Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein

Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein

Just finished Starship Troopers, which I was first introduced to a number of years ago by the movie of the same name. Suffice to say that the movie is quite different from the book; however, I don’t think having seen the movie detracts from the book — probably because the book is much more cerebral than the battle-focused movie.

This was my third Heinlein read. My favorite thus far is still The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, but I’m sure I’ll still be reading more of his stuff.

One aspect of ST that I enjoyed was the picture of a world where government is controlled by individuals who are selected for via a grueling process of elimination. I’ve often remarked that the only individuals who’d make good politicians are those who did not want to be politicians. Said differently, anyone who desires to be a politician, wishing to control others, is the very sort of person I do not want to be a politician!

Heinlein solves this problem by creating a society that only allows the military to vote. In this society, those who make it into the military are all volunteers and are held to incredibly high standards where it appears the slightest mistake can be punished by flogging or even death.

It’s an interesting solution — one worthy of some thought. It’s also seemingly at odds with libertarian ideals (which are put forth subtly in TMIAHM). However, Heinlein’s solution is provocative.

Other ideas in ST include the nature of man and the nature of morality. Having recently read Speaker for the Dead, it’s challenging to conceptualize right/wrong with regards to race when there are multiple races throughout the universe. Is it “us” (humanity) or “them” (some other alien race)?

For such a short book (about 275 pages), Starship Troopers packs a lot of punch. I recommend reading it.

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