Starship Troopers – Robert A Heinlein

Several people have raved to me about Robert A Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, telling me the movie was awful, missing the point of the novel.

Oh dear.  It’s safe to say I was very disappointed.

Starship Troopers is the story of Johnnie Rico.   He joins the army to impress a girl, but finds a place and career in the Mobile Infantry, the high tech army of the future.  Most of the novel is taken up with descriptions of Johnnie’s training, as a private and then as he trains to be an officer.  It’s a loving exposition of a fictional military culture and discipline, with a lot of detail about training, discipline and equipment.

Heinlein seeks to present a case about the value of the military.  Those who are prepared to put their own lives and safety in jeopardy in order to protect others are, in Heinlein’s hypothesis, the only ones who have shown they can be trusted to express views about the running of a country.  Hence the prerequisite for military service before one becomes a ‘citizen’, entitled to vote.  It’s an interesting hypothesis, but it doesn’t hold water.

Given when Starship Troopers was written, I was hoping for more satire or a bit of social comment.  The Korean War was in full swing, posing real questions about US military might and the fighting of the Cold War by proxy.  But there is none of that here.

Overall, this was a bit of a disappointing read for me.  But I liked it more than Scalzi’s Old Man’s War.  Which is saying something at least.

Goodreads rating: 2*

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