Onward Starship Troopers!

Grant Wentzel Starship Troopers

It’s a classic!  So I’m told.   The boy in me likes to climb up out from under the covers once a year or so to nix another seminal sci-fi classic off the list of Things To Read Before I Die.  Usually – I’m being honest here – I’m a little disappointed.  But dagnabbit! this one seemed to have potential.

First of all, there’s the movie. I rather enjoyed Paul Verhoeven’s cheese-ball-o-fun from 1997.  Lit up with the sparky charisma of thespian Denise “Wildthing” Richards, this little romp through the bug-infested universe proved to be worthy of every one of it’s direct-to-dvd sequels.

Secondly, there’s that 5-syllable word plastered all over every pulpy paperback reprint of the thing: Controversial!  That’s it!  Money on the barrel, baby!  I’m sold!

And now I know what the fuss was all about: It seems that  Mr. Heinlein decided to write in the Randian tradition, heavy-handedly dictating the tenets of the ideal republic while fantasizing about what he’d a-done if he was lucky enough to storm the South Pacific with the doughboys of the big one.

Fine by me.  It’s his book after all, and if he has a few grudges to grind against the axe of postwar America he should feel free.  And so it was that the man was branded a fascist for his futuristic fancy of a benevolent military-led limited democracy and it’s get-your-ass-in-gear final solution to all of the 20th century’s ills.

However, I’m intrigued enough by Heinlein to dig out a copy of Stranger In A Strange Land.  Turns out that his depiction of a do-as-you-please Martian civilization spawned not only a cult following but an actual cult of free-lovin’ longhairs in the 1960s.

I have a feeling people take this guy way too seriously.


  1. Grant … Soooo, is “Troopers” a good read. I read “Stranger” last year. It was OK, nothing to write home about.

  2. Hey Brian —

    Like your review of “Stranger,” to sum it up in one word: “OK”

    There’s some good food for thought in there (regarding systems of government, rights vs. responsibility, that sort of thing.) Actually, it wouldn’t be bad required reading for some sort of high-school civics class. Although there’s nothing groundbreaking in there, it does address much of what once taught as “Problems Of Democracy.” Getting ideas across in the candy-coating of sci-fi adventure could have its benefits.

    So… ! If you choose to read it, you will not have wasted your time. But life is short, and the list of book worth reading is very, very long.

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