Friday Faceoff – Like a puppet on a string…


This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This week the theme is a cover featuring puppets or dolls, so I’ve selected The Puppet Masters by Robert Heinlein.


This Japanese cover, produced by 早川書房 in December 2005, is one of my favourites. There is plenty of drama in this cover, with the puppet girl on the poster in the background as our gallant investigator is swathed in the police tape as he goes undercover…



This edition was produced by Del Rey/Ballantine books in January 1990 and is a really attractive. I love the backdrop, which is beautiful and detailed, while the man in the centre being strung up like a puppet is a really disturbing image. My only grizzle is that there is rather too much chatter.


Published in February 1990 by DelRey/Ballantine books, I also really like this one. The greens really stand out and those three marionettes look wonderfully wrong… However, I don’t like the ugly white box along the top which cuts across the artwork, effectively shortening the cover.


This edition, published by Baen in July 2010 has gone for the retro feel, while keeping the typical Baen house style. I quite like the detail on the cover – I can never resist a spacescape, anyway. The snag is that this cover feels rather generic – yes… there are aliens, but they are in the process of invading Earth and the artwork doesn’t give any indication of that.


This first edition, produced by Doubleday & Co in December 1951 is simply a fabulous piece of artwork. The muted palette, odd stance of the figues and staring eyes give us a really creepy insight into what is going on. This is my favourite, but which is yours?

32 responses »

  1. I always have to go look the book up, unless it’s one I’m familiar with. It’s hard to choose a cover when I’m not sure what the book is about. Lol! Maybe that’s just me. But I would pick the first or the last. First choice being the last picture, same as you. The people look like their minds have been taken over, and the skies look invaded by aliens. It’s a really creepy cover. Out of all these covers, this is the one that would interest me in reading the book the most. I’m actually kind of interested. Lol!
    I love these Friday Faceoffs!!! You pick really interesting covers too!!

    • Yes… that last cover looks absolutely stunning, doesn’t it? Thank you so much for your kind words – I’m delighted you enjoy this series. I have to say it’s one of my favourite posts of the week, too:). Have a lovely weekend.

  2. Pingback: The Friday Face-Off: I Got No Strings to Hold Me Down – Books by Proxy

  3. What an AMAZING array of covers, Sarah!! I really liked reading your insights on each one! 🙂

    I think I’ll have to say that my favorite cover is the Del Rey/Ballantine cover. That’s because it looks like it was created by Leo and Diane Dillon, my two favorite cover artists of all time! But I do agree about that stupid white box at the top of this cover. WHY the heck did they DO that?! AAARRGGGHHH!!! Lol.

    The Japanese cover is definitely striking, but I don’t really like the manga feel of it. The spacescape cover is also striking, but, as you say, it’s pretty generic. The other two covers are just too disturbing for me to look at for very long….. The Doubleday cover is especially so. It reminds me of the famous painting, “The Scream” by Edvard Munch, as this cover art looks very similar to his style. Shudders!!

    Thanks for sharing!! And this reminds me to go read “The Puppet Masters!! ❤ ❤ ❤ 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Thank you, Maria for your interest in these covers – they are very varied and different, aren’t they? What an interesting observation regarding the Doubleday cover – I now see what you mean, though I hadn’t picked up that Munch vibe previously… I’d love to know what you think of ‘The Puppet Masters’, Maria:))

    • It is very effective, isn’t it? Yes – I think this set of covers are certainly some of the most diverse I’ve had in a while, as well as the most interesting:)

  4. For some reason, I like the second one best. I read this so many years ago (back when I was new to college and was going through a sci fi phase) that I couldn’t know which represents the story better. The first one was a real turn off to me–too violent or bold or something.

    • Yes, that second cover was a very close contender – if I hadn’t come across that last cover, it would have been my favourite. And yes… I do think it tells an interesting narrative that applies to the book.

  5. I like the January 1990 Del Rey/Ballantine cover best – the background is great and there’s just something about the figure that appeals to me 🙂

  6. Oh wow, the expression on that last one IS creepy. No need for strings with a posture like that! Though that second one has a neat touch with “strings”–they look like human tendons. I do feel like that space one’s a bit of a fail, though. The space-scape is pretty, true, but as you said, it really feels generic. It could be a space-scape for just about anything. Meh.

    • Yes, my feeling is that Baen went for house-style, knowing that fans of the publishing house will read most of what they produce. But it didn’t do the book any favours…

    • Yes, it was a close contender for favourite, but that last cover edged it for me – I just thought it was amazing. I think it’s one of my alltime favourites, truth to tell…

    • Yes… that horrible white block! Thank goodness the fashion for that has now well and truly passed! Hm – I’ve tried rereading Heinlein, but I find him heavy-going these days as I don’t really like his depiction of women all that much.

  7. I have to say that I’m drawn to the Japanese version, but it’s likely because I do like manga-style illustrations. Your favorite one also caught my eye: it might look aged for a contemporary reader, but it does have that “something” that keeps you engaged.

    • Yes – my granddaughter loved the Japanese version, but she is also a huge fan of manga reads. I thought there was something a bit special about my favourite, too:)

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