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posted ago by GoldenPlains ago by GoldenPlains +33 / -1

Welcome to the final discussion thread of our first book club for Starship Troopers!

At the request of a few users that wanted a dedicated thread for discussion of the book in it's entirety this will be the last thread for Starship Troopers.

Rules are simple, you can talk about anything in the book.


Previous Discussion

Chapters 1-2

Chapters 3-6

Chapters 7-10

Chapters 11-14


I'm going to post the recommendation thread for the next book of book club on Friday. Please don't post them in this thread or DM me, wait until that post.

Thanks for participating, if you have any suggestions or thoughts on how to improve book club please let me know.

Comments (22)
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GoldenPlains [S] 11 points ago +11 / -0

For some reason I remembered there being a ton more action in the book. But I'm guessing that is because when I last read it I was a young kid and liked the fighting of it. Reading it as an adult is a completely different experience. I got a lot out of the philosophical and societal questions that the book raised. Their solutions to these questions also seem reasonable and well thought out with evidence supporting them.

Watching Johnny's transformation from naive kid to a man who understands his place in the world was wonderful. He didn't even really know why he joined at first but as we move through the book he finds the reason. The growth of the character was shown not only through the physical suffering he went through but also the mental challenges he was presented by the instructors through out his military experience.

This book has moved up on my recommended reading list when talking to friends and co-workers now. Really glad this was the first book of Book Club. It was the perfect pick honestly.

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8BitArchitect 7 points ago +7 / -0

I think the book had a total of two and a half chapters of action (though one of those could easily have made three chapters) out of 14. From what I've read of Heinlen he very much prefers to write character and idea driven stories, with 'action' only included as necessary.

One particular aspect of Johnny's growth that I liked (and would have loved to see more of) is his growth from unproven replacement in Rasczaks Roughnecks to leader of Rico's Roughnecks. This is one area where I think the movie conveys the emotion of the situation a bit better (as it takes a bit longer between the introduction of Rasczak (who is combined with Mr. Dubois in the movie) and the Roughnecks, Rasczak's death, and Rico assuming command.) Another action chapter showing how Rasczak ran the Roughnecks in combat, and some time showing him interacting with the troops would have gone a long way toward helping the reader empathize with Johnny and he comrades (though perhaps Heinlen intended to show an aloof yet still beloved leader, as opposed to the more personally invested ones we see elsewhere in the book.)

Looking at their system of government, and then our (the US) military, I'm not certain implementing such a system here would result in a society anywhere near as utopian as The Federation, but I also admit that our military doesn't operate the same way theirs does (notably, their training and operations seem to be much more... pragmatic than ours, and they don't allow civilians to become commissioned officers directly.) I generally support restricting the right to vote/hold office to those with some 'stake' in the system, and I think using some sort of (virtually unrestricted) volunteer service as the 'stake' is an elegant way of getting around the tendency to create an underclass that will never obtain full citizenship, but I'm concerned that implementing such a system with our current military/government would simply accelerate our slide into totalitarianism. I don't see any easy way to save Western society, just a long hard slog through the culture (if that's even possible at this point) or a brutal overthrow of the current system (which could easily give us a worse system afterward. In fact, I think that's what happened following most violent conflicts in the western world since at least the 1800s.)

I know I said in the last thread that I didn't have much more I wanted to cover, but you definitely prompted a couple more (or more complete) thoughts out of me with this (and I've not been getting enough opportunity to discuss political theory/philosophy lately.) I'm looking forward to the next book, whatever is chosen.

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GoldenPlains [S] 5 points ago +5 / -0

I agree with your assessment about applying the system to our world. I think the book did a good job of describing the decent into chaos that was caused by our current system and did a somewhat decent job of explaining how they got to that system. Part of me would have liked Heinlein to explore that a little more.

The system of the federation was only gained through incredible pain and suffering and because of that they were able to create the system of the federation. It wont come about because we declare it, it has to be learned through hardship and struggle.

I know I said in the last thread that I didn't have much more I wanted to cover, but you definitely prompted a couple more (or more complete) thoughts out of me with this (and I've not been getting enough opportunity to discuss political theory/philosophy lately.) I'm looking forward to the next book, whatever is chosen.

That is good to hear! Glad I could help facilitate more discussion of political and philosophical theories. I think it is important to discuss these things because we are reaching a point where we absolutely need a rethinking of our current system.

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cccpneveragain 6 points ago +6 / -0

Really enjoyed the book. I've finished up everything I was reading as was thinking about trying one of Heinlein's other books. Anyone have a recommendation? I was reading some different synopses and some mention sex and relationships. I'm not super interested in romance books or "sexual pioneering" as I saw in one of them, so if there's any of that I need to steer clear of in particular.

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CptLightning 4 points ago +4 / -0

If you want to avoid Heinlein's free love phase, don't read Stranger in a Strange Land. It's very good, but also very 60s hippie with regards to sexuality.

I'd recommend The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

I'd love to recommend some more, but these 3 are the only Heinlein I've read so far

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cccpneveragain 3 points ago +3 / -0

Moon is a Harsh Mistress was leading the pack for me and I've got two recommendations now so I'll go for it.

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Poopybuttboy 2 points ago +2 / -0

The audio book I have for mistress is fantastic, i loved the voice acting. The main character had a russia accent and it was probably better than how I would have read him in my head.

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5Cats 1 point ago +1 / -0

SiaSL is... poor. It has some brilliant moments! But in between are some piles of drek. It thinks far too highly of itself. FAR too much.

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Nelrim 3 points ago +3 / -0

The Man Who Sold the Moon is an excellent collection of related short stories.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a must-read, although it has the silly line marriage idea.

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Kalamander85 6 points ago +6 / -0

Honestly, this is one of my favorite books and one I read many a time during my military career. 10/10 would kill'em all again.

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lgbtqwtfbbq 6 points ago +6 / -0

Wasn't as active in the discussion as I wanted due to some real-world stuff but want to be semi-contrarian again despite thinking that this society would be a marked improvement over our own if for no other reason than the citizen population doesn't hate themselves, their history, or their nation.

Obviously we see the current state of the US military and just today it came out that the military effectively seized power from the civilian government back in January. Obviously there is an "us versus them" attitude between the civilian government and the military when the military doesn't like the civilian government.

In the book there is no civilian government, and the "us versus them" in the book seems to only be in one direction with some of the civilians resenting the citizens. The entirety of the book is how a citizen grows to respect the value of citizenship itself and their duty to fellow citizens and of course to their society as a whole, but you don't see much in the way of a cultivating of duty and obligation towards the civilian population. So what in that society prevents the "us versus them" thinking of the citizens towards the civilians? Is it simply a cultural norm? If so what prevents that cultural norm from changing over time, especially as multi-generational families of citizens start to emerge?

Or perhaps put in more concrete terms: what prevents that society from going full-on Australia and beating the shit out of civilians for simply leaving their homes?

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redguards_are_nwahs 4 points ago +4 / -0

If you remember, they weren't voting citizens until they retired from the military. Perhaps that buffer is what prevents too many hostile feelings?

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lgbtqwtfbbq 3 points ago +3 / -0

Well the Federal Service was "two years or as long as may be required" and wasn't necessarily military. Then you could go career by becoming an officer. But once the service was up under normal circumstances you were a citizen. Still you have people who "put in the time" and people who don't, and I could easily see an attitude of "Don't like it? Put in your time" emerging unless it was actively suppressed.

And it's a recurring thing we see in many such groups over history. The Thin Blue Line attitude for example. Or the old aristocracies. Possibly made worse because unlike those two groups in theory anyone and everyone can sign up to take the test and be a member.

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LauriThorne 3 points ago +3 / -0

Made worse? How would it be worse to be able to actively enter a "privileged" class simply by earning it?

You could never earn your way into being a royal.

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lgbtqwtfbbq 3 points ago +3 / -0

Made worse because anyone by law can sign up to take the test, so if you don't do it it's either because you don't want to or you aren't good enough to pass the test. Either way you are the "other".

The latter is probably the more dangerous of the two, because it would be very easy to consider civilians "inferior" due to their inability to complete the service. There's no "there by the grace of God go I"; it's been replaced by "you have been measured, weighed, and found wanting"

I suppose another comparable system in modern society is the university system. With the public university system, it started out with an almost purely meritocratic system where pretty much anyone who had the grades could attend; and it was a good way to cycle elites because it allowed smart kids from poor families to work their way up to doing something more closely aligned with their potential than they otherwise would have done. But over time that system came up with a culture all of its own that ended up so insulated from the broader culture that became much less likely to occur. And of course it thinks less of people who aren't a part of that culture.

Again it may be the best of all possible solutions, but I'm trying to think about the possible failure modes since we now have the benefit of 70 years' worth of hindsight.

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evilmathmagician 1 point ago +1 / -0

I have not read the book, so it may be addressed within it, but couldn't it be as simple as needing an enemy? Having a common enemy is a great unifying force. I think that society would only have a serious us/them problem if they manage to run out of space enemies. The lack of opportunity for military men to risk their lives fighting would also diminish the value of citizenship, causing standards to slacken.

As far as our real life troubles, I'm comfortable saying we do not have an enemy to unify us. There are many "attempts" at creating an enemy, but they're all weak and ultimately result in us becoming even less unified. Add to this the problem of modern society largely being low-trust, and you get a lot of your citizens eager to attack their neighbors.

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GoldenPlains [S] 6 points ago +6 / -0

Just want to say that this experience running the book club has been great. Loved reading all the discussion and insights offered by the users here. Thanks again for participating!

/u/DomitiusOfMassilia can I get a sticky please. Thanks!

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DomitiusOfMassilia [M] 2 points ago +2 / -0

Done

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deleted 3 points ago +3 / -0
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GoldenPlains [S] 4 points ago +4 / -0

Thanks for the suggestions, however within this post I mentioned that we will have a thread for suggestions this Friday.

I'm going to post the recommendation thread for the next book of book club on Friday. Please don't post them in this thread or DM me, wait until that post.

I was also considering nominating The Fountainhead!

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5Cats 2 points ago +2 / -0

Oh please! Give me an excuse to read Ann!
I mean, there's 1000 books I "should have read by now" so....

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censorthisss 2 points ago +2 / -0

I thought it was pretty meh to be honest, but that's likely due to the fact that it was so hyped up in my head after hearing all the glowing reviews for so many years before I actually read it.

It certainly wasn't a bad book, but I didn't find myself looking forward to reading it the way I do with books I'm really into.