Book Review: Starship Troopers

I’ve81LFWqiZaVL never done a book review before on here before, but as I’m trying to expand my horizons and read more sci-fi and stuff, I decided I might as well start. However, this isn’t exactly a typical book review, as it will involve my analyzation of the author’s style of writing and why the plot/setting/characters work or don’t work, since I think that’ll be more useful to writers.

Today’s book is Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein. The book follows Juan “Johnnie” Rico as he joins the infantry during “The Bug War”, fighting against alien Bugs. There are a few points I’d like to touch on for this book.

REALISTIC NARRATION

The book was written in first person, from Johnnie’s POV, and I found the narration to be very unique in the fact that it sounded like he was writing his experiences down at a later point rather than it happening right now. The way he wrote fit with autobiographies and journals I’ve read, making the story seem realistic even though it was taking place in an almost completely different world than ours.

Another thing that added to the realism of the narration was that when Johnnie would explain things to the readers, he would only explain things that people of his time period wouldn’t understand, not going into detail about things that the people should know about, even if the readers didn’t, which I thought helped a lot.

INTERESTING PREMISE

In this system of government, to be able to get citizenship and vote, one would have to serve in the military for a term of at least two years, and the military only accepts volunteers, which I found to be a very unique and interesting premise. The idea is that, by choosing to fight for others, you’ll fight for better laws and rights as well.

“Under our system every voter and officeholder is a man who has demonstrated through voluntary and difficult service that he places the welfare of the group ahead of personal advantage.

“…Social responsibility above the level of family, or at most of tribe, requires imagination–devotion, loyalty, all the higher virtues–which a man must develop himself.”

COOL TECHNOLOGY

The most prominent technology used in this book were the powered suits. They work through negative feedback, which I don’t really understand, except that when you move, it moves, it allows you to jump higher and farther, you can communicate with other people, ther’es lots of guns and bombs, and you can do all sorts of other cool things with it. Johnnie describes it as looking like “a big steel gorilla, armed with gorilla-sized weapons”.

The M.I. (the Mobile Infantry) are dropped from spaceships in shells that wear away as they travel through the planet’s atmosphere, letting them land on the ground in their powered suits in order to complete whatever objective they’re ordered to. They’re called “drops” and the first chapter starts out with one of them.

NOT MUCH PLOT

While there is the plot of Johnnie moving through his life in the military and kind of a growing up plotline, there wasn’t a defined big plot to get out of it, like there is in most adventure/fantasy/sci-fi books.

That doesn’t mean the plot was bad, though. It actually fit with the rest of the book, especially with the autobiography-like narration. The style of the plot reminded me of old classics, where it’s about someone’s life, but it’s not arranged in this saving-the-world plot or anything.

I actually thought this added a little bit to the realism of the book (though I do wish there was a bit more of a climax at the end) because in a person’s life it’s not like they normally have that sort of perfectly organized plot line in a lot of books.

STRONG MORALS & THEMES

The reason why this book is considered controversial to many people is because they think Heinlein wrote it simply to add in his own beliefs on how the military and government should work. Maybe he did, but I thought they were really interesting and added to the development of the government and military.

Some of the beliefs I didn’t quite agree with, but some of them I did. The moral that I liked the most out of this novel was the element of loyalty between the soldiers.

But you don’t walk away on another cap trooper, not while there’s a chance he’s still alive–not in Rasczak’s Roughnecks. Not in any outfit of the Mobile Infantry.

WHAT I LEARNED

The main thing that I learned was that a science-fiction novel doesn’t necessarily have to be an adventure-ish novel–it can be just as interesting and popular while using a “classic” style, and I also learned a lot about the life of someone in the lower ranks of military. And other stuff too, but my mind doesn’t want to work right now for some reason.

Overall, I thought this was a great book, and I found it to be a very interesting read. I ended up really liking it, even though it wasn’t what I expected, and I recommend it.


Have you ever read/heard of Starship Troopers? Was this book review helpful or merely interesting (or even uninteresting)? Do you have any advice for future book reviews? I’d like to improve my reviewing skills. And do you have any suggestions of books I should read? I’m mainly focusing on reading science fiction right now, but I love other genres too.

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Science Fiction vs. Fantasy

A year or two (or three) ago, my dad gave me a book called How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card. I didn’t exactly read it, but I did start it, and the entire first chapter was about how a writer needed to choose whether they wanted to write sci-fi or fantasy and then stick with that because publishers weren’t going to let you do both. (At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s about. My memory is a little fuzzy.)

I didn’t really think much about that, because I already knew–I was a fantasy writer. I grew up reading–no, devouring–fantasy books by the hundreds, and my foundation was fully built on them. My reading of fantasy books vs. sci-fi books was at least 100 to 1. So it was fairly obvious that that would be what I would write.

The only thing is, recently all of my ideas have started to lean toward the science fiction side of things. There’s the epic sci-fi, which is several books of sci-fi, first of all, and the last few short stories I’ve written are also sci-fi. Then I keep having novel ideas that are sci-fi, like Alpha Star, which is a sci-fi with intergalactic space travel, where a mother has to save her son who was taken from her.

Pretty much, all of my ideas that used to be fantasy related are now all slowly turning to be science fiction related.

I’m kind of thinking the only reason I want to write sci-fi is because it’s another “fantasy” to me, another place where I can create different worlds (discovered by space travel), different creatures (aliens), and a different “magic system” (technology). It’s certainly not because I know about science and have read hundreds of sci-fi books.

However, I don’t just want to give up fantasy and move to a new genre. I do still have ideas for fantasy novels, and I do still want to be a fantasy writer…partly.

So what do you think? Should I just write in one genre? Do I need to have read as many sci-fi books as I have fantasy to write it successfully? And is it possible for a writer to successful publish in multiple genres, or should they just stick to one?

I think I’m going to keep my options open for now, but I’d love to hear your opinions on the subject.