Starship Troopers

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Overview

In one of Robert 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 frightening enemy.

With Earth embroiled in a vast interplanetary war with the "Bugs," a young recruit in the Federal Reserves relates his experiences training in boot camp and as a junior officer in the Terran Mobile Infantry.

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Overview

In one of Robert 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 frightening enemy.

With Earth embroiled in a vast interplanetary war with the "Bugs," a young recruit in the Federal Reserves relates his experiences training in boot camp and as a junior officer in the Terran Mobile Infantry.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Elegantly drawn battle scenes.”—Science Fiction Weekly

“A book that continues to resonate and influence to this day, and one whose popularity and luster hasn’t been dimmed despite decades of imitations.”—SF Reviews

“Heinlein’s genius is at its height in this timeless classic that is as meaningful today as when it was written...a fast-paced novel that never gets preachy. This is a definite must-have, must-read book.”—SF Site

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780441783588
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/1/1997
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 47,849
  • Lexile: 1020L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.30 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert A. Heinlein

Robert Anson Heinlein was born in Missouri in 1907, and was raised there. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1929, but was forced by illness to retire from the Navy in 1934. He settled in California and over the next five years held a variety of jobs while doing post-graduate work in mathematics and physics at the University of California. In 1939 he sold his first science fiction story to Astounding magazine and soon devoted himself to the genre.

He was a four-time winner of the Hugo Award for his novels Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), Starship Troopers (1959), Double Star (1956), and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966). His Future History series, incorporating both short stories and novels, was first mapped out in 1941. The series charts the social, political, and technological changes shaping human society from the present through several centuries into the future.

Robert A. Heinlein's books were among the first works of science fiction to reach bestseller status in both hardcover and paperback. he continued to work into his eighties, and his work never ceased to amaze, to entertain, and to generate controversy. By the time hed died, in 1988, it was evident that he was one of the formative talents of science fiction: a writer whose unique vision, unflagging energy, and persistence, over the course of five decades, made a great impact on the American mind.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Anson MacDonald; Robert Anson Heinlein (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 7, 1907
    2. Place of Birth:
      Butler, Missouri
    1. Date of Death:
      May 8, 1988
    2. Place of Death:
      Carmel, California

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Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Acknowledgements

 

CH:01

CH:02

CH:03

CH:04

CH:05

CH:06

CH:07

CH:08

CH:09

CH:10

CH:11

CH:12

CH:13

CH:14

 

Historical Note

Robert A. Heinlein

Troopers finds SF’s first grand master in excellent command of the language, mixing technical terms, ‘modern’ slang, and plain old words in the unstylish style that is his hallmark. It is a cross between eloquent and workmanlike, and it does not just get the job done, it propels the story. Heinlein brings worlds alive with his prose, whether they are boot camps or bug holes.”

Science Fiction Weekly

 

“The single most influential book that I have ever read. A lot of the ideas and values that Heinlein offers in Starship Troopers have had a profound effect on me and the way that I have molded my life . . . [It] is a story about social ills we are faced with today. Unlike many authors, Heinlein offers ideas and options as to possible reforms.”

SF Site

 

“What makes Starship Troopers such an important book is in its pioneering approach to dramatizing military themes in an SF context. Unless I miss my guess, Troopers was the first SF novel in which military life was depicted in a manner believable to readers who had actually served.

“As a fast-paced piece of action storytelling, Starship Troopers mostly races along . . . The humanity Heinlein bestowed upon characters, the gritty realism of their conflicts, in what had largely been Flash Gordon territory up to that point, was a significant step in science fiction maturation.

“Love ’em or hate ’em, the novel’s ‘controversial’ politics [are] another feather in its cap. A novel in a genre [once] dedicated to escapist juvenilia challenges adult readers to question their assumptions and consider such ideas as duty, altruism, and patriotism under the harsh light of scrutiny . . . [Troopers ] is doing you an intellectual favor.”

—SF Reviews.net

 

“A serious moral tract about the obligations of citizenship and the nobility of the individual willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good . . . Troopers has to be seen as partly a celebration of victory in World War II with its unsung citizen-heroes, partly a reflection of the Cold War and its attendant anxiety, and partly a reaction to growing popular discontent which originated with the inconclusive Korean War and culminated in the anti-war movement of the 1960s.”

SF Crowsnest

 

“[An] incredible classic of science fiction . . . Heinlein grabs the attention of the reader from the very beginning . . . with ‘I always get the shakes before a drop.’ That simple line illustrates the beauty of this work; it’s not just about action, though there is certainly plenty of that. Instead it’s about what goes through the mind of a trooper.

“Heinlein not only combines futuristic action with psychological insight here, but also manages to throw in some social commentary as well. Whether or not the reader would agree with Heinlein’s ideas, the concepts are still intriguing . . . It brilliantly blends action and intellect to provide an entertaining, thought-provoking experience for readers of all ages. It’s one of my personal favorite books, and I highly recommend it to everyone. [It] gets better every time one reads it, for one is always discovering some new idea hidden within the pages. I have never even remotely tired of reading it, and I’m sure I never will.”

The 11th Hour

Books by Robert A. Heinlein

ASSIGNMENT IN ETERNITY

THE BEST OF ROBERT HEINLEIN

BETWEEN PLANETS

THE CAT WHO WALKS THROUGH WALLS

CITIZEN OF THE GALAXY

THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW

DESTINATION MOON

THE DOOR INTO SUMMER

DOUBLE STAR

EXPANDED UNIVERSE: MORE WORLDS OF ROBERT A. HEINLEIN

FARMER IN THE SKY

FARNHAM’ S FREEHOLD

FRIDAY

GLORY ROAD

THE GREEN HILLS OF EARTH

HAVE SPACE SUIT—WILL TRAVEL

I WILL FEAR NO EVIL

JOB: A COMEDY OF JUSTICE

THE MAN WHO SOLD THE MOON

THE MENACE FROM EARTH

METHUSELAH’ S CHILDREN

THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS

THE NOTEBOOKS OF LAZARUS LONG

THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST

ORPHANS OF THE SKY

THE PAST THROUGH TOMORROW: FUTURE HISTORY STORIES

PODKAYNE OF MARS

THE PUPPET MASTERS

RED PLANET

REVOLT IN 2100

ROCKET SHIP GALILEO

THE ROLLING STONES

SIXTH COLUMN

SPACE CADET

THE STAR BEAST

STARMAN JONES

STARSHIP TROOPERS

STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND

THREE BY HEINLEIN

TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE

TIME FOR THE STARS

TOMORROW THE STARS (Ed .)

TO SAIL BEYOND THE SUNSET

TRAMP ROYALE

TUNNEL IN THE SKY

THE UNPLEASANT PROFESSION OF JONATHAN HOAG

WALDO & MAGIC, INC.

THE WORLDS OF ROBERT A. HEINLEIN

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
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South Africa

 

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

 

A much abridged version of this book was published in Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine under the title “Starship Soldier.”

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

 

STARSHIP TROOPERS

 

An Ace Book / published by arrangement with The Robert A. & Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust

 

PRINTING HISTORY
G. P. Putnam’s Sons edition / 1959
Berkley edition / May 1968
Ace mass-market edition / May 1987
Ace trade paperback edition / July 2006
Ace premium edition / May 2010

 

Copyright © 1959, 1987 by Robert A. Heinlein, 2003 by The Robert A. & Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust.

 

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

 

eISBN : 978-1-101-50042-2

 

ACE
Ace Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
ACE and the “A” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

 

 

 

Acknowledgments

The stanza from “The ’Eathen” by Rudyard Kipling, at the head of Chapter VII, is used by permission of Mr. Kipling’s estate. Quotations from the lyrics of the ballad “Rodger Young” are used by permission of the author, Frank Loesser.

 

TO “SARGE” ARTHUR GEORGE SMITH—SOLDIER, CITIZEN, SCIENTIST—AND TO ALL SERGEANTS ANYWHEN WHO HAVE LABORED TO MAKE MEN OUT OF BOYS.

 

R.A.H.

CH:01

Come on, you apes! You wanta live forever?

—Unknown platoon sergeant, 1918

I always get the shakes before a drop. I’ve had the injections, of course, and hypnotic preparation, and it stands to reason that I can’t really be afraid. The ship’s psychiatrist has checked my brain waves and asked me silly questions while I was asleep and he tells me that it isn’t fear, it isn’t anything important—it’s just like the trembling of an eager race horse in the starting gate.

I couldn’t say about that; I’ve never been a race horse. But the fact is: I’m scared silly, every time.

At D-minus-thirty, after we had mustered in the drop room of the Rodger Young, our platoon leader inspected us. He wasn’t our regular platoon leader, because Lieutenant Rasczak had bought it on our last drop; he was really the platoon sergeant, Career Ship’s Sergeant Jelal. Jelly was a Finno-Turk from Iskander around Proxima—a swarthy little man who looked like a clerk, but I’ve seen him tackle two berserk privates so big he had to reach up to grab them, crack their heads together like coconuts, step back out of the way while they fell.

Off duty he wasn’t bad—for a sergeant. You could even call him “Jelly” to his face. Not recruits, of course, but anybody who had made at least one combat drop.

But right now he was on duty. We had all each inspected our combat equipment (look, it’s your own neck—see?), the acting platoon sergeant had gone over us carefully after he mustered us, and now Jelly went over us again, his face mean, his eyes missing nothing. He stopped by the man in front of me, pressed the button on his belt that gave readings on his physicals. “Fall out!”

“But, Sarge, it’s just a cold. The Surgeon said—”

Jelly interrupted. “‘But Sarge!’” he snapped. “The Surgeon ain’t making no drop—and neither are you, with a degree and a half of fever. You think I got time to chat with you, just before a drop? Fall out!

Jenkins left us, looking sad and mad—and I felt bad, too. Because of the Lieutenant buying it, last drop, and people moving up, I was assistant section leader, second section, this drop, and now I was going to have a hole in my section and no way to fill it. That’s not good; it means a man can run into something sticky, call for help and have nobody to help him.

Jelly didn’t downcheck anybody else. Presently he stepped out in front of us, looked us over and shook his head sadly. “What a gang of apes!” he growled. “Maybe if you’d all buy it this drop, they could start over and build the kind of outfit the Lieutenant expected you to be. But probably not—with the sort of recruits we get these days.” He suddenly straightened up, shouted, “I just want to remind you apes that each and every one of you has cost the gov’ment, counting weapons, armor, ammo, instrumentation, and training, everything, including the way you overeat—has cost, on the hoof, better’n half a million. Add in the thirty cents you are actually worth and that runs to quite a sum.” He glared at us. “So bring it back! We can spare you, but we can’t spare that fancy suit you’re wearing. I don’t want any heroes in this outfit; the Lieutenant wouldn’t like it. You got a job to do, you go down, you do it, you keep your ears open for recall, you show up for retrieval on the bounce and by the numbers. Get me?”

He glared again. “You’re supposed to know the plan. But some of you ain’t got any minds to hypnotize so I’ll sketch it out. You’ll be dropped in two skirmish lines, calculated two-thousand-yard intervals. Get your bearing on me as soon as you hit, get your bearing and distance on your squad mates, both sides, while you take cover. You’ve wasted ten seconds already, so you smash-and-destroy whatever’s at hand until the flankers hit dirt.” (He was talking about me—as assistant section leader I was going to be left flanker, with nobody at my elbow. I began to tremble.)

“Once they hit—straighten out those lines!—equalize those intervals! Drop what you’re doing and do it! Twelve seconds. Then advance by leapfrog, odd and even, assistant section leaders minding the count and guiding the envelopment.” He looked at me. “If you’ve done this properly—which I doubt—the flanks will make contact as recall sounds . . . at which time, home you go. Any questions?”

There weren’t any; there never were. He went on, “One more word—This is just a raid, not a battle. It’s a demonstration of firepower and frightfulness. Our mission is to let the enemy know that we could have destroyed their city—but didn’t—but that they aren’t safe even though we refrain from total bombing. You’ll take no prisoners. You’ll kill only when you can’t help it. But the entire area we hit is to be smashed. I don’t want to see any of you loafers back aboard here with unexpended bombs. Get me?” He glanced at the time. “Rasczak’s Roughnecks have got a reputation to uphold. The Lieutenant told me before he bought it to tell you that he will always have his eye on you every minute . . . and that he expects your names to shine!”

Jelly glanced over at Sergeant Migliaccio, first section leader. “Five minutes for the Padre,” he stated. Some of the boys dropped out of ranks, went over and knelt in front of Migliaccio, and not necessarily those of his creed, either—Moslems, Christians, Gnostics, Jews, whoever wanted a word with him before a drop, he was there. I’ve heard tell that there used to be military outfits whose chaplains did not fight alongside the others, but I’ve never been able to see how that could work. I mean, how can a chaplain bless anything he’s not willing to do himself? In any case, in the Mobile Infantry, everybody drops and everybody fights—chaplain and cook and the Old Man’s writer. Once we went down the tube there wouldn’t be a Roughneck left aboard—except Jenkins, of course, and that not his fault.

I didn’t go over. I was always afraid somebody would see me shake if I did, and, anyhow, the Padre could bless me just as handily from where he was. But he came over to me as the last stragglers stood up and pressed his helmet against mine to speak privately. “Johnnie,” he said quietly, “this is your first drop as a non-com.”

“Yeah.” I wasn’t really a non-com, any more than Jelly was really an officer.

“Just this, Johnnie. Don’t buy a farm. You know your job; do it. Just do it. Don’t try to win a medal.”

“Uh, thanks, Padre. I shan’t.”

He added something gently in a language I don’t know, patted me on the shoulder, and hurried back to his section. Jelly called out, “Tenn . . . shut!” and we all snapped to.

“Platoon!”

“Section!” Migliaccio and Johnson echoed.

“By sections—port and starboard—prepare for drop!”

“Section! Man your capsules! Move!

“Squad!”—I had to wait while squads four and five manned their capsules and moved on down the firing tube before my capsule showed up on the port track and I could climb into it. I wondered if those old-timers got the shakes as they climbed into the Trojan Horse? Or was it just me? Jelly checked each man as he was sealed in and he sealed me in himself. As he did so, he leaned toward me and said, “Don’t goof off, Johnnie. This is just like a drill.”

The top closed on me and I was alone. “Just like a drill,” he says! I began to shake uncontrollably.

Then, in my earphones, I heard Jelly from the center-line tube: “Bridge! Rasczak’s Roughnecks . . . ready for drop!”

“Seventeen seconds, Lieutenant!” I heard the ship captain’s cheerful contralto replying—and resented her calling Jelly “Lieutenant.” To be sure, our lieutenant was dead and maybe Jelly would get his commission . . . but we were still “Rasczak’s Roughnecks.”

She added, “Good luck, boys!”

“Thanks, Captain.”

“Brace yourselves! Five seconds.”

I was strapped all over—belly, forehead, shins. But I shook worse than ever.

 

It’s better after you unload. Until you do, you sit there in total darkness, wrapped like a mummy against the acceleration, barely able to breathe—and knowing that there is just nitrogen around you in the capsule even if you could get your helmet open, which you can’t—and knowing that the capsule is surrounded by the firing tube anyhow and if the ship gets hit before they fire you, you haven’t got a prayer, you’ll just die there, unable to move, helpless. It’s that endless wait in the dark that causes the shakes—thinking that they’ve forgotten you . . . the ship has been hulled and stayed in orbit, dead, and soon you’ll buy it, too, unable to move, choking. Or it’s a crash orbit and you’ll buy it that way, if you don’t roast on the way down.

Then the ship’s braking program hit us and I stopped shaking. Eight gees, I would say, or maybe ten. When a female pilot handles a ship there is nothing comfortable about it; you’re going to have bruises every place you’re strapped. Yes, yes, I know they make better pilots than men do; their reactions are faster, and they can tolerate more gee. They can get in faster, get out faster, and thereby improve everybody’s chances, yours as well as theirs. But that still doesn’t make it fun to be slammed against your spine at ten times your proper weight.

But I must admit that Captain Deladrier knows her trade. There was no fiddling around once the Rodger Young stopped braking. At once I heard her snap, “Center-line tube ... fire!” and there were two recoil bumps as Jelly and his acting platoon sergeant unloaded—and immediately: “Port and starboard tubes—automatic fire! ” and the rest of us started to unload.

Bump! and your capsule jerks ahead one place—bump! and it jerks again, precisely like cartridges feeding into the chamber of an old-style automatic weapon. Well, that’s just what we were . . . only the barrels of the gun were twin launching tubes built into a spaceship troop carrier and each cartridge was a capsule big enough (just barely) to hold an infantryman with all field equipment.

Bump!—I was used to number three spot, out early; now I was Tail-End Charlie, last out after three squads. It makes a tedious wait, even with a capsule being fired every second; I tried to count the bumps—bump! (twelve) bump! (thirteen) bump! (fourteen—with an odd sound to it, the empty one Jenkins should have been in) bump!

And clang!—it’s my turn as my capsule slams into the firing chamber—then WHAMBO! the explosion hits with a force that makes the Captain’s braking maneuver feel like a love tap.

Then suddenly nothing.

Nothing at all. No sound, no pressure, no weight. Floating in darkness . . . free fall, maybe thirty miles up, above the effective atmosphere, falling weightlessly toward the surface of a planet you’ve never seen. But I’m not shaking now; it’s the wait beforehand that wears. Once you unload, you can’t get hurt—because if anything goes wrong it will happen so fast that you’ll buy it without noticing that you’re dead, hardly.

Almost at once I felt the capsule twist and sway, then steady down so that my weight was on my back . . . weight that built up quickly until I was at my full weight (0.87 gee, we had been told) for that planet as the capsule reached terminal velocity for the thin upper atmosphere. A pilot who is a real artist (and the Captain was) will approach and brake so that your launching speed as you shoot out of the tube places you just dead in space relative to the rotational speed of the planet at that latitude. The loaded capsules are heavy; they punch through the high, thin winds of the upper atmosphere without being blown too far out of position—but just the same a platoon is bound to disperse on the way down, lose some of the perfect formation in which it unloads. A sloppy pilot can make this still worse, scatter a strike group over so much terrain that it can’t make rendezvous for retrieval, much less carry out its mission. An infantryman can fight only if somebody else delivers him to his zone; in a way I suppose pilots are just as essential as we are.

I could tell from the gentle way my capsule entered the atmosphere that the Captain had laid us down with as near zero lateral vector as you could ask for. I felt happy—not only a tight formation when we hit and no time wasted, but also a pilot who puts you down properly is a pilot who is smart and precise on retrieval.

The outer shell burned away and sloughed off—unevenly, for I tumbled. Then the rest of it went and I straightened out. The turbulence brakes of the second shell bit in and the ride got rough . . . and still rougher as they burned off one at a time and the second shell began to go to pieces. One of the things that helps a capsule trooper to live long enough to draw a pension is that the skins peeling off his capsule not only slow him down, they also fill the sky over the target area with so much junk that radar picks up reflections from dozens of targets for each man in the drop, any one of which could be a man, or a bomb, or anything. It’s enough to give a ballistic computer nervous breakdowns—and does.

To add to the fun your ship lays a series of dummy eggs in the seconds immediately following your drop, dummies that will fall faster because they don’t slough. They get under you, explode, throw out “window,” even operate as transponders, rocket sideways, and do other things to add to the confusion of your reception committee on the ground.

In the meantime your ship is locked firmly on the directional beacon of your platoon leader, ignoring the radar “noise” it has created and following you in, computing your impact for future use.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 306 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 308 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 26, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    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 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.

    19 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 29, 2010

    Not at all like the movie

    Although the movie was loosely based on this book, it is not the same. It is amazing to me that it was written in the 50's but is such a social commentary on our world today. When I was in the Army, I used to make my soldiers read it and give me a report about what it meant to them. Awesome read!

    13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This is a very interesting and thought-provoking book on several

    This is a very interesting and thought-provoking book on several levels. There is the military level, the science level and the political/social level. (The 1997 movie, by the way, has practically no relation to the book.)

    Military: I first read this book in the late 1960s, when I was on active duty in the Marine Corps. Then, it was a good future-war book with some outlandish science thrown in.

    Science: with the simple passage of time, much of the science has become more real. Many of the far-out things RAH described in 1959 are now in actual use in the military - if not directly, then as recognizable equivalents. Laser range-finders. In-helmet displays that show the full tactical situation from many sensors. Communication systems that can link every soldier. Directed energy weapons (although they are not man-portable yet.) And now the military is developing a powered exoskeleton for soldiers - only the armor needs to be added to make "now" match Heinlein's vision of 1959.

    Political and Social: I did not really discover this level - which I now believe is the most important - until the early to mid-1970s, when I was a Political Science major at the University of Maryland. It resonates for me because I am an immigrant, and Heinlein's political thesis could be taken from the Oath of Allegiance that every naturalized citizen takes. It is (mostly) a concise statement of the obligations of ALL citizens.
    "I hereby declare, on oath, that I ... will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; ..."
    In the world of Starship Troopers, the United States (and all other countries) are unified into a single world government. In that world, everyone has the right to do as they please with their life in every area except political. You cannot vote unless you are a citizen. (There is no citizenship at birth.) How does one become a citizen in that world? By doing the things required since 1920 of all US Citizens in our Oath of Allegiance: bear arms on behalf of the government, or perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces, or perform work of national importance under civilian direction. This is all voluntary - you are not drafted (at the beginning of the book, at least). A person in this world becomes a citizen by enlisting in the military or working in government civil service for a period of time. Usually that term is only a few years, you leave it as a citizen, and have earned the right to vote. However, there is the little catch - and it was there when I enlisted in the Marine Corps (before I became a US citizen, by the way.) My term was six years, unless I was directed to stay longer by order of the President because of war or national emergency. For the characters in the book, a war happened to break out while they were in training ...

    Even though it was written in 1959, this book is still relevant today. For me, now, it is mostly relevant as a reminder of how far science has come in a little over 50 years - and how close to today's reality Heinlein's vision was. I also review it for the political thesis, which is always worth thinking about - the concept that one thing, the ability to help select those who govern - must be EARNED rather than handed out at birth.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Military Sci Fi - Heavy on Military and Ethics

    Recently, I've been reaching back through the decades to catch up on some classic Sci Fi. I reread Herbert's "Dune" which is as heavy and awesome as I remember. I discovered Miller's "Canicle for Leibowitz" and plan on reading H. Beam Piper's "Little Fuzzy" before John Scalzi's take on it is released this Spring.

    I've never read "Starship Troopers". My only previous exposure to the story was from the 1997 action film with the same title. The book has only the BAREST resemblance to the film. I think the film is cool. It's not great, but it's kind of fun in a blow-em-up action film sort of way. But the book is very different.

    The story follows Johnny Rico as he graduates High School and decides to enter the military. He doesn't have a great suite of skills to offer, besides strength, and as we find later in the book - leadership. So he ends up in the Mobile Infantry - sort of like the Marines. We follow him through basic training, a few battle interactions and then into officer training school before a final "bug battle". Each jump in his military career creates opportunity for Heinlein to introduce characters and events that provide a platform for his discourse on the evils, morals, and theoretic benefits of war, violence, punishment and education.

    It was like a 250-page lecture on the ethics and morals of war, violence and race. It's beautifully written and appears to include very realistic and detailed descriptions of what life is like in the military - specifically, boot camp and officer training (I say "appears" because I've not been in the military to judge first-hand).

    In terms of action, there's very little of it. The opening sequence shows off the capabilities of a futuristic battle suit that allows soldiers to run and "bounce" at speeds of 40+ miles/hour. It's cool. The last 30 pages or so is focused on a tactical battle exchange with the "bugs" that are the focus of the military's eye throughout much of the book. Both scenes are very detailed militarily.

    Heinlein's "Troopers" is a classic and understandably so, but it's a bit of a product of the era in which it was created (cold war), and reads more heavy-handedly than a more fun and high action-oriented military sci fi story like John Scalzi's "Old Man's War" series.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2008

    A reviewer

    Starship Troopers is a must read for those who wish to discuss politics, the philosophy of accountability, and the rights of an individual. Do not read it for action, because it hardly exists.... but it is great literature for curing the disease of liberalism that is ruining the world.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2011

    Timeless

    Heinlein wrote ahead of his time and speaks from the past regarding many of today's social views. This book is timeless and the story spun by a master.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2013

    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 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.

    4 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 19, 2011

    Book came first :)

    I've read reviews stating, "The book is nothing like the movie" or "The movie is better than the book", etc...well, in my own way of thinking, as the book came first, everything should be in comparison to as how accurate "X" is to the original, i.e. the Book. The book has been and always will be a classic on military and ethics. When I first read it, it had only been around for 15yrs. It's still relevant today as it was back then. Now that it's in an eBook form, no worries about lending it out and never getting it back (lost 3 copies that way :/ ) Anyway, I give it 5 stars.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2010

    Starship Troopers

    I'm going to be honest. I didn't know this book even existed until well after I had first watched the film. I am happy to say however that the book far surpasses the film in every way possible. The book is about a young man, Juan "Johnnie" Rico who decides to join the military. The novel is set against a futuristic backdrop and could be very well described as science fiction. But unlike a lot of other science fiction that I've read, this book never becomes cheesy. Robert A. Heinlein never tries to bash you over the head with futuristic technology. Instead he brings up themes ranging from politics to military tradition. This tale should be a must read for science fiction fans or military fiction buffs. The book wasn't a particularly long read, but days after finishing it, I am still thinking about it, and that is a surefire sign of success.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS EVER!

    Robert Heinlein was in the middle of writing his seminal Science Fiction classic, "A Stranger in a Strange Land" when he happened to see youngsters on television protesting against serving in the Vietnam War. Furious, he wrote about what happens in a near-future pacifist society when they're attacked by an overwhelmingly hostile alien culture. His point: we need a strong military because some day we may REALLY need it. From this premis he crafted one of the most exciting hard sf novels of all time (which - alas - was made into a mediocre film). Heinlein is the only author who can put together space ships, battles, creepy aliens, mind powers, awesome technology, and great characters into a mind-blowing book that you will never forget. That's how you win a Hugo! - - Mary Tills, Barnes and Noble, Frederick, Maryland.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2008

    Excellent read

    The epic science fiction novel ¿Starship Troopers¿, by Robert A Heinlein, is perhaps one of the most controversial books of its time. It follows Juan ¿Johnnie¿ Rico as he trains and fights his way across the galaxy with the Mobile Infantry, 'MI', attached to ¿Rasczak¿s Roughnecks¿. Though not a well written novel, in the literary or grammatical sense, ¿Starship Troopers¿ kept me hooked because of the political ideals that Heinlein introduces. These same ideals are also the main source of conflict between his critics and fans, 'I now identify myself with the latter group'. Johnny Rico is introduced after his High School graduation. As an 18 year old, he is faced with two choices, join the Armed Forces and become a citizen of Terra, 'an allied earth of the future', or live a normal and prosperous life, but never be able to participate in the government. In an effort to impress a girl, 'typically', our young hero signs up for the military. Though he lists many jobs and roles ahead of the MI when he enlists, fate was not with him. Stuck in a dangerous and seemingly glory- less position, he is sent to the hardest boot camp in all of Terra, with the highest attrition rate. Somehow, he survives through his hellish training, and becomes enthralled with his newfound occupation. So, when a war breaks out with the ¿bugs¿, or Arachnids from the planet Klendathu, he, along with the Roughnecks, is sent off to war, and the story unfolds from there. Throughout the book Heinlein promotes a governmental system where only veterans run the government. His reasoning is surprisingly sound. Veterans, in his, 'and my', opinion, are the obvious choice for leaders. They have already proven their dedication to the country by risking their lives to protect it. Heinlein reasons that Earth would be a more peaceful place if its leaders knew the costs of war. In Heinlein¿s system, all people had the right to free and happy lives. Crime however, was dealt with harshly. Instead of babying criminals in an ineffective prison system, first offenders are flogged, and second offenders immediately win a death sentence. Heinlein believes, 'correctly', that dealing harshly with crime will serve to eliminate it in most cases. In one instance, Rico has a flashback to his High School years, and they speak of our system as being inhumane, and make a surprisingly good argument. He also believes that revolutions would be non-existent in this system, because the most aggressive people, the ¿sheepdogs¿, 'if I may refer to LTC 'ret' Dave Grossmans article', are the leaders of the government. The¿ sheep¿, those people who would not be likely to take up arms against the government, are safely protected under the government¿s power. These are just a very few points that Heinlein brings out in his novel, I¿ll leave you to find out the rest, 'wouldn¿t want to ruin the book!'. Though his critics call him militaristic, Heinlein manages to weave a thought provoking tale of war, bravery, and tragic loss, and offers a novel that has gone down in history as one of the greatest of its kind ever written. Though your opinion may differ then mine, anyone can appreciate the Johnny Rico¿s and Terran Mobile Infantrymen that live on today through their real life counterparts. All in all, this book was one of the most powerful I have ever read, and it would do you good to pick up a copy and follow the adventures of the Roughnecks, as I have.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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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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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2012

    Excellent Book

    Presents the possible development of a global state and its approach on law, including who should be able to vote and how criminal punishments should be handled. Very interesting!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 27, 2012

    The book is rather different than the popular sci-fi movie version

    The 1997 Starship Troopers sci-fi action movie is likely want many contemporary readers might first think of rather than this 1959 original book by Heinlein. While the running background plot of the "Bug War" is common, they are very very different stories. Whereas the movie focuses on the action of the war itself (and is very entertaining!) this book follows the life of Juan Rico from his entrance into the training program of the Mobile Infantry through his initial deployment and involvement in the Bug War, and his maturation as a young officer under battle. This story is very much a biography of Rico, told in the first person. It's a good read and those who liked the movie will find this a nice -- albeit much more "cerebral" -- complement to the movie storyline. Bearing in mind it was written in the late 1950s, there are some socio-political commentaries tossed in along the way that are very interesting viewed some 50 years later.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 6, 2011

    great story in orignal book

    I read this book back in the late sixty's. There two books out, one is the Heinlein book. It is a lot of reading and takes some time to read and some staying with it. The other is a copy of the movie and in the print verson it doesn't come as much enjoyment as the movie does. Reading the orignal book is better, more about the mobile army and the people in it. If they had made a movie that followed the orignal book it would have a great movie. That is why Mr. Heinlein didn't like having his books turned into movies. I recomend the orignal book and would take back the movie version to how sold it to me.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 13, 2011

    Fantastic read.

    I enjoyed this book a lot. There is a lot of talk about government and political theory which i thoroughly enjoyed. This book appeals on many levels and i definitely recommend it to any military fiction fan or anyone else for that matter.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 23, 2011

    Exciting and thought provoking military sci-fi

    I love this book. The attention to detal, his experimentation with future military operations and ideas, the politics, this is a real classic. The only downside is the kindle book price, are you frigging kiding me???!!!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2011

    My anchor to the writen word

    This story spoke to me as a young child and related a sharp focus to personal duty. Now that I am older i reflect on the parts of Starship Troopers that i hadn't grasped in youth and they strike even coser to home. For this i will always hold Heinlein's books closest. As young man lost in the world this book provides focus to goals not yet realized.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2011

    great sociopolitical view

    the best thing about this book is its take on future government and culture. fantastic vision of future life, if only we could live like this.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2004

    Virtual waste of time...

    Ok, this is a story of a soldier-of-the-future, but it was one combat scene right after another. It didn't feel any controversy or overwhelming story that would be beyond menial story-telling. I also couldn't relate to the characters or the story line. Then there's the political side, which is almost irrelevant. By the time I was halfway through, I couldn't wait for it to be over. However, I gave it 2 stars for the detail Heinlein gave the battle scenes.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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