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Starship Troopers

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Author: Robert A. Heinlein

Published: May 15th 1987 by Ace Book (first published December 1959)

Format: Mass Market Paperback , 335 pages

Isbn: 9780441783588

Language: English


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The historians can’t seem to settle whether to call this one "The Third Space War" (or the fourth), or whether "The First Interstellar War" fits it better. We just call it “The Bug War." Everything up to then and still later were "incidents," "patrols," or "police actions." However, you are just as dead if you buy the farm in an "incident" as you are if you buy it in a dec The historians can’t seem to settle whether to call this one "The Third Space War" (or the fourth), or whether "The First Interstellar War" fits it better. We just call it “The Bug War." Everything up to then and still later were "incidents," "patrols," or "police actions." However, you are just as dead if you buy the farm in an "incident" as you are if you buy it in a declared war... In one of Robert A. Heinlein’s most controversial bestsellers, a recruit of the future goes through the toughest boot camp in the Universe—and into battle with the Terran Mobile Infantry against mankind’s most alarming enemy.

30 review for Starship Troopers

  1. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    My first impulse is to dismiss it as an appalling piece of militaristic propaganda, whose one saving grace is that it's at least much better than the movie. But that wouldn't be doing the book justice. With all its faults, I simply loved it as a 14 year old, and I'm in no way alone there. Why is it so fascinating? Let me start by dismissing a couple of possible theories. One reviewer wonders if it's deadpan satire. I suppose, when you see some of Heinlein's later books (Stranger in a Strange Land My first impulse is to dismiss it as an appalling piece of militaristic propaganda, whose one saving grace is that it's at least much better than the movie. But that wouldn't be doing the book justice. With all its faults, I simply loved it as a 14 year old, and I'm in no way alone there. Why is it so fascinating? Let me start by dismissing a couple of possible theories. One reviewer wonders if it's deadpan satire. I suppose, when you see some of Heinlein's later books (Stranger in a Strange Land, 1961; I Will Fear No Evil, 1970), you may get the idea that he's some kind of hippy New Age prophet, and that Starship Troopers is poking fun at the militaristic right. I don't think that idea stands up to serious examination. Many of Heinlein's early books extol militaristic right-wing/libertarian virtues; Sixth Column (1949) is a particularly flagrant example. From what I've heard, the "satire" theory is in fact the reverse of the truth. Stranger in a Strange Land was originally conceived as a satire; Heinlein was surprised to see that people liked it and read it straight, and, more flexible than he's often made out, he rewrote it that way and followed it up with a couple of similar books. Many more people are taking Starship Troopers at face value, and appreciate how it presents the military in a positive light. Well, there's clearly something to that. But why does this book, as opposed to many others, do such a fantastic job of selling this particular point of view? If you're a soldier yourself, I can see that Heinlein, also a soldier, can make you proud of what you're doing. But my parents were strict believers in non-violence, and I've never had any contact with that world at all. I still thought it was great. So, on mature consideration, here's another theory, which I claim relates better to Heinlein's oeuvre as a whole. (By the way, I'm only saying "oeuvre" because I know it would annoy him). One theme that he keeps returning to over and over again, in different forms, is the relationship between the self and the rest of the universe. Heinlein's metaphysics were distinctly odd: he wasn't sure that he liked the rest of the universe much, or even if it existed in the first place. You can occasionally see this idea presented in a straightforward way. In his short story They (1941), it turns out that the paranoid main character is completely right about what's going on. He's the most important person in the world; everyone else, for reasons never revealed, is involved in a gigantic conspiracy against him, whose main purpose is to prevent him from discovering who he really is. In The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag (1942), we find, again, that things truly aren't as they seem, and that all existence is illusory. The world, we learn at the end, is a work of art, and can be changed at any moment. Hoag is in fact an art critic, sent to judge us on aesthetic grounds. And in the classic time-travel story All You Zombies (1959), the hero discovers that he's his own father and mother. As he says, he knows where he came from; but where did all you zombies come from? The final paragraph gives us to understand that other people may not exist at all. As we see, Heinlein rather likes solipsism, which, when you come down to it, isn't as ridiculous a philosophical position as you might think. (Wittgenstein: the solipsist is saying something sensible, but chooses an odd way to express it). Heinlein has a strong sense of self, and wants to erect a barrier, as tangible as possible, between him and the rest of the world. A powerful metaphor for this barrier, which he used many times, is the space suit. Have Space Suit, Will Travel (1958) is not one of his best books, but the descriptions of what it's like to walk around in a space suit are quite good. I remember them clearly, when most of the rest of the story has faded. Similarly, Space Cadet (1948), which I read at primary school, is hastily written and uninspired; but again, the only scene I can recall clearly is the one where the teenage hero throws up in his space suit after inadvisedly drinking a mint julep. I was so impressed by this that I didn't dare try a mint julep myself until I was in my mid-40s. I hope you see where I'm going. What makes Starship Troopers so effective, I claim, is the space suit theme, which here is taken to its logical conclusion. The Mobile Infantry Suit simultaneously cuts off its wearer from the rest of the world, and makes him almost invincible. It's no coincidence that the stunning opening scene highlights the suit's amazing capabilities. The hero is dropped directly from space onto a hostile planet, and spreads mayhem with his high-tech weapons while jumping a mile at a time in his jet-propelled boots - all without needing to touch anything directly, or feel involved in the fates of the humanoid creatures he's killing by the hundred. Fans of the book uniformly hated the movie: for budget reasons, Verhoeven took out the suits, which were too complicated to render effectively. After that, everything felt wrong. The most important part of the imagery was missing. As already noted, Heinlein wasn't writing a satire - he appeared to believe in this stuff - but I think he found a good way to dramatize what it means to be a member of the American military-industrial complex. The Suit gives its wearer superhuman technological powers, while excluding the rest of the world to the point where it barely exists at all. And the power the Suit confers isn't just military, but also political and moral. In Heinlein's world, one only becomes a full citizen after serving in the military. I don't agree that this is a desirable way to organize a society, but Heinlein was describing what he saw: in 1959, Eisenhower, a former general, was nearing the end of his second term, and would be succeeded by Kennedy, a decorated war hero. Both were very popular. Now, of course, things have changed, and the military-industrial complex is usually cast as the villain. In Avatar, I couldn't help thinking that the robotic exoskeleton worn by the evil Colonel Quaritch in the final scene was rather like the Mobile Infantry Suit; the Colonel's defeat, as many people have pointed out, can be read as predicting the impending defeat of American Imperialism at the hands of a resurgent Third World. I do wonder what Heinlein would have made of that.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    A great work of science fiction. This is not at all about action, and fighting bugs, it is a study of a man’s compulsion to fight and or serve his country, and a discussion about our society’s, and any society’s responsibility to its citizens and what is best for society. Like many Heinlein novels, it works well on many levels, the surface science fiction, and then the deeper, more complicated voice of the storyteller, speaking from his own experience. This is a controversial book. Criticized for A great work of science fiction. This is not at all about action, and fighting bugs, it is a study of a man’s compulsion to fight and or serve his country, and a discussion about our society’s, and any society’s responsibility to its citizens and what is best for society. Like many Heinlein novels, it works well on many levels, the surface science fiction, and then the deeper, more complicated voice of the storyteller, speaking from his own experience. This is a controversial book. Criticized for espousing a militaristic, maybe fascist ideal, Heinlein was also criticized from the other side for his own lack of combat experience. This book inspires strong emotions. At the end of the day, it was a fine book, another excellent, genre transcending work from Heinlein.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    I first read Starship Troopers as an impressionable teenager. My dad had a lot of SF books around the house, particularly Heinlein's, and I read most of them, except the especially sexy ones that he hid from me. (I read several of them later and hated them. But that's a different story.) And I have vague memories of liking this book - a lot. So when I decided to reread it as an adult, I was expecting some old-fashioned shoot-up-the-aliens classic pulp SF, like, say, The Puppet Masters. What I go I first read Starship Troopers as an impressionable teenager. My dad had a lot of SF books around the house, particularly Heinlein's, and I read most of them, except the especially sexy ones that he hid from me. (I read several of them later and hated them. But that's a different story.) And I have vague memories of liking this book - a lot. So when I decided to reread it as an adult, I was expecting some old-fashioned shoot-up-the-aliens classic pulp SF, like, say, The Puppet Masters. What I got was a lot of this: Not much of this: And you can forget about this: Basically it's one long military lecture wrapped in a paper-thin science fiction plot. I was surprised by how little action there was, and how much pontificating on military strategy and training. More than half of it reads like a textbook. It's not as painfully tedious as the infamous 100-page John Galt lecture in Atlas Shrugged (what is??), but it's pretty bad unless you're actually interested in military theory, from a proponent's point of view. As many reviewers have mentioned, this is one of those cases where the book has virtually nothing in common with the movie, other than the name and a few basic plot details. I'm pretty certain that Heinlein is rolling in his grave over Paul Verhoeven's satirical treatment of his military screed. And I'm still confused why Teenage Me thought this was a great book ...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paul Dura

    Starship Troopers is listed amongst the recommended books by the United States Air Force for a reason. For those who plan on pursuing a military career, this book exhibits the very ideals upon which our current military standards are based. Camaraderie, Sacrifice, and Responsibility are more than mere words to the protagonist. The distinction between a fighting man and a soldier is made. The distinction between a superior rank and a true officer is made. Johnny Rico is a soldier in more than mer Starship Troopers is listed amongst the recommended books by the United States Air Force for a reason. For those who plan on pursuing a military career, this book exhibits the very ideals upon which our current military standards are based. Camaraderie, Sacrifice, and Responsibility are more than mere words to the protagonist. The distinction between a fighting man and a soldier is made. The distinction between a superior rank and a true officer is made. Johnny Rico is a soldier in more than merely name, and the reader discovers this through this narrative. For those of you who have seen the film incarnation of this story, simply forget it. It won't aid you in understanding or predicting the outcome of this book. The tempo, messages, and level of seriousness are completely different. Most of you know the pitfalls of watching the movie first, so I implore you to read this book before seeing the movie. If you have already seen the movie, as I stated before, forget it. There is one thing I would mention that is perhaps the fault of this book. Heinlein shapes a militaristic, possibly even oppressive society, out of the remaining nations on earth. He touts the virtues of citizenry only being earned through dedicated service. At the same time, he manages to skirt by some of the more practical and realistic attitudes of people. The society could very well work if it was implemented exactly in the fashion it is described in his novel, but the transition from our current societal structure to this system of government is EXTREMELY unlikely. It takes the edge off of the bold concepts, making this book only a 4 star. To end on a positive note I'll say this. When I finally finished this novel I had a brief spark inside of me. For once in my entire career, I felt a sense of pride in being a soldier. No military training, no officer, and certainly no civilian has ever made me feel as proud of my profession as that novel has.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    I enjoyed this book greatly. While I certainly can't be said to agree with Heinlein on every aspect of life, politics, or theology...I do appreciate where he's coming from in this book. (Remember it's a 1959 book, before the idiotic handling of Vietnam became apparent). There are thought provoking ideas in this book even if it is considered a YA book. Agree or disagree, it's a good read. By the way, I must say this. It's often (actually more often than not) true that a movie doesn't live up to t I enjoyed this book greatly. While I certainly can't be said to agree with Heinlein on every aspect of life, politics, or theology...I do appreciate where he's coming from in this book. (Remember it's a 1959 book, before the idiotic handling of Vietnam became apparent). There are thought provoking ideas in this book even if it is considered a YA book. Agree or disagree, it's a good read. By the way, I must say this. It's often (actually more often than not) true that a movie doesn't live up to the book. In this case that would be like saying the Atlantic Ocean isn't exactly like Death Valley. If your only experience with Starship Troopers is the movie of that name, then you don't know anything about this book excepting the names of a few characters. The characters in the movie don't resemble the characters in the book. The universe and governmental structure in the movie doesn't resemble that of the book. The main science fiction "hook" of the book isn't even present in the movie. When you saw the movie some of you may have noticed a flaw in the soundtrack, a "whirring noise". That was Robert A. Heinlein spinning in his grave at high speed. The movie by the same name as this book is so spectacularly bad (compared to the book) I sometimes wonder if wasn't an intentional "hit piece". So...see the movie if you will, but PLEASE, don't confuse it with or miss the book. The book is more or less a YA book(then called a "teen book"), an easy and quick read...and FAR FAR superior to the travesty of movie by the same name. By the way, my late wife summed up a lot about the movie when she observed it should have been called,"Bug Blasters". ********************* Update ****************** They have been playing this thing (the movie by the same name as this book)on several TV channels lately AD NAUSEAM...it seems to be on almost every time I check the listings on the idiot box. So since there seems to be a new push to legitimize this grotesque cinematographic attempt at "science fiction" I'm forced to revisit my review here. Yes this is a YA or as it was called at the time a "teen" book...but it's a good one. Let me emphasize again, the movie doesn't even resemble the book except in that the "enemy" vaguely resembles the one in the book (the movie uses 6 legged "insect" type life forms the book refers to them as "arachnids" giant spider life forms) and they use some of the same character names. But the world the novel takes place in, the actual characters, the nature of the government, the way the military works...it's all different, they even get the heart of the actual story wrong. For that matter the relatively minor "romance" angle is (as portrayed in the movie)silly and will mislead. The story in the book is more peripheral and is more to give insight into the world/cosmos than to be a love story. This movie is terrible, please don't confuse it with the book. This is one of those movies that "ticks me off" in that I liked the book and this thing takes the book's title and gives us a perversion of that story. ************ !2/9 /2018 Okay time for another update. This has come up in the discussion of the book on/in the Action Adventure Aficionados group and now in a comment here. I'm aware but didn't mention it in the review above. The movie was actually an intentional hit piece by the movie maker. He gave the book a Nazi look through his interpretation in the movie. The government pictured by Heinlein in the book is Libertarian. Everyone is free to live, do business etc. as they choose. The right to vote and send the military out however only rests in the hands of those who have themselves served in that kind of service (thus the reasoning in the book that a panicked civilian can't order disastrous military action). You may agree, you may disagree but it's not a government anything like the one in the ridiculous movie.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein Starship Troopers is a military science fiction novel by U.S. writer Robert A. Heinlein. Written in a few weeks in reaction to the U.S. suspending nuclear tests, the story was first published as a two-part serial in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction as Starship Soldier, and published as a book by G. P. Putnam's Sons in December 1959. The story is set in a future society ruled by a world government dominated by a military elite. The first-person narrat Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein Starship Troopers is a military science fiction novel by U.S. writer Robert A. Heinlein. Written in a few weeks in reaction to the U.S. suspending nuclear tests, the story was first published as a two-part serial in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction as Starship Soldier, and published as a book by G. P. Putnam's Sons in December 1959. The story is set in a future society ruled by a world government dominated by a military elite. The first-person narrative follows Juan "Johnny" Rico through his military service in the Mobile Infantry. Rico progresses from recruit to officer against the backdrop of an interstellar war between humans and an alien species known as "Arachnids" or "Bugs". Interspersed with the primary plot are classroom scenes in which Rico and others discuss philosophical and moral issues, including aspects of suffrage, civic virtue, juvenile delinquency, and war; these discussions have been described as expounding Heinlein's own political views. Starship Troopers has been identified with a tradition of militarism in U.S. science fiction, and draws parallels between the conflict between humans and the Bugs, and the Cold War. A coming-of-age novel, Starship Troopers also critiques U.S. society of the 1950s, argues that a lack of discipline had led to a moral decline, and advocates corporal and capital punishment. ... تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز شانزدهم ماه ژوئیه سال 1998 میلادی عنوان: جنگاوران اختر ناو؛ رابرت انسن هاین لاین؛ مترجم: پیمان اسماعیلیان خامنه؛ تهران، نشر گل آرا؛ 1376؛ در 272 ص؛ شابک 9649080406؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، نشر قطره، 1392، در 399 ص؛ شابک: 9786001191732؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحئه آمریکا - سده 20 م جنگاوران اختر ناو، یا سربازان کشتی فضایی؛ رمانی تخیلی، اثر: «رابرت آنسون هاین‌ لاین»، است. این رمان نخستین بار در ماههای اکتبر و نوامبر سال 1959 میلادی، با نام «سربازان کشتی فضایی»، به فرم خلاصه، در مجله‌ ای فانتزی، و علمی تخیلی، منتشر شد، و سپس در ماه دسامبر سال 1959 میلادی، به صورت کتاب به چاپ رسید. این داستان روایتی اول شخص، در مورد یک سرباز جوان از «فیلیپین»، به نام: «جانی خوان ریکو»، سوء استفاده از جنگ‌افزارهای پیشرفته، و مربوط به آینده، و روش‌های جنگی نوین است. قسمت‌های هیجان انگیز داستان، هنگام جنگ‌های بین ستاره‌ ای، و با استخدام «ریکو»، به عنوان سرباز، شکل می‌گیرند. جریان جنگ او و همراهانش، با مردمان فضایی عنکبوت گونه‌ ای، در نهایت سبب رخدادهای داستان می‌شوند. از دیگر جنبه‌ های مورد بحث، مسائل مربوط به شخصیت‌های داستان، در زمینه‌ های اخلاقی، فلسفی، حق رای عمومی، فضیلت مدنی، بزهکاری نوجوانان، مجازات اعدام، و جنگ هستند. ا. شربیانی

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lucas

    Where do I even begin? For starters, I should let the reader know that I'm not basing my score on the politics of the book (as laughable as I think they are) but on the plot of the book, or rather the complete lack of a plot in the book. While things do happen, some of them pretty big, Mr. Heinlein has seen fit that we should not be party to any of those things. Instead, he saves the most loving descriptions for daily life at boot camp. Seventy, yes seventy, pages of a two hundred-odd page book Where do I even begin? For starters, I should let the reader know that I'm not basing my score on the politics of the book (as laughable as I think they are) but on the plot of the book, or rather the complete lack of a plot in the book. While things do happen, some of them pretty big, Mr. Heinlein has seen fit that we should not be party to any of those things. Instead, he saves the most loving descriptions for daily life at boot camp. Seventy, yes seventy, pages of a two hundred-odd page book are dedicated to boot camp. Within those pages we learn the importance of food, and being able to sleep in any condition. Thrill to the excitment of marching into the middle of nowhere! You will weep and wail along with the officers when you hear them lament the fact that they are compelled, nay forced, to flog their men when they misbehave. Honestly, you could watch the beginning of Full Metal Jacket and skip reading that whole part and save yourself some time, and be more entertained in the meantime. Next you're treated to an extended flashback where a teacher (who is quite obviously channelling the author) lectures his students (representing the reader) about the major reason for the downfall of society in the past (today!). What one overarching reason is responsible for the collapse of society? Massive energy crisis? Economic collapse? Political anarchy? WRONG!!! It's because people listened to psychiatrists and didn't spank their children enough! The secret to an orderly society is corporal punishment, and lots of it! It does make me wonder about the particular proclivities of the author, but that's neither here nor there. So now that our main character, Johnny Rico, is a full-fledged soldier we can finally get to some action after half the book is already finished, right? No. No, no, no, a thousand times no. You will not see action in this book that is advertised to be about killing gigantic outer space bugs. Instead, you will be treated to the doldrums of a soldier that isn't busy killing things. Guard duty! Sleeping! Maintaining weapons and space armor! Dinner and its various protocols! Even his time off gets more detail than all the fighting Rico participates in combined! The typical description for a battle will go like this: "We dropped on this planet to smash things up. Boy, what a mess that was. This guy died. These ones got hurt." Then Rico goes to officer training school where we get more detail about learning things! And another lecture from another teacher to his students about why soldiers should be the only ones to handle government affairs! Then we get told how battallions are broken down into platoons and squads and such forth! Finally we get to the end which turns into one of the biggest anticlimaxes I've ever had the misfortune of reading. You'll get what feels like five hours of blabbing about setting up patrol and coordinates streamed endlessly at you, some thrilling detail on hypnotically suggested sleep, and then a blessed five seconds of actual confrontation with something! Then it's over before you even know it started. The end. I realize that the life of a soldier is probably pretty accurately portrayed in the book, days upon days of boring drudgery with a few moments of life-and-death craziness, but that doesn't necessarily make for a particularly interesting book. At least not the way it's depicted here. Don't be fooled by the first ten pages of the book, which actually contain more action than the other hundred and ninety. What you're getting when you get this book is only one step away from a military training manual, only with some references to outer space and aliens tossed in along with a couple crazy rightwing ravings as the chocolatey syrup to go on top of the whole crappy sundae. Don't fall for the hype, pass on this book. And yes, the movie is better. It's stupid and fun. The book is just stupid.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ “Nothing of value is free. Even the breath of life is purchased at birth only through gasping effort and pain.” Since NPH is one of the reasons Starship Troopers remains a favorite film of mine, I think I’ll let him express my sentiments on the paper version . . . I need to realize that sometimes it’s okay to not read the book. Starship Troopers is such a cult classic – it’s just soooooo bad that it somehow became great. The boo Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ “Nothing of value is free. Even the breath of life is purchased at birth only through gasping effort and pain.” Since NPH is one of the reasons Starship Troopers remains a favorite film of mine, I think I’ll let him express my sentiments on the paper version . . . I need to realize that sometimes it’s okay to not read the book. Starship Troopers is such a cult classic – it’s just soooooo bad that it somehow became great. The book, on the other hand? Well – it clearly inspired the film, but it doesn’t have the same style at all. Translation – the book is smart and while I was reading I was all like . . . because I am stupid. Things I found enjoyable were as follows: 1. The characters were from Terra. Know who else is from Terra???? 2. There was plenty of world building. Barely a grain of sand went without being described . . . 3. In a roundabout way it was still a story of war with icky critters . . . The bad??? It was boring. We’re talking a real snooze-a-rama . . . The style was definitely love it or hate it and sadly I didn’t love it. I wanted this . . . . Instead, I got something that read like a futuristic military member’s memoir. And it wasn’t even someone awesome like Captain Kirk or Picard – it was more like the life and styles of one Ensign Crusher. Y’all know what the reaction to that would be, right????

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    [UPDATED] Starship Troopers was definitely a page turner and one did feel like he was on the ground with the Mobile Infantry, bouncing around killing Bugs. But. It was also incredibly pro-war and the middle development section got a little long. You remember how great Full Metal Jacket was, but that the great parts were at the very beginning and at the very end? Well, I felt that this book also started and ended with adrenaline rushes but that the middle was a bit flat. That being said, the reali [UPDATED] Starship Troopers was definitely a page turner and one did feel like he was on the ground with the Mobile Infantry, bouncing around killing Bugs. But. It was also incredibly pro-war and the middle development section got a little long. You remember how great Full Metal Jacket was, but that the great parts were at the very beginning and at the very end? Well, I felt that this book also started and ended with adrenaline rushes but that the middle was a bit flat. That being said, the realism and the imagination around the weapons and tech were pretty good. I definitely see how influential Heinlein was on subsequent science fiction and it is impressive that this was written back in '59. The Bugs were never given any treatment to make them less of an "enemy" which seemed a bit like the vilification of, say, blacks or arabs by the extreme right. I would almost give him the benefit of the doubt that this was a critique of society, but from what I have read, that wasn't really his intention. There is a lot of war theory in ST. "The purpose of war is to support your government's decisions by force...controlled and purposeful violence." (p. 78). That the government's motivations could be wrong or misguided is never really addressed, but then he is writing this after WWII and before Vietnam so my cynicism is perhaps too modern for this book. The worldview in the book is pragmatic and brutal: "There is an old song which asserts 'the best things in life are free.' Not true! Utterly false! This was the tragic fallacy which Brough on the decadence and collapse of the democracies of the 20th century." (p. 117). Fortunately, his pessimism has not (yet) been born out and there are still many who adhere to the 'best things are free' philosophy rather than the Ayn Randian determinism demonstrated here by Heinlein. To be fair to the author, he does mention some wartime abuses and in particular post-traumatic stress syndrome in the tragic story of Dillinger and his murder of the little girl Barbara. But even here, the protagonist reserves almost no criticism of the military, just some sadness for the misfortune: "my sympathy is reserved for Barbara Anne Enthwaite whom I had never seen, and for her parents who would never see her again" (p.141) and then back to business after the 30-day mourning period. One sad aspect of ST's dystopian future is how citizenship is restricted to relatively few (like in ancient Greece or Rome). "Anyhow, it wasn't the process of voting that made a citizen - the Lieutenant had been a citizen in the truest sense of the word, even though he had not lived long enough ever to cast a vote. He had 'voted' every time he made a drop." (p. 207). Given the current attacks on democratic systems, this is a kind of dangerous form of thinking IMHO. If citizens are never given any choices and are limited to the elite, the fundaments of democracy disappear. "No attempt was made to determine whether a voter was socially responsible to the extent of his literally unlimited authority. If he voted the impossible, the disastrous possible happened instead - and responsibility was then forced on him willy-nilly and destroyed both him and his foundation less temple." (p. 234) Again, I find this view too narrow and pessimistic. Overall, since I am a dove politically, all the military camaraderie kind of put me off. I read it because it is a classic and a reference, but I prefer the Red Mars or if my aliens have to be insects, District 9.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Big nasty communist spiders are attacking Earth and all the planets it has colonized! It's a battle between man and bug, and who is to save us? I'll tell you who! Guys with really fucking big guns, that's who! With spacesuits that make it so they can jump over buildings, and deflect bullets, and drop from spaceships to the surface of planets without getting hurt! That's who! These guys get dropped onto planets with their spacesuits and their big guns, and they can incinerate some little brown peo Big nasty communist spiders are attacking Earth and all the planets it has colonized! It's a battle between man and bug, and who is to save us? I'll tell you who! Guys with really fucking big guns, that's who! With spacesuits that make it so they can jump over buildings, and deflect bullets, and drop from spaceships to the surface of planets without getting hurt! That's who! These guys get dropped onto planets with their spacesuits and their big guns, and they can incinerate some little brown people like you wouldn't believe, then they can leave without a single casualty. This is who is gonna fuck up the big spiders. AMERICA, FUCK YEAH! COMING TO SAVE THE MOTHERFUCKING DAYAY! That's yer plot, other than experiencing the trials and tribulations of boot camp through the eyes of a protagonist who spends quite a bit of time philosophising about society and politics and all that good stuff. And this MIGHT make it sound like I DIDN'T like the book. That would be entirely wrong. This book is so vivid, and so passionate, in its description of what it is like to be in this army that I couldn't help but be sucked in completely. It's an easy, quick, fun read, and it's passionate in its monologues about how society should be. I loved the sections where he's explaining his moral sentiments since I've never understood how someone could join an army and go kill people without questioning the motives of the war itself. Personally, whenever I kill someone, I like to know the reason I'm doing it. But it truly is a different way of looking at ethics, isn't it? Mr. Protagonist believes that only those who have fought and risked everything for their nation should be considered full citizens, because they were willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of their nation*. I can see how someone with a fairly black and white view of reality might think this makes sense. But. By fighting in a war you are condoning a war. This means that if the war is ethically wrong, you are doing something ethically reprehensible. So shouldn't it matter what the war is about? (I know. I'm arguing with a dead guy. It's my review, and I'll argue with a dead guy if I want to.) Heinlein's protagonist also makes an argument about the prison system and how it doesn't actually reform those who do time. I totally agree with him here. Somehow he tries to equate this with an argument that you MUST spank children for them to have a sense of responsibility. Uhh, yeah, back to symbolic logic class with you, Bob. But moving on...I found it quite interesting how dualistic our protagonist's thinking is when it comes to ALL PEOPLE. F'rinstance, you can't trust a civilian to do a job that requires "fighting spirit;" women are good pilots, all seem to have great smiles, and they're "the reason men fight" (gay men apparently don't exist in this world), but women don't get to fight Bugs wearing those cool spacesuits because, well, they're all sexy and small and fragile and stuff. Then, within the military, the guys who haven't made a jump are lesser than those who have, Protagonist's peeps look down on the Navy and get in fights with them, etc. (He does have a name, but it's a boring one. I prefer calling him Protagonist.) But then I started wondering if this kind of attitude is necessary for the military to function. I'm too skeptical to EVER join the military, and that has nothing to do with fighting spirit. But maybe, in order to do what they do, soldiers HAVE to feel like they're the best of the best, doing the best thing that could ever be done with their life. Otherwise, they wouldn't be able to motivate themselves to jump out of the spaceship and kill the spiders, or guard the border against Mexicans, or defuse bombs in Baghdad, or whatever else might get them killed. So, reading this book got me thinking about the mindset of this protagonist, and thinking about the soldiers and marines I've known, and...well...maybe as much as I disagree with this mindset, perhaps it's a necessary mindset for someone in the military. And we need a military. So maybe we need some people who think in this dualistic way. Anyway, this is what Starship Troopers got me thinking about. Part of this Heinlein can take credit for: if this book is any indication, he was more than willing to speak his mind, and he clearly had a lot of ideas. These rambling monologues where Heinlein was channeled through his protagonist were just as entertaining, if not moreso, than the soldiers vs. bugs part of the story. Then again, I'm horribly entertained by Sarah Palin's "political" career, and occasionally read snippets of Ann Coulter's books because her anger is funny. If that doesn't sound like you, you might just find Heinlein's politics annoying. But I was quite diverted, and I'll be reading more Heinlein soon. *: (There's some contention on Goodreads about whether or not this is the case, but the way I interpreted the book is that you can only vote if you've joined the military--although you might not have seen combat depending on the job you ended up with. But you were WILLING to go into combat since the military assigned you your job and you didn't get to choose. So you must've been WILLING to be a soldier if you want to vote. So pthbthbthbth!)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Word of warning. I’m going to discourse both on the book and on the Verhoeven’s movie. He didn't include them as "grunts" probably because the training was sufficiently hard that most wouldn't have made it. If you read the description of the training it wasn't just 12 weeks square-bashing, it reads far more like Special Forces. It might also have been because he was paying lip service to a society kind of modelled on 50s America where If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Word of warning. I’m going to discourse both on the book and on the Verhoeven’s movie. He didn't include them as "grunts" probably because the training was sufficiently hard that most wouldn't have made it. If you read the description of the training it wasn't just 12 weeks square-bashing, it reads far more like Special Forces. It might also have been because he was paying lip service to a society kind of modelled on 50s America where the ladies were the home-makers and females in the frontline weren't even on the radar. However, having said that, we have the fabulous line about females in high rank and esteem: "If the Almighty ever needs a hand to run the universe: hot ship pilot Yvette Deladrier" after Starship commander Deladrier brakes her ship's orbit to recover a lander that has blasted off late and which otherwise would miss rendezvous and all on board would perish. I’ve heard from a lot of my friends saying the movie version is utter shit. I’m not so sure. The thing is, Verhoeven was a master of taking existing texts and subtly pushing them into satire by overdoing Hollywood/MTV filming tropes. The viewer was encouraged to look at the films as broad entertainment and then ask what the actions of the heroes had to do with American culture. He did the same with Joe Eszterhas's scripts for “Basic Instinct” and “Showgirls”. “Basic Instinct” is a detective story where the 'hero' is someone who's already gotten away with murder because of his badge, and who shoots another innocent victim before the film is out, while the 'villain' is never actually shown to kill anyone. She's chiefly a suspect because of her sexuality (which is why GLAAD picketed the film) and lack of shame about it. “Showgirls” meanwhile depicts a vision of Las Vegas as a patriarchal dystopia where every woman is judged on her body and literally every male character is a predator of some kind. If you're into SF, read on.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Donna Backshall

    Starship Troopers, the book, is one of my all-time favorites. This military sci-fi novel has all the aspects of hard science fiction I love: an honest and brave protagonist in a ridiculously dangerous situation, controversial politics, space adventures, cool gadgets, and unimaginable aliens. By contrast Starship Troopers, the movie, is also one of my favorites, but for completely different (and admittedly shallow) reasons. The movie only vaguely resembles the book, but it has hot-hot-oh-SO-HOT ch Starship Troopers, the book, is one of my all-time favorites. This military sci-fi novel has all the aspects of hard science fiction I love: an honest and brave protagonist in a ridiculously dangerous situation, controversial politics, space adventures, cool gadgets, and unimaginable aliens. By contrast Starship Troopers, the movie, is also one of my favorites, but for completely different (and admittedly shallow) reasons. The movie only vaguely resembles the book, but it has hot-hot-oh-SO-HOT characters, space adventure and wonderfully campy dialogue. I hate hearing someone say "the movie was so cheesy, why would I read the book?" because there's simply no comparison. They should both be enjoyed for their distinct merits.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Chock-a-block full of gung-ho jingoism, narrow minded fascist pipe dreams, and casual descriptions of institutional dehumanization as well as violence...basically everything you would expect from a book written in the perspective of a futuristic jarhead. I have never read a book in which I agreed with so little, but loved so much.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Markus

    The first book that I read by Robert Heinlein turned out to be a surprise in more than one way. I picked it because it seemed to be the short and fun story among them, and saved his other famous works for later. The problem with many classics is that they are painfully tedious. The problem with many science fiction novels is that they are mindless entertainment in space. Starship Troopers is neither of these things. It is way more entertaining than the average classic and way smarter than the ave The first book that I read by Robert Heinlein turned out to be a surprise in more than one way. I picked it because it seemed to be the short and fun story among them, and saved his other famous works for later. The problem with many classics is that they are painfully tedious. The problem with many science fiction novels is that they are mindless entertainment in space. Starship Troopers is neither of these things. It is way more entertaining than the average classic and way smarter than the average sci-fi book. The issues with it are much deeper than that. For this is a novel of political philosophy more than a novel of science fiction. It is a pure glorification of violence, of soldiers, and of the despotic ways of armed forces. It is blatantly amerocentric, militaristic propaganda. First of all, the book propones the view that only those who have served in the military should be given civil rights. One of the arguments contained in the book actually makes a certain amount of sense, namely that only those who care about their state and take an interest in government should be allowed to vote. This is quite a fair statement (especially in this era of populism). However, the conclusion is nonsensically absurd. How does this relate to soldiers? Not at all. Secondly, the characters fall into two categories. The first one is the protagonist and his teachers, reflected semi-philosophers acting as Heinlein’s voice in describing his military utopia. The second is all the rest of the soldier characters, who are, to put it mildly, not particularly bright. In other words, a wonderful set of recipients for exclusive voting rights. Thirdly, the setting operates on the assumption that after the great nations of the world battle it out in massive global wars and subsequently collapse, high and mighty benevolent veterans from the wars will step in and clean up things. This is if possible even more absurd than the idea above. Fourthly, strip away the flawed reasoning and the ridiculous ode to soldiery, what are we left with? ‘Muricans (and wannabe ‘Muricans) killing space bugs. Starship Troopers has many layers: it’s a propaganda text in the guise of a political treatise in the guise of science fiction. Other than that, it has about the same amount of depth as the Aral sea. That said, I stand by the second paragraph. On one hand, this book is indeed a decent sci-fi war story with suspense and good writing. On the other, however, it’s political aspect is frighteningly ignorant and delusional.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    "What do you mean 'They' cut the power? How could they cut the power man they're animals!" Aliens (sure it's the wrong movie, but a cool quote nevertheless) The book has very little in common with the movie. The film is something that is ubiquitous on cable. You can probably see the entire thing in snippets just by changing the channels over the course of a year. In both the film and book, the soldiers battle big bug thingies. The book is only bookended with battle sequences, the rest is training "What do you mean 'They' cut the power? How could they cut the power man they're animals!" Aliens (sure it's the wrong movie, but a cool quote nevertheless) The book has very little in common with the movie. The film is something that is ubiquitous on cable. You can probably see the entire thing in snippets just by changing the channels over the course of a year. In both the film and book, the soldiers battle big bug thingies. The book is only bookended with battle sequences, the rest is training and talk. The film has plenty of CGI action. The book features much discussion about the nature of the soldier and the place of the military in the distant future. The film has Denise Richards. The film has a coed shower sequence and some sex. Sadly, the book doesn't. The tech Heinlein envisions reminded me of video games like Halo and Heinlein wrote this in 1959. Kudos, sir. Ultimately, it's a fairly interesting read that lags in the above mentioned "discussions".

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    One of the original Mil-SF classics! I've read this before. Several times, even, back when I was a newb when it came to Heinlein or SF in general. You know, pick up the Hugo Award winners and see if I like the author enough to continue on. Twenty books later, (THAT YEAR,) I discovered something. I like Heinlein. A lot. But not ALL of Heinlein equally. Starship Troopers seemed kinda preachy to me, a little slow, and RAH, RAH, RAH Civic Duty. :) Suffice to say, I liked it pretty well. Caveats: it di One of the original Mil-SF classics! I've read this before. Several times, even, back when I was a newb when it came to Heinlein or SF in general. You know, pick up the Hugo Award winners and see if I like the author enough to continue on. Twenty books later, (THAT YEAR,) I discovered something. I like Heinlein. A lot. But not ALL of Heinlein equally. Starship Troopers seemed kinda preachy to me, a little slow, and RAH, RAH, RAH Civic Duty. :) Suffice to say, I liked it pretty well. Caveats: it did come out in 1059, riding the social wave following the Korean War and very reminiscent of WWII war stories, updated for SF and focusing less on the horrors of war and more on Heinlein's usual Self-Reliance, Responsibility, and Duty. I can't say I mind that at all. In fact, it just made me feel rather warm and cuddly and proud to be an American. Just a few years later, Kennedy would ask us what we would do for our country. We would feel responsible enough to take on those other things we called a social wrong. Like Red Scares. Cuba. Vietnam. But that wasn't this. Not yet. Patriotism was at an all-time high. And this novel reflects that. Wide-eyed wonder and hope and gritty realism when it came to doing What Was Right. Coming from another generation, this novel didn't quite hit the same buttons for me. But that's all right because some really smart people made a different movie by the same name but using MOSTLY the same story in the 90's that rocked hard with it's updated sensibilities and satire. :) And yet, the core RESPONSIBILITY remained very much intact. Amazing, no? This novel is far from being Heinlein's best, but damn if it isn't excellent in its own right. I don't always have to agree with the sentiments as they apply now to appreciate the idealism on parade then. :)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    This was terrible and not interesting at all. This book is for people who are interested in the nuances of military training and organization and did not feel like classic science fiction to me. I guess technically it takes place in the future and in space but this is such a minor part of the book that it shouldn't really fall into the sci-fi category. As I entered the last 50 pages, I seriously considered stopping reading. I was confused by the military ranks and didn't care about any of the ch This was terrible and not interesting at all. This book is for people who are interested in the nuances of military training and organization and did not feel like classic science fiction to me. I guess technically it takes place in the future and in space but this is such a minor part of the book that it shouldn't really fall into the sci-fi category. As I entered the last 50 pages, I seriously considered stopping reading. I was confused by the military ranks and didn't care about any of the characters. There are too many characters and they aren't explained very well so it's hard to keep track of them. I don't recommend this book at all.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ivana Books Are Magic

    When I say that Starship Troppers is a novel that has had a profound influence on me, most people look at me like I'm crazy. If they haven't read it themselves, I can see why it might not seem too promising, especially if one isn't a SF fan to start with. Nevertheless, I must stand my ground here. I’ve read this novel a number of times now and one doesn’t reread a novel that many times for no reason. This novel functions wonderfully on many levels. In my opinion that is what makes it so great. I When I say that Starship Troppers is a novel that has had a profound influence on me, most people look at me like I'm crazy. If they haven't read it themselves, I can see why it might not seem too promising, especially if one isn't a SF fan to start with. Nevertheless, I must stand my ground here. I’ve read this novel a number of times now and one doesn’t reread a novel that many times for no reason. This novel functions wonderfully on many levels. In my opinion that is what makes it so great. It works well both as a YA and SF novel. There are many great SF elements in it, for example the ingenious usage of power suit. Heinlein was not considered a master of science fiction without a reason and I’m sure SF fans will find a lot to like in this one. Rico, the protagonist of our novel, is a Filipino growing up in a world set in future. I shall not describe this world in detail just yet but let’s just say it seems pretty believable and it creates some interesting moral dilemmas. The characters in this novel are surprisingly racially diverse considering the time period the novel was published in. Women being deemed superior pilots because of their better reflexes was, if I’m not mistaken, quite bold for that time. So, bonus points for that. The story is easy to follow and the protagonist himself is very likeable (I would say pretty adorable). We feel for the characters and we get engaged as readers. As far as the narrative is concerned, everything worked out perfectly. Nevertheless, there is another layer to this novel. What layer would that be? The one that deals with individual responsibility and morals, the one that questions the way any society is organized, the one that asks important questions. Yes, that layer. The philosophical aspect of this novel was what I enjoyed the most. Remember those essays Rico had to write? I remember one instant where he had to prove with scientific arguments what causes wars and it turns out to be population pressure. Yes, increase in population (and hence reduced resources) is that triggers wars. I mean there is an intellectual aspect of this novel that often (for whatever reason) gets ignored, but it exists nevertheless. In other words, this novel asks questions that deserve to be asked. Moreover, it provides answers that are quite logical. I think I was about 15 when I read Starship Troopers for the first time, which is perhaps appropriate because this novel can be labelled as young adult (and I can recommend it if that’s the genre you go for). If I say this novel was one of those life- changing books for me, would I be going too far? I don’t think so, because when I look back at my life, I can see its influence. That in itself makes it a pretty special book. I remember so clearly the effect it had on me the first time I read it. I’m sure it wasn’t only the story that moved me so. You see, the story is interesting but it is not the main merit of his novel. Likewise, the character development of Rico is handled very well, but that is not the only significant aspect of this novel. Yes, this could be deemed a fantastic YA read, but it is also so much more than that. This novel contains some very important messages, but as you read it, you almost don’t notice them. Everything is so well balanced. You have this feeling of being in Rico’s head. Perhaps that is why I keep on reflecting on I when I finish reading it. While I’m reading it, I always have this impression of only following the story, yet when I’m done with reading, I always end up thinking about it a great deal. That’s the thing. The point is that this novel made me think. That is what I originally loved about it and that is what still attracts me to it. Seemingly simple, but having a lot of depth, this novel stayed with me. It influenced the way I think. It made me question the relationship between society and the individual. Deep inside, there was an even more profound message and lesson to be learned. Nothing in life is free. As Heinlein put it in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, there ain’t such a thing as free lunch. We have to work hard for everything in life. Thinking that we can lay back and let the government or whoever worry about our problems is so fundamentally wrong that it is not even funny. If one wants to live in a decent world, one must pay the price for it. If one wants to be a parent, one must be prepared to punish their child when they do something wrong, not just stand back and be lazy about it, because punishment of any sort (according to modern psychology) results in trauma. You know what results in real trauma? When a child knows his or her parents couldn’t care less. Everything in life requires effort, from relationship to work, there is no simple way and there are no easy answers. This book teaches us a lesson about life and it does it n such a casual and effortless way it is almost hard to notice it. There are those who call this novel militant but I don’t think this world that Heinlein created was supposed to be taken as a strict model to build on. What I think Heinlein was doing (and doing it well) is examining human history, proposing certain ideas and bringing things to their logical conclusions. Yes, he created a society where only veterans ( i.e. those who enlisted to serve their society ) got to vote . This enlistment could be prolonged should a need arrive (as for instance in case of a war). The point was that the individual should not be given the right to vote if he wasn’t willing to die in the protection of the society he lives in. In other words, he or she shouldn’t be able to take an active part, unless took an active part in protecting that society. I don’t think this novel was written as a celebration of military life and I certainly don’t think it is militant in any way or form. On the other hand, it might make you better understand military men and be more compassionate towards veterans, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, wouldn't you agree? Even if you’re a pacifist, I think you shouldn’t find this novel offensive. There is a sound logic behind that division between civilians and veterans that this novel proposes. It is known that revolution eats its own children. The society in this novel tries to bypass that, by separating those who want to be active participants in society from those who aren’t willing to do so. We know the history of mankind is a bloody mess. Here in this novel there are some suggestions how to avoid it. It is not to be taken too literally, it is not something you should preach but hopefully reading this novel will make you a little more open minded and make you questions thing. This novel isn’t dated. Precisely because of that philosophical aspect of it, I’m pretty sure this book won’t be dated any time soon. What kind of novel is Starship Troopers? Well, one wouldn't be wrong if one described it as a classic SF novel. It is certainly considered a SF classic for a good reason. Like the best of science fiction works, this novel explores the complex creation that is human kind, using a future world to question our own as well as to propose possible corrections to our society. In addition, it could also be called a YA novel because the protagonist Rico indeed grows up before our eyes. From a young man that acts as a boy, he makes the transition into an adult which sadly (as Heinlein noted in his Stranger In A Strange Land) is not something everyone is capable of. Not all people turn into adults, some remain caught into the limbo of shifting and avoiding to take the responsibility for their own lives forever. When I started writing this review, I mentioned the fact that I’ve been rereading this novel for years. When it comes to my favourite authors, I seem to do rereading in cycles, every five years or so. I think rereading tells us a lot about a quality of any work of literature. In my opinion, there are two reasons why a novel gets reread again and again. It is either very good or it has a sentimental value for its reader. In this case, it might be both. I have a copy at my home that I will probably read at least once more and here is why. Because it is a great novel that functions perfectly on many levels. What I liked most about it, is surely its philosophical and intellectual aspect, but it functions perfectly both as a great SF and YA novel.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Randy

    If you have seen the movie- forget it. Besides the names, it shares very little with RAH's study on why free men subject themselves to a loss of freedom in order to ensure freedom for others. This book greatly influenced me when I was a boy- and it still colors my thinking today- 35 years later. This should be on the reading lists of every high school. AFTERNOTE! I would like to correct what appears to be a common misconception about the society described in Heinlein's book:YOU DID NOT HAVE TO BE If you have seen the movie- forget it. Besides the names, it shares very little with RAH's study on why free men subject themselves to a loss of freedom in order to ensure freedom for others. This book greatly influenced me when I was a boy- and it still colors my thinking today- 35 years later. This should be on the reading lists of every high school. AFTERNOTE! I would like to correct what appears to be a common misconception about the society described in Heinlein's book:YOU DID NOT HAVE TO BE A MILITARY VET TO BECOME A CITIZEN!!! As RAH clearly stated, you had to be a veteran of FEDERAL SERVICE. Which as RAH further stated could be something very much along the lines of the Peace Corps, AmericCorps, the WPA, the CCC, etc. The number of military vets as well as the size of the military itself is extremely small in comparison to "civilian" vets who made the overwhelming majority of the citizens and the the general population that military defended.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Leonard Gaya

    Space exploration has always been the realm of engineers and the military. At the time when Heinlein wrote this novel (the late 1950s), the US Armed Forces had won World War II not so long ago, and were at the same time beefing up their nuclear arsenal against a potential strike from the USSR, sending troops overseas and starting an endless war in Vietnam, and sending the first unmanned missions to the face of the moon! Starship Troopers is mostly a Bildungsroman about the US Armed Forces (Robert Space exploration has always been the realm of engineers and the military. At the time when Heinlein wrote this novel (the late 1950s), the US Armed Forces had won World War II not so long ago, and were at the same time beefing up their nuclear arsenal against a potential strike from the USSR, sending troops overseas and starting an endless war in Vietnam, and sending the first unmanned missions to the face of the moon! Starship Troopers is mostly a Bildungsroman about the US Armed Forces (Robert Heinlein himself was a US Navy officer and engineer), written in the form of a journal or documentary, from a young man’s point of view, from boot camp til glorious war veteran. It is indeed quite instructive to understand how the military organisation works (or might work): from daily schedules to vocabulary, and from titles and hierarchy to values and etiquette. About half the novel is mostly action, with combat training and battlefields (especially the battle scenes that frame the story, at the start and the end). The other half is all about moral and political doctrine, written in the form of philosophical dialogues. In this regard, Heinlein’s novel is in the tradition of Plato and the Enlightenment, not only in form — this alternating between action and discussion made me think of the Marquis de Sade —, but also in content — the Terran Federation is a sort of utopia, redolent of Plato’s Republic (Col. Dubois acting like an ill-tempered Socrates). The story also displays a few examples of outstanding leadership, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this novel was included into a recommended reading list for cadets in the military or junior managers in the corporate world. It is not entirely clear however why this is considered a science fiction novel (it won Heinlein a Hugo Award), apart from the fact that the USA is called the “Terran Federation”, that society is under a military oligarchy (only the veterans are allowed to vote), and that the enemy they fight against is a rather silly race of interstellar bugs (i.e. communists). What’s at stake in that particular war at that specific point in time is never clarified and doesn’t seem to matter: what matters is to develop what it means to serve as a military in general terms. Changing a few details, it could just as well have been an epic story set at the time of the Roman Empire. Needless to say: Heinlein’s hopeful and slightly naive military utopia is strikingly opposed to the major dark SF dystopias of former decades: We, Brave New World and 1984. All in all, Heinlein’s book carries some radical ideology — with lengthy arguments in favour of corporal punishment and suchlike —, all of which is “To the everlasting glory of the infantry—”. An ideology which sounds quite outdated today but that, in a way, still resonates with the cheerful militaristic inclination of the current US President (Trump, 2018). Nevertheless, the story flows smoothly and merrily, and Heinlein does have a serious knack for writing good dialogues and confusing action scenes. However, if I had to choose one SF military book to carry to the proverbial desert island, it would probably be Haldeman’s Forever War. Starship Troopers has had a considerable influence on popular franchises, such as Star Trek (the United Federation of Planets is indeed a military utopia like the one devised in this book), or Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. Paul Verhoeven’s adaptation is an unfaithful and rather mediocre parody, despite Denise Richards’ dizzying plastics and Michael Ironside’s delightful badassery. I guess Iron Man also borrowed his power armour from Heinlein’s brightest addition to the Mobile Infantry arsenal.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    My main association with Starship Troopers is due to the 90’s movie, I’m sure that I’ve only seen bits of it on TV in the past and that may have clouded my judgement slightly. The novel follows our narrator Johnny Rico and his experiences through Federal Service, with trials of military life at the forefront of this novel. I think I was expecting more of action packed story like the reader is given in the opening section, though Heinlein raises some interesting aspects through Johnny’s formative y My main association with Starship Troopers is due to the 90’s movie, I’m sure that I’ve only seen bits of it on TV in the past and that may have clouded my judgement slightly. The novel follows our narrator Johnny Rico and his experiences through Federal Service, with trials of military life at the forefront of this novel. I think I was expecting more of action packed story like the reader is given in the opening section, though Heinlein raises some interesting aspects through Johnny’s formative years - it certainly felt like it was written in the 1950’s. It’s one of them books that I’m glad that I’ve read it and can see why their would be changes made to appeal as a movie. I’m definitely curious to give it a proper watch now!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    It's been years since I first saw the movie of the same name so it was about time I finally read this classic. And boy, those two renditions of the story couldn't be more different. But more about that later. We follow Juan Rico who enlists with the Federal Reserve and becomes an Infantry Man against his parents wishes. The book opens to one of his company's firefights (it's more a skirmish designed to disrupt the enemy rather than an actual battle). However, after that, as a flashback, we follow It's been years since I first saw the movie of the same name so it was about time I finally read this classic. And boy, those two renditions of the story couldn't be more different. But more about that later. We follow Juan Rico who enlists with the Federal Reserve and becomes an Infantry Man against his parents wishes. The book opens to one of his company's firefights (it's more a skirmish designed to disrupt the enemy rather than an actual battle). However, after that, as a flashback, we follow him from his last school days and enlistment through boot camp, officer school and various deployments. Thus, we see discipline being enforced, the take of having to punish by superior officers, we hear of civilians' takes on war as well as the military in general ((view spoiler)[ “Federal Service? Parasitism, pure and simple. A functionless organ, utterly obsolete, living on the taxpayers. A decidedly expensive way for inferior people who otherwise would be unemployed to live at public expense for a term of years, then give themselves airs for the rest of their lives. Is that what you want to do?” (hide spoiler)] as Rico’s father put it - definitely rubbing me the wrong way - before he (view spoiler)[joined up himself and declared his pride in his son for trying to make officer (hide spoiler)] which was funny as hell), why an individual might choose to join up, veterans (disabled and intact), loss, friendship and camaraderie, leadership, different theories on and systems of governing and an examination of them in hindsight as well as a number of other topics. Heinlein, at least in this book, is definitely presenting his view that self reliance is key. It's nice to have a government (and one that cares about its people) but you shouldn't ask what your government can do for you but what you can do for your government and consequently for your own way of life. Not to mention your responsibility towards other living creatures. I happen to agree with that because when I look around, I see people expecting "someone" to do everything for them right down to them feeling some form of entitlement (which I'm allergic to). The author also obviously supports the military and this novel could therefore be regarded as a mild form of propaganda. Considering when the book was published, I'm not surprised. However, far from pushing the military agenda as a true propagandistic piece would, the author places emphasis on diligence, discipline, honour and other important life principles - again, points I agree with, and I think they don't only relate to military life and that they are not being remembered well lately. In that connection, we see dropouts of various kinds and thus learn about the sense of responsibility for what some of them did, too. But the author packs this book full of other moral discussions as well, mostly in form of Rico remembering lessons from school (like the juvenile delinquents linking to adult failure that in turn links to the evolution of the culture Rico lives in). Now, the book was a bit more "boring" than I had expected since we barely see any actual fighting. The writing style is detailed but that can add to the feeling of the story progressing quite slowly. This is one of the things that convinced me the book wasn't actual propaganda. Propaganda shows the glory of dying instead of the gory side of dying (glorious action instead of analysis of what you're doing and why), whereas this book shows the evolution of these boys into men and teams/platoons who hold themselves proudly and justifiably so. Especially after knowing the movie before the book, it was quite the surprise. Which brings me to the comparison of book and movie. The movie has action and slimy bugs but is a satire against the military. The book doesn't rely on action and laughs but instead on the cornerstones of life the author wanted to emphasize in an erudite way (right down to how one best punishes/raises children). Which is better is up to the individual. Funnily enough, while I find myself agreeing with Heinlein about most things regarding duty and moral principles, I did enjoy the movie for what it was as it was well done and I've seen it more than once even. Weird, no? I guess I can simply appreciate both for how well they are made regardless of which I agree with more. I can definitely see why this author became one of the biggest influences who wanted to (and successfully did) introduce intelligent plot points, contemplations and language into scifi stories (no, he's not the only one, maybe not even the first, but there were more that were not like him) and it convinced me to read another of his novels relatively soon.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    Giant Bugs attacking Earth! Brave people defending our planet! Grand Science Fiction! Johnny Rico wears tech-warrior mech-suit as a member of the Mobile Infantry on his path to become a Citizen. For only soldiers can take part in shaping society. Quotes from the book: "'You. What is the moral difference, if any, between the soldier and the civilian?' 'The difference,' I answered carefully, 'lies in the field of civic virtue. A soldier accepts personal responsibility for the safety of the body politic Giant Bugs attacking Earth! Brave people defending our planet! Grand Science Fiction! Johnny Rico wears tech-warrior mech-suit as a member of the Mobile Infantry on his path to become a Citizen. For only soldiers can take part in shaping society. Quotes from the book: "'You. What is the moral difference, if any, between the soldier and the civilian?' 'The difference,' I answered carefully, 'lies in the field of civic virtue. A soldier accepts personal responsibility for the safety of the body politic of which he is a member, defending it, if need be, with his life. The civilian does not.'" "War is not violence and killing, pure and simple; war is /controlled/ violence, for a purpose. The purpose of war is to support your government's decisions by force. The purpose is never to kill the enemy just to be killing him...but to make him do what you want him to do." "'The best things in life are beyond money; their price is agony and sweat and devotion...and the price demanded for the most precious of all things in life is life itself- ultimate cost for perfect value.'" "'Citizenship is an attitude, a state of mind, an emotional conviction that the whole is greater than the part..and that the part should be humbly proud to sacrifice itself that the whole may live.'" Teenagers will enjoy the action and adventure. Retired folk will appreciate the political discourse of Heinlein. There is a movie of the same name. Remember the rule: The book is always better than the movie. Enjoy!

  24. 5 out of 5

    R.S. Merritt

    Love this book. I was talking about it with my brother last night because he brought up an organization he's doing work for that looks to fund candidates who are community service oriented. One of their goals is to have half the House and Senate be veterans by 2020. I said i thought that was a great idea and that I thought we should go even further and demand all public servants have some sort of military service to achieve a high office. He disagreed and said it takes all types to be a leader a Love this book. I was talking about it with my brother last night because he brought up an organization he's doing work for that looks to fund candidates who are community service oriented. One of their goals is to have half the House and Senate be veterans by 2020. I said i thought that was a great idea and that I thought we should go even further and demand all public servants have some sort of military service to achieve a high office. He disagreed and said it takes all types to be a leader and some fit in different way sand bring different things to the table. Keep in mind that we're both veterans with him having been an officer in the USMC and myself in the Navy from a long line of men and women who have served. He's never read the book so he's downloading it and then we can talk about it again after he's gone through it. I really love books that are written as a fun adventure story but have all these deep nuances when you dig into them. I like this one and the Empire by Orson Scott for the same kind of writing although it's a lot more overt in that novel.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    Against his family's wishes, Juan "Johnnie" Rico joins the Mobile Infantry and the war against the Bugs. Will he make it out alive? Yeah, I don't really know what to think about this book. I picked it up solely because it was an inspiration for one of my favorite books, Old Man's War by John Scalzi. While the writing was very good, there was never an "I can't put it down" moment. I'd say ninety percent of the book was Juan Rico's military life. There wasn't a lot of action until the end. I liked t Against his family's wishes, Juan "Johnnie" Rico joins the Mobile Infantry and the war against the Bugs. Will he make it out alive? Yeah, I don't really know what to think about this book. I picked it up solely because it was an inspiration for one of my favorite books, Old Man's War by John Scalzi. While the writing was very good, there was never an "I can't put it down" moment. I'd say ninety percent of the book was Juan Rico's military life. There wasn't a lot of action until the end. I liked the universe Heinlein set up. This was probably the first appearance of power armor in sf. Aliens looking like giant bugs aren't overly original but they sure are creepy. Heinlein's depiction of military life seemed pretty accurate from what I've heard from people who've served. It seems like I have more gripes than I thought. The rah-rah attitude toward military life got on my nerves after a while. For a story including power armor and giant bugs, Starship Troopers was kind of boring. I also never bought Juan Rico's reasons for joining. I'd better balance this with a few more positives. I liked the reunion of Rico and his father. The look behind the curtain at the command structure did a lot to flesh out some of the supporting cast. The future tech was great considering the time in which Starship Troopers was written. To wrap things up, I can see why Starship Troopers is a classic of science fiction but, just like with other classics, it doesn't mean you have to worship it. I'm glad I read it so I could see the inspiration for parts of Old Man's War but I doubt I'll feel the urge to re-read it any time soon.

  26. 5 out of 5

    James Corey

    Originally posted at www.the-expanse.com I've been wanting to do this for a while. Write a series of book reviews of the books that had the most direct influence on my writing, and on The Expanse series in particular. Hopefully, this is just the first. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein: Starship Troopers moved onto my nightstand a couple of days ago. I always have a nightstand book, and it tends to be something I've read before. I'll read a few pages while my wife does her pre-bed puttering, an Originally posted at www.the-expanse.com I've been wanting to do this for a while. Write a series of book reviews of the books that had the most direct influence on my writing, and on The Expanse series in particular. Hopefully, this is just the first. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein: Starship Troopers moved onto my nightstand a couple of days ago. I always have a nightstand book, and it tends to be something I've read before. I'll read a few pages while my wife does her pre-bed puttering, and I need something I can easily put down when the lights go out. If it's a new book and it has really grabbed me, it's harder to stop reading. So I've been going back through Starship Troopers a few pages at a time, and it's been really informative re-reading this classic of military SF after having now written two novels that include elements of military SF. Synopsis for those who haven't read it: Johnnie Rico is the 1950's version of the All American Boy, living in a society that rewards federal service with full citizenship rights. Most of the people in his society forgo federal service, with the feeling that getting the right to vote isn't worth two years of signing yourself over to the government. Johnnie's parents are wealthy people who look down on federal service. They intend to send him off to Harvard and then into the family business. But in an attempt to impress his friend and a cute girl, Johnnie winds up signing up for federal service and being assigned to the Mobile Infantry just before a war breaks out with an insectoid race. The book jumps back and forth between Johnnie's memories of his training as a 'cap trooper', and the current events of his tour of duty during the war. We follow Johnnie through boot camp, his time as an enlisted grunt, and then his passage into Officer Candidate School and later his time as an officer with the Mobile Infantry. During this time, we see the entire war unfold from Johnnie's perspective, from the first shot (an asteroid attack on his home town) to the final victory. The book is an interesting mix of political philosophy, tech porn (powered armor!), and insider looks at life as a soldier clearly informed by the author's own time in the Navy. Thoughts: Starship Troopers influence on my vision of the future is less clear than I had originally suspected. Yes, like everyone else in the universe, I fell in love with his descriptions of the powered armor that his mobile infantry wear. It's one of those ideas that is so clearly correct, that it immediately becomes part of the SF zeitgeist. And, in fact, the military is hard at work to make his vision a reality. Strength augmenting exoskeletons have already been developed that would allow a soldier to carry more gear into battle. Wrap some armor around that, mount weapons on it, we've got Mobile Infantry suits. But outside of the armor, not much else of Starship Troopers finds its way into The Expanse, with one notable exception I'll talk about later. Heinlein's future looks like 1950's America has taken over the world. I always forget that Johnnie is from Argentina until I read the book again. While I like the idea of a global society that has largely abandoned regionalism, I find myself very resistant to the implication that this global society will just look like America. Heinlein's vision of gender roles is also very trapped in the 1950's. Johnnie's mother is the stereotypical 50's housewife who doesn't work outside the home, and who has to flee to her room when confronted with an emotional situation. The only other female character of note is Carmen, the cute girl who Johnnie attempts to impress by signing up for federal service. Here, Heinlein does make an attempt to 'futurize' his women by saying that they are better at acrobatics and fine motor control, and can therefore be pilots. But, while the idea of women as combat pilots probably seemed fairly radical to a 50's American man (not Russians though, their female pilots were the terror of the WWII skies), Heinlein can't help but maintain this sense of gender segregation. MEN are good at some things, WOMEN are good at totally different things. And while it is implied that there are male combat pilots (so men are also good at the things women are good at), there is no indication that women are ever in the infantry. Given that sheer physical strength is no longer an issue (everyone is wearing strength augmenting armor), this seems like a missed opportunity. And finally, the politics. Lengthy essays have been written on the vaguely fascist society of Starship Troopers, so I'm not going to get into that, except to note the one way in which it parallels something in The Expanse series. In Starship Troopers, only people who do a tour of federal service are true citizens. This service grants them the right to vote and hold public office. People who choose not to do federal service have all the same basic rights as full citizens, except that they are denied access to the political process. The Earth of The Expanse series is also a global government, under a mutated future version of the United Nations. It too has a society stratified by a citizen's level of engagement. However, instead of stratification on political and governmental service, its society is stratified by a general willingness to work. People on our version of future Earth can choose to go on the dole, a government stipend we call Basic Support (this is covered in Caliban's War). Once on Basic, the government will pay for all of your basic needs: housing, food, medical care, primary education, etc. But they don't pay for any luxuries or for advanced education. In order to get money to attend University, a citizen must be willing to earn 'work credits' by taking an actual job for two years. The government doesn't want to waste an expensive university education on someone who will just decide to go on the dole afterward. So, in both stories the citizenry is largely stratified by what I call, "the engaged and the apathetic." Bottom Line: I have a love/hate relationship with this book. The political and gender views are firmly trapped in 1950's society, and that part of it drives me nuts sometimes. I don't blame Heinlein for this, as he is clearly a product of his time. Fifty years from now all of the cultures in modern SF will probably appear just as quaint. At the same time, the book is astonishingly readable. Johnnie's time in bootcamp, and then later as a cap trooper in the mobile infantry, is fascinating. I find myself arguing with Heinlein's political philosophy as it comes out of his character's mouths, even as I thrill to their victories. His vision of SF military life clearly informed my own, in both the things I stole from it and the things I rejected. His version of a world government and a society stratified by those who want to contribute and those who don't shows up in my work as well. Most of all, though, I think his vision of a humanity that explores, colonizes, and then rises up to meet the challenge those things bring informed by own vision of the future. I want to think we someday spread ourselves across the solar system/galaxy/universe, and we bring our problem solving skills with us. I hope if we run into other intelligent life that we never go to war with it, but finding ways to co-exist will be just as challenging as fighting, and I like to think our species will be up to that challenge. Ultimately, Starship Troopers is a hopeful view of the future, and that love of an optimistic future has stayed with me ever since. Next Time: The Stars my Destination

  27. 5 out of 5

    Apatt

    I started reading sci-fi quite intensively in the 80s (as if my life depended on it) and if you had asked me at the time who my favorite of the Big Three of Science Fiction is I would have said Robert A. Heinlein. He was, I thought, the funniest, the liveliest, the least dry, and basically the most badass of the Three. In recent years have been re-reading a lot of classic sci-fi and my answer today would be different. I would place Isaac Asimov first then Arthur C. Clarke and Heinlein would be t I started reading sci-fi quite intensively in the 80s (as if my life depended on it) and if you had asked me at the time who my favorite of the Big Three of Science Fiction is I would have said Robert A. Heinlein. He was, I thought, the funniest, the liveliest, the least dry, and basically the most badass of the Three. In recent years have been re-reading a lot of classic sci-fi and my answer today would be different. I would place Isaac Asimov first then Arthur C. Clarke and Heinlein would be trailing them a little. I may be a little unfair to Heinlein here as recently I have been reading his less well received books from the 80s, Friday, and the dreadful I Will Fear No Evil. Of course I remember very well how much I loved Stranger in a Strange Land, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and The Puppet Masters when I read them. The funny thing is I remember loving Starship Troopers too. Starship Troopers starts off with a bang where the protagonist Juan Rico is about to go on a raid against some aliens called The Skinnies. Scenes of combat, explosions, heroism, and death ensued. On the second chapter the flashback from the beginning of Rico’s military career begins. Most of the novel’s narrative is centered on Rico’s military life. As I am not a fan of military combat scenes I did not feel particularly involved with the first chapter but things really do pick up with the story of Rico’s boot camp experiences. I quite enjoy the “Drill Sergeant Nasty” trope. Where the Drill Sergeant spends all his time cussing and cursing at the trainees and generally making their lives miserable for their own good, and to weed out those who are not tough enough to cope with the rigors of the training. The details of the training, the future military technology and Heinlein’s jaunty, snarky narrative tone and dialogue makes this section of the book fast paced and enjoyable. This is just as well as the boot camp chapters takes up most of the first half of the book. I expect the storyline to become even livelier subsequent to the boot camp, especially as I already knew some insect-like aliens are about to make an appearance. I was very surprised at how the second half of the book turned out. A long section of this part of the book concerns Rico’s training at the Officer Candidate School. The lecturing scenes are Heinlein at his didactic worst. Even though Heinlein can be very persuasive I was not entirely convinced of the political and philosophical points he is making here. Worse than that, I was a little bored of reading these thinly disguised lectures. It seems to me that the pacing of the novel grinds to a halt at this point and Heinlein has sacrificed the storytelling to espouse his personal views. The last section of the book where Rico has graduated from the Officer Candidate School and goes on another raid to capture (literally) the brains behind the Bugs operations resumes the storyline and pick up the pacing. Unfortunately by that point the book has already lost my goodwill and I have already stopped caring about how Rico or even the rest of humanity fare. Besides, the ending of the book is inconclusive as far as the Bug War is concerned. This is not at all surprising because, in spite of initial appearances, this is not a sci-fi thriller about Humanity vs. Aliens. The aliens and their war with humanity are merely plot devices to mount Heinlein’s treatise about the value of the military and the necessity of war. It is not my place to criticize Heinlein's views on these matters as he has clearly thought long and hard about them and I have not, but all his pontifications plays hell with the narrative flow and as a work of fiction Starship Troopers is by and large not a lot of fun to read. “Military science fiction” is hardly my favorite subgenre of sci-fi, but I did find The Forever War to be more consistently enjoyable and the author’s views more palatable without being overly didactic.

  28. 4 out of 5

    P.E.

    Instead of the military pamphlet I was expecting to come across, I read a book about the workings of a military regime. This is a book with strong biases in favour of the Vietnam war : - Starship Troopers was issued in 1959. - In a poll spread by Galaxy Science Fiction on the continuation of the Vietnam war, 72 science fiction writers wrote, “We the undersigned believe the United States must remain in Vietnam to fulfill its responsibilities to the people of that country.” On the anti-war side, Instead of the military pamphlet I was expecting to come across, I read a book about the workings of a military regime. This is a book with strong biases in favour of the Vietnam war : - Starship Troopers was issued in 1959. - In a poll spread by Galaxy Science Fiction on the continuation of the Vietnam war, 72 science fiction writers wrote, “We the undersigned believe the United States must remain in Vietnam to fulfill its responsibilities to the people of that country.” On the anti-war side, 82 signers wrote, “We oppose the participation of the United States in the war in Vietnam.” . Robert Heinlein signed under the first column. Galaxy, June 1968, paid ad on stances towards the Vietnam War Yet, Starship Troopers is not forcing, it is not a headstrong manifesto on the matter. It is more about making you wonder about the army and their part vis-à-vis society in nation-states. Regarding these questions, the lecture on moral philosophy given by M. Dubois is especially rewarding. => On the 1968 petition where writers take sides on the Vietnam war : https://www.depauw.edu/sfs/pioneers/f... https://alexcoxfilms.wordpress.com/20... ---------------------------- Au lieu du bréviaire militariste que je m'attendais à trouver, je lis un livre occupé de décrire les conditions pratiques et théoriques d'un état militaire. C'est un livre certes partisan dans son contexte de guerre en Indochine. Starship Troopers est publié en 1959 et dans une pétition relayée en 1968 par Galaxy Science Fiction sur la poursuite de la guerre au Vietnam, Robert Heinlein a répondu par l'affirmative, signant sous la rubrique "We the undersigned believe the United States must remain in Vietnam to fulfill its responsibilities to the people of that country". Galaxy, juin 1968, l'annonce sur les positions des écrivains à propos de la Guerre du Viet-Nam Mais Starship Troopers est un livre soucieux, non de marteler des vérités révélées, mais de faire réfléchir son lecteur sur la question des militaires et de leur place par rapport aux institutions politiques d'un état-nation. En regard à ces questions, le cours de philosophie morale de M. Dubois est spécialement gratifiant (pp. 140-149 et 211-224 dans la traduction de Michel Demuth, Éditions J'ai lu 1974) => Sur la pétition de 1968 "pour ou contre la poursuite de la guerre du Vietnam" : https://alexcoxfilms.wordpress.com/20... https://www.depauw.edu/sfs/pioneers/f...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Timothy Urges

    Maybe someday they’ll get everything nice and tidy and we’ll have that thing we sing about, when “we ain’t a-gonna study war no more.” Maybe. Maybe the same day the leopard will take off his spots and get a job as a Jersey cow, too. But again, I wouldn’t know; I am not a professor of cosmo-politics; I’m an M.I. When the government sends me, I go. Starship Troopers is not what I expected. 10% action, 40% philosophy, and 50% mechanics of the military. I really did not care about all the training an Maybe someday they’ll get everything nice and tidy and we’ll have that thing we sing about, when “we ain’t a-gonna study war no more.” Maybe. Maybe the same day the leopard will take off his spots and get a job as a Jersey cow, too. But again, I wouldn’t know; I am not a professor of cosmo-politics; I’m an M.I. When the government sends me, I go. Starship Troopers is not what I expected. 10% action, 40% philosophy, and 50% mechanics of the military. I really did not care about all the training and challenges that led up to the warfare. I wanted to see the warfare, and there is only a tiny dose of that. It’s not bad, but I got bored more than once. I appreciate how seriously Heinlein approaches his content; but with all the focus on developing a soldier, I wanted to see a soldier in action. ***SPOILER ALERT*** kinda. My favorite part of the book is the end when we realize that Juan is Filipino once he explains that his native language is Tagalog. This is a nice touch and I like that Heinlein didn’t feel the need to create a white savior soldier in a book published in 1959.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Oleksandr Zholud

    This is a classic military SF, straightforward at the first sight but much deeper in one really after the depth. The book isn’t for everyone: Heinlein liked to provoke and this book is no exception. Here one finds an approval of physical punishments, even a capital punishment; assault of military on civilians. There are reviewers, who call is fascist, but actually it is an opposite. Just show me another SF from the fifties, where: women have equal rights to serve in military, there is a score of This is a classic military SF, straightforward at the first sight but much deeper in one really after the depth. The book isn’t for everyone: Heinlein liked to provoke and this book is no exception. Here one finds an approval of physical punishments, even a capital punishment; assault of military on civilians. There are reviewers, who call is fascist, but actually it is an opposite. Just show me another SF from the fifties, where: women have equal rights to serve in military, there is a score of non-white characters, quite a few disabled ones. It definitely was worthy of Hugo Award in 1960 but I highly doubt it could be even nominated now. Heinlein is preachy, but in his ‘golden period’ works, up to the late 60s, editors made a great work in keeping him from wandering about but sticking to the story. His main idea in this book is that service to the state should be (a) voluntary (no conscription), and (b) opened to anyone, who wants to serve: in the words of the book if you came in here in a wheel chair and blind in both eyes and were silly enough to insist on enrolling, they would find something silly enough to match. Counting the fuzz on a caterpillar by touch, maybe. The only way you can fail is by having the psychiatrists decide that you are not able to understand the oath Heinlein actually was a pacifist, not a jingoist in his attitudes, but with Korean war just over and tensions between two superpowers in time of the writing, he was really afraid that the western democracies won’t be able to stand in direct confrontation to the USSR-PRC block. The story follows Johnnie (Juan) Rico, a boy from a relatively rich family, who are not citizens: this doesn’t mean any prosecution or special hardships, just inability to vote and hold elective posts. To do this one has to serve. Rico isn’t especially interested in serving, but his buddy talks him into it. We follow his military career thru the book and a new menace from outer space appears. “‘Value’ has no meaning other than in relation to living beings. The value of a thing is always relative to a particular person, is completely personal and different in quantity for each living human—‘market value’ is a fiction, merely a rough guess at the average of personal values, all of which must be quantitatively different or trade would be impossible.” (I had wondered what Father would have said if he had heard “market value” called a “fiction”—snort in disgust, probably.) “This very personal relationship, ‘value,’ has two factors for a human being: first, what he can do with a thing, its use to him . . . and second, what he must do to get it, its cost to him. There is an old song which asserts ‘the best things in life are free.’ Not true! Utterly false! This was the tragic fallacy which brought on the decadence and collapse of the democracies of the twentieth century; those noble experiments failed because the people had been led to believe that they could simply vote for whatever they wanted . . . and get it, without toil, without sweat, without tears. “Nothing of value is free. Even the breath of life is purchased at birth only through gasping effort and pain.” He had been still looking at me and added, “If you boys and girls had to sweat for your toys the way a newly born baby has to struggle to live you would be happier . . . and much richer. As it is, with some of you, I pity the poverty of your wealth. You! I’ve just awarded you the prize for the hundred-meter dash. Does it make you happy?” “Uh, I suppose it would.” “No dodging, please. You have the prize—here, I’ll write it out: ‘Grand prize for the championship, one hundred-meter sprint.’” He had actually come back to my seat and pinned it on my chest. “There! Are you happy? You value it—or don’t you?” I was sore. First that dirty crack about rich kids—a typical sneer of those who haven’t got it—and now this farce. I ripped it off and chucked it at him. Mr. Dubois had looked surprised. “It doesn’t make you happy?” “You know darn well I placed fourth!” “Exactly! The prize for first place is worthless to you . . . because you haven’t earned it. But you enjoy a modest satisfaction in placing fourth; you earned it. I trust that some of the somnambulists here understood this little morality play. I fancy that the poet who wrote that song meant to imply that the best things in life must be purchased other than with money—which is true—just as the literal meaning of his words is false. The best things in life are beyond money; their price is agony and sweat and devotion . . . and the price demanded for the most precious of all things in life is life itself—ultimate cost for perfect value.”

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