“Workers are easy to capture. But a Bug worker is hardly more than animate machinery. Warriors can be captured by burning off enough limbs to make them helpless – but they are almost as stupid without a director as workers. From such prisoners our own professor types had learned important matters – the development of that oily gas that killed them but not us came from analysing the biochemistries of workers and warriors, and we had had other new weapons from such research even in the short time I had been a cap trooper. But to discover why Bugs fight we needed to study members of their brain caste. Also, we hoped to exchange prisoners…”
(Trooper Johnnie Rico giving the reader a quick knowledge breakdown of Bugs.)
Ok, I profess that, prior to reading this novel, my only experience of Robert A Heinlein or Starship Troopers was via the 1997 movie. Considered by many to be an over-budget B movie, I did actually enjoy it although I have little time for the sequels.
However, now I’ve read the book! You know when someone finally convinces you they are right about something and you just stand there slowly nodding your head with that look on your face?
Well, that’s me.
Whilst I still admit that the movie did a good job of expanding out the gore and the action, it really doesn’t do the novel justice. Only a few pages in and you can tell that Heinlein knew his stuff; the terms, the characters and the training camps were all detailed enough for you to swear Johnnie Rico was real and he’d actually done all the things he’s telling you about.
Written in a first-person viewpoint, we get a real insight into what it takes to get into the Mobile Infantry and, most importantly, what you need to do to stay alive once you graduate. However, the deeper you get into the novel, the more you realise that the real story isn’t about the Bugs or even the war, it’s more about the social criticisms of military life and moral philosophy.
Heinlein is considered to be part of the trinity of Science-Fiction writers (Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke being the other two).
Can I argue with that based on my limited Sci-Fi knowledge? Definitely not, especially when he has previously won 4 Hugo Awards out-right.
That’s right, Heinlein is amongst a select group of authors that are that good, the World Science Fiction Society had to travel back in time to award Hugos to novels that they had missed!!