One of the highly regarded science fiction classics, there was no doubt when I started researching where to start in the genre that this was the place. Starship Troopers follows Juan “Johnnie” Rico as he serves as a Mobile Infantyman for the Terran Federation of Earth. The Federation is currently at war against the arachnids, or “bugs” of Klendathu. The beginning of the novel follows Johnnie during a raid on the Skinnies (allies of the bugs) and the things he sees that night. However, the majority of the book follows Johnnie as recalls his past. His days at boot camp under Sargeant Zim, his first time in combat, his days at Officer Candidate School, and discussions in his high school History and Moral Philosophy class make up the meat of the novel. Essentially, we follow Johnnie as he matures, experiences new things, and gets over the hurdles that life throws his way.
Starship Troopers is very militaristic, very science fiction, but what suprised me was how human I found it to be. While that might seem a ridiculous thing to say considering the ‘science fiction classic’ label, this is what I mean. Heinlein not only described war and military service in a society far more advanced than many of us can dream, he also got into the mind of his character. I was able to go through everything Johnnie experienced, but also feel what he felt. Fears, hopes, realizations… these are all things I was able to feel within myself while reading.
Starship Troopers was a great read. I laughed aloud at certain comments, nodded in agreement to several of the class discussions Johnnie recalls, even got teary eyed when Johnnie was reunited with his father. This book is several things, a science fiction literature standard, a political and social commentary, or whatever else you might want to see it as. For myself I consider this simply a good book that I will surely return to in the future. I am not disappointed in anyway by Starship Troopers, which is good considering I built up all of these ideas in my mind about what science fiction should be while I was reading about it. All in all this is what I have to say, whether science fiction is a genre you read regularly or not, Starship Troopers is a must read.
While I generally don’t share quotes in my reviews, I feel obligated to do so for this one…
This very personal relationship, ‘value,’ has two factors for a human being: first, what he can do with a thing, its use to him… and second, what he must do to get it, its cost to him. There is an old song which asserts ‘the best things in life are free.” Not true! Utterly false! This was the tragic fallacy which brought on the decadence and collapse of the democracies of the twentieth century; those noble experiments failed because the people had been led to believe that they could simply vote for whatever they wanted… and get it, without toil, without sweat, without tears.
Nothing of value is free. Even the breath of life is purchased at birth only through gasping effort and pain.
The above really hit home for me.
On a lighter note…
But, in general, powered armor doesn’t require practice; it simply does it for you, just the way you were doing it, only better. All but one thing – you can’t scratch where it itches. If I ever find a suit that will let me scratch between my shoulder blades, I’ll marry it.
And lastly, I got a laugh out of this one…
In a mixed ship, the last thing a trooper hears before a drop (maybe the last word he ever hears) is a woman’s voice, wishing him luck. If you don’t think this is important, you’ve probably resigned from the human race.