finney’s classic Cold War allegory was actually first published in 1955 – AFTER Heinlein’s continental nudist colony) and tooled it to a SF alien invasion for a vehicle to espouse civil libertarian and free will doctrines. No doubt Heinlein saw the metaphorical qualities of the concept and made many direct references to life behind the Iron Curtain, but his narrative lacks the B-movie cool of Finney’s work. Published between Farmer in the Sky and The Rolling Stones, this is bibliographically in his juvenile period, but this has more of an adult premise, setting and tone. Still filled with his inimitable Show Me state charm and his wise cracking similes, this is a true Heinlein classic.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    This is the Heinlein book where evil alien slugs take over everyone's brains, causing nationwide chaos. This novel was written in 1951 and is set in 2007 (whew! no mind-controlling slugs around yet ... at least not that I'm aware of. Though the current state of politics makes me wonder ...). The story is told from the viewpoint of Sam, who works in a secretive national security agency under a boss he calls the Old Man. Sam, the Old Man, and an excellent (and very sexy) agent called Mary head to D This is the Heinlein book where evil alien slugs take over everyone's brains, causing nationwide chaos. This novel was written in 1951 and is set in 2007 (whew! no mind-controlling slugs around yet ... at least not that I'm aware of. Though the current state of politics makes me wonder ...). The story is told from the viewpoint of Sam, who works in a secretive national security agency under a boss he calls the Old Man. Sam, the Old Man, and an excellent (and very sexy) agent called Mary head to Des Moines to investigate a flying saucer rumor and - more importantly - find out why six other agents sent to investigate before them have disappeared without a trace. They discover the alien slugs hard at work, busily attaching themselves to the back of every human they can (once they attach, they control that person's mind and have access to all their memories and skills, so they can use the people they control to capture other people long enough to stick a slug on their neck). They manage to escape and report to the President of the U.S., who can't be convinced to declare a state of emergency. So our intrepid team goes back to Des Moines to try to get more evidence of the alien invasion ... and things start to go wrong from there. I loved this old pulpy SF novel when I was a teenager. The four stars are based on that teenage love because it's pretty dated, but if you don't mind the 50s attitudes sprinkled with Heinlein's off-beat views on libertarianism and sexual mores, it's still a pretty fun read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    Evil, slug-like aliens land on Earth. They attach themselves to people and take over their minds. After a while, everyone has to walk around completely naked, so that you can spot the ones who have a slug attached. I just can't understand why Paul Verhoeven didn't film this. He could have combined Starship Troopers and Showgirls into one movie, and both he and the rest of the world would have been happier. My guess is that he discovered the book too late and has been kicking himself ever since.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Phrynne

    I enjoyed this book for its story which was well thought out and interesting. However it's age definitely showed mostly in the naivety of the writing. I can't really describe what I mean exactly but if you read it I think you will understand straight away. And the dialogue left a bit to be desired as well. Nevertheless it is a true science fiction story of the old kind and it is very readable.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Robert Heinlein's The Puppet Masters is both an action-oriented adventure story about parasitic slug aliens attempting to take over the world and its citizens and social commentary on Communism and the Red Scare. As such, it appeals to young adult readers, who are looking for excitement and aliens, and to the general populace of the early 1950s, who would recognize the paranoia and militarism as part of the broader culture of the time. This book, like Wylie's The Disappearance, is very much a boo Robert Heinlein's The Puppet Masters is both an action-oriented adventure story about parasitic slug aliens attempting to take over the world and its citizens and social commentary on Communism and the Red Scare. As such, it appeals to young adult readers, who are looking for excitement and aliens, and to the general populace of the early 1950s, who would recognize the paranoia and militarism as part of the broader culture of the time. This book, like Wylie's The Disappearance, is very much a book of its time, first in its Cold War references to the Iron Curtain and Russia, and second in its characterization of women and of gender roles. This comment made by Sam, the protagonist, is typical of the attitudes expressed toward Russia: "I wondered why the titans [the parasitic aliens] had not attacked Russia first; Stalinism seemed tailormade for them. On second thought, I wondered if they had. On third thought, I wondered what difference it would make; the people behind the Curtain had had their minds enslaved and parasites riding them for three generations. There might not be two kopeks difference between a commissar with a slug and a commissar without a slug" (205). It reflects clearly the divide between the East and the West and makes unmistakably clear the connection between the alien parasites and Communists. Later still, after the United States population has become fully aware of the problem and measures have been taken to protect them by curtailing their freedoms and increasing security, Sam describes the country as "undergoing a Terror. Friend might shoot friend, or wife denounce husband. Rumor of a titan could drum up a mob on any street, with Old Judge Lynch baying in their van. . . . The fact that most of the rumored discoveries of slugs were baseless made the rumors no less dangerous" (254). This description sounds very much like the effects of the Red Scare of the 1940s and 1950s. Just as the slugs are "puppet masters," taking over the free will and the lives of humans, so, according to this novel, are Communists puppet masters of their citizens, whose "puppet strings are always at hand" (262). In terms of gender roles, although Heinlein's future society (the book is set in 2007) includes some societal changes that should affect gender roles and relations, such as new ways of approaching marriage (short-term, renewable, or permanent marriage licenses, for instance), the chief female character, Mary, undercuts this apparent progressive attitude toward gender roles. Mary is always little more than a sex object or a wife. When Sam first meets her, for instance, she is described as extremely desirable (in what is the weirdest description of a supposedly sexually attractive woman I think I have ever read): "A long, lean body, but unquestionably and pleasingly mammalian. Good legs. Broad shoulders for a woman. Flaming, wavy red hair and the real redheaded saurian bony structure to her skull. Her face was handsome rather than beautiful; her teeth were sharp and clean" (4-5). Although the next few sentences make it clear that Sam wants to jump her bones, this description is disturbingly like a description of livestock. Furthermore, although she, like Sam, is a field agent, and a very good one, even better than Sam perhaps, her contributions to the narrative eventually deteriorate to the point where all she says is "Yes, dear." Stay here; go back; have a baby; go with me to fight aliens on a faraway planet--to all of these things, she says "Yes dear." Having said that she is a good field agent, however, it must be pointed out that her primary skill seems to be flirting. Her job for the first half of the book is to act sexy around men and see if they respond. If they don't, bam! They must be slug-infested slaves. In fact, she tells Sam after their marriage that fists are not her weapons. Sam reflects, "I knew that she did not mean that guns were her weapons; she meant something older and more primitive. True, she could fight like a bad-tempered Kodiak bear and I respected her for it, but she was no Amazon. An Amazon doesn't look that way with her head on a pillow. Mary's true strength lay in her other talents" (220). This book is frequently marketed to young adult readers and I have read several reviews that say that although they wouldn't re-read it as an adult, they would recommend it to an adolescent reader, especially adolescent boys. I would not. These ideas about women and sex roles simply permeate the book and most young readers are not equipped to deconstruct them. A final element of the book and another reason I wouldn't give this to a young reader is the militarism of the ending. The final chapter of the book sees Sam and Mary packing up to go to Titan and finish off the rest of the slug parasites so they cannot return and attack again in the future. While that's a sensible goal given the situation, the ideology in which it is steeped is troubling. Sam says, of this goal, "Whether we make it or not, the human race has got to keep up its well-earned reputation for ferocity. If the slugs taught us anything, it was that the price of freedom is the willingness to do sudden battle, anywhere, any time, and with utter recklessness" (338). He continues, saying, "Well, if Man wants to be top dog--or even a respected neighbor--he'll have to fight for it. Beat the plowshares back into swords; the other was a maiden aunt's fancy" (338). Freedom, according to Heinlein, is only to be found at the muzzle of a gun and pacifism is no more than a silly woman's dream. Not only that, but it is humankind's place to be fierce and not only to be respected but to be in charge. This complements American patriotism and nationalism too well for it not to be a problem, especially given the lessons we should have learned over the last few years. The final lines of the book complete the image of glory-seeking freedom fighters: "We are about to transship. I feel exhilarated. Puppet masters--the free men are coming to kill you! Death and Destruction!" (340). Given the political climate of the time, this furthers the separation between East and West, "puppet masters" and "free," and justifies the ongoing Cold War and its attendant curtailments of freedom. Given our current political climate, it does much the same, only exchanging Communist puppet masters with Islamic terrorist leaders.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I have no problem with dated things. I do not hold against a past time its inability to miraculously speak to my present. I enjoy trying to crawl into the context of a different reader who may have lived decades or centuries ago and to imagine their responses to what I am reading...or to imagine what rules the author tried to follow or break, as the case may be. I seek this kind of exercise in books, art, film, music...it's one of the many reasons why I dig old stuff. So, regarding The Puppet Ma I have no problem with dated things. I do not hold against a past time its inability to miraculously speak to my present. I enjoy trying to crawl into the context of a different reader who may have lived decades or centuries ago and to imagine their responses to what I am reading...or to imagine what rules the author tried to follow or break, as the case may be. I seek this kind of exercise in books, art, film, music...it's one of the many reasons why I dig old stuff. So, regarding The Puppet Masters, I feel compelled to observe that it is not its dated quality that specifically irks me. As a work of early science fiction, this novel earns a high rank for introducing about a thousand tropes that became par for the course in later scifi novels and films. It must have seemed strikingly original to contemporary readers and the story stands up today. It has much to recommend it. But I will forget, for a moment, The Puppet Masters' status as a science fiction novel and consider it in light of another genre to which it relates. The Puppet Masters begs comparison, not just with other scifi novels, but with the pulp novels that inspired film noir. Heinlein portrays the Titanian slug invasion as a mystery to be solved and his characters as the confrontational, go-to (hardboiled even?) individuals who will get to the bottom of the problem and resolve it, come hell or high water. It's got the wisecracks, the unadorned yet coy dialogue, the hero's ethical (if not moral) ambiguity, and it's got a purportedly dangerous female protagonist…and in the "purportedly" lies my beef with The Puppet Masters. "Mary", its female protagonist seems more subservient than dangerous, and not even subservient in that spoiled-brat, woman-child, I'm-just-doing-this-to-get-my-way sort of way. Though no more forward-thinking in terms of rewriting the hackneyed gender map, at least this latter behavior has some spirit in it, for crying out loud. I like a good detective novel and I love noir films, genres which are riddled with female stereotypes, so it's not the sexism of the novel per se that gets me. I expect sexism from a novel straight from the 50s - whence also many pulp novels and films - and so try not to let it overly determine my feel for the work as a whole. So it's not the sexism in The Puppet Masters that annoys me…it's the kind of sexism. What's upsetting about Mary is that Heinlein describes her for the reader, through the mouths of his other characters, as a deadly assassin, a smart cookie, a femme fatal. He leads us to expect a character of this ilk…and then he offers us, not Barbara Stanwyck, but Donna Reed with an upsetting past. Ok, she's not quite that bad, at least not in the beginning, but by the novel's end she makes Lana Turner in The Postman Always Rings Twice look like a woman of independent spirit. The "yes dear"s and "whatever you say dear"s made me pray Mary would get, and stay, "hagridden", as people who play host to a Titanian parasite are called. One of the characteristics of pulp and noir that makes the genre so compelling is the juxtaposing of the male protagonist with a female who actually challenges him. She's often evil. He usually has to kill her. And of course those stories perpetuate the whore/virgin dichotomous view of the female gender that is no friend to women, but at least these female characters possess agency and independent will. They function as foils to the heroes and flesh out those male characters. The more spirited the female protagonist, the stronger the hero. That's how this equation works. But, despite Heinlein's early hints and implications that this is the kind of dynamic he's cultivating, Mary does none of the above for "Sam", the hero of The Puppet Masters. And consequently, her shortcomings become his. He seems less formidable precisely because he finds no rival of any consequence in her. Heinlein promises this rivalry the first time he introduces her character, but he never delivers. Mary doesn't need to become host to an alien parasite, because she's already hagridden by Sam.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Alien invasion? Fifties paranoia? Mind control? After a visit to the British Library’s Out of this World Exhibition in London, I was suddenly reminded that I hadn’t read this Heinlein for a long while. And indeed I haven’t read it in its ‘uncensored’ version, which was published in 1990 with the tale increased from about 60 000 words to 96 000. So: it was time to revisit! Puppet Masters is Heinlein’s version of an alien invasion tale, written at a time when such tales were popular in film and in pr Alien invasion? Fifties paranoia? Mind control? After a visit to the British Library’s Out of this World Exhibition in London, I was suddenly reminded that I hadn’t read this Heinlein for a long while. And indeed I haven’t read it in its ‘uncensored’ version, which was published in 1990 with the tale increased from about 60 000 words to 96 000. So: it was time to revisit! Puppet Masters is Heinlein’s version of an alien invasion tale, written at a time when such tales were popular in film and in prose. The tale itself is quite simple. Told in the first person, ‘Sam’ Nivens (not his real name) is working for the US secret service. This means different names, different places, different faces (as I find on the first page a blonde in bed with Sam, who wasn’t there in my original version!) He’s assigned with a red-headed woman currently named Mary and his boss, ‘the Old Man’, who go to investigate a report of a crashed saucer in Des Moines. It is quickly claimed to be a hoax – a schoolboy prank reported by an overenthusiastic local news station, but there is clearly more to it. Mary, being the typical Heinlein heroine, notices she doesn’t get a reaction from the adult males that she usually receives – the drooling is pretty much left to Sam. Things develop as Sam and his colleagues quickly discover a secret invasion is going on that seems to suggest the future of the human race is at stake. Sam’s job is to stop it. Those of you who know ‘Operation Annihilate’ from Star Trek: the Original Series will get an idea of this story and realise how close these tales are. I’m surprised Heinlein didn’t sue, frankly. But back to the book. What we have here though is a B-movie plot written in the Heinlein way, with all the good and bad points it entails. There is the usual fabulous prose, the honed wise-cracking comments, the drip-feeding of all those little neat ideas that Heinlein does so well. The plot moves along at a great pace and there’s a lot of tension and suspense along the way. There’s also the use of a typical strong red-headed Heinlein-gal, with all the ‘Hey, sister’ type comments that the Heinlein character usually has attached to it. These still jar a little, even allowing for the context of the times. Though Mary is fast, intelligent, strong, resourceful and more than capable, there is still a feeling that all she’s there for is to serve the needs of our Hero, Sam. This is not by far the worst example of this by RAH – later novels do it much more – but it is more noticeable in this souped-up, more risqué version. This is perhaps where I see a transition between the juveniles and say, Stranger in a Strange Land: this still has the excitement and the pace of the juvies, but the addition of the posturing lecture seen in later books such as Stranger. That and the need to get naked. Sometimes ‘more’ can mean ‘less’, and I’m reminded of that, as I was when I read the longer version of Stranger in a Strange Land – I’m in two minds to decide whether this longer Puppet Masters is one of those examples. Despite this, the tale’s an engaging one and must have shook things up a little when first published in 1951 – 60 years ago. There are parts that are quite good, for all of my complaints. In summary, though, this is an interesting read: an alien invasion story with some intelligence that shows many of Heinlein’s strengths, but a few of his weaknesses, and sadly more so in this longer version. It is definitely worth reading, though it has to be seen as a product of its time.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    Earth was being invaded by aliens and the top security agencies were helpless: the aliens were controlling the mind of every person they encountered. So it was up to Sam Cavanaugh, secret agent for a powerful and deadly spy network, to find a way to stop them--which meant he had to be invaded himself! Sam comes face to face with his first alien controlled human. The body lay face down; the back of the jacket heaved as if the chest were rising. I first pulled on gloves—agent’s gloves. I could h Earth was being invaded by aliens and the top security agencies were helpless: the aliens were controlling the mind of every person they encountered. So it was up to Sam Cavanaugh, secret agent for a powerful and deadly spy network, to find a way to stop them--which meant he had to be invaded himself! Sam comes face to face with his first alien controlled human. The body lay face down; the back of the jacket heaved as if the chest were rising. I first pulled on gloves—agent’s gloves. I could have stirred boiling acid, yet I could feel a coin in the dark and call heads or tails—once gloved, I started to turn him over and undress him. The back was still heaving; I did not like the look of it—unnatural. I placed a palm between the shoulder blades. A man’s back is bone and muscle. This was soft and undulating. It pulsed… Undercover aliens in the Senate Gottlieb was still rumbling along about his deep sorrow, but that there came times when old friendship must give way to a higher duty and therefore—The Senate president banged his gavel. “If the senator please!” Gottlieb looked startled and said, “I do not yield.” “The senator is not asked to yield. At the request of the President of the United States, because of the importance of what you are saying, the senator is asked to come to the rostrum to speak.” Gottlieb looked puzzled but there was nothing else he could do. He walked slowly toward the front of the house. Mary’s chair blocked the little stairway up to the rostrum. Instead of getting quietly out of the way, she bumbled around, turning and picking up the chair, so that she got even more in the way. Gottlieb stopped and she brushed against him. He caught her arm, as much to steady himself as her. She spoke to him and he to her, but no one else could hear the words. Finally they got around each other and he went on to the front of the rostrum. The Old Man was quivering like a dog in point. Mary looked up at him and nodded. The Old Man said, “Take him!” I was over that rail in a flying leap, as if I had been wound up like a crossbow. I landed on Gottlieb’s shoulders. I heard the Old Man shout, “Gloves, son! Gloves!” I did not stop for them. I split the senator’s jacket with my bare hands and I could see the slug pulsing under his shirt. I tore the shirt away and anybody could see it. Six stereo cameras could not have recorded what happened in the next few seconds. I slugged Gottlieb back of the ear to stop his thrashing. Mary was sitting on his legs. The President was standing over me and pointing, while shouting, “There! There! Now you can all see.” The Senate president was standing stupefied, waggling his gavel. Robert Heinlein is one of the leaders of Science Fiction. His early works are among the best rated stories. "The Puppet Masters" are the ultimate of invading evil aliens! Enjoy!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    Well that was a classic bit of vintage SF. Up there with Heinlein's best I would say. Aliens are invading earth in a most insidious way and there's no room for compassion or understanding; it's them or us! For heaven's sake don't try to read anything allegorical into it or you're bound to find issue with it. Okay, the novel is undeniably dated but it shouldn't jar with most modern readers unless they are particularly sensitive to these things. It does feel like a novel written in the 50's but it Well that was a classic bit of vintage SF. Up there with Heinlein's best I would say. Aliens are invading earth in a most insidious way and there's no room for compassion or understanding; it's them or us! For heaven's sake don't try to read anything allegorical into it or you're bound to find issue with it. Okay, the novel is undeniably dated but it shouldn't jar with most modern readers unless they are particularly sensitive to these things. It does feel like a novel written in the 50's but it is set several decades in the future which might lead some to criticise Heinlein of failing to anticipate the direction social/technological development would take but I think that would be a distraction from the many qualities this book has to offer. Read it for what it is; a period SF piece full of excitement and suspense. It was just what I needed.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    This and Glory Road are maybe my favorite Heinlein novels. The movie of this one tried to be true to the story but failed to capture the spark present in this book. One of the better and also most original invasion novels out there. Update: My attention brought back to this one, so I thought I'd include a "by the way". If you noted my "shelves" you might have noted I included the "Spy-Fi" shelf for this one. The story is told from the point of view of "Sam" a character who puts me much in mind of This and Glory Road are maybe my favorite Heinlein novels. The movie of this one tried to be true to the story but failed to capture the spark present in this book. One of the better and also most original invasion novels out there. Update: My attention brought back to this one, so I thought I'd include a "by the way". If you noted my "shelves" you might have noted I included the "Spy-Fi" shelf for this one. The story is told from the point of view of "Sam" a character who puts me much in mind of the movie spies just coming into vogue at the time. He works for a "super secret" agency that of course "doesn't exist" if you try to find out about it. He also put me in mind of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. a bit in that....you inter HQ through a rare stamp shop where of course if you ask about the agency you'll be told you're crazy and the proprietor will try to sell you a 2 Penny Black. Anyway, still a great read, usually considered a YA or "Teen" book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    The Puppet Masters: Early Heinlein at his most embarrassing Originally posted at Fantasy Literature Slug-like alien invaders who land and take over Des Moines, Iowa, 50s-style cold war paranoia, wise-cracking secret super agents, and a totally hot red-headed babe with deadly weapons concealed on a voluptuous body who is strong-willed but still totally subservient to our intrepid, tough-talking hero Sam. Yes, that would be a Robert Heinlein book, this one first published back in 1951. Apparently th The Puppet Masters: Early Heinlein at his most embarrassing Originally posted at Fantasy Literature Slug-like alien invaders who land and take over Des Moines, Iowa, 50s-style cold war paranoia, wise-cracking secret super agents, and a totally hot red-headed babe with deadly weapons concealed on a voluptuous body who is strong-willed but still totally subservient to our intrepid, tough-talking hero Sam. Yes, that would be a Robert Heinlein book, this one first published back in 1951. Apparently this was the extended version, and I guess they just stuffed back all the embarrassingly-bad, sexy repartee and other bits that should have remained on the cutting-room floor. Most readers either love or hate Heinlein, and I've only read a few of his books, having absolutely hated Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land, but really liked The Door Into Summer. So after a 20 year hiatus I decided to give this one a go (with Double Star and The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress on deck). Well, maybe I should have left well enough alone. I'm afraid this book just really didn't do anything other than induce shivers of discomfort with it's thoroughly dated dialogue and characters. The story itself may seem hackneyed now, but it's been 60 years so I can't lay that at Heinlein's feet. But the plot itself just completely stalls partway through the book, as what I would expect to be the finale comes in the middle, and so I couldn't bother myself to read any further. We all know that the attitudes toward women were pretty cavalier and sexist back in the Golden Age of SF, but this book really took the cake. Here's a few choice tidbits to make a reader cringe: "I like nurses; they are calm and earthy and very tolerant. Miss Briggs, my night nurse, was not the mouth-watering job that Doris was; she had a face like a jaundiced horse but she had a fine figure for a woman her age, hard and well cared for." "She took a deep drag, swelling out her chest and pushing her arrogant breasts against her halter almost to the breaking point. I thought again what a sweet dish she was; she was just what I needed to take my mind off Mary." "Listen, son, most women are damn fools and children. But they've got more range than we've got. The brave ones are braver, the good ones are better and the vile ones are viler, for that matter." To sum up, I really didn't find much to like in this book, but perhaps teenage boys in the 1950's really liked it. Plus, this being the extended version (96,000 words vs. the original 60,000), maybe shorter in this case was better. But I won't waste any more precious reading time finding out.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    The audio reading was pretty good, but I didn't care for the story as much as I recall. There was so much dated about it, both the technology & the sexism. Heinlein's never been great at characterization - some have said he only has one main one & I think they have a good point. In this one, we saw that character as a 30 year old & an older version, plus a sort of female one. Mary was tough, but too much the demur 50's gal from the ads. The technology was kind of fun in a pulp way. Phones embedd The audio reading was pretty good, but I didn't care for the story as much as I recall. There was so much dated about it, both the technology & the sexism. Heinlein's never been great at characterization - some have said he only has one main one & I think they have a good point. In this one, we saw that character as a 30 year old & an older version, plus a sort of female one. Mary was tough, but too much the demur 50's gal from the ads. The technology was kind of fun in a pulp way. Phones embedded under the skin, for instance. They sounded bulky, though. This book just didn't hold up nearly as well as some of his juveniles that I've read recently.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kat Hooper

    Unfriendly aliens from Titan have arrived on Earth and are planning to conquer us. To do this, the slug-like beings latch onto the backs of their human hosts and take over their bodies and minds. The aliens are rapidly spreading in the Midwest and they’ve managed to infiltrate the Treasury Department. To make world domination go even faster and easier, they’re planning to get the President of the United States. That’s why Sam Cavanaugh, secret agent, has been called in from his vacation. He’s te Unfriendly aliens from Titan have arrived on Earth and are planning to conquer us. To do this, the slug-like beings latch onto the backs of their human hosts and take over their bodies and minds. The aliens are rapidly spreading in the Midwest and they’ve managed to infiltrate the Treasury Department. To make world domination go even faster and easier, they’re planning to get the President of the United States. That’s why Sam Cavanaugh, secret agent, has been called in from his vacation. He’s teaming up with Mary, a beautiful red-head, to stop the invasion. But Sam and Mary soon learn that even secret agents are susceptible to alien body snatching.... and falling in love. There’s plenty of action in The Puppet Masters — chases, capture, torture, escape, reconnaissance missions, hide-outs, vehicle crashes, parachute landings, vigilantes, and even a plague. And since this is Robert Heinlein... Read More at Fantasy Literature: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Fredrick Danysh

    An alien parasitic life form invades Earth gaining control of human bodies. A secret government agency investigates as the world becomes aware of the problem and attempts to eliminate the invaders. Mankind will never be the same.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nicola

    Another Heinlein masterpiece. It's always funny when there is a date specified for the action in the book - which in this case was over 50 years in the future, but currently 5 years in my past!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Paul Hancock

    A classic of sci.fi, but not a great read, or a well written book. A good reminder of why we don't want to return to "the good old days". The writing is rather rushed and ham-fisted. The story sort of hangs together, despite a lot of tangents and gaps that should have been worked out in further revisions. The characters are all paper thin without much development. The main character Sam is the biggest dick-head: he clearly has un-resolved father issues that fuel his distrust and dislike of women. A classic of sci.fi, but not a great read, or a well written book. A good reminder of why we don't want to return to "the good old days". The writing is rather rushed and ham-fisted. The story sort of hangs together, despite a lot of tangents and gaps that should have been worked out in further revisions. The characters are all paper thin without much development. The main character Sam is the biggest dick-head: he clearly has un-resolved father issues that fuel his distrust and dislike of women. The first person narrative style means that you get to explore the depths of Sam's misogynistic thoughts. This aspect of the book alone made me really dislike it. At one point Sam sees Mary doing something that he judges to be wicked-in-the-way-that-only-women-can-be-wicked. His solution is the slap her. He then tries to chat up a nurse and whinges about how Mary is some kind of whore-demon. This is then followed by some reconciliation where by Same describes how he saw the situation and interpreted Mary's actions. AT WHICH POINT MARY APOLOGIZES FOR SAMS MISINTERPRETATION saying "yeah I would have slapped me too if I were in your place". WTF kind of stupid crap is this? This incident isn't just left to die on the pages of the book. Oh no - it is referenced later on when Sam and Mary are saying their first I-love-you's, as Mary says "I loved you ever since you slapped me". ><?! The amount of casual sexism, violence against women, and lack of ethics in the treatment of animals (Sam burns a dog because he is angry), made this book a tough read. I hated all the main characters, and was almost pulling for the slugs to just end humanity.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael Nash

    I'm not sure what I expected from The Puppet Masters , but mostly I expected it to be dumber than it was. On one level, it was a fun action-adventure story, really one of the best Heinlein narratives I've ever read (in the sense that the plot never gets bogged down in whatever the hell Heinlein wants to talk about). It's also groundbreaking. I read The Animorphs as a kid, so I have a deep appreciation for the "parasite aliens who are taking over the country by invisibly controlling people" sci I'm not sure what I expected from The Puppet Masters , but mostly I expected it to be dumber than it was. On one level, it was a fun action-adventure story, really one of the best Heinlein narratives I've ever read (in the sense that the plot never gets bogged down in whatever the hell Heinlein wants to talk about). It's also groundbreaking. I read The Animorphs as a kid, so I have a deep appreciation for the "parasite aliens who are taking over the country by invisibly controlling people" scifi trope, and since this came out in 1951, I feel pretty confident in declaring it the first of that genre. And Heinlein does an incredible job of investigating the logical consequences of just such an invasion to their conclusion. Throw in some deep meditations on the nature of conscience and individual liberty, just enough to add some heft, and you've got a pretty great little novel. It does have some standard disturbing Heinleinisms, like Sam's weird relationship with his wife, and Heinlein's idea of portraying strong women in general. There's some weird tension between Heinlein's alleged support for individual liberty and distrust of the state within the novel, and the fact that the situation in the novel presents a problem which can only reasonably solved by massive draconian government intervention, which the main character carries out more or less cheerfully. Also suspicious that Heinlein, a noted nudist, should come up with a situation where its reasonable for the government to require nudity all the time.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    An invasion of Earth via means of 'slugs' which attach themselves to people and control their actions. The story is told from the viewpoint of an elite government agent looking back on the situation as it was discovered. Lacking the sensawunda of his juveniles, or any particularly interesting speculative idea, this is a fairly rote alien invasion. There is some frustration at the idiocy on display at times - they recover alive a person with a slug attached, detach the slug, then have a big moral An invasion of Earth via means of 'slugs' which attach themselves to people and control their actions. The story is told from the viewpoint of an elite government agent looking back on the situation as it was discovered. Lacking the sensawunda of his juveniles, or any particularly interesting speculative idea, this is a fairly rote alien invasion. There is some frustration at the idiocy on display at times - they recover alive a person with a slug attached, detach the slug, then have a big moral debate about putting the slug back on him so they can interrogate the slug. This stupidity is then followed by scenes of difficulty convincing people in charge that the slugs are real. Sigh. The story follows a fairly common route for alien invasion stories - the population is near overwhelmed, then find a way to fight back. It had its entertaining aspects, but isn't really that memorable. Like most of Heinlein's books, it's difficult to be female and focus on the story. It's full of statements like: "Listen son, most women are damn fools and children" and "Forgive me darling. I'm weak and womanish". Even compared to other books written in the 40s, it's bad. The story does open with a team featuring a competent male and female agent, but at the close of the story the female has been reduced to saying little but "Yes, dear" in blissful wifely servitude.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jenifer

    I had the extended version of this book and made it through to page 199. Had I read the original version than I would have finished the book making it that far along. Somewhere along the way there were additions made to the story to extend it to 370 pages. A bit more than I am willing to read for this story. It was an interesting concept and I would love to see how it ends, but I'm going to cheat and look that up on wikipedia so that I can put this story behind me. It is extremely dated and miso I had the extended version of this book and made it through to page 199. Had I read the original version than I would have finished the book making it that far along. Somewhere along the way there were additions made to the story to extend it to 370 pages. A bit more than I am willing to read for this story. It was an interesting concept and I would love to see how it ends, but I'm going to cheat and look that up on wikipedia so that I can put this story behind me. It is extremely dated and misogynistic. The use of the term Babe tired about page 10 and I couldn't stand the endless droning on about the slugs any longer. I've read other Heinlein books and enjoyed them so this isn't enough to deter me from reading other pieces of his work.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    An old read. A bit too casual for my liking.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    I reviewed and rated the print version of this book earlier. I first "read" it when I was 14 or 15 and I've read it several times since. Recently I got this "Playaway" version from the library and I am doing a separate review as....the reader really pulls the rating down. I considered going all the way to 3, but it is still a pretty good book. So, okay good novel...poor reader. The reader of this book for some reason felt it was necessary to pause often. He paused almost between each sentence an I reviewed and rated the print version of this book earlier. I first "read" it when I was 14 or 15 and I've read it several times since. Recently I got this "Playaway" version from the library and I am doing a separate review as....the reader really pulls the rating down. I considered going all the way to 3, but it is still a pretty good book. So, okay good novel...poor reader. The reader of this book for some reason felt it was necessary to pause often. He paused almost between each sentence and between paragraphs he'd pause 3 or 4 seconds...drove me crazy. *** Some discussion of story line below, may have spoilers *** This book was written in 1951 but takes place about "now", this date, in story time. It's very interesting to see what Heinlein imagined and what he didn't. He talks of stereo video casts, but they require line of sight relaying, no satellite or cable. He communicates with and through multiple space stations but doesn't picture communication satellites. He mentions a device for an intelligence officer to use that is very small...the size of a loaf of bread, micro-miniaturization not thought of. Sterocast scanner...used tubes. It's all interesting. There's also a lot here about human nature and human action and reaction that rings true. I personally believe that when it comes to possible contact with an "extraterrestrial intelligence" we need to remember what happened to the native Americans when they had "visitors who arrived in strange looking ships". I'd say more but read the book. I can't agree with all Heinlein's views, but it's still interesting and thought provoking.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kilian Metcalf

    Vintage Heinlein. At heart a diatribe against totalitarianism, it uses the cover of an alien invasion to outline the difficulties of maintaining freedom in the face of an enemy determined to eradicate individual freedom. Written in the 1950s, the Cold War looms large in the background, but the struggle is relevant in any time period. Although he gets the details wrong, Heinlein is spot on when it comes to the power of media to influence our thinking. "Everything is just fine. I saw it on TV," is Vintage Heinlein. At heart a diatribe against totalitarianism, it uses the cover of an alien invasion to outline the difficulties of maintaining freedom in the face of an enemy determined to eradicate individual freedom. Written in the 1950s, the Cold War looms large in the background, but the struggle is relevant in any time period. Although he gets the details wrong, Heinlein is spot on when it comes to the power of media to influence our thinking. "Everything is just fine. I saw it on TV," is a threat to our individual freedom. Each of us has the responsibility to be informed, to take things with a grain of salt, to question and challenge the current thinking. I read and reread Heinlein because he holds out the hope that free people will win in the end against groupthink, against the dictators, no matter how efficient. It will be a struggle, but freedom wins in the end.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    It took me a little while to get into this book, but by the end I was glad I read it and had some appreciation for it. Not bad for 1951, and the knowing the culture and world events at that time make the book very appropriate for the age.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gilbert Stack

    When I was in the ninth grade I joined the Science Fiction Book Club and got my first five books for a dollar. One of those books was called “A Heinlein Trio” and the first of the stories was “The Puppet Masters” by Robert Heinlein. It was the second Heinlein book I read (the first was “Between Planets” which was serialized as a comic book in “Boy’s Life” magazine) and it’s a great example of Heinlein writing exciting stories built on themes he cared strongly about—the importance of the individu When I was in the ninth grade I joined the Science Fiction Book Club and got my first five books for a dollar. One of those books was called “A Heinlein Trio” and the first of the stories was “The Puppet Masters” by Robert Heinlein. It was the second Heinlein book I read (the first was “Between Planets” which was serialized as a comic book in “Boy’s Life” magazine) and it’s a great example of Heinlein writing exciting stories built on themes he cared strongly about—the importance of the individual and the dangers of a society in which all members are expected to tow the same political and ideological line regardless of their self-interests and personal philosophies. Heinlein published “The Puppet Masters” in 1951 after a rash of UFO sightings in the 1940s. Heinlein used the sightings as a springboard for an imaginative and disturbing tale of slug-like creatures capable of taking over the minds of any human (and many other creatures) that they touch. The enslaved human knows what it is doing, but lacks even the desire (much less the ability) to fight against the alien puppeteer. Heinlein’s novel takes the struggle against the alien invaders from first contact, to insidious infiltration, to widespread invasion and finally to the epic struggle to free our planet in an exciting adventure story. Yet, as important and entertaining as these events are, they are not what make the novel great. Instead it is the exploration—never preachy—into why freedom of conscious is important as well as the fundamental relationships which make human life worth living that give this book its power. As you would expect of a book written in the fifties, there is a dated feel to some elements of the book. For example, while Mary, Heinlein’s heroine, is definitely an empowered and capable woman, many of her reactions and the condescending way in which she is often treated, will grate irritatingly on the modern reader. Similarly, Heinlein’s vision of the late twenty-first century quite understandably fails to foretell many things we take for granted in modern life even while he foresees the growing importance of industries such as telecommunications. These faults don’t harm the story if you keep in mind when the tale was written. I highly recommend this book. 5 stars.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    I really enjoyed it. But then I like all of Heinlein's early work. It's an alien invasion story, of course. A ship lands containing what come to be called "slugs," which attach themselves to the backs of people, over the spinal chord, and then take control over them. At first no one knows who is controlled and who isn't. But the human race soon comes up with countermeasures, such as having everyone strip to the waist. The war is on but there are many more twists and turns before the end, which I I really enjoyed it. But then I like all of Heinlein's early work. It's an alien invasion story, of course. A ship lands containing what come to be called "slugs," which attach themselves to the backs of people, over the spinal chord, and then take control over them. At first no one knows who is controlled and who isn't. But the human race soon comes up with countermeasures, such as having everyone strip to the waist. The war is on but there are many more twists and turns before the end, which I won't give away. One thing a little different about this tale is that it takes place at an undefined future time after some great earthly war and after humans have begun to settle on both Mars and Venus. They have blasters and flying cars as well as spaceships. There was a movie made from this book starring Donald Sutherland, but as I remember it was set in the modern day, without the futuristic elements. They don't necessarily have to be there to make the story a good one. The slugs essentially appear to be single cells that function almost like a composite brain and I'm pretty sure this was a big influence on the Star Trek original series episode called "Operation Annihilate!" That episode featured single 'brain cell' looking parasites that rode the backs of people that they had taken over.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mary E

    I read this book as a teen, and so did Dad. It's fun to read a book written in 1951 that tries to predict the future year 2007. Back then, the 2000s seemed impossibly far away. In this book we now have flying cars that can also run on the ground, colonies on the moon and Mars, and watches on our fingers. But only three communication satellites! (I guess three seemed enough to cover the whole world. One of them would always be above the horizon.) World War III has happened, but the Soviets are st I read this book as a teen, and so did Dad. It's fun to read a book written in 1951 that tries to predict the future year 2007. Back then, the 2000s seemed impossibly far away. In this book we now have flying cars that can also run on the ground, colonies on the moon and Mars, and watches on our fingers. But only three communication satellites! (I guess three seemed enough to cover the whole world. One of them would always be above the horizon.) World War III has happened, but the Soviets are still there, and still mysterious. The story is about who was in those flying saucers that were surveying us in the 1950s. It turns out they are sluglike creatures that attach themselves to human backs and control them through their brains. Then the controlled humans go after yet more humans to attach slugs to. It takes the whole book to discover a way to get rid of them, and even then the book ends with a space colony going their home planet Titan, the moon of Saturn, to destroy them all. I haven't told it very well, but Heinlein was an excellent writer, and the story is tense and suspenseful.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Megan Baxter

    Will that affect the review I'm about to write? Let's see. Because, honestly, I probably am one of the people the Puppies would hate, and when books bother me, on a personal and political level, with how they handle, in this case, gender, I'll talk about it. On the other hand, I'm also not a fan of throwing out an entire era of literature and science fiction because people didn't handle writing women well. It depends on how bad it is, and how good the rest of the book is. Note: The rest of this r Will that affect the review I'm about to write? Let's see. Because, honestly, I probably am one of the people the Puppies would hate, and when books bother me, on a personal and political level, with how they handle, in this case, gender, I'll talk about it. On the other hand, I'm also not a fan of throwing out an entire era of literature and science fiction because people didn't handle writing women well. It depends on how bad it is, and how good the rest of the book is. Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here. In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    Robert Heinlein writes an excellent sci fi story, but also just a darn good page turner. The movie wasn't a classic, but my daughter and I still enjoy watching. The book is great, with gritty secret agent battling invading aliens and protecting his family. Great.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Boyd

    Excellent SiFi/Spy thriller. Heinlein's characters are always interesting and the plot never fails to sweep you up into it. Very recommended

  30. 5 out of 5

    Neil

    Overall, I enjoy reading this book. It is a crazy book about alien invaders that resemble slugs and can control the race (planet) they are enslaving/conquering ‘merely’ by touching large enough members of the various indigenous species. This copy I read was the ‘uncut-version’ of the book; I am almost tempted to read the original copy released in 1951 just to try and compare the differences between the two versions. Maybe I will; maybe I will wait another time. It moves at a quick pace, overall, Overall, I enjoy reading this book. It is a crazy book about alien invaders that resemble slugs and can control the race (planet) they are enslaving/conquering ‘merely’ by touching large enough members of the various indigenous species. This copy I read was the ‘uncut-version’ of the book; I am almost tempted to read the original copy released in 1951 just to try and compare the differences between the two versions. Maybe I will; maybe I will wait another time. It moves at a quick pace, overall, but it does have some slow moments throughout the book. The character development for the “Old Man” and “Sam” (two of the three main characters in the book) was decent, overall. I liked how they changed and grew over the course of the book; Sam seemed to grow and change more than the “Old Man” did, but considering the later third of the book and how it ends, that is to be expected. His life takes a bit of a ‘dramatic turn’ towards the end of the novel, which supports the change(s) (and growth) in his character. Mary is the third main character in the book, and she gets a bit of a short thrift, in my opinion. She starts out as a ‘strong character’ and a strong agent in the beginning, but she seems to turn into a milksop, a doormat, by the end of the book. Perhaps she was ‘just worn out’ from all of the craziness that had been going on in her life right prior to the end of the book? I do not know if exhaustion would completely cover how her character changed ‘for the worse’ in the latter portion of the novel. Heinlein built her up as having the potential to be an amazing character in the novel and a wonderful foil for Sam, and then Heinlein deconstructs her over the course of the novel. (view spoiler)[I mean, seriously? Who ever heard of a woman falling in love with a man after he slaps her out of anger? (hide spoiler)] She is smart, intelligent, has a better grasp on what is going on in the world than Sam, is more mature, is deadlier with her hands (it seemed to me, but I could be wrong in that regard) than Sam, and Sam agrees that she is a better shot with guns (he calls her a ‘natural’ like Annie Oakley when describing how much better a shot she is than him). She is a highly trained agent with various skills and abilities, yet she seems to ‘fall to pieces’ by the end of the novel and has almost become a type of ‘damsel in distress’ who has to constantly rely upon Sam to ‘rescue’ her and get her out of a pinch. It was very disappointing how Heinlein really ruined her character. I am sure some of it has to do with the time period in which the novel was written, but it still seemed a shame how he deconstructed her character after building her up like he did. (view spoiler)[Maybe he was trying to make a point that a woman can be physically attractive (sexy) and still have a powerful brain in her head that she uses on a regular basis to solve problems? I do not know, but if that was the point he was trying to get across, he did not do a good job of selling it. (hide spoiler)] The book has some of the ‘usual’ Heinlein “stuff” (craziness) in it. (view spoiler)[He was able to “foresee” three large space stations orbiting the Earth but could not foresee satellites used for communications purposes as well as to spy and observe and detect. Watches were worn on one’s finger like a ring – that was pretty cool! I never caught that before in prior readings. Agents had some kind of ‘biologically-implanted phones’ that were inside their skulls; it would be crazy to learn how a phone could be embedded in one’s skull without adversely affecting the brain or other parts of the soft tissue in and around the skull. There are flying cars as well as cars that can drive on the ground, fly through the air, and travel on (under?) water. No moving sidewalks, though! It also has some early signs of his later ‘craziness’ on that the whole world has to essentially become a giant nudist colony if humanity is to survive this alien invasion. There are hints of his philosophy that the government only rules based on the consent of the governed. He also references (implied) incestuous marriages when he talks about a Venusian that married its great-great-great granddaughter while still being younger than its great-great-great granddaughter (which must be okay, because they are aliens?). In addition, there is very early in the book when Sam’s boss (who turns out to be his father) tells Sam that Sam and Mary are brother-and-sister in a ‘healthy, clean-sort of way’ and not involved in an incestuous relationship (something he happily writes about in his later books as being a ‘good’ thing). He also has Sam threatening to spank Mary and actually spanking her at one time. I still do not get his obsession with spanking – be it men spanking women or women spanking men. It just boggles my brain; perhaps that was something he enjoyed with his wife? Lest I forget, there are the various types of marriages and marital contracts, ranging from six-months to life as well as different kinds of ‘insurance’ in case the marriage fails or does not last the contracted time. (hide spoiler)] I thought his comments about how ‘easy’ it is to control a population were fascinating. (view spoiler)[He makes several references to the ‘fact’ that if you can control the flow of information to the public masses, you can essentially control them if they are unwilling to take the time to seek out the facts themselves. This is partly because the government and news organizations want the common citizen to implicitly trust what is said to the common citizen and not ask any questions. By controlling not only the release of information to the general public, but what kind of information is released and how it is presented when released, one can easily control the general population by the misinformation or disinformation that is presented. That was partly what made it so much easier for the ‘slugs’ to take over the middle portion of the North American continent. At the same time, it does seem like people prefer to have information be given to them, to be told what to believe, instead of trying to think ‘critically’ for themselves. (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[I do not know it if has to do with the age in which we are in today, but I know when I last read this, it seemed really sexist towards women and treated women negatively, in general. Now, though, I do not know how I feel about that. I think there are some stereotypes in the book for females, certainly, and I do think that Mary did get short-thrifted as a character, especially as a ‘foil’ for Sam. At the same time, not every man is described in glowing terms or exalted above the female members of the species (in general). There are some real humdingers in this book, several male idiots scattered throughout. He does not spare politicians or other government officials from his ‘wrath,’ either. Congressmen and Senators, in general, are portrayed in very poor light, when compared to other members of the Old Man’s organization as well as when compared to members of the military. Even then, there are some dunces in the military. Male scientists are not spared, either; nor are male intellectuals. Several men are described in less-than-flattering terms, as well, as more-and-more layers of clothing are removed from one’s wardrobe in order to ensure nobody is being ridden by one of the ‘masters’ (slugs). Cats and, to a lesser extent, dogs seem to get the best treatment in the book by the author, to be honest, when compared with humans. People are less reluctant to kill animals than they are humans, it seemed, as the book progressed. (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[There is a moment, towards the end of the book, when Sam is describing a video he watched of what would probably be considered an “ultimate cage fight” or “mixed martial arts” match between a man and a woman in the ‘occupied zone’ of the country; both fighters are being controlled by slugs. Thankfully, the book does not go into too much detail about the fight itself, but the aftermath of the fight is quite brutal and borderline disturbing, as the man basically kills the woman and then apparently rapes her (either as she is dying or just after she dies) to ‘celebrate’ his defeating her. Not only that, but the descriptions of some of the wounds inflicted upon each other were hard to read. I am sure if it had been written ‘today’ it would be much more graphic and much more disturbing than the little that was described; as he grew older, he seemed to feel the need to write ‘more stuff’ instead of relying upon ‘less is more’ a lot of the time. (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[It is still crazy to me that the alien masters were ‘dumb enough’ not to take better care of their human slaves. Controlled humans were barely fed and rarely bathed; one would think they would have taken better care of the ‘more desirable’ humans instead of disposing of them once the human either ‘broke down’ or died. Granted, there was a crazy mention of dead or injured human slaves being turned into ‘food’ in the book, too. I was not sure if they became food products for the masters or for the other humans in the occupied territories. It was interesting to learn that the masters could be ‘bred’ for certain environments, but they could never ‘cross-over’ from one environment to the next. Like, the masters ‘bred’ specifically for living in and on Titan, in Titan’s atmosphere, would never be able to adapt to live in Earth’s environment or the environment (atmosphere) of Venus. I did find that to be a clever, albeit realistic, idea on the part of Heinlein. He could have gone the other way and made the aliens able to easily adapt to any environment they faced; instead, he chose to give them some limitations. I thought it was reasonable and sensible, myself. The discussion on why the alien ships could not be seen when entering the atmosphere was a fascinating discussion to me. He relates how technology has become so advanced that it can only ‘see’ (detect) what it is programmed to detect and thus blind to anything else. It has become too ‘advanced,’ too ‘evolved’ to be able to see anything else. So, while a radar set from the 1950s might be able to see the space ships as they are flying through the atmosphere, the ‘modern detection devices’ in the book are unable to “see” (detect) the alien ships because the flying saucers operate outside of the parameters of the detection devices, thus making the alien space ships undetectable. Even though it was a bit technical, I still found it to be an interesting discussion and a great example highlighting the limitations of technology as it becomes more and more advanced and society comes to rely upon this advanced technology more-and-more. It seems like it is a relevant warning even today, in today’s advanced level(s) of technology. (hide spoiler)] I still enjoyed reading the book, despite its faults here-and-there, despite it being an obvious product of its time. I felt it moved fast enough to keep my interesting throughout the entire course of the novel. I also liked how the characters solved the various mysteries and puzzles before them over the course of the novel. I felt it helped keep me engaged in the story. Overall, I found it entertaining and a relatively light read. I could see myself reading it again (only, the next time, I may ‘just’ read the original copy and not the uncut version).

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