Book Review: Starship Troopers

Robert Heinlein. Starship Troopers 1959.

The Good:

Heinlein wrote a very solid sci-fi novel. It contains my favorite science fiction elements:

  1. Speculative World Building: The imaginative nature of the battle armor and the change of civilization at the advent of interstellar travel are both very exciting.
  2. Speculative Philosophy: The author has his characters philosophize about the nature of war between humans and other species as well as about human nature in a fashion that is made compelling because of the stakes in the story. I think that the philosophy leaves much to be desired, but it very nearly is the most compelling modernist expression of ethics I’ve read and I’ve read a lot.
  3. Quotable moments:
    1. “There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men. We’re trying to teach you to be dangerous – to the enemy.” (77)
    2. “That old saw about ‘To understand is to forgive all’ is a lot of tripe. Some things, the more you understand the more you loathe them.” (141)
    3. “On the bounce.” (various)
    4. “Now continued success is never a matter of chance.” (233)
    5. “If I ever find a suit that will let me scratch between my shoulder blades, I’ll marry it.” (131)
    6. About what was learned in officer candidate school: “Most especially how to be a one-man catastrophe yourself while keeping track of fifty other men, nursing them, loving them, leading them, saving them-but never babying them.” (221)

The Bad:

The world was very compelling, the characters were interesting, but the story itself didn’t seem to go very far.

Conclusion:

I highly recommend this book. It is pleasant yet challenging read.

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