In the spirit of paying homage to the writers that inspired me to start this magazine I want to take some time, read some books maybe watch some movies and type about them. The first in the line up, and a private shame that I hadn’t read before, is Robert A. Heinlein’s 1959 novel Starship Troopers.
As a synopsis, Juan “Johnnie” Rico goes against his family’s wishes and on his 18th birthday enlists in the military. The progression covers his enrollment into the boots on the ground branch and his climb through the ranks and responsibilities. He in quickly involved in the interstellar “Bug War” against an insectoid army with an organization similar to termites.
I appreciate how Heinlein moved the character through the story, having been made aware of Rico’s enlistment and progression through the “Bug War” in the 90’s with the completely alternate telling that the movie presented. The experiences that Rico has moving through his boot camp and training make sense, I felt I was able to understand why those decisions were made, it almost instilled me with a sense of patriotism for the Terran federation. Conversations were important, each new character that you encounter helps drive the progression and demonstrate how the military experience that Rico has truly changes him.
It’s very well written, and invokes solid thinking about civic duty and the relations between people in the military and their responsibilities related to society. Sadly, I found it kind of bland. The events that occur, such as the catastrophic invasion of a major bug strong hold fails to illicit any heightened tension. Heinlein manages to take what could have been a solid representation of the “horrors of war” and make them feel commonplace. While presenting a grocery list of life events and military actions he’s done it so well that the bland delivery keeps me engrossed and turning pages as rapidly as magnificent space operas. It’s a strange feeling.
Tl;Dr-Starship Troopers takes the less sparkly matters of a story and presents them with such understandable detail that it’s difficult to put the book down. Using only limited explanations of the technology that is present in the world he still immerses you into a solid science fiction universe. I don’t feel that it glorifies the military but it does provide an explanation for why someone would choose that path. It’s a great story but not for why I was expecting.