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5.0 out of 5 stars Stranded, suspiscous, a pawn in a greater game...
This is one of Philip K Dick's popular or pulp sci fi books, it doesnt have quite as much existential angst and musing as some of his books and yet it is still a great work of science fiction.

Broadly the book fits into the genre archetype of a protagonist trapped in an artificial environment, having experienced a compulsion to visit a town off the beaten track...
Published on 21 April 2009 by Lark

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cosmic Puppets the review
The general plot seems a classic for a PKD novel. However it is one of his weaker attempts at creating an adult sci fi for a stimulating read. He introduces some perfetic creatures as the bad guys which cause the chaos such as moths, bees, snakes and rats.
The galatic invasion is non existant.
Hopefully that should set off some alarm bells.
Published on 17 Sep 2010 by Kerry J. Leak


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cosmic Puppets the review, 17 Sep 2010
By 
Kerry J. Leak (UK) - See all my reviews
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The general plot seems a classic for a PKD novel. However it is one of his weaker attempts at creating an adult sci fi for a stimulating read. He introduces some perfetic creatures as the bad guys which cause the chaos such as moths, bees, snakes and rats.
The galatic invasion is non existant.
Hopefully that should set off some alarm bells.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Isn't the best PKD novel - if you are a fan you will like it, 31 Dec 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Cosmic Puppets (Paperback)
Although I am an fan of PKD's work and read everything I have access to this one was a bit disappointing. I think it was too late when I ckecked the original publishing date ('50s) so to tell the truth is is an early PKD novel with some sign of a genius but in general a weak composition. The strongest feature of the novel is the athmosphere: the typical schizophrenic situation read in so many PKD novels. You will also find the transcendentalism interesting but somewhat unsophisticated especially compared to other novels like The three stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. So in short: if you like everything what Dick wrote you can read this - I don't think this will be your favourite PKD novel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Solid stuff from PKD, 12 April 2014
Ted Barton decides on a whim to return and visit the town of his birth, Millgate. When he gets there he finds it it completely different to how he remembered it.Non of the streets have the same name, the shops are different, and no one remembers him. A little further investigation reveals that some one of his name died of scarlet fever around the time he left the town. It is all very strange, and when he tries to leave, he finds that he can't.

As he reluctantly stays in the town, he see ghostlike figures wandering past, and meets people who also seem to remember the town as it once was. As he learns more he realises that it is a focal point for two cosmological giants.

PKD has a way of taking a reality that you know and are familiar with and twisting it. In this book the twist is a full 180 degrees, as the reality he conjures up is familiar and utterly different. He manages to bring a touch of gothic horror into the book too. The writing is a little dated, but then it was published in 1957.
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4.0 out of 5 stars More magical realism than science fiction, 29 Aug 2013
This book of Philip K Dick's was really more magical realism than science fiction. It was a story of an altered reality but here the reason was because of the work of gods or supernatural beings that were bringing their cosmic struggle to a small town. It was nice to read a story that had many of the elements that Philip K Dick does best but told from a different perspective. The story was short but interesting and mysterious. The only thing that let it down was the main character's treatment of his wife. Enjoyable but one I'm not sure I will read again.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Early PKD Novel, 18 Mar 2011
By 
M. D. Jenkins (Wales) - See all my reviews
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" When Ted Barton follows an inner compulsion and returns to Millgate, Virginia, the isolated, sleepy town of his birth, he is troubled to find that the place bears no resemblance to the one he left all those years before. It's even more alarming to realise that it never did. And when Ted discovers that in this Millgate Ted Barton died of scarlet fever at the age of nine, he knows there's something seriously amiss. Imprisoned there by a mysterious and unseen barrier, Ted attempts to find the reason for the disquieting anomalies, only to become enmeshed in a desperate and epic struggle of cosmic importance."
- from the back cover

Written in 1953 and published in 1957, Cosmic Puppets (Dick's fourth published novel) is possibly his shortest novel. It explores a number of themes Dick had an abiding interest in (and would bring out more fully in later novels), most specifically the nature of reality and the impact on people when reality as they understand it starts to unravel around them.

As with all PKD's works this novel makes you marvel at his imagination but also (if you are of a philosophical turn of mind) brings you to question and consider the themes he raises for yourself.

"[Dick] sees all the sparkling and terrifying possibilities. . . that other authors shy away from."
-- Paul Williams, Rolling Stone

"The most consistently brilliant SF writer in the world"
-- John Brunner

"I see Dick as a major twenty-first century writer, an influential 'fictional philosopher' of the quantum age."
-- Timothy Leary

If you are new to Philip K Dick's work I would also recommend the following novels (which generally seem to be regarded as among his best):

The Man In The High Castle (S.F. Masterworks)
Ubik (S.F. Masterworks)
A Scanner Darkly (S.F. Masterworks)
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? (S.F. Masterworks)

That said, though some of PKD's works are better than others, to my mind they are all well worth reading. I would also recommend his short story collections:

Beyond Lies The Wub: Volume One Of The Collected Short Stories
Second Variety: Volume Two Of The Collected Short Stories
The Father-Thing: Volume Three Of The Collected Short Stories
Minority Report: Volume Four Of The Collected Short Stories
We Can Remember It For You Wholesale: Volume Five of The Collected Short Stories

Also of interest may be the fine biography of Philip K Dick by Lawrence Sutin Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick (Gollancz S.F.)
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4.0 out of 5 stars A fine small story, 23 July 2009
By 
Rasmus Keldorff (Aarhus, Denmark) - See all my reviews
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I bought this book to complement my PKD collection, thinking it might be a snore, but hey it's Dick, right? Instead, it rekindled my interest in his religious-inspired thought experiments. As always with Dick, I was immediately sucked into the weird bubble world that is Millgate. It reads a bit like a longish short story, which may not be that surprising, since it is indeed an expanded story ("A Glass of Darkness"). While not among the very best, this is certainly worth your money if you're an avid PKD fan. If you're just starting out, I would recommend "Ubik", "Flow My Tears the Policeman Said", "A Scanner Darkly" or "Radio Free Albemuth". If you need a short taste, I would suggest "Second Variety" which originally turned me onto Dick.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An early PKD gem, 8 Jun 2009
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The Cosmic Puppets begins unpromisingly as a rather cliched eerie tale from fifties small-town America, somewhat in the vein of Twilight Zone or Outer Limits. Stay with it though and PKD will bend your mind as he brings in the concept of parallel realities (surely years ahead of its time for 1957)and a unique twist on the age-old battle between good and evil. If you were ever a fan of the comics from years back such as 'Astounding Stories', then this will be a very satisfying and stimulating read. It is not too long, either,enough to hook you in and transport you into a world beyond this one but stopping short of eking it out unnecessarily. Give it a go, you have nothing to lose and you will surely be amazed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stranded, suspiscous, a pawn in a greater game..., 21 April 2009
By 
Lark (North Coast of Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This is one of Philip K Dick's popular or pulp sci fi books, it doesnt have quite as much existential angst and musing as some of his books and yet it is still a great work of science fiction.

Broadly the book fits into the genre archetype of a protagonist trapped in an artificial environment, having experienced a compulsion to visit a town off the beaten track the central character discovers he can not leave the town and begins to suspect things are not what they seem.

Characters are brilliantly rendered, characters struggling with their experience of the weird and inexplicable, seeking to rationalise what could as easily be construed as madness or mass hysteria are rendered believeably as only PKD really can.

The build up and closing scenes are brilliant and the book leaves the reader with that rare sort of sorrow, you can reread it but you cant ever have that experience of reading it for the first time again.

While this is science fiction, set in a broadly speaking contemporaneous setting/the recent past, a lot of the features of the story wouldnt be out of place in sword and sorcery fantasy or fable. It should as a result appeal to a wider audience than PKD's usual readers, in fact I would recommend it to general readers and its a short read too so perfect for holidays and short breaks away.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Big on Concept, But Not Dick's Best, 29 Aug 2008
By 
Mr. T. Berriman "berriman_toby" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Cosmic Puppets (Paperback)
If you have ever moved away from an area you've grown up in, particularly as a child, then returned some years later you will know that mix of the familiar with the unfamiliar as you recognise some things but also see other things have changed. For Ted Barton it's a little different, on returning to the town he grew up in he doesn't recognise anything; all the buildings and people are completely different from what he remembers. The Cosmic Puppets follows Ted Barton as he tries to uncover the mysteries of his missing town, and the strange behaviour of some of the children.
The 1957 novel stands at just over 150 pages thick, and, coupled with the simplicity of Dick's writing, can be devoured in a single sitting. Leaning more towards fantasy than science fiction this novel could be a disappointment for readers coming from the likes of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, however if you come to it with no expectations then you can be swept away by the fantastic story. The one thing that lets The Cosmic Puppets down is the lack of character development, Dick doesn't take any time to build an emotional connection between the reader and the characters which means we are left with far less interest in what happens to them than in his others books
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Early PKD, 6 Mar 2002
By 
Mr. W. Hardy "GH" - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Cosmic Puppets (Paperback)
One of the earlier PKD novels, which initially reads like an original episode of the Twilight Zone (in fact I can think of an episode with a cameo from a young James Doohan which was very like the first half of the book). As usual the tale has a little PKD twist, to help things along.
This final plot-turn was definately an issue he came back to in later novels, possibly most noteably The Divine Invasion, and Valis to a lesser degree.
It is an early PKD, so a lot of the complexity and depth is not so well formed, but it is no less enjoyable for that. An easy one to get into PKD for those not so familiar, and a genesis of ideas for later works for the seasoned fans.
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