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Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

Starship Troopers (original 1959; edition 1987)

by Robert A. Heinlein

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7,991118404 (3.9)222
Title:Starship Troopers
Authors:Robert A. Heinlein
Info:Ace (1987), Mass Market Paperback, 263 pages
Collections:Your library

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Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein (1959)

Recently added byprivate library, nielsnej, D.ThoursonPalmer, Sheilah.Egan, Switters, mccbookdrive, Vasher, Egonor
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English (113)  French (4)  Italian (1)  All languages (118)
Showing 1-5 of 113 (next | show all)
Everyone goes down! Everyone fights!
  Hack | Jan 18, 2015 |
Starship Troopers has a great first chapter, one that feeds you information about the setting and main character gradually and skillfully, without beating you over the head, and simultaneously gives you an exciting story. By the end of the first chapter you not only have a good idea of what the mobile infantry is, you have a sense of its ethos and the tone of the rest of the book as well.

The rest of the first half of the book seems largely dedicated to undermining the best qualities of this first chapter.

While the first chapter gives you small details that let you piece together what role the mobile infantry fills on your own, the next several chapters don't attempt this organic story telling, instead relying on the far less skillful practice of info dumping. While the first chapter allows you to absorb the ethos of the mobile infantry through the actions they take, the next several chapters instead feature preachy speeches in abundance (not as bad as those in Stranger in a Strange Land, but uninteresting nonetheless). While the first chapter ends with a line that subverts your expectations and hammers home that this isn't going to be a story glorifying the military, but one that highlights the sometimes tragic and absurd nature of military life, subsequent chapters use the same ending structure to the point where the effect is substantially reduced. If the book had ended after the first chapter I would have been left impressed and wanting more. Instead at the end of the book I was left thinking that it clears the low, low bar set by similar books The Forever War and Old Man's War, but that overall it was only a moderately successful work.

There are several good qualities to this book. For one, Heinlein's writing, while not that technically impressive, is visceral in a way that makes you feel and care about the action occurring. This story is one of frayed nerves and confusion as often as it is one of regimented order, and Heinlein's writing makes you feel both. Also of note is that there are actual characters here. Rico, the narrator, is the only one that gets fleshed out, and he's not particularly intelligent or thoughtful in a believable way. Other characters, though not given substantial arcs or attention, often have personalities that are more than just archetypes. Compare this to later books in this subgenre like Old Man's War, populated with characters I would call cardboard cutouts except that would be an insult to cardboard. Starship Troopers is a cut above. Finally, Heinlein does a good job crafting this world, and isn't afraid to leave some elements of the universe- "a memory man, a telepath, a senser, or a lucky man"- unexplained and up to the imagination. This isn't a writer that introduces every element, then explains it with some lengthy paragraph immediately after, and the book is better for it. The reader is left not knowing exactly how all the pieces of this universe fit together, but in a way that makes the book feel realistic, not incomplete.

Despite these positive qualities, this is a solid work but no masterpiece. When Heinlein has a character spout his pet theories of crime, rights, and war as if it were the foundation of the most effective society in human history, it's hard not to roll your eyes. Heinlein was no expert in these fields, despite his military service, and his understanding of these issues struck me as overly simplistic, if not downright foolish. Much of the book is taken up by Rico's training, and it's clear that Heinlein was drawing on personal knowledge for this, but unfortunately this isn't the first story of bootcamp I've read. As Heinlein himself wrote, "You can take descriptions of most any sort of weather out of an almanac and stick them in just anywhere; they'll probably fit.” To me the same is true of bootcamp stories. Go watch the Band of Brothers episode Currahee instead of chapters 2-7 of this book, and you'll have experienced an essentially identical narrative (Band of Brothers does it better, actually). After the excellent first chapter, none of the rest of the book reaches that level.

Some people would love this book, but I didn't . It's a notch above the terrible competition in the military sci-fi genre, and definitely read this over The Forever War or Old Man's War. Overall, however, I can't call Starship Troopers anything better than solid, despite the impressive first chapter. ( )
  BayardUS | Dec 10, 2014 |
I did not find the protagonist compelling, had a hard time following the plot and character motivation at some points, and all the whole endless "watering the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots" business got pretty old pretty quick. Not to mention whole social-worker-as-elitist-monster screed, as he describes the "decadent 20th century democracies" and filled with "a pre-scientific pseudo-professional class who called themselves ‘social workers’ or sometimes ‘child psychologists.’ [Corporal punishment of children] was too simple for them, apparently, since anybody could do it, using only the patience and firmness needed in training a puppy. I have sometimes wondered if they cherished a vested interest in disorder." Some troubling descriptions of how evolution (and devolution) works as well. The longwinded descriptions of rank and military hierarchy protocol were also seriously tedious.

However! I did like some aspects of the world he created, and I will read more military sf, although it will probably be something that comes from a more critical standpoint, such as [b:The Forever War|21611|The Forever War (The Forever War, #1)|Joe Haldeman|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1167322714s/21611.jpg|423]. ( )
  behemothing | Oct 25, 2014 |
The question that I kept asking myself as I was reading this was "How have I managed to NOT read any Heinlein until now?"

I think that the best way that I can review this book is to keep things short and sweet. To be blunt, I loved Starship Troopers. I enjoyed the characters, the storyline, the pacing and the prose. Everything about this book was fun and entertaining.

The best way that I can describe it is Full Metal Jacket in space. For the most part, that film follows along the same basic plot lines of this book. The first portion of the book concerns itself with the experiences of the main character as he proceeds through military training. The second portion follows his experiences as he moves on to active duty entering a war that has been going on for quite some time.

Overall, a very entertaining read that comes from an author who had a tremendous influence on the science fiction genre and set the tone for many other authors and film makers. ( )
  StefanY | Sep 12, 2014 |
Less than ten pages in and we're already taking a potshot at female drivers? WOW.

I wish fate had bestowed Heinlein's knack for breezy writing and clever one-liners upon someone who understands the virtues of characterization and/or isn't a sexist ass. ( )
  ellen.w | Jun 1, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert A. Heinleinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davies, Gordon C.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
James, LloydNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lundgren, CarlCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warhola, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I always get the shakes before a drop.
Anyone who clings to the historically untrue-and thoroughly immoral-doctrine that 'violence never settles anything' I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and of the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler could referee, and the jury might well be the Dodo, the Great Auk, and the Passenger Pigeon. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedom.
"The noblest fate that a man can endure is to place his own mortal body betwen his loved home and war's desolation."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0441783589, Mass Market Paperback)

Juan Rico signed up with the Federal Service on a lark, but despite the hardships and rigorous training, he finds himself determined to make it as a cap trooper. In boot camp he will learn how to become a soldier, but when he graduates and war comes (as it always does for soldiers), he will learn why he is a soldier. Many consider this Hugo Award winner to be Robert Heinlein's finest work, and with good reason. Forget the battle scenes and high-tech weapons (though this novel has them)--this is Heinlein at the top of his game talking people and politics.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:22 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

With Earth embroiled in a vast interplanetary war with the "Bugs," a young recruit in the Federal Reserves relates his experiences training in boot camp and as a junior officer in the Terran Mobile Infantry.

(summary from another edition)

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