Starship Troopers

13 06 2008

I just finished an outstanding book by Robert Heinlein called Starship Troopers.

“Yeah, yeah,” you say, “they made a movie out of it.”

Well, kinda, if you could say that Emeril took a few rolls and a couple of luncheon slices and made a feast for everyone in Hollywood on the A List and B List, and all their friends.

I just read IMDB’s plot summary of the movie, but it completely missed the point of the book. It got all the action – about 10% of the book, but completely missed the lessons (Heinlein’s views) on government, civics, capital punishment, juvenile delinquency, suffrage, civic virtue and warrior psychology.

The plot summary – or at least one contributor’s summary – said that the movie was a horrific view of the future where the government was way beyond anything Fascists or Nazis had cooked up. But addressed the movie, not the book, and do that in a paragraph.

The Wiki reviews the book, and in much greater detail. It also provides references to some of the names used in the book, such as Camp Arthur Currie, linking to the Wiki article on Arthur Currie, a Canadian General who made his reputation as the premier general of World War I.

OK, so much for the links to other sources. Why did I enjoy the book? Basically because Juan Rico’s thought process as he went from a high school graduate through the end of his first deployment from OCS (Officer Candidate School) as a 3rd Lieutenant, struggling with the various concepts of juvenile delinquency and capital punishment (several of his fellow soldiers, including himself, receive corporal punishment of various degrees, including the ultimate degree of capital punishment), civil rights/civic virtue, suffrage,
and government.

Not that I agree with everything he says, but he certainly provides a firm foundation and rational for each of the premises that he lays out in the book, and that kind of detail, provided by the hero’s discussion and argument with himself, is interesting, and makes the character alive. I harkens back to dorm bull sessions back in the day, except the bull sessions in this case are all introspective conversations with himself.

Another thing I liked about it is that it gives civilians a view into the making of a soldier: building camaraderie, teamwork, discipline, and the instantaneous and unthinking reaction instilled in soldiers.

So, long, very long, on introspective conversations with himself and bull session discussions with other, and short on action, but a very impressive and active book anyway. I highly recommend it.

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