Robert A. Heinlein
“Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers are the jet-propelled infantrymen of the future. In a galactic war of untold violence and destruction, they scour the metal-strewn emptiness of space and hunt out The Enemy. But neither the viciousness of their electronic armour nor the bloodthirsty militarism of their training can save them from the grip of loneliness and fear. Heinlein is an acknowledged master of Science Fiction, a genius who has become spokesman for a whole generation. And his starship trooper John Rico, rising from boyhood dreams to high command in the cosmos, is a hero of the first dimension – and beyond.”
Maybe you’re familiar with the 1997 Starship Troopers, but did you know it was based on a book? Granted I haven’t seen the movie in years, but when I discovered my boyfriend had an old copy – I had to read it. I know how much better books tend to be than the movies, so I expected this book to be quite entertaining, but to my surprise it is nowhere near as cheesy or goofy as the movie portrays it.
It is also curious to note there was a comment at the beginning of the book – not only does it state how the book won a Hugo and science fiction novel of the year 1959, but that since it has been highly controversial to the point where “other writers have written satires in an attempt to discredit it entirely.” That just sounds mean! But I’m now defiantly reading to form my own opinion.
The book is told through John Rico’s eyes as he looks back on his life as a Mobile Infantryman. Throughout the book in a number of flashbacks we get the idea of the world he lives in, how much has changed and the issues of the military. Of course in this futurist world the military has a very different role on the world and the galaxy. It’s quite different and I can understand where the critics come from, however I also think Heinlein’s is making a point of his opinion in this book and he makes some very valid and logical points.
In the book there is reference to a “History and Moral Philosophy” class everyone has to take in high school – but it’s not necessary to pass. Through these flashbacks on this class we get insights on how the Federal Military formed and why it has withstood time – much longer than those back in the 20th century. In particular only those who serve two years in the Federal Military and leave can vote. They obtain ‘full citizenship’. It’s still all voluntary. But the world is divided between civilians and the Federal military. Over the course of the book we get insights as to why that is. Because those who served understand what takes place, what soldiers of all different areas go through, they are better able to make the big decisions and vote whether to go to war or not.
As Rico says in the book; “If it was my choice I’d never vote to go back into the tube.”
Throughout the book, this History and Moral Philosophy comes into play, as Rico learn more about the hidden meanings behind the lectures he took back in high school, how to truly understand and respect freedom and why he continues to serve throughout everything that happens. It’s hard to put into words but the feeling and opinions Heinlein puts forth is really interesting.
The book is quite easy to read, and has a totally sci-fi classic feel. The armoured suits they battle in sound amazing and I’ve looked through several pieces of artwork and found some great examples of artists renditions of the suites. There’s space travel, bugs – at last they kept that in the movie – and even other alien species they come up against. For anyone who enjoys the old sci-fi stories had haven’t read this – please do. Don’t go by the movies, this book is serious and has some very interesting points to make.