Starship Troopers

Gethenians and Bugs

Something I had been pondering in class, but didn't really get around to talking about was a comparison between the Bugs of Starship Troopers and the Gethenians. I was considering how we responded very differently, as did the protagonists, to the bugs and the Gethenians and what some of the factors are that go into that.

First Response

On a certain level, this novel seems to extol the virtue of the military. All of the characters who we are supposed to respect do at some point come to the conclusion that all real men are military men, that it makes sense that one can only be a citizen after completing a term of service. Dubois believes this from the beginning. He drills the idea of the importance of civic duty, and of violence into his students during History and Moral Philosophy: "breeds that forget this basic truth [that violence settles most anything] have always paid for it with their lives and freedom" (27).

Some thoughts on Neuromancer, more.

It took about two-three chapters, but I realized that I had already read Neuromancer before. I finished the book, and I enjoyed it. Both the first and second readings were enjoyable. But one of the things most enjoyable to me was just like in Starship Troopers, and a number of other great Sci-Fi books, things happen behind the novel that prop it up. Never is it said explicitly in the novel that there was a World War, or some kind of culmination of the cold war. I inferred that from the Screaming Fist incident with Corto that at least some sort of conflict occurred.

Response to Starship Troopers

Response To Heinlein's Starship Troopers

The difference between an MI man and a bug is...

I'm tempted to call this novel nostalgic, for all of its debatable purpose and philosophy. Of course I wouldn't be the first to call it so, and part of the reason the jacket calls it "The controversial classic of military adventure" is the long history it has spawned of civilian readers being to some degree upset or suspicious of the almost fond way in which this future society of citizenship through military service is described; but still I had promised myself going in that I was going to try and find Heinlein's real philosophy behind the novel.

observations on the status of women

I ended up coming to this text from a general feminist perspective, since the dominant voices in the story are obviously male, and women are only seen in scattered instances, both inside and outside the military system.

Individualizing Civilians within the Federation

While the bugs are all kinds of huge in the movie, I was surprised at how little they actually figured in the book. The entire book I kept waiting for the epic bug fights, as my previous introduction to the story had been through the second half of the movie. A third of the way through the book, Rico gets out of boot camp. The bugs aren't even mentioned until the halfway point. For all that there is commentary about the evil commie hive-mind bugs, I found that they had virtually no importance in the novel. The book never truly ends, and the bug war certainly doesn't. Rico has had time to make it to Lieutenant, and it's still the same war against the same enemy with heated combat.

The Federation strikes me much more as a war industry than a political force. It doesn't matter who the enemy is, it just matters that there is an enemy, and that it is very different from humanity.

Truth, science and religion in ST

Okay, so I'm a bit science and religion obsessed academically, but I think the discussion here could be fruitful. This really goes back to the class discussion about the "scientifically verifiable theory of morals" (p. 118). I think Riceguy20 is totally right to highlight the quote "Man has no moral instinct" (p. 117) as really important -- through the instrument of Mr. Dubois, Heinlein constructs the ultimate 'science trumps religion' universe.

Perhaps the film isn't totally ridiculous...

Robert Heinlein is not overly concerned with subtlety. Perhaps fearful of some particularly dense reader missing his unmitigated support of the military, big government and capital punishment, Heinlein places only the thinnest of sci-fi veils over his long-winded political monologues. This does not make it a bad read -- the plot is still compelling -- but when I reach the scenes of History and Moral Philosophy classes, I do want to throw something at him, as roseblack says. This future world in which Johnny Rico operates has indeed been radically altered.

heinlein response

Of the many interesting things that Heinlein addresses in Starship Troopers, the thing that captures my attention the most is his discussion of power, both its origins and the ultimate responsibility which comes along with it. As American voters have, over the last fifty years, become less and less engaged in the political discourse and more dissociated from the violence (or threat thereof) from which their political power is derived, Heinlein's views on this have become even more pertinent, not less.

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