Mike's Reviews > Starship Troopers

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
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's review
Oct 15, 14

really liked it
bookshelves: science-fiction, war, classics, also-a-movie, reviewed, here-be-aliens

The book title says Starship Troopers, but there is remarkably little Starship Troopering (that's a word, right?) in this book. A few battles here and there but it does not come close to occupying the majority of the book. Instead Heinlein uses this space to build up and explore a new type of government and society as well as the nature of responsibility. I am pretty sure the military backdrop is there to draw in teenage boys (such as myself upon the first read) and because Heinlein had a thing for Military Sci-Fi. But the meat of this book isn't in lasers, it is in political philosophy.

Instead of taking the prevalent existing government structures of his day (Western capitalism and Soviet communism) as the basis for his future government, Heinlein instead envisioned a government where only people who had served the government for a certain amount of time (either in the military or some civilian capacity) could vote in elections and hold office. These people were known as citizens while the people who did not serve were known as civilians. Civilians still had full civil rights save for enfranchisement.

Heinlein couched this form of government in a world where most of the world governments and societies broke down and it was veterans who stepped in to restore order and instituted the service laws. The thinking being that if a person served the government for several years they would understand the value of service and responsibility to their country and be better citizens resulting in better political decisions being made.

In the idealized world Heinlein creates this form of government might work. Everyone who wants to take on federal service could and were used to the best of their ability; no one was turned away. People who do not want to serve are still afforded the suite of rights existing Western Democracies offer. Everyone wins: people who care about the government can serve and take part in it, those that don't can avoid military service but still hove lots of freedom. Sounds great, right?

Well, most things do in the vacuum of theory. Obviously this system could be susceptible to corruption, infringement of rights, and overthrow by (in this world a very powerful and far reaching) military. I personally do not think such a system would be sustainable in its pure form in the long run as Heinlein believes, but I also don't think Heinlein seriously thought that as well. He offered up his view in order to get the idea out there and stimulate discussions. I think Starship Troopers does an excellent giving this political idea a context where it could be effectively conveyed without sounding like a 50 page political rant (cough::JohnGalt::cough).

And did I mention is also has cool power armor and giant spider aliens? Because it does and it is pretty darn awesome.
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