Dan Schwent's Reviews > Starship Troopers

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
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Dec 26, 2010

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bookshelves: christmas-2010, sf, 2011
Read from December 31, 2010 to January 02, 2011

Against his family's wishes, Juan "Johnnie" Rico joins the Mobile Infantry and the war against the Bugs. Will he make it out alive?

Yeah, I don't really know what to think about this book. I picked it up solely because it was an inspiration for one of my favorite books, Old Man's War by John Scalzi. While the writing was very good, there was never an "I can't put it down" moment. I'd say ninety percent of the book was Juan Rico's military life. There wasn't a lot of action until the end.

I liked the universe Heinlein set up. This was probably the first appearance of power armor in sf. Aliens looking like giant bugs aren't overly original but they sure are creepy. Heinlein's depiction of military life seemed pretty accurate from what I've heard from people who've served.

It seems like I have more gripes than I thought. The rah-rah attitude toward military life got on my nerves after a while. For a story including power armor and giant bugs, Starship Troopers was kind of boring. I also never bought Juan Rico's reasons for joining.

I'd better balance this with a few more positives. I liked the reunion of Rico and his father. The look behind the curtain at the command structure did a lot to flesh out some of the supporting cast. The future tech was great considering the time in which Starship Troopers was written.

To wrap things up, I can see why Starship Troopers is a classic of science fiction but, just like with other classics, it doesn't mean you have to worship it. I'm glad I read it so I could see the inspiration for parts of Old Man's War but I doubt I'll feel the urge to re-read it any time soon.
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Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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Kemper I think Haldeman's Forever War is the best of the sci-fi armored-suit-war-against-aliens type book, but I haven't read Old Man's War yet.


message 2: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent I'm on the lookout for a cheap copy of Forever War and I've got Armor by John Steakley on the way. Steakley, incidentally, has the tastiest last name this side of Kevin Bacon.


Kemper I haven't read Armor, but I had a cheesy good time with Steakley's Vampires.

If I was Steakley and had a son, I'd name him T-Bone.


message 4: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Wasn't his Vampires the basis of John Carpenter's movie?

"These are my sons; Ribeye, T-Bone, and Porterhouse."


Kemper Yeah, the one with James Woods. But as usual, the book was a lot better than the movie.


message 6: by Mohammed (last edited Jan 02, 2011 12:27PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mohammed I did buy Old Man's War because Starship Troopers was the only great military SF i had read up to then. I didnt care for military sf action side, i was expecting better written,serious SF. Most contemporary Military SF tend to be about just super soldiers,wars outlook didnt change with Old Man's War book...

I have more hope for Forever War book.


message 7: by Terence (last edited Jan 03, 2011 07:59AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terence @Mohammed: Many consider Forever War the counter-argument to Starship Troopers so I think you'll definitely get a different point of view.

You might also be interested in When the Music's Over (ed. Lewis Shiner) which is another counter-argument to the rah-rah military SF crowd.

@Dan: Good review. Starship remains a guilty favorite of mine.


message 8: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim I was really lucky in reading these books at perfect times in my life.

"Starship Troopers" first while a teenager. I understood Rico signing up the way he did. I did it too, sort of for the same reasons, although several years after first reading the book. The RAH-RAH (pun intended) attitude made sense to my stupid, idealistic self of the time. Heinlein was frustrated from serving as he wanted to & certainly idolized the military.

I read The Forever War while in the Army or shortly after. I definitely understood the 'fuck it' attitude. Haldeman, a veteran of Vietnam, had a lot of company during that time.

I read Steakley's Armor while middle aged with a family & really connected with it. I read Old Man's War just last year. I'm over 50 now, so again it was very easy to slip into the character's POV.

They're all good books & are pretty much perfect for their times & places. Together they form a visceral essay of my & society's attitudes in life toward the problem of a war.


message 9: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Jim wrote: "I was really lucky in reading these books at perfect times in my life.

"Starship Troopers" first while a teenager. I understood Rico signing up the way he did. I did it too, sort of for the sa..."


I was thinking I probably would have enjoyed Troopers more if I'd read it when I was still in high school. Any more military sf to recommend?


message 10: by Mohammed (last edited Jan 04, 2011 05:38AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mohammed I dont think the age you read matters much with Starship Troopers. Its the end of his juvie writing days and its written like most of his mature 60s novels. More about political SF than fun teenage adventure anyway. But then i read it as adult and think more critically about it.

I just hope more military SF are as challenging ideas,SF wise. The story of Rico himself wasnt so important to me.


message 11: by Kemper (last edited Jan 04, 2011 06:49AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kemper Haldeman has another good one called Forever Peace. It's not a sequel to Forever War. (Forever Free is the follow-up to that one.) But FP is set in the near future on earth where the US uses armored robots operated by users via links to beat down third world countries. It's kind of like Avatar meets Platoon.


message 12: by Mohammed (last edited Jan 04, 2011 09:45AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mohammed Kemper wrote: "Haldeman has another good one called Forever Peace. It's not a sequel to Forever War. (Forever Free is the follow-up to that one.) But FP is set in the near future on earth where the US uses armo..."

I have high hopes for Haldeman military SF, i was really impressed by his writing in the short story "None So Blind".

I have plays homework for school right now but i hope to go for SF reading spree with Haldeman,others.

No more crime,fantasy ;)


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