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Puppet Masters Mass Market Paperback – October 12, 1986

4.4 out of 5 stars 158 customer reviews

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Mass Market Paperback, October 12, 1986
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Editorial Reviews


''Heinlein wears imagination as though it were his private suit of clothes.'' --New York Times, praise for the author

''There is no other writer whose work has exhilarated me as often and to such an extent as Heinlein.'' --Dean Koontz, praise for the author

''Not only America's premier writer of speculative fiction, but the greatest writer of such fiction in the world.'' --Stephen King, praise for the author --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From the Publisher

Like many people, I go way, way back with Heinlein. My very favorite book (and one that stands out in my mind--and with much affection--to this day) is Tunnel in the Sky. I really, really wanted to go off to explore new worlds with a covered wagon and horses, like the hero does at the very end of the book. But one of the nice things about Robert Heinlein is that he's got something for everyone. One of my best friends has a different favorite: Podkayne of Mars. Go figure.
                        --Shelly Shapiro, Executive Editor

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (October 12, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345330145
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345330147
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,824,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Aliens take over human minds" was the plot of more than one Star Trek episode -- and of nearly every episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea -- but the concept was still fresh when Heinlein wrote The Puppet Masters. Rarely has it been employed more successfully. Heinlein was a great believer in the rugged individualist's desire and ability to fight for freedom, a feeling he captured brilliantly in The Puppet Masters.

Published in 1951, during the time Heinlein was busy turning out juvenile novels, The Puppet Masters is very much an adult novel. The hero (using the cover name "Sam") openly lusts after a fellow agent, comments upon her physical attributes, considers calling an escort agency, and takes pills to wake up or to sharpen his wits or to extend his sense of time (and enjoys the high). Heinlein had some fun with the obvious way to make sure your neighbor isn't hosting an alien on his back: by presidential order, nudity becomes the required fashion. Daring stuff for 1951!

The story moves quickly, Sam's reluctantly heroic actions are plausible, and Heinlein invests Sam with a full personality -- and an opinionated one, as one expects from a Heinlein hero. The Puppet Masters has more of a thriller feel than some of Heinlein's more cerebral novels. Ignoring the fact that Russia seems less a threat now than it did six decades ago, the novel has aged well, and should retain its appeal to the modern reader.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Puppet Masters is one of Heinlein's most entertaining novels. A fairly quick read, it provides a wealth of enjoyment for both young and old alike. The earth is being invaded by hostile alien forces, but few people recognize this fact or choose to believe it for this is no typical invasion. These extraterrestrials are slugs who attach themselves to human hosts, thereby controlling them and giving the appearance of normalcy to those around them (and, more importantly, to typically slow-witted politicians). Our protagonists, mysterious agents of some murky, top-secret government agency in the early 21st century, enter the fray when a flying saucer supposedly lands in Iowa and is quickly proclaimed a hoax. They are soon able to figure out what is actually going on, though, and they manage to convince a reluctant President of the seriousness of the matter. Soon Schedule Bare Back is in force, requiring all citizens to wear nothing (or next to nothing in the case of women) above their waists--slug-invaded hosts bear a discernible hump on their backs where the aliens imbed themselves. These aliens are smart, though, and the government is typically naïve and slow to respond, so eventually the fate of the nation depends on the work of our three heroes.
The protagonists are typically peculiar Heinlein characters. The hard to read Old Man runs the show, while "Sam" and "Mary" conduct much of the field and security work, Mary is a beautiful, mysterious female agent, and naturally Sam immediately falls head over heels in love with her. Together, they identify the means by which the slugs propagate, eventually developing first-hand knowledge of the slugs despite their best intentions and precautions.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Science fiction stories about aliens that form a symbiotic relationship with humans have been popular in the science fiction literature for a long time. One of the earliest short stories on this theme probably was Clark Ashton Smith's "The Vaults of Yok-Vombis" in 1932. The first full length novel based on this theme was Heinlein's "The Puppet Masters." It was also Heinlein's first full-length science fiction novel for adults. It first appeared as a serial in the Sept. 1951 issue of Galaxy magazine. A film based on this book was released in 1994. This story, written in a very "hard-boiled" style reminescent Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, begins with a landing of a flying saucer in Iowa. At first it is thought to be a hoax (as in Wells' "War of the Worlds"). However, it is soon apparent that it is not. The aliens, believed to be from Titan, form a parasitic attachment to humans and are able to completely control the thoughts and movements of the human host. The problems facing the non-infected humans includes how to defeat the aliens without killing the host (a similar problem facing the hero in Card's "Xenocide" (1991)). They also have a problem at convincing Washington politicians that there is a crisis. Others have suggested that the novel is an allegory of the times in the late-1940s and early-1950s of the paranoia caused by the Cold War. (However, care should be exercised here. Some of the earlier reviewers have compared this book with the paranoa associated with the McCarthy hearings. Although Senator McCarthy was much in the news in 1950 and 1951, the actual hearings didn't begin until long after Heinlein's book was published.) There is another interesting aspect. The novel is written in the first person.Read more ›
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Going in to this book I was skeptical because I had only read one of Heinlein's other books (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress) and absolutely hated it. But from the very first chapter "Puppet Masters" had me hooked. The idea - aliens taking over the world by controlling human beings - is by now a cliche, what with Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the Faculty and other similar tales out there. But even if the idea seems tired I know that you can like this book, because I thought I was tired of it too. As I said, you get hooked early. It really was hard for me to put this book down in a lot of parts. But what is truly scary about the subject matter is how realistically Heinlein portrays it. The way the aliens move their forces outward, how the characters react, and even the final resolution are all reasonably plausible enough to make you paranoid about crowds of people (but then perhaps I'm just gullible). Outside of the story itself, "Puppet Masters" makes a lot of intelligent statements about our fear of assimilation, and ties in to the Cold War effortlessly. Being far too young to know firsthand the paranoia and fear that people must have lived in, "Puppet Masters" becomes all the more intriguing because it helps show the reader the hysteria that our nation must have felt.
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