Learn more Download now Browse your favorite restaurants Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more

Customer reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
12


on 3 January 2014
Heinlein's work falls into several distinct groups, categorised not so much as to what's the book about, but rather how the writer set about trying to achieve his ends. Thus we have, at one end of the spectrum, his series of juvenile novels, which include such classics as: Have Spacesuit Will Travel and the quite wonderful Citizen of the Galaxy. In these volumes Heinlein's craft is such that his message slips by and into the mind of the reader while barely raising a conscious ripple. Then we have the likes of Stranger in a Strange Land and the peerless The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, where the author was far more open about his intentions to write polemics within his entertainments and, to a very large degree, succeeded in balancing the competing needs.

Here, in The Puppet Masters, (PM) we have Heinlein trying to write an adult novel in which he hides his philosophical musings as well as he did in his Juveniles. Does this attempt succeed? No, not entirely, however, PM is a damned entertaining four hundred pages of action and characterisation, which, largely allows its polemics to serve the story, rather than the other way round.

Sometime in the not to distant future an operative for deeply secret government agency uncovers a plot by aliens to infiltrate our society and take us over from within. They are a diabolically described creature, a flat organism which adheres to its victims skin and then controls it's mind and action. The agent, Sam, his colleague, Mary and their boss, struggle, at first, to convince the powers that be to believe in they threat. However, eventually, the true scale of the Puppet Master's plan is perceived by all and the rest of the book is devoted to the efforts of the unaffected humans to battle this insidious menace.

PM is excellent entertainment, it has many fantastic set pieces, one where Sam has to voluntarily allow a PM to take over his mind, utterly chilling and the complexity of the relationships between the three leads is fascinating. The part of Mary, given that this was a novel written in the early 1950's is that of a surprisingly independent and capable agent. (Yes by today's far more realistic standards she's still on occasion treated like a wilting flower, but Heinlein was far in advance of most of his peers in this regard).

There are matters about which to complain, the ending being lifted from H.G. Wells. Certain diatribes about communism, which seems to suggest that anyone living under that vicious political creed is less than human, rather than portraying them as people whom the system itself treats as less than human. But, but, PM is a thoroughly engaging and exciting sf adventure. It's a must read for any who like that period of the genre. It's extremely well written and so fluid in its effect that you barely notice Heinlein's technical prowess. It is four hundred pages of rollicking excitement, thrills, horrors and fun. What more could you possibly want from a novel written as pure entertainment. Worth every penny the money spent and every second of the time taken to read it. The Puppet Masters is superb fifties sf, order a copy and enjoy.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 11 August 2013
As a youngster I devoured all sorts of sci-fi including loads of Heinlein's works, and I was almost certainly too naive then to pick up on a lot of his slightly dodgy world views on women, civil liberties etc. in lots of them. Nonetheless I always remembed Puppet Masters as being a genuine chiller, and so I was keen to revisit it with adult eyes. I wasn't disappointed, it's a rollicking story of alien invasion and possession, and the battle undertaken by a covert government agency to defeat monsters that were living under our noses. There are obvious parallels to be drawn with the 'communist threat' of its period and even the Nazis (I was amazed to see jsut how liong ago he'd written it!) but even without those undertones it is a very engaging story and has many moments that make you shudder. I did smile on realising that Heinlein had set this story, with its flying cars, laser guns and instant reversible comsetic surgery, inthe early 2000s :)
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 3 August 2017
Good
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 26 December 2012
I am very happy with this purchase. The book is in great shape and it arrived verry quickly : D
Great product for a great price.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 May 2011
"Were they truly intelligent? By themselves, that is? I don't know and I don't know how we can ever find out..."

While the idea of alien parasites infiltrating humanity is pretty much standard sci-fi now (from Jack Finney to "Stargate SG-1"), Robert Heinlein was pretty early on the concept. And "The Puppet Masters" remains a chilling story to this day -- he wove together some brilliantly vivid writing, some climatic twists, and an intelligent look at how the threat of alien slugs would change our society almost overnight.

Sam (an agent for a top-top-top-secret government organization) accompanies the Old Man and his new partner Mary to a site where a UFO supposedly crashed in rural Iowa. Unfortunately, they soon encounter bizarre gloppy alien creatures that attach themselves to a host's back -- and it turns out that one of them sneaked along with the Old Man's team, back to Washington.

With Iowa completely possessed and the government threatened by alien manipulation, all of humanity suddenly is in danger -- countries start bickering, people become hysterical, and almost everybody is practically naked. As the United States tries to keep the aliens contained, Sam and Mary must find a weakness in the puppet-masters that won't kill the host as well. And the answer may lie long ago in Mary's half-forgotten past...

"The Puppet Masters" is a true classic -- it spawned "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," "The Faculty" and even a "Star Trek" episode. Not only is a chilling look at a quiet alien invasion via "body-snatching" slugs, it's also a pretty intelligent look at the societal changes that might come from alien parasites -- clothes aren't worn, pets become lethal, and an atmosphere of distrust where anyone may become a possessed killer.

The biggest problem with Heinlein's writing is the sexist attitudes towards "females," which is smugly condescending at best. Otherwise he comes up with a pretty solid "future" Earth that is just a little more advanced than we are and a few wars down the road (World War III is mentioned), but not too different in the ways that count (if you can overlook now-anachronistic stuff like a communist Russia).

And Heinlein unrolls a slow-moving sci-fi tale that's heavy on the social/political stuff, some horrific moments (S "All planets are ours") and a rapid romance between Sam and Mary. His style has a delightfully, deceptively casual flair and some snappy dialogue ("Cosmetics?" "Your own ugly face will do"), but he also does a brilliant job with the more atmospheric, intense moments of the book -- such as a blissed-out, hag-ridden Sam drifting around Washington.

Sam makes a good sharp-tongued, quick-witted hero who still has time to feel sorry about killing a poor innocent cat, although Mary is somewhat two-dimensional until the end of the book (when we find out more about her). The Old Man is perhaps the most compelling character: an incredibly smart and ruthless chief of a government agency, who cares deeply about his estranged son but is still willing to put almost everything on the line to save humanity.

Aliens taking over human bodies is something of a cliche now, but "Puppet Masters" is a suitably chilling look at the trope's origins. If you can get past the antiquated attitudes towards women, it's a brilliant little book.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 March 2010
"Were they truly intelligent? By themselves, that is? I don't know and I don't know how we can ever find out..."

While the idea of alien parasites infiltrating humanity is pretty much standard sci-fi now (from Jack Finney to "Stargate SG-1"), Robert Heinlein was pretty early on the concept. And "The Puppet Masters" remains a chilling story to this day -- he wove together some brilliantly vivid writing, some climatic twists, and an intelligent look at how the threat of alien slugs would change our society almost overnight.

Sam (an agent for a top-top-top-secret government organization) accompanies the Old Man and his new partner Mary to a site where a UFO supposedly crashed in rural Iowa. Unfortunately, they soon encounter bizarre gloppy alien creatures that attach themselves to a host's back -- and it turns out that one of them sneaked along with the Old Man's team, back to Washington.

With Iowa completely possessed and the government threatened by alien manipulation, all of humanity suddenly is in danger -- countries start bickering, people become hysterical, and almost everybody is practically naked. As the United States tries to keep the aliens contained, Sam and Mary must find a weakness in the puppet-masters that won't kill the host as well. And the answer may lie long ago in Mary's half-forgotten past...

"The Puppet Masters" is a true classic -- it spawned "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," "The Faculty" and even a "Star Trek" episode. Not only is a chilling look at a quiet alien invasion via "body-snatching" slugs, it's also a pretty intelligent look at the societal changes that might come from alien parasites -- clothes aren't worn, pets become lethal, and an atmosphere of distrust where anyone may become a possessed killer.

The biggest problem with Heinlein's writing is the sexist attitudes towards "females," which is smugly condescending at best. Otherwise he comes up with a pretty solid "future" Earth that is just a little more advanced than we are and a few wars down the road (World War III is mentioned), but not too different in the ways that count (if you can overlook now-anachronistic stuff like a communist Russia).

And Heinlein unrolls a slow-moving sci-fi tale that's heavy on the social/political stuff, some horrific moments (S "All planets are ours") and a rapid romance between Sam and Mary. His style has a delightfully, deceptively casual flair and some snappy dialogue ("Cosmetics?" "Your own ugly face will do"), but he also does a brilliant job with the more atmospheric, intense moments of the book -- such as a blissed-out, hag-ridden Sam drifting around Washington.

Sam makes a good sharp-tongued, quick-witted hero who still has time to feel sorry about killing a poor innocent cat, although Mary is somewhat two-dimensional until the end of the book (when we find out more about her). The Old Man is perhaps the most compelling character: an incredibly smart and ruthless chief of a government agency, who cares deeply about his estranged son but is still willing to put almost everything on the line to save humanity.

Aliens taking over human bodies is something of a cliche now, but "Puppet Masters" is a suitably chilling look at the trope's origins. If you can get past the antiquated attitudes towards women, it's a brilliant little book.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 9 September 2010
The Puppet Masters by Robert A Heinlein is an intriguing look at possession and the moral arguments for and against slavery, and is written with his usual enlightened-self-interest point of view. First published in 1951, it was cut from 96,000 words to 60,000 by the publisher to remove explicit content, some of which were only restored in 1990 some time after Heinlein's death, but that new edition is still not as risqué as the original written by RAH himself.

This ISBN 0330022350 Pan edition is the original shortened story (also found slightly edited in Three by Heinlein). For the fuller version look for the later publishing date and the words "With the Soviets..." on the first page of the body text, eg The Puppet Masters.

It was original in that it describes one of the best thought-out techniques in which we humans might be possessed by an intelligent alien parasite, and discusses the consequences and possible methods to combat the menace. My analysis sounds very dry, however the story is anything but dry with Heinlein driving it along at his usual cracking pace.

The book is one of his best selling novels, and yet it could be uncomfortable reading for some of us, and also it seems a bit dated. But bear in mind when it was written, 1940 to 1951, for a plot time of '07 (I assume 2007) and then it snaps into focus with almost believable current technology - apart from the invader's spaceship.

I think it should be a part of any SF fan's collection, along with the later edition.
review image
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 June 2009
"Were they truly intelligent? By themselves, that is? I don't know and I don't know how we can ever find out..."

While the idea of alien parasites infiltrating humanity is pretty much standard sci-fi now (from Jack Finney to "Stargate SG-1"), Robert Heinlein was pretty early on the concept. And "The Puppet Masters" remains a chilling story to this day -- he wove together some brilliantly vivid writing, some climatic twists, and an intelligent look at how the threat of alien slugs would change our society almost overnight.

Sam (an agent for a top-top-top-secret government organization) accompanies the Old Man and his new partner Mary to a site where a UFO supposedly crashed in rural Iowa. Unfortunately, they soon encounter bizarre gloppy alien creatures that attach themselves to a host's back -- and it turns out that one of them sneaked along with the Old Man's team, back to Washington.

With Iowa completely possessed and the government threatened by alien manipulation, all of humanity suddenly is in danger -- countries start bickering, people become hysterical, and almost everybody is practically naked. As the United States tries to keep the aliens contained, Sam and Mary must find a weakness in the puppet-masters that won't kill the host as well. And the answer may lie long ago in Mary's half-forgotten past...

"The Puppet Masters" is a true classic -- it spawned "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," "The Faculty" and even a "Star Trek" episode. Not only is a chilling look at a quiet alien invasion via "body-snatching" slugs, it's also a pretty intelligent look at the societal changes that might come from alien parasites -- clothes aren't worn, pets become lethal, and an atmosphere of distrust where anyone may become a possessed killer.

The biggest problem with Heinlein's writing is the sexist attitudes towards "females," which is smugly condescending at best. Otherwise he comes up with a pretty solid "future" Earth that is just a little more advanced than we are and a few wars down the road (World War III is mentioned), but not too different in the ways that count (if you can overlook now-anachronistic stuff like a communist Russia).

And Heinlein unrolls a slow-moving sci-fi tale that's heavy on the social/political stuff, some horrific moments (S "All planets are ours") and a rapid romance between Sam and Mary. His style has a delightfully, deceptively casual flair and some snappy dialogue ("Cosmetics?" "Your own ugly face will do"), but he also does a brilliant job with the more atmospheric, intense moments of the book -- such as a blissed-out, hag-ridden Sam drifting around Washington.

Sam makes a good sharp-tongued, quick-witted hero who still has time to feel sorry about killing a poor innocent cat, although Mary is somewhat two-dimensional until the end of the book (when we find out more about her). The Old Man is perhaps the most compelling character: an incredibly smart and ruthless chief of a government agency, who cares deeply about his estranged son but is still willing to put almost everything on the line to save humanity.

Aliens taking over human bodies is something of a cliche now, but "Puppet Masters" is a suitably chilling look at the trope's origins. If you can get past the antiquated attitudes towards women, it's a brilliant little book.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 2 March 2016
Typical 60s Sci Fi
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 18 March 2004
This book exemplifies all that is good about mainstream SF of the Nineteen Fifties and suffers only from minor political incorrectness in terms of male and female stereotyping, and the rather irritating remark made about gay men by the US President; ‘There have always been such unfortunates.’
But then, it was the Fifties and Heinlein was rather on the right wing of the SF stalwarts of the time.
Our hero, Sam Nivens, is a square-jawed All American type who would willingly die to preserve the liberty of America and whose laconic monologue tells the tale of the invasion of the Puppet Masters.
Heinlein’s aliens, a perfect metaphor for what America believed typified the evils of Communism, are a kind of gestalt entity; grey slugs which attach themselves to the backs of humans and take over the mind and body of their hosts. They are sexless, appear to have no individual personalities and exchange information by some form of physical transference when in direct contact with each other.
Just as in Jack Finney's ‘The Body Snatchers’ the aliens ‘infect’ humans by stealth, reinforcing the idea of communism as a plague, contagious, insidious and more than anything else, invisible.
The hosts are literally enslaved by their masters (‘Master’ actually being a term which Sam uses to describe them). Heinlein takes these threats of loss of individuality, the natural fear of disease and the rather disturbing concept of slavery (which is as alive and well today in the guilty American consciousness as it was in Nineteen Fifty One) and parcels them up into a chilling tale of what is essentially a war of ideologies.
The book might well have been stronger if there had at least been some benefit, or purpose to the aliens’ invasion. As it is the aliens do not compel their hosts to wash or eat properly, and so are destroying the hand that feeds them, as when it is discovered that the bubonic plague has returned to Communist Russia.
If Heinlein consciously meant these aliens to be metaphors for Communism then he should have made them less unknowable. The suggestion is that one shouldn’t even try to understand Communism. To attempt to know Communism is to be infected by it. The menace cannot be lived with. It has to be eradicated from our minds.
Of course, it’s difficult to understand, in a post USSR world, what level of paranoia existed in America at the time.
Certainly, a large number of Fifties SF films and novels featured ordinary people being ‘possessed’ by aliens, often taking over an entire community, abandoning American culture and values and replacing it with something else.
When a live slug is eventually captured, Sam is ‘possessed’ and for a while we see the world of the ‘hag ridden’ through his submissive eyes. It is this makes Sam from something more than a mere two-dimensional hero. A stereotype he may be, but from Nineteen Fifty One it is interesting to see an SF hero with fears, emotions and failings, and who even cries on occasions.
The aliens themselves are beautifully thought out. An immortal gestalt entity which reproduces additional units of itself by binary fission and may which hold memories dating back to the dawn of its sapience.
At the end of the novel they remain enigmatic, and the question, raised in the opening paragraph of the book as to whether they are intelligent in any way we understand, is never answered.
0Comment| 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse

Customers also viewed these items

I Will Fear No Evil
£6.99
Space Cadet
£12.68

Need customer service? Click here