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Starship Troopers

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

18 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

Technofiction review of Starship Troopers

"Starship Troopers" by Robert Heinlein was the first science fiction story I ever read, way back in 7th grade or so (1960). That book was the first inspiring book I read by myself, and started me on a years-long devotion to reading science fiction. It was really inspiri...
"Starship Troopers" by Robert Heinlein was the first science fiction story I ever read, way back in 7th grade or so (1960). That book was the first inspiring book I read by myself, and started me on a years-long devotion to reading science fiction. It was really inspiring. In 1990, I reread "Starship Troopers", and as I read it, I was surprised: it didn't feel like I was reading the same story. My impression the second time was of a "Sands of Iwo Jima in Space" instead of something entirely new and different. (and I was kind of shocked at how much living thirty years had changed my perspective!) Either way, the heart of the story was power armor, how to use it, and how its presence affected people's thinking. In this story Heinlein proposed that to become a citizen -- someone who voted on how to run the government -- a person needed to first demonstrate some responsibility to the community. .Sounded good to me, but for taking that stance many critics labeled this book as supporting fascism. In 1997 I saw the Starship Troopers movie, and saw that the director had missed the point of the story entirely by taking out the power armor. Without power armor, the soldiers were transformed into World War One "over the top" infantry who would be discouraged from asking "Why?" before they marched off into a do-or-die situation, and because of that, they lost any reason to be "responsible for the community" in the sense that Heinlein was emphasizing in his book version of the story. Unlike the book, the movie really was about a Fascist/Spartan "Come back with your shield or on it." mentality. These changes in what I read, and misinterpretations in what I saw depicted in the movie, inspired me to write my own version of the power armor story, and you can find it in my short story "The Ticket Out" in "Tips for Tailoring Spacetime Fabric Vol. 1" (Vol. 1 is about stories in space, and Vol. 2 is about stories on Earth). So in the end, I still found the book inspiring, but the movie a whole lot less so. Yeah, this is one of those "read the book, you'll like it a lot better"-cases.

posted by Cyreenik on September 26, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

High expectations...

So i may have screwed myself way before I started reading this book... I have always been a huge fan of the first starship troopers film and knew that it was somewhat based on the book. Needless to say it is in everyway different and when I read quotes I found it diffic...
So i may have screwed myself way before I started reading this book... I have always been a huge fan of the first starship troopers film and knew that it was somewhat based on the book. Needless to say it is in everyway different and when I read quotes I found it difficult picturing the characters I am used to saying them. I also read the whole "Old Mans War" series which is extremely immersive universe with lots of high flying action and some great stories! I was expecting a combination of the two... I found this novel extremely hard to get through even with its sub 250 page count. I lost my interest multiple times and was bored mostly. Dont get me wrong, I love great stories but my god... 30 pages of great battle scenes.. 100 pages of boot camp or training... then same thing over and over again until the end... maybe 60 pages of action and the rest is Ricos experiance of learning how to grow up in life and in the M.I.

posted by 10178385 on January 12, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2008

    Hangin' Tough

    While not my favorite book by any means, Heinlein¿s classic *Starship Troopers* provides a humorous and contemplative romp through a future in which the earth world, ¿Terra,¿ must defend itself from ¿bugs,¿ foreign invaders that seek to destroy life on the planet. It¿s lightly enjoyable as a work of fiction, especially in the beginning as we learn about Juan Rico and his sincere journey into citizen and soldier-ship (the first chapter is rough though ¿ keep going) suspending disbelief and jumping into this oft cheesy yet slantedly-serious work are not without a few imaginative reader-rewards, although by the end of the book, I felt as if the drift of the book had long been established and we were continuing to fight a battle at a loss to what little substantive plot was present. The personal first-person ¿gist¿ kept it tolerable and Heinlein¿s theories on the role of soldiers and civilians felt heartfelt enough to initiate a second thought about what the one-world responsibilities he proposes. My problem with the story (other than the writing style which was as attractive as tobacco spat), is that the human truths of the book fell off the planet in honor of Heinlein¿s ¿lock-n-load,¿ adolescent rambling panache. By the end, the reader is sifting through a sea of masculine, gung-ho grit to get to the substance, and there was ultimately little of that to hang your hat on (or your powered armor, if that¿s more your thing). I was admittedly glad to see it end. It¿s in your face comradeship, and represents a forced kind of ¿internationalized¿ Americanism that¿s probably best enjoyed by armchair warriors and adolescents.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 31, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Full Metal Jacket with Bugs (minus the bugs). This book is set

    Full Metal Jacket with Bugs (minus the bugs).

    This book is set in a futuristic society where mechanized warriors must pit their wits against the tide of alien arachnids threatening to claim every inhabitable piece of real estate in the galaxy-so they can eventually earn the right to vote. Sounds exciting doesn’t it? Men in power-armored suits which give them amazing super powers as they jaunt through space and engage these crafty insectoids that have no compunction against throwing a seemingly limitless supply of exoskeletons in their line of fire. All the while back on Terra (Earth) the indolent humans go about minding their corporate business interests as they ignorantly sniff their noses at these military-types whose warm bodies are the only thing keeping them safe. It takes a keen understanding of devotion to honor and duty, to make things right in a universe where the only notion that matters is understanding that every species has a mind to look after its own interest. Thrive to survive—be you man or bug.

    I’m being a bit cynical of course, and the reason is that I felt this book spends the VAST majority of its time consumed with the nuances of active military life. We start following the protagonist from just before his enlistment and continue on as he earns his way through the ranks. However, there is really no interoffice politics or petty jealousy or even evil forces at work to prevent his eventual and satisfactory progression of titles. Heinlein was a military man in real life for a number of years, and the book benefits immensely from this. There is probably no better fictional book that can speed you through a fairly respectable military career in a very entertaining and oddly realistic way. The author gets us inside the protagonist's head and we get to mull over all his worries and doubts as he climbs (or is pulled) through the ranks due chiefly to circumstance.

    This book is frequently accused at having hidden (or not so hidden) political agendas, including being sort of a propagandist glorification of militarism. I personally don’t mind it. At times, the language might get a bit heavy-handed, but you see things from the protagonist’s thoughts and I felt like it was believable for the most part. Not that you might agree with all the conclusions reached, but that they fit with the character’s frame of reference. There is a place in the universe for honor, patriotism, duty and even militarism. These are interesting things to consider in the context in which they are set.

    My biggest complaint is the lack of bugs. The book opens fast and right in the thick of what proposes to be an interesting futuristic war. However the beginning ends up feeling like a last minute edit thrown in at the protest of some market savvy editor. It just takes soooooo long to get back to this voracious alien-insect species. Maybe that’s for the best, because they are sort of something familiar being akin to intelligent ants. However, when we get to the bugs its very interesting and terribly short. Too short. I think seeing the movie might have ruined this for me. I saw it many years ago (and I’m going to rewatch it now for my podcast), but it may have tainted my reading. However, the opening section starts mid-combat and that would throw any reader off.

    The bottom line is that I just couldn’t help having an expectation for more bugs. The whole while I’m reading about the protagonists trials and tribulations in the Mobile Infantry I couldn’t help saying to myself “Yes, yes, yes, and? Ok and? What about the bugs? Let’s get to the bugs?” I mean, its just a little hard to focus on this futuristic military because it's not so different then I would think a military might be in modern times. But when you know that alien arachnids are attacking the planet and threatening invasion, you want to focus on THAT not all the military-speak. I think the militaristic ethics discussion would have been better served if there was more human/bug conflicts sprinkled through out and the military-speak more directly related to the war. But I guess that’s not really what this book is about.

    So, I think you have to go into this book without the expectation that you are going to be delving into new worlds and cultures. It will be a new culture (for some people), but its going to be the culture of the human Mobile Infantry. An organization with traditions and beliefs as ancient and reverent as the armies from which it is descended. And this book is unique for that. It can even be lauded for that. Bounce on space marine!

    Podcast: If you enjoy my review (or this topic) this book and the movie based on it were further discussed/debated in a lively discussion on my podcast: “No Deodorant In Outer Space”. The podcast is available on iTunes or our website.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2014

    Decent, but shallow

    Really this is more of a story around a political idea. The story itself is bland. While interesting, the ideas behind it would never work in the real world. I can't imagine a world where only soldiers could vote would be a good thing.

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  • Posted January 10, 2012

    Like "Battle Cry" in Space

    I enjoyed "Starship Toopers" but it was quite different from what I had expected. I was expecting more gripping sci-fi combat action, and what I got was a broad spectrum of what life in the MI would be like from boot camp and into battle with quite a bit of social, political and philosophical commentary along the way. It's been quite a while since I read "Battle Cry" by Leon Uris, but there was something about "Starship Troopers" that reminded me of it... with maybe a hint of "Full Metal Jacket". If you are looking for full combat action, this is not the book for you; like some of the other review say, there is not all that much except for the beginning and the end. If you want a good piece of classic science fiction writing by one of the masters, it's definitely an enjoyable read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2007

    A reviewer

    The book was not what i hoped for, but after some long thoughts i have decided that it was me that tried to compare the book with the movie (that i love). So I am going to give this book another shot.... I do have to say that the book was a stepping stone to many sci-fi novels..

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2002

    Not what I expected.

    I saw the movie. It was better, even if the tactics involved were idiotic. Heinlein's tactics in the book make more sense, where each soldier is heavily armed and self-mobile. The movie's tactics were the literal repeat of Leon Uris' Battle Cry, like nothing had changed since Guadalcanal in '42. The whole movie, in fact, was basically a space-version of Battle Cry, albeit with fascist overtones (comically fascist, not serious). In the book, they might have dropped the comic part. They dropped most of the action with it. I wanted action and character development. Not outdated and unpopular political philosophy. The sad part is, most of Heinlein's books are good.

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