The Puppet Masters

Danny McG

"Uroshnor!"
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So I'm doing a long postponed re-read on this classic science fiction novel and a couple of things have intrigued me. Early in chapter two Sam makes a casual reference to the B.W. boys doing some research - I've thought about this, don't think it's biological warfare given the context so anybody know what it could refer to ? (Written in 1951 ) . Second issue is a scene where Sam is strapped to a seat with a master on his back being interrogated. They go through the solar system planets looking for a response to ascertain where the masters originate. He says Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Kalki . . . What is ( or was ) Kalki? - Google says a Hindu avatar so how come there is a theoretical planet in this sixty plus year old story? Did astronomers back in the day have such a theory ? Enlightenment please .
Thank you
 
Did astronomers back in the day have such a theory ?

Yes, the theory of "Planet X" was current then, I believe. Heinlein has obviously given it a name.

Sam makes a casual reference to the B.W. boys doing some research - I've thought about this, don't think it's biological warfare given the context

Having not read it, what is the context?
 
The quote ..At the beginning of a forest fire or an epidemic there is a short time when a minimum of correct action will contain and destroy. The B. W. boys express it in exponential equations, but you don't need math to understand it; it depends on early diagnosis and prompt action before the thing gets out of hand.
 
The quote ..At the beginning of a forest fire or an epidemic there is a short time when a minimum of correct action will contain and destroy. The B. W. boys express it in exponential equations, but you don't need math to understand it; it depends on early diagnosis and prompt action before the thing gets out of hand.

Heinlein also uses B.W. in The Menace from Earth:

B.W. and radiation quarantine regulations previously issued will be rigidly enforced.

I think therefore that it could well be a reference to biological warfare or weapons. In the context of the Puppet Masters, whilst biological warfare is not involved, using it as an example of exponential expansion of a problem (in a B.W. case the spread of a pathogen) is relevant.
 
Yes, if you ignore the forest fire and focus on the epidemic, Biological Warfare does fit. I certainly can't think of any alternative.
 
Ok people thanks for your advice on this. I didn't know the tenth planet theory . It looks like it is indeed biological warfare he meant. I'm about two thirds through this gripping yarn now. Any further mysteries I'll Query in here as well. Thanks again. .. Danny
 
Jumping back to this book eight months later (found it bookmarked by my ereader!) I have indeed found another little puzzle. .

Our hero Sam has went to the Library of Congress to do some research and finds fellow agent Mary already there.

She initially assumes he's hitting on her but he responds "I'll get the hell out and find another study room, fa stag one"

Fifties slang?
 
I was going to read this later on my reading list; however perhaps I'll read it starting tonight.
Heinlein does use slang and sometimes he seems to make up his own.
He also has a habit of throwing out list of names that we know then adding in unknowns(because it's all future stuff and contains names of people only his future knows).
He often makes up his own words(some times relate to Esperanto)
Still all the hard volumes I've read so far have contained large numbers of grammatical errors(after you remove those that might be things he made up or shortened for slang or dialect in dialogue). Mostly extra letters in words or missing letters in words sometimes the wrong word however most of those turn out to be missing letters in words. Sometimes double sometimes words.< like that :as if the sentence was edited and changed and a previous word was not deleted.

Also do you have the 1951 version or the 1990 version that includes what was taken out in the original? They often do very poor editing on those books and that one was publish posthumously.

I can check the paper version of either if you give me a chapter to zoom in on.
 
It's Chapter 4 and "--a stag one" meaning without women like Mary. :)
 
Having now read the original 1951 version and glanced through the 1986 version: (There are many more versions between; however the 1986 version is the first I know of that contained the entire uncut story.)
Kalki shows up in the version that was revised just prior Heinlein's death and coincidentally after Indian astronomers theorized a tenth planet that they named Kalki after their tenth avatar and my guess is that someone else added this to his work since he claimed earlier in his career that he had learned his lesson about changing certain scientific datum in his work to reflect present times. (But I won't entirely rule it out.)

The B. W. boys is likely a biological warfare reference to the parasites. Since he seems to include forest fires with epidemics and later when talking about virus and plagues as weapons against them in biological war and warfare.

There are some interesting things to note in the difference between the two.

There are references to other works
In both books there's a reference to Charles Dickens' David Copperfield, however the reference to Frank Baum's Oz is not in the 1951 version.

More importantly there are several references to description of Mary that have been alter shortened or cut completely from the 1951 version.

One of the largest of these is from the scene in his cabin in the woods where they are first intimate. All through both versions we see Mary as being overloaded with all sorts of weapons. However the scene missing from the 1951 version contains evidence of some validation of her qualifications to use them. I think that the missing scenes and piece are all integral in having a clearer understanding of Sam's true assessment of her as a viable partner and the original is somewhat weakened by the exclusion.

There is also some subtext to the place where the old man tells Sam that Mary is a much braver person than Sam is; and it parallels a short story Heinlein wrote
NO BANDS PLAYING, NO FLAGS FLYING
that was based on a true occurrence he had witnessed.

I think that the later version has a much better handle on Mary's character.

Also the entire sentence talking about B. W. Boys is not included in the 1951 version. I had to look back to verify that.
 
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