Hugo: Starship Troopers (1960)

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
Read January 26, 2010 – February 6, 2010

Premise: A future militaristic fascist utopian human society fights a constant war with the hive-minded communist Bugs on an alien planet. We follow cadet Juan Rico from the time he joins the Federal Service through his ascent up the chain of command.

Verdict: You know, I really adored this novel. This was another book we had to read for class. The discussions that come up about Heinlein’s worldview and politics amuse me exceedingly. The man wrote 32 novels and they try and pin him on just this one. The other that I’ve read is Stranger in a Strange Land—vastly different in all respects. You will notice my love/hate relationship with that novel. This one I simply love. Let me put on my gender-police hat for a minute: the females are just as crucial as the males to the success of any given mission and all Naval captains are women because they are more skilled. The amusing remarks about women being sexy etc are not even write-offs of their gender but exaltation of their ability as well as their attractiveness. Also, if anything were to be offensive, it’s a first-person narrative and therefore is not saying things with the omniscient truthful authority of a third-person narrator. Gender-police hat off. This is a really cool book! It makes you think. It gets you all hyped up with the action-adventure and then makes you pull back a minute and say “woah Sparky! Those are some interesting politics you have there.” And then once you say that you realize that there’s no reason they aren’t valid except through our own social conditioning. Very interesting. This book also stands up well to the years. It was published in 1959 and it felt just as current in technology, flow, and style as if it were published last year.

I enjoyed this novel and recommend it. It’s short, fast, and fun. Heinlein is becoming a swift favorite.

(For the record, I do like Sirens of Titan better—a novel also nominated for the Hugo this year—but I suppose I understand why this won in 1960.)

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