In this weekly series, we bring you the genre novels you really should have read by now…
STARSHIP TROOPERS by Robert Heinlein
First Published: Originally as a serial over the course of several magazine issues in 1959, it was published as a novel at the end of that year.
Genre: Science Fiction
“Happiness consists in getting enough sleep. Just that, nothing more.”
— Johnnie Rico
Summary: Johnnie Rico, a member of the mobile infantry, recounts how and why he joined the military before being sent off to join in the fight with the intelligent, spider-looking “Bugs”. Various times in Rico’s life are covered, from high school (most specifically his “History and Moral Philosophy” class), his basic training, first action in the war, and Rico’s eventual decision to become a career military officer. Action and introspection fill the story surrounding much social commentary representing certain views from the 1950’s.
On Screen: Most famously, Paul Verhoeven’s 1997 film adaptation (which completely missed the mark), followed by a few sequels and an animated series (all of which were inspired by the book, but not based specifically on events therein).
In Other Media: Comics and various games have been released.
In Popular Culture: This book was the origin of “powered armor” that has become a staple of sci-fi books and movies. It is hard to top that among Military SF fans. It also directly or indirectly influenced many acclaimed later novels such as Ender’s Game, The Forever War and Old Man’s War, among others.
Awards and Nominations: Won the Hugo award in 1960.
Did You Know? Starship Soldier (the story’s original title) was written in response to anti-nuclear test and proliferation sentiments, to which Heinlein was violently opposed.