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Of Men and Monsters

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  840 ratings  ·  75 reviews
Giant, technologically superior aliens have conquered Earth, but humankind survives - even flourishes in a way. Men and women live like mice in burrows in the massive walls of the huge homes of the aliens, scurrying about under their feet, stealing from them. A complex social and religious order has evolved, with women preserving knowledge and working as healers, and men s ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 251 pages
Published March 12th 1981 by Del Rey Books (first published 1968)
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3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  840 ratings  ·  75 reviews

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Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm sitting here feeling I've almost (not quite, but very nearly) failed some sort of intelligence test with this book. Having completely missed the huge clue in its title, some distance in I was still thinking, 'Well, I like the oddness of this, but it doesn't seem to be going anywhere much' and it looked to be heading for a disappointing two stars.

The set-up is this: after an invasion from space by gigantic aliens (called 'Monsters' throughout) what's left of humanity has been reduced to livin
Dec 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here’s another in those series of ‘SF authors you should have heard of but probably haven’t’. William Tenn was the pseudonym of Philip Klass (1920-2010) who was famous for his satirical short stories, mainly published in the 1950’s and 1960’s. In 1999 he was selected as the Science Fiction Writers of America’s Author Emeritus.

He only published one novel, which this is, in 1968.

It is a post-apocalyptic tale of sorts. Aliens -big, technologically proficient aliens, called Monsters here - have take
Natalie Monroe
What baffles me is Of Men and Monsters has very similar themes to what we see in YA. Off the top of my head, The 5th Wave, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and Enclave. Yet this is paraded as a sci-fi masterpiece and YA is dismissed as kiddy books.

Aug 31, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Where it's good, it's really good. Where it's corny, it's...well, embarrassingly corny. Where it's strange, it's intriguingly strange. And where it's profound, it is...I swear it...profound. Tenn's work may be uneven, but he is swiftly moving toward the top of my list of the heroes of golden age science fiction. My top Tenn list, perhaps.
Bryan Alexander
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the first William Tenn book that I've read. I'm not sure if I've read any of his stories before. And now I'll hunt them all down.

A dear friend gave me Of Men and Monsters (1968) as a present, and it's a treat. The novel posits a future at some remove - we never learn just when it takes place - after an alien invasion has knocked humanity off its perch as planetary leader. Instead we are vermin, a marginal species literally inhabiting the holes and corners of Monster civilization. Because
Aug 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
One of my favorite books from my teenage years. Just great adventure.
May 30, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5-3 stars? I guess?
Sep 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really really liked this book, but I think what I liked most about it was the sort of gradual realization of what was really going on, so I can't actually tell you what I liked about this without spoiling that gradual revelation. I can tell you, though, that this is excellent classic science fiction that is unlike any other excellent classic science fiction I've read to date.
Noel Coughlan
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review
Humankind has been reduced to intelligent vermin in an Earth ruled by giant alien monsters. Humans live in small communities in burrows in the walls of the invaders’ homes, living on whatever morsels of food and material they can steal. The Human species, subjected to evolutionary pressure, has fragmented and diverged, sometimes radically. Rituals have kept Eric the Only and his tribe alive but now they are about to reach the end of their usefulness. Eric is forced repeatedly to reevaluate his u ...more
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
2019 grade B+

This is one of those books I read before I started keeping records in 1975. It is not the one I expected but it is still good. The one I expected ends with the humans riding away from the aliens on a multicolored energy carpet that sort of rolls forward on its own. If you know the title of that story, let me know.

Humans live pretty nicely in the walls of the giant aliens, scrounging from their supplies. It sort of reminds me of The Borrowers. Tenn apparently got the idea from Gulliv
Roger Bailey
I looked at the copyright page and found that it was first published in 1968, but it has the flavor of earlier science fiction. In fact, it reminded me of a story I read in an anthology edited by Isaac Asimov called Before the Golden Age which included Science fiction stories published in the 1930s. The story was Tumathak of the Coridors and I would not be surprised if Of Men and Monsters was based on it. In both stories humanity has been defeated by invading aliens and reduced to living in dark ...more
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
William Tenn was one of the best satirical short story writers of the 1950s, but he burned out fairly quickly. In the late 1960s he made a comeback. Several collections of his work were issued simultaneously in 1968 together with this book, his one and only novel. *Of Men and Monsters* relies on a wonderful conceit: gigantic aliens have landed and settled on Earth and human beings are forced to live exactly like mice in the walls of the alien dwellings. Eric the Eye is a young warrior of one of ...more
Kay Smillie
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am currently going through a period of reading classic sci-fi. Some I have owned for years and others I have purchased recently, thinking that they look worth checking out.

Must admit that I had never heard of this novel and found it a wee bit slow to start off with, but it was well worth sticking with. One of the best sci-fi novels I have read in many an auld lang syne. Loved the humour, particularly when the humans went out and about in the corridors of the monsters. Also loved the ending and
I was very much curious to know how this novel ended and was pleasantly surprised when I read it eventually. It was the only fitting end Willaim Tenn could have conceived for this very good and infrequent plot. Very good read indeed.
Aug 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
An outstanding sci fi tale where aliens have taken over and we live in the walls like rats.
M Alan Kazlev
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book has a very intriging central premise.

Earth has been invaded and conquered by huge aliens, the monsters of the title. Humans have been reduced to vermin, living in tunnels in the walls of their enormous houses, the equivalent of rats or cockroaches, stealing their food to survive, while the monsters are the equivalent of humans today (hence the title, but other than that, this is a very different book to Steinbeck’s poignant "Of Mice and Men"). In the story, humans have lost all their t
Feb 13, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hardcover, library
Of Men and Monsters (1968) by British born American author William Tenn (pen name of Philip Klass) wrote primarily ‘satirical’ short stories and novellas. OM&M is his one and only full length novel based on the much shorter work, “The Men in the Walls”, published in Galaxy Science Fiction in October 1963.

This is a little adventure story set in the far future, after giant aliens had inhabited the earth and built large infrastructure. Humans have become tribal and live like at the level of mi
Jun 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
I read this book as a young man of maybe 13 - I remember liking it alot and I still think about the plot from time to time. I found this book in a pile of westerns in the back of an abandon barn in a small town in Nevada called Nelson. So small there was nothing to do but read. This book as I remember it switched the roles of Humans and Pests (insects) to the point that we (humans) had become savage animals fighting for a way just to survive
Timothy Boyd
Feb 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Very good SiFi story. nice different take making humans the aliens of the story. Recommended
This was a crazy book to read. I thought the author did a great job in describing how humanity had devolved into tribes and how humanity existed in the walls of the alien invaders. It was a crazy concept, and I do not know how well I would have pulled it off. Most of the time, I thought the author did a great job describing what it would be like, to live underfoot (view spoiler) of the aliens. (view spoiler) ...more
Tom Meade
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is one of those very solid classic sf novels that takes a single, striking concept, wrings everything it can from it, and then wraps up about ten pages before the author starts grasping at straws.

The premise is intentionally ridiculous, but everything within the book follows logically from it, highlighting the fundamentally twisted and absurd nature of the social constructs which Tenn is critiquing. Perhaps in direct response to a lot of pre-New Wave sf - which had a tendency to present ei
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this sci-fi adventure novel. It puts me in the mind of The martian series from Edgar Rice Burroughs. This is set within the walls of the homes of monsters where the last of mankind is dwelling. It's been a long time since the monsters took over, so most technology is lost and forgotten. Humans live in small tribal bands and make their living by sneaking out and stealing from the Monsters. This book is about one particular human named Eric who is outlawed from his people and forc ...more
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una riflessione molto amara sulla natura dell'umanità e sul suo ruolo ecologico.
L'amarezza deriva dalla constatazione di quando sia vera la riflessione sulla natura umana.
Per il resto il romanzo scorre molto bene, a tratti ha qualche spunto umoristico (amaro anche questo) e un finale onestamente un poco inatteso, almeno per me.
Inatteso ma logico, vista l'amara premessa.
Michael Ritchie
Aug 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting concept, often quite difficult to picture. Kept thinking of the humans as Borrowers, when actually they're still the same size as us, meaning the giant aliens are impossible to imagine. Good jaunt.
Oct 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Imagine the whole of earth taken over by giant aliens. Imagine treating humans like vermin. Imagine those vermin trying to live a life out of view and doing the best they can. This is The Borrowers for sci-fi fans and I have to say I found it a good read!
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Earth has been conquered by a race of giant aliens. Humans are to them what rats & mice are to us - pests to be controlled & exterminated. A new vision for the future, because humanity may actually be flourishing, strangely enough.
Martin O'
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If your not familiar with William Tenn's work then give yourself a treat! The themes of his books are very familiar but given a fresh perspective and full of originality and extremely well written. The Borrowers was never like this!
I have two different german editions: Von Menschen und Monstern
Craig Evans
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I had Phillip Klass, a.k.a. William Tenn, for a Science Fiction Literature class at Penn State in my senior year.
Interesting individual... got an A on my final written blue book essay.
Oct 13, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: science-fiction
There is a 1957 French science fiction novel Oms en série by Stefan Wul filmed in 1973 as "La Planète sauvage": giant aliens brought humans to their own planet as pets, but they have escaped and gone feral, becoming pests, until a pet human familiar with alien technology escapes and leads feral humans to freedom. The Tenn novel has a similar plot: giant aliens have colonized Earth, humans live as pests, but eventually they acquire some alien technology and escape to the stars. The problem is tha ...more
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William Tenn is the pseudonym of Philip Klass. He was born in London on May 9, 1920, and emigrated to the United States with his parents before his second birthday. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York. After serving in the United States Army as a combat engineer in Europe, he held a job as a technical editor with an Air Force radar and radio laboratory and was employed by Bell Labs.

He began writing i