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Puppet Masters Mass Market Paperback – October 12, 1986
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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
From the Inside Flap
ing 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!
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It took an incredible mind to imagine society being taken over by creatures that control human minds. While this genre is a cliche today, it was NOT at the time this book was written.
Heinlein had a lot of libertarian themes in his books. That made this one is intriguing to me, as it is first-person-narrated by a government agent. It is frightening to see the level of power, resources, secrecy, and autonomy Heinlein believes is required for such people to be effective.
I give it four stars. I give Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land" and "Starship Troopers" five stars, and "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" 4.5 stars.
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. I enjoyed it, reading it for (I think) the first time this year.
We follow Sam an undercover agent/spy who is called upon to investigate an alien landing in Iowa hoax. His boss does not believe it is a hoax and here is where our adventure begins. The actual aliens are slugs who attach themselves to people's backs and control their minds from there. In order to see who has been captured by the slugs, people have to take their clothing off and walk around naked. Sam gets himself into mischief, is captured by an alien, is detached from the alien and goes to war with the aliens.
We have cars traveling via tubes and landing/take off areas with gadgets that include hyper speed and communications via visual as well as audio gadgets. Heinlin's vision of the gadgets of the future (which we are in now) is pretty close. We follow Sam through some harrowing and some humorous activities. I found the book delightful and didn't want it to end.