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.
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.
38 of 38 people found this review helpful
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.
22 of 23 people found this review helpful
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!
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
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?
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
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.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Before reading this, I didn't realize I hadn’t read a NON-juvenile Heinlein novel- I was beginning to think they all had spunky pre-teen protagonists thrown into gee-whiz scenarios where they nonetheless manage to outshine the adults. My previous two RAH novels, “Time for the Stars” and “Have Space Suit, Will Travel”, share all the same 1950’s cultural colorations seen here, but are restrained in their violence, profanity, and sexual content due to his audience. Reading Heinlein less restrained in these areas was enjoyably disturbing. There’s something odd about the juxtaposition of 1950’s gender chivalry in one scene followed quickly by man-bisecting ray gun violence in the next that held my attention like a cold war “red alert” duck-and-cover drill. As in “Have Space Suit”, this story is about the early detection of an alien invasion, although what comes out of the saucers is much more gruesome this time. A lot of thought went into the methods a mid-controlling invader would use to subjugate the human race, and I appreciate the subtleties of counter-insurgence played out between the opposing species. The theme of personal freedom plays out on at least two levels: the struggle against literal slavery at the hands (psuedopods?) of aliens, and the second struggle against bureaucratic and paternalistic government authority. The final denouement chapter provides the satisfying full-throated vengeance on both that Heinlein, in his Libertarian zeal, must have fantasized about. I kept expecting a more direct parallel on McCarthyism and Red Scare politics, but found it only passingly mentioned; seemingly a missed opportunity. Just as you can never be immediately sure if the stranger seated beside you on the subway is an alien agent, you can likewise not discover a communist sympathizer with superficial inspection.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
My title says it all. Sort of predictable alien slugs trying to take over the world. set in the future though not a lot of description given on that - you just figure it out eventually. Some interesting creative plot points and some predictable and/or slow points. Good narrator though does help.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
This a great example of the principles of freedom and how much of our current personal dignity we must consider sacrificing rather than giving it up.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This was easy to read. It adapted fairly well to modern times for as old as it is. One thing that makes it obviously not of modern thought is the ease of which the alien slugs can be overcame on an individual basis. Most alien creatures today are nearly impossible to defeat, yet these slugs can't take a knock on the noggin before they release the host. However, with the limited resources of alien information in 1950-51 it is a good read and for the times it is thought through okay. I would not use a credit on this unless you like out of date alien invasions. The narration was not bad and I listened comfortably on 2X speed. Hope this helps someone. Later
1 of 1 people found this review helpful