Puppet Masters Essay, Research Paper
“The Puppet Masters” by Robert A. Heinlein A Comparison to the Future Seen through the eyes of 1950 Author By Rebecca Irwin “The Puppet Master” is a futurist fiction novel written by Robert Heinlein in the 1950’s. There are many similarities to Heinlein’s 21st century future to that of the real future. There are also many instances when he missed the mark of foretelling the future with his fiction. Robert is confined to foretelling the future in “The Puppet Masters” to those situations and experiences he had from living in the 1950’s. I’m going to compare the 1950’s futurist view of the 21st century to that of the actual 1990’s. Robert also used several ways of speaking that demonstrate fluently that the time in which he wrote the book was in the 1950’s. For instance, when Sam was describing “The Old Man’ (4), he described him as looking like “a cross between Satan and Punch of Punch-and-Judy”. Punch and Judy were a well-known kid’s show where two puppets would bash each other and say bad things to each other. Also Sam, a government agent and the narrator of the book, asked Mary to marry him after only knowing her a few weeks. In today’s world, that just wouldn’t happen. Another 1950’s saying that caught my eye was “I had the hackie swing out over the ocean to avoid the Carolina speed trap” (45). I remember my dad used to say that. However, there was some things that Robert did portray that did match his futurist view to that of the actual 1990’s either through good guess work, or possibly wishful thinking. One instance was the role that women played in the book. In the 1950’s, there were very few women who had executive jobs or position of power. In the 1990’s, there are almost as many women higher up on the executive chain as there are men. Mary was a character that was powerful enough to be given the right to guard the president. She was also well respected by the other characters because she could do her job and do it well. With this jump from a 50’s women to a 90’s women, Robert did portray the feelings of men toward women those days (in the 1950’s). For instance, every time Mary put herself in a compromised position, such as the time when she was going to volunteer her body to be ridden by a “hag”, Sam jumped in and became a volunteer to prevent her from doing it. He portrayed that old stereotype of women that they are fragile and are not capable of handling all situations that men can. In reality, men are giving women more credit for situations that are capable of handing. He also hit the nail on the head when it came to the technological advances his characters had access to in the book. One technological advance in his book was that of communication. The government agents in the book such as Sam, Mary, and the Old man all had communication devices implanted in their heads so that they could be reached anywhere, anytime, any place. This is very similar to cellular communication used in the real future, although with cellular communication, the device is held in the hand. The medical technological advances were also very similar to actuality in which they could graft a person a new hand or arm. The only thing that was not believable was the time frame in which this could be accomplished. In the book, it only took a matter of hours to graft a new hand or arm, but in reality it would take weeks. One technological advance that he didn’t foresee in his futuristic novel was that of email.
If this novel had been written today, instead of the 1950’s, the author would have most likely used email as form of communication so way or some form. He also would have used the Internet as a means for transferring data back and forth. For instance, when Sam went into Kansas with a “video camera” (Robert called it a “portable scanning rig” (45), instead of having a direct link they might have used a digital imaging to transmit the data over the internet. Another stereotypical fancy that was floating around the 1950’s was UFO’s. This, I feel, was the most binding theme throughout the whole novel. In fact, the book is based upon a UFO landing that is masqueraded and covered up by the aliens who landed here. The aliens try to completely take over the earth by taken control of the humans’ they ride on. They attach themselves to the backs of human and insert a part of their alien body into the cervical cord in which they control all the actions of the human host. In the 1950’s there was a big scandal that the US government covered up a UFO landing in Arizona. This supposed UFO was taken to a controlled government site called Area 51. I find a lot of similarities to this 1950 incident to that of Heinlein’s novel “The Puppet Masters”. Robert Heinlein lived during the cold war when Russia was still a great threat to that of the free world. The threat that freedom could be lost if the Soviet Union was to infest their ideas of communism into the free world was a real fear during the 1950’s which the author used to inflict the fear of the aliens taking over control of the humans. After Sam’s first incident of being infested by an alien, he was extremely fearful of being controlled again by the slugs. That fear of losing his freedom was enough to want to kill the master that rode him. That fear of losing one’s freedom is very prevalent throughout the entire book. There are many references made regarding Russia that would fit will with a 50’s attitude. For instance, Sam referred to the Soviet Union as the “Curtain”, a term used to describe Russia during the cold war. Could Robert have foreseen that Russia would no longer be a communistic country in 2100 with his 1950 eyes? I feel that would have been a tough call. Although there are many similarities to the 1950’s novel of a futurist American, there are also many differences between Robert’s future and the actual future we know today. It would be interesting to read a new novel (if Robert Heinlein was still alive to write it) written by Robert in the 1990’s about a UFO invasion of the world.