Starship Troopers is a political science fiction novel written by Robert Heinlein and published in December 1959. The story takes place in Earth's future when a young man enlists into the military during a time of peace for political gain, but shortly after enlisting, the Earth is attacked by an insect-like alien race that they must fight. Despite the setting, the book is mostly about politics and military structure.
The movie is only loosely based on the book and turns a deep political novel into a brainless action film.
I don't own this book, but have listened to an audio book recording.
— This section contains spoilers! —
- There were too few action scenes and an uncritical approach to politics, but as a whole, I found the book to be enjoyable.
- Many of the themes resonate with me, brotherhood, responsibility, civic duty, etc.
- The idea of a military themed meritocracy (only people who have served in the military may vote) is certainly an interesting concept and the book does a decent job of promoting the idea, explaining why only those people who have proved that they are willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of society are best fit to run it.
- Like many readers, I found the society to be far too... "patriotic," but this didn't limit my enjoyment. I would probably enjoy such a book even if the hero grew up in a communist, socialist, or fascist government as well because the writing was so good.
- I certainly have to give Heinlein props for being one of the first authors to flesh out the idea of an exoskeleton mobile infantry suit.
- The sections where Heinlein describe the entire chain of command of a military system were pretty dull.
- I do have to agree with the critics that, like The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, the book is essentially a story contrived around Heinlein's political views. There really isn't much going on, in fact, a large portion takes place in a classroom with teachers debating with students, and always getting their points across unopposed.
- The society claims to have found a science of morality which can be proved logically, which would have been more interesting if Heinlein at least made an attempt to explain how such a thing could be possible. It took a big suspension of disbelief to accept logical proofs for subjective values each time Heinlein employed it. A logical proof for going to war over every minor incident? That's not what you'll learn playing Balance of Power! A logical proof to use corporal and capital punishment? In fact, the actual scientific evidence regarding issues like corporal and capital punishment show the practices to be far less effective than humane alternatives.