Starship Troopers

Friday, April 6, 2012


Starship Troopers
Robert A. Heinlein, 1959

Hugo Winner - 1960

Premise: Johnny Rico wants to be a citizen, which means he has to join the military. Over his parents' objections, he enlists. He is placed in the Mobile Infantry, and learns to operate power armor, just in time for the human race to be faced with interstellar war.

I have a slightly complex relationship with this book, as I think many people do. I enjoy it as early military Sci-fi, I enjoy the action, I enjoy the world. The politics I think are a little slow. Not that the questions raised are uninteresting, or that I don't sympathize with some of the conclusions posed by the book, but whenever the scene turns into a didactic monologue, the pace of reading just slows to a slog.

It's a question of balance. I think there is too much monologue-ing and not enough dialogue, not enough questions that characters don't know the answers to, not enough action that affects the answers to these questions. The character building is weak, as well.

On the other hand, I have to give it credit for being so incredibly influential. So many franchises and books and movies that I love have roots here, mostly in the vision of humans in exo-suits fighting bug-aliens on distant planets.

The book is unapologetically pro-military and pro-military mindset, which doesn't really bother me in and of itself. At least there aren't any conveniently incompetent bureaucrats for the characters to rail against, they just made snide, unprovable comments about how things “used to be”.

There's some decent humor, and I do think the plot (thin as it is) is interesting. I do like this book, but I want to like it more than I actually like it.

3 Stars – A Good Book

List of Hugo Award Winners

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