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Starship Troopers

Robert A. Heinlein

Reviewed by Lorenzo Princi
Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
Cover Concept by Lorenzo Princi, 27 February 2012
I always get the shakes before a drop

The opening line is almost a warning before Heinlein launches us into his scary, cosmetic, idealist, dystopian perfect world. The humans, 5000 years into the future are powerful and span the galaxy with their large star ships.

The first person narration of Johnny Rico runs almost as a twisted parallel of Paul Bäumer in All Quiet On The Western Front. We are taken from his high school education, to his infantry enlistment all the way through military education until his service in the war, helping the federation 'squash' the Klendathu threat.

The horror in the story comes not only from the overgrown bugs which are the external threat but from Heinlein's presentation of a militaristic utopia. The characters are idealistic, beautiful, young and ever-ready to fly the flag. Seeing the story unfold through the eyes of Johnny Rico, there is no fear or doubt. We aren't in Orwell's Europa nor Huxley's Brave New World, this is Earth, powerful, abundant, self serving and unified. Rico questions not, but serves royally, though this is not to imply naivety.

The war in the novel rages not within (their is no rebellion or civil unrest) but in space against a terrifying alien enemy far away making it all the more easier and to some degree safer to demonstrate to the population who the enemy of freedom is. Sound familiar?

The book won the Hugo Award which Heinlein also won with other works including Stranger In A Strange Land and is a landmark in science fiction writing. Highly entertaining, oddly funny, ironic and a tribute and insight into military life. One thing that stood out when reading this book was the style, it doesn't sound dated at all and though written in the 50s and 60s, at no point was I removed from the world or time of the story.