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Plague of Pythons

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  295 ratings  ·  26 reviews
The pythons had entered into Mankind. No man knew at what moment he might be Possessed!

On Christmas the world's freedom died. Every man, woman and child lay in the grip of fear, for no one knew at what moment his nearest friend or a casual stranger might suddenly be possessed by some brutal mind ... and begin to murder and destroy. For Chandler it was worse than for most.
Kindle Edition, 176 pages
Published (first published September 1965)
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Apr 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Lord Acton’s quote was as true then as it is now and serves as the fundamental theme of Frederik Pohl’s 1965 publication, Plague of Pythons.

As the story begins, there has been some global calamity whereby people are possessed and can be made to do horrible acts including mass murder, rape, arson and all sorts of crimes against humanity. The world Pohl depicts is post-apocalyptic where people are still coming to grips with the situation. Peop
Jan 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
An underrated book. The premise is that a device has been invented which allows the user to assume control of other people's bodies at will: electronically mediated possession, in effect. Pohl explores the consequences unflinchingly.

There are a couple of extremely memorable and disturbing sequences. Here's the one I think of most often. The hero is being introduced to the mind control device by a female character that he's rather attracted to. She says she'll show him how much fun it is. So the
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you had god-like powers would you use them for good or evil? Or just fulfill your every fantasy?

Five years before, back in the old days before the demons came, when he was helping design telemetry equipment for the Ganymede probe. Chandler would not have believed his life would be at stake in a witchcraft trial. Not even that. He wasn't accused of being involved in witchcraft. He was about to go on trial for his life for the far more serious crime of not being involved in witchcraft.

Unknown d
Feb 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great little SF gem. Spooky and definitely not for the squeamish. It would have been all but impossible to adapt for film when it was published in the early 60's but in today's ultra violent video culture it would be quite the cinematic wild ride. Great premise; well realized. Give it a read.
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, standalone
A plague of pythons takes place in the near future, in a world where possession is normal. Huh? Possession? Yes, really. Nobody really knows who is doing the possessing or why. All that is known is that it started from one day to the next, people were getting possessed and performed unspeakable acts without being able to stop it. Possession became so common that it is now a common defense at trials: I did it, but it wasn't my fault, because I was possessed. Unfortunately, this doesn't work for C ...more
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dated? Sure. Uncomfortable? Oh, yeah. The way it illustrates the old saw about absolute power corrupting absolutely, though, is masterful. In context, the very last line: “And he knew that he lied.” is almost horrifying.
May 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: softcover
Pohl is developing into a fine author here. By 1962, he had published many short stories, just short of a dozen, either on his own or in collaboration with Kornbluth, Lester Del Rey and Jack Williamson. As for this one, I would not consider it a master piece of the genre, but is does break some ground. It is a "Body Snatcher" type story, but unlike Finney's classic and Heinlein's "Puppet Masters", this is more a hijacking of one's body by a society of elites that have come up with a technology t ...more
Jun 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes I wonder why I continue to read "junky" science fiction books. This novel came out in 1965, almost 50 years ago. I think the main reason is that I like old-fashioned storytelling and sometimes I come across real surprises (good ones) such as this. For most of the book this really reads as a horror story of demonic possession - worldwide possession where almost anyone is at risk of being taken over at any time. The modern day equivalent of witch trials apparently have returned, with a t ...more
Sean McLachlan
When I heard that Frederik Pohl, one of the Grand Old Masters of science fiction, had died earlier this month, I rummaged through my collection of vintage paperbacks looking for something of his I hadn't read. I came up with this short 1965 novel.

Someone or something is taking over people's minds and leading them to commit horrible crimes. Nuclear bombs go off, people go on killing sprees, and in one unsettling scene a jetliner crashes into the Pentagon. The people who get possessed are fully aw
Jun 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
mind control, perhaps a story of absolute power,
what would most people do?
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
"Chandler served for Rosalie Pan: her telephone, her social secretary, and on occasion he was the garment her dates put on."
Loved it. I think Pohl is one of my favorite writers now.
Rúnar Frá keflavík
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
A very enjoyable little sci-fi novel. Listened to it as an audiobook from Librivox and the reader was likeable enough. Pohl had a knack for writing interesting and memorable stories that got straight to the point. There are no unwanted loops and arches, just a straight storyline. I like that. This one is also very gory, on the verge of horror at times.

Anyway without giving anything away the world is held in the grip of terror since everyone is getting possessed left and right and societal collap
Neil Rochford
Apr 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Power corrupts.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Morgan McGuire
May 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Fantastic ideas and well-written, albeit dated. Horrifying violence.
Jeff J.
Jun 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Anearly novel from SF grandmaster Pohl. Its themes of mind control and extreme violence still have relevance today.
Brick Marlin
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first Frederik Pohl book I've read. Really dug this one! Great story! ...more
Love of Hopeless Causes
This Librivox recording needs compressed or to be recorded with a sibilant filter: unlistenable on my setup. Rating not a reflection of the written material.
Mar 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Small number of people are controlling all the world's population and using them as a disposable slaves. One man have opportunity to change this. Fast pace and quite interesting to read and also did not feel very much out of date. ...more
May 02, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed reading even with it's dark nature and somewhat dated cold-war era mindset. A bit too much nastiness (people under mind control doing horrific things and ultimately suicide). The story evolves from demonic possessions to mechanical mind control and ultimately a morality tale. ...more
Gabriel Clarke
A nasty little cold-war thriller but fascinating.
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
''They were butchered! Some of them looked like their legs had been burned right off. Their eyes gouged out, their faces—''

There are two versions of this book:
One written in the 60s, relatively early in Pohl's novel writing career, and at a time when his work was relatively optimistic compared to his later work—though still much darker than much of the work of his golden age contemporaries.
One written in the 80s, much later in Pohl's career, when he'd fully embraced the more macabre side of his
Ubik 2.0
aggiornamento vecchio libro letto chissà quando
Oct 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Read in the 70s
La Stamberga dei Lettori
May 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: antonio
Pohl è stato uno di quegli autori che nei romanzi ha sempre cercato di denunciare gli aspetti negativi della società. Per far questo ha immaginato spesso le proprie storie in un futuro in cui attività normalmente svolte nell’uso quotidiano venissero portate alle estreme conseguenze, come ad esempio ne I mercanti dello spazio in cui viene denunciata la potenza delle aziende commerciali intermondiali che, per mantenere e acquisire quote di mercato, compiono azioni che definire spregiudicate sarebb ...more
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
1980 grade D
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Jul 14, 2012
Timothy Evavold
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Jul 04, 2020
Alea Pinar
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Jun 08, 2019
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Apocalypse Whenever: READ WITH ME: A Plague of Pythons by Frederik Pohl 3 85 Sep 29, 2013 09:26AM  

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Frederik George Pohl, Jr. was an American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning over seventy years. From about 1959 until 1969, Pohl edited Galaxy magazine and its sister magazine IF winning the Hugo for IF three years in a row. His writing also won him three Hugos and multiple Nebula Awards. He became a Nebula Grand Master in 1993.

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