At key points throughout North America, an invasion force is taking over communications, government, industry, and people's bodies. And the nation is helpless to stop it, because the invaders multiply far faster than they can be destroyed, controlling the mind of every unsuspecting person they encounter.
Enter Sam Cavanaugh, a can-do intelligence officer for the United States' most secret service. Cavanaugh is the only man who can stop the invaders. But to do that he'll have to be invaded himself.
©1951 Robert A. Heinlein and World Editions Inc.; (P)1998 Blackstone Audiobooks
"James' voice helps build the drama, tension, and suspense....this is a good scare for horror and science fiction aficionados and young adults." (AudioFile)
I first read Heinlein's classic alien invasion story more than 40 year ago, and listening to it now feels like walking into a time machine. I honestly enjoyed it, but I suspect younger readers may find it strange. The story was placed app. fifty years into the future when written, and now in 2000 after World War III, The Soviet Empire is still around and Venus has been colonized (not very successfully due to the large jungles on the planet). All television is in 3D, and there are three space stations. However, no Internet and no satelites, and interestingly it seems that France some years ago went nudist. I could go on and on. The book is quite a good thriller with some good "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" moments, but to me the most fascinating thing was being transported back 50 years looking forward to the dim and far away future of year 2000 and beyond. Great Fun.
I first read this book in paperback when I was very young and it has been one of my favorite Heinlein novels ever since. Although, as I got older, I found myself liking Heinlein's writing style less and less, I always had found memories of this book so, when I saw it on Amazon, I purchased it.
The first thing I found was that the Audible version is different from the version I first read back in the 1950s. I was surprised enough by the differences that I did some research about the early book. What I found was that some of the anti-communist content, which is in the current Audible version, had been removed from the print version that I originally read because it was felt to be inappropriate. That seems a little surprising to me considering that the 1950s was thought to be a strongly anti-communist period and yet the anti-communist content was removed so as to not influence young minds. Interesting fact.
More than 60 years after the first publication of this book it feels a bit dated. Heinlein always had a libertarian view toward society and that view is clear and present in this book, but many of the background assumptions simply seem odd today. Taxis do not fly, cars cannot jump over rivers and marriages are not contracted for a specific period of time. None the less the book is still a fun read and retains a good deal of the appeal it had for me when I was a pre-teen.
The one truly annoying thing about this book is the narration. Mr James has the habit of pausing continuosly thoughout the book for no specific reason. Person 1 speaks, pause, person 2 replies, pause, person 1 replies, pause, ... It got so bad that I ended up listening to this book at 1.25 x speed (using the Android Audible reader) and thought about trying to listen at 1.5 x speed. The pauses are just maddening and detract a great deal from my ability to enjoy listening.
Still, if you can put up with the pauses, I believe this to be one of the better Heinlein novels. Still enjoyable after more than 60 years.
Author of The Zochtil, Read by Nick Sullivan
I have often found that Heinlein's adult fiction is a little to strange for me, but this was an excellent Heinlein. You cannot consider your Heinlein library completed without this excellent book.
This is a wonderful science-fiction novel that incorporates elements later used in "Blade Runner," "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," and other similar futuristic, covert alien invasion stories and movies. Vividly imagined, outstanding in detail, and highly suspenseful, Heinlein sucks the reader into a rich fantasy world of tomorrow, surrounded on all sides by an insidious alien presence that threatens to overrun humanity. Highly recommended in every way! Great narration!
Heinlein's talent is to develop characters that are so believable that you really feel you know them and care what happens to them and then set them is a science fiction environment and watch them cope. The question here is, are humans tough enough and adaptable enough to survive a first contact with creatures who just don't care what happens to the human civilizations? So far,on this planet, we have crushed or killed any creatures that have offered us any competition. But, are there are other places and other winners who have shown the same drive to win?
This book has interesting twists, Heinlein gives a quirky look at what it might be like if a super power lost control. Well worth the read, not to predictable. Lloyd James (Narrator) does very well giving the book quite an exciting feel. As you read this keep in mind it was written in the 1950's so the predictions for the year 2000 are a bit off but it does make the book quite charming.
Like many of Heinlein's books, The Puppet Masters has a strong libertarian flavor and this one is overtly anti-communist. There is also an anti-Christian undertone but the anti-communist theme is much stronger. Heinlein tells a good story that for the most part moves along well, but I don't find his characters very compelling. Puppet Masters only has three characters that you get to know in any depth and I found them all a bit flat. Also, while they are all portrayed as super agents each one of them does annoyingly stupid things in the story.
One thing I found to be paradox is that Puppet Masters is very pro-individual liberty and yet the heroes are all members of a super secret government agency the "Section" which could just as easily be used by government to repress liberty.
One criticism that I think is off the mark is that the denseness of the political leaders is literally beyond belief. While true, I think that was intentional and one of Heinlein's points; his point being that the threat to liberty (circa 1951) from totalitarian regimes was so great and obvious and yet many politicians refused to see the obvious with some even drinking the communist Kool Aid and actively supporting such regimes.
A note about the narrator. I don't like the intentionally monotone reading. I think he was trying to read the novel like a report written by the main character. While this is literally correct, I think this reporter approach detracted from the suspense--I felt like I was listening to an after-the-fact news report and never felt any real suspense.
The Puppet Masters was far from a masterpiece, but it was worth the credit and 12 hours.
This book is in the bottom ten percent of my Audible library. It will be a long time before I play it again.
Lloyd James is great as usual.
If you like Heinlein you'll probably listen to the whole book, but its far from his best work. I'd say its probably my least favorite Heinlein after 'I will fear no evil'.
An excellent telling of a grim possibility. The detailed description of the 'slugs' and the incredibly well thought out implications of such a creature on human civilization is very thought provoking and shudder inducing.
The book was pretty good...some things were dated but for a book from 1951 he got alot of things right but some very wrong. I liked he language as it very 1950ish which gave a glimps into how different people spoke what is now long ago (60 years).
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