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on April 22, 1997
Starship Troopers is arguably one of Robert Heinlein's most misunderstood novels. Fans and critics alike have often been guilty of grossly oversimplifying this deep and multifaceted work. What the author began as a simple action-adventure/coming of age story for a line of juvenile books mutated along the way into a very adult exercise in speculative sociology (and yet still reads well as action-adventure and coming of age.)
The central theme of Troopers is, "How would society be different if we had to earn our citizenship and right to vote instead of having it handed to us just for being born?" Note that Heinlein never advocates or denounces this idea--he merely presents it as something worth thinking about and asks the question "Is it any less rational that the system we currently use?"
The story follows the journey of Johnnie Rico--a high school graduate who impulsively enlists in government service to impress a girl. He initially has fuzzy visions of flying military spacecraft into combat and wooing the heart of his high school infatuation. Reality quickly comes crashing down around young Mr. Rico when he learns that the only thing he is qualified for is the Mobile Infantry--the hardest, dirtiest, most dangerous, and ultimately the most important branch of Earth's armed forces.
Because the story follows the adventures of a military recruit it has often been criticized for being "overly militaristic." Frankly this is like calling Moby Dick "overly nautical!" Obviously a book about a soldier in training is going to deal heavily with the workings of the military establishment. Starship Troopers has also often been criticized as being "fascist", "advocating military dictatorship" and "ultra right wing." All of these criticisms seem to ignore what is actually printed in the story. Military service is just one way of earning citizenship. Not only can those engaged in government service not hold political office, they cannot even vote until their service is over. Most of Earth's citizens (note that Heinlein is writing about a world government--the ultimate horror for the ultra right) are content to let a tiny minority do the dirty work of serving and voting--there is no compulsory service of any kind and ordinary people seem to enjoy as much or more freedom than do contemporary Americans.
Although the book can sometimes bog down when characters get preachy Starship Troopers is a must-read for any true fan of science fiction, or for that matter any reader who would likes to see a master imagineer play with ideas most people take for granted.
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on April 21, 1997
After reading many reviews, I was skeptical whether the book could be that good. I found the book to be a good science fiction work but also a lesson in philosophy. Normally, I'm not interested in anything too deep but this was well done and not overpowering. For those wanting an action packed shoot-um up, this is a fair book. If you want some mental stimulation with some alternative ideas as well as a good read, I would highly recommend this book. It will be interesting to see how well the movie does at capturing the emotions and ideals developed in the novel
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on April 16, 1997
Surprisingly, I've been an RAH fan for years. I say "surprisingly" because my personal philosophy is the antithesis of Heinlein's: I'm a liberal Democrat and Baptist. Heinlein, as we all know, had little use for either democracy or religion.
As science fiction novels go, I can see why "Starship Troopers" is a classic. This was not the first novel about futuristic war, but it was probably one of the first books (sci fi or otherwise) to look at war in quite this way. Heinlein's vision of the future is both frightening and attractive. True, Johnnie Rico's world is safe and well-governed. But--putting government entirely into the hands of veterans just because they are veterans? Anyone who has followed the recent Aberdeen proving grounds scandal (or the Nuremberg trials or various others) should know that military service is no prerequisite for social or individual responsibility.
I was disappointed in one respect (the reason why the book rates an "8" rather than a "10"). I seemed to have missed the controversy in this book! True, Heinlein predicted that the United States was a doomed experiment, but I cannot see how this generated all the hate mail, etc. Perhaps my reaction is just a reflection of the disillusionment of most post-Baby Boomers. Unlike our parents, we no longer believe in the American Dream, so Heinlein's thoughts are not so alien.
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on April 15, 1997
Starship Troopers is pure gold Heinlein. It is championship science fiction, and one of the most unusual works of the genre ever written. Up to its publication, science fiction was a pulp universe of plot-heavy what-if stories. Starship Troopers signaled a sea change (it did not completely embody it - after all, Philip K. Dick was just emerging then as well) to an arena of ideas.

This novel is the boldest expression of the author's individualistic social philosophy, giving full throated voice to Heinlein's view of the duty of the citizen in a democratic state. As extreme as it seems to our 1990's sensibilities, and as extreme as it seemed at the time to 1950's sensibilities, the argument can be made that had our citizen's followed this path rather than the excesses of the Baby Boom generation, the United States might be better off today. Just that such ideas could be debated is a giant testament to a science fiction novel of the Eisenhower years.

If there's a flaw, it's the same I found in Ayn Rand, that there is too much talk for a story promising such juicy action, which makes for a kind of tease. But when the action arrives, it thunders. "Bugs, Mr. Rico! Zillions of them. I'm mowing them down!"
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on April 11, 1997
Starship Troopers is a must read by all sci-fi fans and by any serious student of government. I first read Starship Troopers as a young Lieutenant in the Marines and later incorporated it as required reading for a Leadership course I developed for Navy and Marine Corps Student Aviators. It is found on most military reading lists and has the distinction of being one of the few fiction and the only science fiction book to be found on such lists. I was privileged to serve as a Military Technical Advisor on the movie adaptation and I have seen most of the footage. Director Paul Verhoeven and Screenwriter Ed Neumeier have translated the book into a big-budget, coming of age "kick ass and take names" action adventure. Those who are expecting long scenes of Heinlein type sermonizing should stick to the book. You can't translate a 272 page novel into a 120 page movie script without changes. This is a first-class action movie by the same team that made Robocop and I'm looking forward to it
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on April 10, 1997
I first read this book when I was about 17 then reread it when I was 21, and just the other day at 28. Each time it has reminded be about what it means to become a man. This book teaches something different at any age. When I was 17 it made me look to the future to make my destany come true. At 21 it made me look back at 17 and see how much my world view changed from 17. How different I was from that young age. Now at 28 the book makes me want to change, as part of a natural order, I look to the future and wonder what will I be then.
I keep this book very close to my hart.
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on April 6, 1997
Heinlein provides a quick read (~ 200 ppg) view into the life of an Airborne Infantyman in the 22nd century. Actual "Space Combat" only occurs during the opening and closing chapters of the book. The rest is dedicated to the protaginists description of his time in service and reflections on topics from government philiosopy to crime. Ironically, he predicts female fighter pilots, teen violence and a runaway deficit well ahead of their time (the original edition was published in 1958). The book gives a good insight into military life and thought of any century
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on April 2, 1997
Generally considered one of his best adolescent novels, "Starship Troopers" shows a very different side to Heinlein
than his widely-read "Stranger in a Strange Land." Troopers showed me how someone could enter military service voluntarily, explaining concepts like duty and patriotism through Heinlein's didactic prose and events in the protagonist's life.

Don't be fooled by the word "adolescent." Like many of Heinlein's novels, the ideas underlying the plot aren't childish at all; although I first read this book when I was in grade school, I probably didn't understand it until I became an adult. There's more here than a simple adventure story.

Heinlein claims to have written for three reasons: First, to make money. Second, to make his readers think. Third, to entertain. I think you will find that this book more than satisfies all three categories.

The movie version of this book is due to be released in the summer of 1997. It seems to have been billed as an action movie, which seems tantamount to turning "Moby Dick" into a Jaws-like whale hunt. Heinlein's novels don't make the transition to the big screen very well; while the exterior parts may remain, the soul of the books is often found only in Heinlein's sermon-like passages. "Puppet Masters," for example, was changed from a psychological thriller into "Aliens" when it hit the big screen. If you are interested in reading this book based on having seen the movie, you probably won't be disappointed--but an alien shoot-em-up it's not!
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on April 1, 1997
Arguably one of the greatest science fiction novels ever published. Starship Troopers follows the life of one ordinary young man through the beginning of a military career. Even more important than the story are the political and social references to a citizens duty to his/her society, and that society's priveleges extended back to the citizen. A fore runner of Heinlein's TANSTAAFL (There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch) philosophy, it highlights Juan Rico's (he's Filipino, not Argentinian)journey into adulthood, not just through the crucible of military life and warfare, but his understanding of his family, and his society. I read this the first time when I was seventeen, and it convinced me to do service for my country. I've since gone back and read it, and inferred many of my other obligations of citizenship since then. No matter your political leanings, this is a novel that will make you think
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on March 30, 1997
In this book, RAH explores the question "What is freedom worth?" Using one of the characters he states, "Nothing of value is free." This theme is a ribbon running though the book . It is just as thought provoking today as it was when it was written - Do we own our nation something in return for our privileges? Should we have "rights" without being expected to pay for them?
Set in the early twenty-second century, the book presents the development of young and naive Johnnie Rico. It follows him though the horrendous boot camp of the Mobile Infantry and onto the battle field. As he is exposed to new concepts and experiences, he is challenged to come to grips with the internal issues of personal courage, self-discipline, and the boundaries and benefits of loyalty.
The issues addressed are not science fiction but real and must be faced by every person in society, whether in a position of authority or not. Although presented in a military setting, these issues and the ideas expressed will provide rich food for thought to people who want to be managers and leaders. It emphasises that you can't "do" without first "being." Any leader, civilian or military, Non-commissioned or commissioned officer. junior or senior executive will benefit from reading this book. I strongly recommend it to anyone who will ever be in charge of or reporting to another person. This book demonstrates Robert Heinlein's imagination and ability at their best
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