Starship Troopers

Starship Troopers (ST) by Robert A. Heinlein

ISBN 0441783589 Text-based facts about the book, rather than interpretations, are presented on StarshipTroopersTheBook.

Comments about the 1997 Paul Verhoeven film Starship Troopers, based (loosely, some say) on the Heinlein novel, at StarshipTroopersTheMovie

Considerable verbiage has been written and deleted here about whether Heinlein was a fascist and whether the ideology expressed and/or satirized in the book is fascism. The fact that the wilder and more critical views have been deleted itself smacks of fascism, or at least intolerance. Then again they were pretty much crap.


A theme carried in this book is a theme that appears in a number of his other writings: nothing is free, you have to work for whatever you have (no FreeLunch). Heinlein's own later commentary brings up this point.

In The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress it's expressed as TANSTAAFL -- ThereAintNoSuchThingAsaFreeLunch.

This book adds a dimension: No Authority Without Responsibility.

The framework has led to the above-mentioned ideology arguments, but I found it more interesting that he was diametrically opposed to the "free ride" in any form, even down to internal slogans like "everyone works, everyone fights" (expressing the sentiment that in this military there are no completely specialized jobs that allow for context-specific down time, e.g. a cook suits up and fights; a sniper rolls sleeves and washes dishes). People who have only seen the movie will recognize the slogan, egregiously misquoted, as "everyone fights, no one quits," the misquote completely loses the spirit of the original line.

My biggest beef with the movie was its deliberate and systematic mis-characterization of the book. I can live with "character folding" (where e.g. Colonel DuBois? becomes Lieutenant Rasczak) which saves character development time in a screenplay, and even the sacrifice of the personal armor so you can see people's faces, but inserting scenes with frenzied kids stomping bugs and other allusions to the evolution of the Nazi state (uniforms, mannerisms), and the idiotic inclusion of a TV personality (scientist?) insisting that he finds the idea of a "bug that thinks offensive," that's certainly not high art. The producer or director kept justifying this in the name of satire, but I find that "offensive" inasmuch as he had to know that most of the action flick fans that would see it would have no context having never read the book, even after the reprinting.


CategoryBook, CategoryScienceFiction

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