Haven’t read much Heinlein other than ‘Stranger In A Strange Land’ – which I enjoyed and think I’ll re-read some day. Hey, it could happen! I’ve recently re-read, for the first time since my teen/young adult years, most of Asimov’s, Bradbury’s and Arthur C. Clarke’s work and of course all the Harlan Ellison I own – which is quite a lot….but let’s get back to Heinlein. A quote from the novel sums up how I feel about ‘The Puppet Masters’ –
“It raises as many questions as it answers.” (p. 149)
Even though I’m a product of the “Cold War” era the whole idea that Heinlein was drawing parallels in his novel to how the Communist bloc acted or thought was lost on me. I read it as more of a sci-fi/adventure/love story set against the background of an alien invasion. The main character Sam’s male chauvinist tendencies were quickly suppressed in the presence of his new work partner/love interest, Mary, but that didn’t convince me Sam (or Heinlein?) ever really changed his view of women. I did learn after finishing the novel there is a version released after Heinlein’s death that restores sections that were edited out when it was first serialized/published that helps fill in some otherwise missing knowledge and character development. Maybe I need to read the more recent version?
As out-of-date Heinlein’s view of relations between the sexes seemed I rather enjoyed his take on the process for obtaining a marriage license (located between where you obtain Hunting and Dog licenses) as described by the marriage license clerk-
“Term, renewable or lifetime? If it’s over ten years the fee is the same as for lifetime; if it’s under six months, you don’t need this; you get the short form from that vendo machine over there.” (p. 111)
The last words in the book, made me think of the rah-rah jingoism I saw in the movie version of Heinlein’s novel ‘Starship Troopers’ plus also a reflection of more recent (failed?)foreign policy-
“…free men are coming to kill you! Death and Destruction!” (p. 175)
and that seems sad.