simultaneously dated and prescient

‘The Puppet Masters’ by Robert A. Heinlein (1951)

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As out-of-date Heinlein’s view of relations between the sexes seemed I rather enjoyed his take on the process for obtaining a marriage license (located between where you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.


About Marcus

Who me? Introverted, neurotic, self-absorbed, increasingly cynical observer of human nature and part time social critic in hiding. Most of my life spent avoiding growing up. The naive idealistic passions of youth have evolved into the eclectic eccentricities of adulthood. Northeast Florida small-town native, related to people I can't relate to. Simultaneously my own best friend and worst enemy. Politically and spiritually unaffiliated, my personal ideologies put me all over the map or off it completely.
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One Response to simultaneously dated and prescient

  1. Yo Marc!

    While googling for the exact text of my own quote (You know, that one about ‘cute sayings’), I see that you posted it 6.5 years ago!!! OMG!!! Thanks … belatedly…

    Anyway, I did _not_ find you on linkedin or facebook … makes sense from what I know about you. I wouldn’t say that you went off the grid, you just made your own grid. 🙂

    My required never-made-public email is below someplace. Please send me a missive!

    Oh wait! I see that we last communicated in September, 2005. I will send you one at that email address.



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