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Worlds Without End Blog

GMRC Review: Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein Posted at 12:33 PM by Charles Dee Mitchell

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WWEnd Grand Master Reading ChallengeGuest Blogger and WWEnd Member, Charles Dee Mitchell, has contributed a great many book reviews to WWEnd including his blog series Philip K. Dickathon and The Horror! The Horror! He can also be found on his own blog www.potatoweather.blogspot.com. This is Dee’s sixth GMRC review to feature in our blog.


Starship TroopersMy Junior high school library had a copy of Starship Troopers on the shelf. I never read it. I had read some of the Robert Heinlein juveniles, and I think I assumed Troopers was another. I had also read a paperback copy of The Puppet Masters, which was one of my first forays into genuinely adult SF and of course I loved it. But I loved monsters more than military, and so Troopers never caught my attention although I loved that first quote, “Come on, you apes. You want to live forever?”

Soon I quit reading science fiction in general and I got the word that Heinlein was the bully pulpit for the military establishment. Boo. Hiss. So I was was surprised that the novel was not nearly so jingoistic as I expected. I think it would have defeated me, however, in seventh grade. Despite the good action and cool bugs, that middle section of officer training school would have done me in.

Grand Master Robert A. HeinleinA couple of reviews I read emphasized that the novel should not be confused with what the reviewers obviously considered the vastly inferior Paul Verhoeven 1997 film version. These reviewers must be the true believers. I loved the movie when I first saw it and thoroughly enjoyed it watching it again after reading the novel the other day. Verhoeven passes Heinlein’s text through the deconstructionist mill. (Did Michel Foucault get a consulting credit?) I’ve already said the novel did not strike me as the jingoistic broadside I anticipated, but what fun to see these minor celebrities giving their severely limited all to this high-gloss parody of everything Heinlein must have held dear. There is a rumor that the actors, few of whom were the sharpest pencils in the studio box, had no idea they were being made fun of. I think that like most young actors with few credits to their names they were more interested in their paychecks than in the socio-political implications of their characters.

Book and film should absolutely be absorbed as a single experience. Probably the book should be read first, just so you do not have to picture Casper Van Diehm in the leading role until the last possible moment.

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4 Comments

Dave Post   |   29 Aug 2012 @ 07:44

I love Starship Troopers, the book and the film loosely based on it. And I mean loosely. It’s still great campy fun. I like your idea of reading and watching them together. I’ve done that with Make Room! Make Room!/Soylent Green, Dune/Dune/Dune (mini series) and I am Legend/The Omega Man/I am Legend among others.

Emil   |   30 Aug 2012 @ 05:17

I was strangely absorb in the novel. And I confess that since my own review of the book, I’ve watched the film a few times, and yes, am now also a (in the cupboard) fan of the movie. Can’t say the same about the sequels (although in a macabre sense, there is still something there). Good old unadulterated fun. Even so, Casper still hasn’t convince me that he is the quintessential Rico. But Michael Ironside is bad ass! (He’s also not a bad Richter from that PKD story).

charlesdee   |   30 Aug 2012 @ 10:54

Emil,
I have not seen the sequels. But they show up often enough on SyFy that they are bound to end up on my DVR at some future date.

Casper van Diehm is one of those actors whose careers, such as it is/was, has been kept alive by the syfy network. Take a look at my Starship Troopers posting on Potato Weather for a definitive Casper van Diehm moment.

http://potatoweather.blogspot.com/

Dee

Jeremy F   |   01 Sep 2012 @ 05:30

I read Starship Troopers a while back but didn’t watch the movie for fear of everyone out there saying they were so loosely related. This is a different take than I’ve normally heard and now I think I’m going to have to make an effort to watch it. Everything I hear focuses on how bad the movie is but no one ever talked about it as campy fun. That is something I can get into!

About the book, it is funny. When I first read it, I wasn’t real impressed to be honest. Since then, I’ve read a few books that made me realize how very influential Troopers was and noticed how much some others I’ve read in the past also relied on Heinlein’s lead, and it has given me more respect for it.

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