For me, Starship Troopers is all the proof you need in order to name Robert Heinlein science fiction's greatest writer. I am getting in the bad habit of naming specific Heinlein books to be his very best, only to find that the next novel I pick up is even better than the last one. This particular novel is fascinating on a number of levels. There is nothing really special about Johnnie Rico; he's a normal lad who decides to join the military, ostensibly at the time in order to gain citizenship. In this future Terran confederation, only those who serve in the military are awarded citizenship and granted the privilege to vote. The government actually discourages volunteers and makes boot camp so difficult that only men with proper soldier qualities get through it. On the broadest level, we see Rico's progression from harrowed recruit to active service in the Mobile Infantry to combat against the Klendathu. I have no military background at all, but I found Heinlein's descriptions...
For those readers who may dismiss this book as a mere novelization of the action movie, please read on. This book was written in 1959 and is NOTHING like the movie. For me, it is one of the best novels that I have ever read in any genre. Starship Troopers tells the tale of a young man who decides to join earth's marine fighting force against a variety of alien enemies. However, the book spends little time actually in action scenes describing the various conflicts. Much of the book is all about the boot-camp of the future, the rigorous training that the men go through and the psychological state of not just the recruits but also of their commanders. This is a beautiful book, rooted in the American military traditions of World War II. It exudes the concepts of honor and courage in a poetic, easy-to-read manner. It discusses military and societal theory in such a way that the reader does not get bored, and much of the political commentary is interesting and insightful...
The screen version of this classic SF novel is less an adaptation than a counterargument. In a way that's appropriate; Heinlein was certainly trying (or at least expecting) to generate loads of controversy with this work. But if you're about to read _Starship Troopers_ for the first time, it's only fair to warn you that _whatever_ you think of the film, you'll be disappointed if you expect the book to resemble it very much. (Director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Ed Neumeier took incredible liberties with, and sometimes even directly contradicted, the book on which their film is 'based'. It's a fine film on its own terms and I think it's been unjustly maligned. But it's not this novel; it's the next round in an ongoing dispute with this novel. And whatever else the movie has going for it, its _military_ action is incompetent to the point of silliness.) I've been reading Heinlein for nearly forty years now. I don't think this is one of his best three or four novels, and...
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