Robert A. Heinlein’s book Starship Troopers, Is a Science Fiction classic for many reasons. Not least among these is the controversial way that Heinlein uses the book to comment on the idea of militarism, and military service.
The book is centered around the life and experiences of main character Juan “Johnnie” Rico and his exploits in the Terran Federation Mobile Infantry, as he and his comrades fight against the ‘bugs’.
The novel is mainly about the everyday experiences of a ‘grunt’ in training, service and ascension of rank through excellent performance within the structure of the military establishment and the relationships between officers and their colleagues of both higher and lower rank.
Johnnie examines through his narration, after the attack of his home by the ‘Arachnids’ the alien enemy on the planet Klendathu, the voice of society as it first quietly supports an anti-war mentality and how it then changes to that of pro-war policies and movements.
Heinlein’s work on this book is believed to be a defense of his philosophy regarding the use of Nuclear Weapons, and military science in general.
The novel is an essay of sorts, rendering Heinlein’s philosophies in a hypothetical format.
Interestingly enough, Starship Troopers is on all of the U.S. Military branches academy’s reading lists as required reading. Oddly, many of the things that Heinlein wrote about are now considered normal parts of military service, such as being mainly volunteer oriented service, as opposed to conscripted.
The book is full of references to historical wars, and even in its use of slurs towards the Arachnids of Klendathu, Heinlein shows a similarity to the slurs used by American soldiers to its many enemies in war.
Regardless, it is an essential Science Fiction read, as it is the basis for many subsequent Sci-Fi ideas. It is one of the pinnacle books of the genre.
The book is available to borrow from Randolph County Public Library.
Feel free to join us for our next meeting, on Thursday, March 15th in the Meeting Room downstairs.