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The Puppet Masters

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  25,523 Ratings  ·  488 Reviews
First came the news that a flying saucer had landed in Iowa. Then came the announcement that the whole thing was a hoax. End of story. Case closed.

Except that two agents of the most secret intelligence agency in the U.S. government were on the scene and disappeared without reporting back. Then four more follow up agents also disappeared. So the head of the agency and his t
Paperback, Complete and Uncut Version, 416 pages
Published July 27th 2010 by Baen (first published December 1st 1951)
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Jul 29, 2016 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Putting this book down I cannot help wondering if Bob wrote this for the excuse to see, at least I his mind, a nation wearing no clothes.

You see, this is about an invasion of body snatchers type event, the aliens being large slug like creatures who affix themselves to the hosts’ skin. So, one method of finding the insidious creatures is an ordinance where everyone must be nude.

Clever! You are a devil, Bob Heinlein.

First published in 1951, this is a couple decades before he took the turnpike exit
Feb 16, 2009 Manny rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Evil, slug-like aliens land on Earth. They attach themselves to people and take over their minds. After a while, everyone has to walk around completely naked, so that you can spot the ones who have a slug attached.

I just can't understand why Paul Verhoeven didn't film this. He could have combined Starship Troopers and Showgirls into one movie, and both he and the rest of the world would have been happier. My guess is that he discovered the book too late, and has been kicking himself ever since.
Sep 23, 2015 Phrynne rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book for its story which was well thought out and interesting. However it's age definitely showed mostly in the naivety of the writing. I can't really describe what I mean exactly but if you read it I think you will understand straight away. And the dialogue left a bit to be desired as well. Nevertheless it is a true science fiction story of the old kind and it is very readable.
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Buddy read with Anne coming up in August 2015 maybe, someday, if she's ever in the mood for it. :)

I loved this old pulpy SF novel when I was a teenager. I'm a little nervous about how it will hold up on reread. But how bad can it be with a cool concept like "evil alien slugs take over your brain"???

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 30, 2008 Sara rated it it was ok
I have no problem with dated things. I do not hold against a past time its inability to miraculously speak to my present. I enjoy trying to crawl into the context of a different reader who may have lived decades or centuries ago and to imagine their responses to what I am reading...or to imagine what rules the author tried to follow or break, as the case may be. I seek this kind of exercise in books, art, film,'s one of the many reasons why I dig old stuff.

So, regarding The Puppet Ma
Aug 29, 2015 Simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
Well that was a classic bit of vintage SF. Up there with Heinlein's best I would say. Aliens are invading earth in a most insidious way and there's no room for compassion or understanding; it's them or us! For heaven's sake don't try to read anything allegorical into it or you're bound to find issue with it.

Okay, the novel is undeniably dated but it shouldn't jar with most modern readers unless they are particularly sensitive to these things. It does feel like a novel written in the 50's but it
Zumindest in der deutschen Übersetzung liest sich dieser typische 50er Alien-Invasion-Paranoia-SF-Roman so eigenwillig, dass ich von der Handlung oft regelrecht abgelenkt wurde und mehrfach das Buch zuklappte. Hinzu kommen Sprünge und ein höchst eigenwilliger Erzählrhythmus; manche Merkwürdigkeit stellt sich allerdings zu einem späteren Zeitpunkt als gewollt heraus, so die überstürzte Ehe zwischen Sam und Mary. Die anfänglichen Anklänge an das Inzest-Motiv, das später bei Heinlein eine größere R ...more
Sep 13, 2013 Monica rated it it was amazing
Últimamente en mis reseñas describo lo que me ha parecido la obra con una frase o más bien una palabra; en éste caso sería: una obra IMPRESCINDIBLE para cualquier lector en general, y para los amantes del género en particular.
El porqué, pues por ser un gran libro con una excelente historia, bien narrado y construido, con un ritmo envidiable y un excelente desarrollo, interesante en todas sus partes y a lo largo de la obra sin desfallecer en ningún momento, con unos buenos personajes, eso en gen
Feb 04, 2009 Mark rated it really liked it
Alien invasion? Fifties paranoia? Mind control?
After a visit to the British Library’s Out of this World Exhibition in London, I was suddenly reminded that I hadn’t read this Heinlein for a long while.

And indeed I haven’t read it in its ‘uncensored’ version, which was published in 1990 with the tale increased from about 60 000 words to 96 000.

So: it was time to revisit!

Puppet Masters is Heinlein’s version of an alien invasion tale, written at a time when such tales were popular in film and in pr
Mike (the Paladin)
This and Glory Road are maybe my favorite Heinlein novels. The movie of this one tried to be true to the story but failed to capture the spark present in this book. One of the better and also most original invasion novels out there.

Update: My attention brought back to this one, so I thought I'd include a "by the way".

If you noted my "shelves" you might have noted I included the "Spy-Fi" shelf for this one. The story is told from the point of view of "Sam" a character who puts me much in mind of
Apr 05, 2013 Stuart rated it it was ok
The Puppet Masters: Early Heinlein at his most embarrassing
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
Slug-like alien invaders who land and take over Des Moines, Iowa, 50s-style cold war paranoia, wise-cracking secret super agents, and a totally hot red-headed babe with deadly weapons concealed on a voluptuous body who is strong-willed but still totally subservient to our intrepid, tough-talking hero Sam. Yes, that would be a Robert Heinlein book, this one first published back in 1951. Apparently th
Kat  Hooper
Dec 10, 2013 Kat Hooper rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Unfriendly aliens from Titan have arrived on Earth and are planning to conquer us. To do this, the slug-like beings latch onto the backs of their human hosts and take over their bodies and minds. The aliens are rapidly spreading in the Midwest and they’ve managed to infiltrate the Treasury Department. To make world domination go even faster and easier, they’re planning to get the President of the United States. That’s why Sam Cavanaugh, secret agent, has been called in from his vacation. He’s te ...more
Apr 06, 2013 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, 2fiction, 1audio
The audio reading was pretty good, but I didn't care for the story as much as I recall. There was so much dated about it, both the technology & the sexism.

Heinlein's never been great at characterization - some have said he only has one main one & I think they have a good point. In this one, we saw that character as a 30 year old & an older version, plus a sort of female one. Mary was tough, but too much the demur 50's gal from the ads. The technology was kind of fun in a pulp way. P
Dec 13, 2013 Nicola rated it it was amazing
Another Heinlein masterpiece. It's always funny when there is a date specified for the action in the book - which in this case was over 50 years in the future, but currently 5 years in my past!
Michael Nash
Mar 10, 2015 Michael Nash rated it really liked it
I'm not sure what I expected from The Puppet Masters , but mostly I expected it to be dumber than it was. On one level, it was a fun action-adventure story, really one of the best Heinlein narratives I've ever read (in the sense that the plot never gets bogged down in whatever the hell Heinlein wants to talk about). It's also groundbreaking. I read The Animorphs as a kid, so I have a deep appreciation for the "parasite aliens who are taking over the country by invisibly controlling people" sci ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
I reviewed and rated the print version of this book earlier. I first "read" it when I was 14 or 15 and I've read it several times since. Recently I got this "Playaway" version from the library and I am doing a separate review as....the reader really pulls the rating down. I considered going all the way to 3, but it is still a pretty good book. So, okay good novel...poor reader. The reader of this book for some reason felt it was necessary to pause often. He paused almost between each sentence an ...more
Mary E
Dec 09, 2009 Mary E rated it it was amazing
I read this book as a teen, and so did Dad. It's fun to read a book written in 1951 that tries to predict the future year 2007. Back then, the 2000s seemed impossibly far away. In this book we now have flying cars that can also run on the ground, colonies on the moon and Mars, and watches on our fingers. But only three communication satellites! (I guess three seemed enough to cover the whole world. One of them would always be above the horizon.) World War III has happened, but the Soviets are st ...more
May 22, 2015 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Zumindest in der deutschen Übersetzung liest sich dieser typische 50er Alien-Invasion-Paranoia-SF-Roman so eigenwillig, dass ich von der Handlung oft regelrecht abgelenkt wurde und mehrfach das Buch zuklappte. Hinzu kommen Sprünge und ein höchst eigenwilliger Erzählrhythmus; manche Merkwürdigkeit stellt sich allerdings zu einem späteren Zeitpunkt als gewollt heraus, so die überstürzte Ehe zwischen Sam und Mary. Die anfänglichen Anklänge an das Inzest-Motiv, das später bei Heinlein eine größere R ...more
Megan Baxter
Jul 31, 2015 Megan Baxter rated it liked it
Will that affect the review I'm about to write? Let's see. Because, honestly, I probably am one of the people the Puppies would hate, and when books bother me, on a personal and political level, with how they handle, in this case, gender, I'll talk about it. On the other hand, I'm also not a fan of throwing out an entire era of literature and science fiction because people didn't handle writing women well. It depends on how bad it is, and how good the rest of the book is.

Note: The rest of this r
Kilian Metcalf
Jan 17, 2012 Kilian Metcalf rated it really liked it
Vintage Heinlein. At heart a diatribe against totalitarianism, it uses the cover of an alien invasion to outline the difficulties of maintaining freedom in the face of an enemy determined to eradicate individual freedom. Written in the 1950s, the Cold War looms large in the background, but the struggle is relevant in any time period. Although he gets the details wrong, Heinlein is spot on when it comes to the power of media to influence our thinking. "Everything is just fine. I saw it on TV," is ...more
Oct 16, 2010 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes a good story
Robert Heinlein writes an excellent sci fi story, but also just a darn good page turner. The movie wasn't a classic, but my daughter and I still enjoy watching. The book is great, with gritty secret agent battling invading aliens and protecting his family. Great.
Apr 02, 2014 Paul rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
It took me a little while to get into this book, but by the end I was glad I read it and had some appreciation for it. Not bad for 1951, and the knowing the culture and world events at that time make the book very appropriate for the age.
Gilbert Stack
Jun 26, 2014 Gilbert Stack rated it it was amazing
When I was in the ninth grade I joined the Science Fiction Book Club and got my first five books for a dollar. One of those books was called “A Heinlein Trio” and the first of the stories was “The Puppet Masters” by Robert Heinlein. It was the second Heinlein book I read (the first was “Between Planets” which was serialized as a comic book in “Boy’s Life” magazine) and it’s a great example of Heinlein writing exciting stories built on themes he cared strongly about—the importance of the individu ...more
Nancy Oakes
Feb 12, 2008 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Predating Invasion of the Body Snatchers by about 5 years, Puppet Masters tells the story of the discovery of an alien life form taking control of people on Earth, invading their bodies then their minds. Life goes on, it seems, once this happens, but of course, no one wants to be possessed by a blob of gray matter leaving them with a hump on their backs!

I love sci-fi written in the 50s and 60s; it illuminates the climate of paranoia that became SOP at the beginnings of the Cold War. The story is
An invasion of Earth via means of 'slugs' which attach themselves to people and control their actions. The story is told from the viewpoint of an elite government agent looking back on the situation as it was discovered.

Lacking the sensawunda of his juveniles, or any particularly interesting speculative idea, this is a fairly rote alien invasion. There is some frustration at the idiocy on display at times - they recover alive a person with a slug attached, detach the slug, then have a big moral
Jeff Yoak
In addition to all of the traits I love in so many of Heinlein novels, the avatar, the characters, the active plot, the great characters, etc., there is a stand-out feature that impresses me. We have ET parasites who attach themselves to humans and take them over completely, dominating their will biologically. Having read other similar works and seen movies with similar mechanisms you just know that eventually the hero or heroes will be taken over and the plot will be resolved by those heroes ha ...more
Oct 16, 2016 Charles rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
I really enjoyed it. But then I like all of Heinlein's early work. It's an alien invasion story, of course. A ship lands containing what come to be called "slugs," which attach themselves to the backs of people, over the spinal chord, and then take control over them. At first no one knows who is controlled and who isn't. But the human race soon comes up with countermeasures, such as having everyone strip to the waist. The war is on but there are many more twists and turns before the end, which I ...more
Jan 18, 2014 Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't remember the last time I blew through a book this fast. It's no wonder this is considered a sci-fi masterpiece. The human race is being invaded by parasitic slug-like creatures from Saturn's moon, Titan - clearly a thinly veiled analogy for mind control and overreaching government power. Sam is a government agent recruited to help eradicate the infestation. The Old Man is his superior (in more ways than one) and Mary is his partner (again, in more ways than one). The style is simple, str ...more
Decent story, but what I really loved is how in yet another R.H. story, the "strong female lead" does super capable things like fainting in terror and bursting into uncontrollable tears. *holds up sarcasm sign*
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Robert Anson Heinlein was an American novelist and science fiction writer. Often called "the dean of science fiction writers", he is one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of "hard science fiction".

He set a high standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of literary quality. He was the first SF writer to break into mainstre
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“Horace was a nice little guy who looked like one of his own baboons; he turned me over to a Doctor Vargas who was a specialist in exotic biologies--the same Vargas who was on the Second Venus Expedition. He told me what had happened and I looked at the gibbons, meantime rearranging my prejudices.” 5 likes
“Time was when I was immune to emotional shocks. But as I get older, I don't get tougher; I get softer.” 4 likes
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