Starship Troopers (Turtleback Binding Edition) Library Binding – May 15, 1987
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I recently retired after 27 years of Naval service, and as silly as it may seem to some, this book was the foundation of my success; in military service, in the lives of countless young Sailors, and in my new role as a civilian.
It shaped the character of who I was as a leader of men and women at war.
Heinlein may have authored "better" books (according to the critics) but having read virtually all of them, none of the others ever quite so captured the essence of what it means to be both in military service and what those of us fortunate enough to have served all know in our hearts: the true value and moral responsibility of citizenship.
"Do you apes want to live forever!!"
Top international reviews
On reading the book, unlike Paul Verhoeven before he made the film, you will find that military service is but one way to attain citizenship.
The term used - veterans - applies to all those who have completed some term of public service. The State is obliged to find you some form of service to attain that.
So the truth is: Teachers can be citizens. Emergency services can be citizens. Even road sweeping and medical drugs testing can be routes to citizenship.
There is no discrimination by way of race, religion, gender or physical ability. If you want to become a citizen, the State will find some role for you to play.
Military service is only one way, albeit usually the fastest. The requirement is a single tour on the frontlines. If you survive, and manage to retire, you can vote.
Lawyers, businessmen and entertainers cannot. They have no power to set tax laws and exemptions to benefit themselves. Capitalism exists. You can become rich and famous if you so choose. But unless you put yourself at the service of the State, you will have less power than any voter.
And those are the people screaming 'Fascist!'
And now the second point. Active military personnel are specifically forbidden from voting or standing for office.
Think about what that means.
It means that as long as you are a soldier, you cannot be a local councilman. You cannot be a mayor. A governor. A judge. You cannot be a senator or minister or President.
Unless you have fought for your nation on the frontlines. And retired from service, foregoing all military influence.
A military dictatorship is a practical impossibility. It cannot happen.
I hope that clears up the most popular misconceptions about this book.
The philosophy behind it is about personal discipline and responsibility. Authority goes hand-in-hand with that responsibility.
Oh, and there's some science fiction story going on in the background as well. And that part I think was done very well in the film but even better in the animated series.
Read the book. Even if you are not a science fiction fan (and how can you not be? This is the book that gave us *power armour*!) then skip the alternate chapters and just read the ones on philosophy. They are very well reasoned. I am a particular fan of Chapter 8. It tells about capital punishment, the ills of social workers and child psychologists and how not housetraining a puppy can lead to the fall of democracy.
This is a book about morality: what does the individual 'owe' to society (as represented by the state), if anything?
Heinlein was a libertarian, so you might think that his answer would, effectively, be .... nothing. His The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, another classic, is closer to that view.
But in my opinion this book has a sounder view. It's also brilliantly written -- okay, it's not Updike, but it's very good juvenile fiction. Two things will interest readers with a sense of history: first, this was written BEFORE the 'Sixties Revolution' -- and Heinlein was NEVER Politically Correct. But this book, like almost all his novels written from the 1950s onward, includes very effective, if subtle, arguments against what nowadays are called 'racism' and 'sexism'. Secondly, it's interesting to see how far-seeing science fiction authors almost completely missed the revolution in micro-miniaturisation and digital electronics, which makes some of their predictions about the evolution of technology way off the mark. But no one reading the book should feel superior -- it just shows that the future is not predictable.
A great book for teenage boys -- I don't know if girls will appreciate it. Lots of bang-bang, but underlying the adventure, and the identifiable-with central character, are deep lessons in how to be a good person. (I've bought three copies to lend out to the kids I tutor.)
The story follows the career of Johnnie Rico as a Trooper for the federation in a far off fascist future. Despite being a military sci-fi novel it has a surprising amount of political commentary running throughout adding an interesting layer of depth that a lot of modern military sci-fi novels really lack. In the future the only people that can vote have to have worked for the federation to earn citizenship, they have to have earned the right and put the good of the whole above the individual but it's not that simple as Johnnie finds out.
Though Rico's reason for joining started as a political choice it soon turns into the look at the life of a mobile infantry trooper, over half the book is about his training alone, about what really makes a soldier in the future. Most of the cadets don't make it through training, nevermind to serve their term to be citizens.
The way Starship Troopers is written from Johnnies point of view makes everything remarkably clear as the poor lad is as confused about events as the reader so nothing is left unexplained yet it never gets bogged down or feels slow, it's all pretty engrossing.
I think that's what was so good about it, yes the bug war is mentioned towards the end but there's no resolution. It's not a book about saving worlds, about good vs evil, there's no distinct point. Just a career view of a trooper in a politically different future. It's a fascinating read I recommend to any sci-fi fan.
+ Interesting political sub theme.
+ Rico's training is detailed.
+ Well written universe, clear and concise.
+ Interesting plot focus, a little different.
If the book were longer i would probably only rate it a 3 star, but as it is short at some 200 odd pages then it never gets boring and is worthy of the 4 stars.
The book has less action than the movie, instead concentrating on the main character's journey through bootcamp and how he changes and copes with such a gruelling challenge. There are lost of political views in this novel that are very insightful and definitely got me thinking about our own cultural system.
Despite not being as action packed as the movie there is still a fair share of action, ranging from planetary combat drops in armoured suits to underground firefights with the bugs. The main area that this book excels in is in the characters, each character is wonderfully established and has there own traits and development.
A highly recommended book for any fan of military/Sci-Fi novels. If you liked the films then this will still be a great read and if you didn't like the films then give the book a try, it's vastly superior in every way.