The Puppet Masters

[Amazon Link]

A stray mention in the late William H. Patterson's bio of Robert A. Heinlein caused me to put this oldie in my to-be-read pile. It's the alternative version. It's longer and has more risqué sexual references than the bowdlerized 1951 version. Which I probably last read over fifty years ago—I was a Heinlein obsessive in my youth.

It's a tale of alien invasion, as seen from the viewpoint of "Sam", a crack secret agent working for a shadowy federal department charged with putting out troublesome fires around the world. But their latest call to action is in rural Iowa, where a flying saucer is alleged to have landed. Previous agents sent in have gone silent, so the A-Team, containing the "Old Man" (Sam's boss) and "Mary" (va-va-voom, Sam's about-to-be love interest) fly in. They get to Iowa to find an obvious hoax: a "UFO" constructed from cheap sheet metal and aluminum-sprayed plastic.

But they also find some pretty disgusting aliens, gelatinous parasites that attach to host nervous systems and take over the host's actions. Ish! They barely escape with their lives.

The rest of the book deals with the country's efforts to deal with the invasion, a remarkably tricky task. It doesn't help when Sam is captured by the aliens, and … well, that's enough to say without further spoilers.

The version I got from Amazon (link o'er there) has an introduction by William H. Patterson, Jr. and a long afterword from Sarah A. Hoyt. Both note the strong undercurrent of individualism and freedom running through the book. Ms. Hoyt's words are especially personal and moving. I've always thought that Heinlein exerted a major push to get me where my views are today, and Ms. Hoyt obviously feels the same in her case.

URLs du Jour

2017-11-15

Proverbs 19:28 is not fond of either the corrupt or the wicked:

28 A corrupt witness mocks at justice,
    and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.

That second line does not conjure a pleasant mental image. No sir.


@kevinNR offers an executive summary of Glenn Beck's interview with ex-GM honcho Bob Lutz: ‘The World Is Never Finished’.

"The world is millions of years old,” he says sagely. “And the world is never finished.”

Professorial and at times even a little prophetic, Bob Lutz, late of General Motors, isn’t what you’d expect from an old-fashioned American car guy: Zurich-born and Lausanne-educated, he knows a half-dozen languages and did stints at GM Europe, BMW, Ford, Chrysler, and the Marine Corps before returning to General Motors, where he was, among other things, an early advocate of electric cars. In a wide-ranging radio interview with Glenn Beck (who made his reputation as a conservative polemicist but whose straightforward interviews often are terrific and barely touch on politics), Lutz spoke at length about the future he imagines for the automobile industry: autonomous pods that consumers hail on demand rather than owning, networked together in ways that render such familiar 21st-century headaches as traffic jams and car accidents largely (perhaps entirely) a thing of the past. Rich people in the future will own sports cars for the same reason today’s rich people own horses.

Very interesting and insightful, even by @kevinNR standards.


■ Gregg Easterbrook's TMQ for the week is a lot of football, but also muses on the nature of sci-fi time travel. For example:

The Terminator franchise has been sustaining itself with new timelines. The Harry Potter play involves alternative timelines. The 2009 flick simply called Star Trek that rebooted the franchise as super-advanced from the get-go—TMQ liked the Original Series setting in which Starfleet was low-rent and coffee was served in foam cups spray-painted silver—created a new timeline in which the planet Vulcan is destroyed; in which two Mr. Spocks exist simultaneously (there’s Old Original Spock, played by the late Leonard Nimoy, and New Improved Spock, played by Zachary Quinto); in which Scotty possesses tech centuries before the tech is invented; and in which the actors have way better haircuts.

Spoiler in there for the next Star Trek movie, so beware. Well, not a biggie (mouseover to reveal): Kirk's father, George, played by Thor, will be in it. Perhaps McCoy's line will be "He's not dead, Jim."


■ Bill Gertz at the Washington Free Beacon notes a sad story: VOA to Fire Three Employees Over Controversial Radio Interview.

The Voice of America, the official U.S. government broadcaster, has notified three employees of its Chinese language division that it plans to fire them for conducting a controversial interview with a Chinese dissident.

I'm old enough to remember when it was the VOA's frickin' job to broadcast the truth into Commie countries. If we aren't going to do that any more, why have a VOA at all?


■ The LFOD bell chimed for an article by Spencer Tulis in the Finger Lakes Times. link

Riggs Alosa, 23, graduated from Hobart College this past spring. He headed back to his family’s current home in Vermont to ponder his future. He has a degree in English with a focus in poetry but didn’t have immediate plans to enter the crazy 9-to-5 work world quite yet.

Having grown up in New Hampshire, it isn’t a surprise that he takes that state’s motto — “Live Free or Die” — to heart.

Sitting on the family property was a 1969 Volkswagen Westfalia microbus that his dad had bought some 10 years earlier. His dad was a fan of the Grateful Dead but bought it more because he liked the looks of it.

Bottom line: Riggs and his late dad's Westfalia are on a classic American Odyssey. For an English major with a poetry focus, it will no doubt be filled with interesting encounters with the real world. I wish him well, and suggest a return to NH when he's ready to settle down.