Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Monday, November 07, 2011

Starship Troopers

Another book I've been reading from the library is Starship Troopers, a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, which won the Hugo Award in 1960. I read it once before when I was a teen and I remember feeling guilty because it was a pro-military and socially/politically conservative story and then, as now, I was a liberal peacenik :) but when I saw an audio version at the library, I thought I'd re-read it. Here's a bit about it from Wikipedia ...

The first-person narrative is about a young soldier from the Philippines named Juan "Johnnie" Rico and his exploits in the Mobile Infantry, a futuristic military unit equipped with powered armor. Rico's military career progresses from recruit to non-commissioned officer and finally to officer against the backdrop of an interstellar war between mankind and an arachnoid species known as "the Bugs". Through Rico's eyes, Heinlein examines moral and philosophical aspects of suffrage, civic virtue, the necessities of war and capital punishment, and the nature of juvenile delinquency .... The novel has attracted controversy and criticism for its social and political themes, which some critics claim promote fascism and militarism. Starship Troopers has been adapted into several films and games, with the most widely known being the 1997 film of the same name by Paul Verhoeven.

The book kind of reminds me of another science fiction novel, The Forever War, but it's very different too. The Forever War was written in 1974 by someone who'd served in the army during the Vietnam war and it's fairly anti-military, but Starship Troopers was written in 1959 by someone who's served in the navy during peacetime and it's fairly pro-military. As Wikipedia states, The Forever War has ... been considered to be a critical response to Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers. There was lot of controversy inside and outside of the science fiction community about the militarism and possible fascism in the book - if interested, you can read more about that at the Wikipedia page.

Do I recommend the book? Well, it may be dated and agenda-driven, but if you like old science fiction or Heillein you might like this :)


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