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Starship Troopers Paperback – June 27, 2006
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“Nothing has come along that can match it.”—Science Fiction Weekly
“A book that continues to resonate and influence to this day, and one whose popularity and luster hasn’t been dimmed despite decades of imitations.”—SF Reviews
“Heinlein’s genius is at its height in this timeless classic that is as meaningful today as when it was written...a fast-paced novel that never gets preachy. This is a definite must-have, must-read book.”—SF Site
About the Author
Robert Anson Heinlein was born in Missouri in 1907, and was raised there. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1929, but was forced by illness to retire from the Navy in 1934. He settled in California and over the next five years held a variety of jobs while doing post-graduate work in mathematics and physics at the University of California. In 1939 he sold his first science fiction story to Astounding magazine and soon devoted himself to the genre.
He was a four-time winner of the Hugo Award for his novels Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), Starship Troopers (1959), Double Star (1956), and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966). His Future History series, incorporating both short stories and novels, was first mapped out in 1941. The series charts the social, political, and technological changes shaping human society from the present through several centuries into the future.
Robert A. Heinlein’s books were among the first works of science fiction to reach bestseller status in both hardcover and paperback. He continued to work into his eighties, and his work never ceased to amaze, to entertain, and to generate controversy. By the time he died, in 1988, it was evident that he was one of the formative talents of science fiction: a writer whose unique vision, unflagging energy, and persistence, over the course of five decades, made a great impact on the American mind.
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As for this book bear in mind when it was written but go along with the story to the very end and try not to compare-and-contrast with adaptations until you've finished the book. I'd first read it in nearly one sitting, and promptly forgot it, being more impressed with Heinlein's short stories and novellas that served as my introduction to him. Fast forward some decades with intervening exposures to the subject movies and TV series and I read it again...in nearly one sitting. No spoilers here, but suffice it to say it's not all about boot camp and the Bugs, and even when Heinlein "pauses" to Explain Things the story moves right along, and admirably so.
Thought still held? Challenge yourself next with some shorter works by Heinlein, in particular, "--And He Built a Crooked House--", "By His Bootstraps", and "--All You Zombies--" (lately adapted for the film Predestination). To paraphrase a vintage TV commercial, bet you can't read just one at least twice...because you'll WANT to.
Johnnie Rico is our guide in the book, taking us from his last day in school to enlisting and ending up in the Mobile Infantry. This is world-building in a microcosmic way, examining the inner workings of the M.I. while Johnnie keeps up a running banter on the good and the bad. One might think that a story told primarily in the mind of its protagonist would be boring. Mr. Heinlein's deep detail along with Johnnie's viewpoints keeps the interest level high.
When dialogue is injected into the book, it is usually to teach something. The battle sequence near the end of the book is a great example, and the discussion and lecture on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness during Johnnie's Morals and Philosophy class are a highlight of the book. I find myself wishing that the author was still alive, making it possible to ask if he really believed those sentiments or if he had merely crafted an incredible (and very defensible) position just for the book.
While undoubtedly controversial when it was published in 1959, a world where one must serve in the military in order to gain citizenship would probably be greeted with not much more than a shrug today. Readers would be missing something special, however, if they reject this book for another read. Mr. Heinlein’s reasoning still holds up today, and the military descriptions are extremely entertaining and anything but dry. Five stars.
The audio version of this book is terrible. We’ve all heard the occasional oversampling that occurs, presumably when the readers have to go back in and record corrections. Typically, there’s a small change in the voice that’s a slight distraction and then you don’t notice it a few seconds later.
This book is absolutely full of them. To the point it’s a frequent distraction. The quality is sophomoric. Imagine listening to a sentence and having someone record 3 words in the middle of it in a poor quality monotone and just splice then in. That happens over and over in this book. So add this to your to-read list, but ignore the audible narration unless you can get it for a dollar or less.