Storm warnings: science fiction confronts the future

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Rabkin Editor. These 17 original essays, written for the sixth Eaton Conference on Fantasy and Science Fiction, explore the uses, origins, and forms of future fiction. The contributors are George E.

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Shippey, Kenneth V. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. More Details Original Title. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Storm Warnings , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. All Languages. More filters. Sort order. Karl Bunker rated it liked it Feb 16, Snail in Danger Sid Nicolaides marked it as to-read Feb 19, Clayborn marked it as to-read Aug 07, John Adkins marked it as to-read Apr 16, Chase marked it as to-read Oct 28, Ronald Clarke marked it as to-read Nov 23, Nikolai Pynev marked it as to-read Feb 13, Misanthropist marked it as to-read Mar 12, BookDB marked it as to-read Oct 14, The story is set in a future society ruled by a world government dominated by a military elite, referred to as the Terran Federation.

Rico progresses from recruit to officer against the backdrop of an interstellar war between humans and an alien species known as "Arachnids" or " Bugs ". Interspersed with the primary plot are classroom scenes in which Rico and others discuss philosophical and moral issues, including aspects of suffrage , civic virtue , juvenile delinquency , and war ; these discussions have been described as expounding Heinlein's own political views.

Starship Troopers brought to an end Heinlein's series of juvenile novels. It became one of his best-selling books, and is considered his most widely known work. Reviewers were strongly critical of the book's intentional glorification of the military, [14] [15] an aspect described as propaganda and likened to recruitment.

Despite the controversy, Starship Troopers had wide influence both within and outside science fiction. Ken MacLeod stated that "the political strand in [science fiction] can be described as a dialogue with Heinlein". Robert Heinlein was among the best-selling science fiction authors of the s and s, along with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C.

Clarke ; they were known as the "big three" that dominated U. In contrast to the others, Heinlein firmly endorsed the anti-communist sentiment of the Cold War era in his writing. Navy for five years after graduating from the United States Naval Academy in His experience in the military profoundly influenced his fiction. His motivation arose partially from his anger at U. President Dwight Eisenhower 's decision to suspend U. Heinlein stated that he used the novel to clarify his military and political views. As was the case with many of Heinlein's books, Starship Troopers was completed in a few weeks.

It was originally written as a juvenile novel for New York publishing house Scribner ; Heinlein had previously had success with this format, having written several such novels published by Scribner. The manuscript was rejected, prompting Heinlein to end his association with the publisher completely, and resume writing books with adult themes. Asked whether it was aimed at children or adults, he said at a sales conference "Let's let the readers decide who likes it.

Putnam's Sons. Set approximately years from the present day, [20] the human society in Starship Troopers is ruled by the Terran Federation , a form of world government dominated by a military elite. People of either gender above the age of 18 are permitted to enlist. Those who leave before completing their service do not receive the vote.

Two extraterrestrial civilizations are also depicted. The "Pseudo-Arachnids" or " Bugs " are shown as communal beings originating from the planet of Klendathu. They have multiple castes; workers, soldiers, brains, and queens, similar to ants and termites. The soldiers are the only ones who fight, and are unable to surrender in battle. It is one of the few Heinlein novels which intersperses his typical linear narrative structure with a series of flashbacks. He is from a wealthy family, whose members had never served in the army. The novel opens with Rico aboard the corvette transport Rodger Young named after Medal of Honor recipient Rodger Wilton Young , [39] serving with the platoon known as "Rasczak's Roughnecks".

The platoon carries out a raid against a planetary colony held by Skinnies. One of them, Dizzy Flores, dies while returning to orbit. Rico and his best friend Carl are considering joining the Federal Service after graduation; Rico is hesitant, partly due to his father's attitude towards the military. Rico's choice is taken poorly by his parents, and he leaves with a sense of estrangement.

Starship Troopers - Wikipedia

Dubois, who taught Rico's History and Moral Philosophy in school, sends Rico a letter, revealing that he is a Mobile Infantry veteran himself. The letter helps Rico stay motivated enough not to resign. The "Bug War" has changed from border incidents to a full-scale war during Rico's training. An Arachnid attack that annihilates the city of Buenos Aires alerts civilians to the situation; Rico's mother is killed in the attack.

One of his comrades in the Roughnecks suggests that Rico go to officer training school and try to become an officer. Rico ends up going to see Jelal, and finds that Jelal already had the paperwork ready. Rico enters Officer Candidate School for a second course of training, including further courses in "History and Moral Philosophy". He is also visited in school by Carmen, now an ensign and ship's pilot officer in the Navy, and the two discuss their friend Carl, who had been killed earlier in the war.

Rico is commissioned a temporary third lieutenant for his final test: a posting to a combat unit. Under the tutelage of his company commander, Captain Blackstone, and with the aid of his platoon sergeant, his boot camp drill instructor Fleet Sergeant Zim, who was reassigned from Mobile Infantry boot camp Camp Currie , Rico commands a platoon during "Operation Royalty", a raid to capture members of the Arachnid brain caste and queens. The novel ends with him holding the rank of Second Lieutenant, in command of his old platoon in the Rodger Young , with his father as his platoon sergeant.

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The platoon has been renamed "Rico's Roughnecks", and is about to participate in an attack on Klendathu. Commentators have written that Starship Troopers is not driven by its plot, though it contains scenes of military combat. Instead, much of the novel is given over to a discussion of ideas. Some contend that the novel maintains a sense of irony that allows readers to draw their own conclusions; others argue that Heinlein is sermonizing throughout the book, and that its purpose is to expound Heinlein's militaristic philosophy.

Starship Troopers has been identified as being a part of a tradition in U. Specifically the P. It suggests that some conflicts must be resolved by force: one of the lessons Rico is repeatedly taught is that violence can be an effective method of settling conflict. Heinlein draws an analogy between the human society in the novel, which is well-to-do but needs to be vigilant against the imperialist threat of the Arachnids, and U.

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Reviewers have suggested that the Arachnids are Heinlein's analogue for communists. Traits used to support this include the communal nature of the Arachnids, which makes them capable of a much higher degree of coordination than the humans. Bug society is once explicitly described as communist, and is moreover depicted as communist by nature; this has been read as implying that those with a different political ideology are analogous to alien beings. The concept of the frontier includes a social-Darwinist argument of constantly fighting for survival, even at the expense of indigenous people or, in the case of Starship Troopers , of aliens.

Heinlein suggests that without territorial expansion involving violent conquest of other races, humans would be destroyed. Starship Troopers has been referred to as a bildungsroman or " coming-of-age " story for Rico, as he matures through his tenure in the infantry. His training, both at boot camp and at officer candidate school, involves learning the value of militarism , thus inviting the reader to learn it as well.

This typical narrative is that of a sloppy and unfit civilian being knocked into shape by tough officers, whose training is "calculated sadism" but is depicted as fundamentally being on the right side. A notable example is the execution Rico is forced to witness after a deserter from his unit murders a young girl; Rico is uncertain of his own reaction until he remembers a lecture by Dubois in which the latter argues that "moral sense" derives entirely from the will to survive.

Young protagonists across Heinlein's novels attain manhood by confronting a hostile "wilderness" in space; coming-of-age in a military, alien context is a common theme in Heinlein's earlier works as well. Starship Troopers also critiques U. These beliefs are expressed through the classroom lectures of Dubois, Rico's teacher for History and Moral Philosophy. Dubois praises flogging and other types of corporal punishment as a means of addressing juvenile crimes. It has been suggested that Heinlein endorsed this view, although the fact that Dubois also compares raising children to training a puppy has been used to argue that Heinlein was making use of irony.

Dubois also ridicules the idea of inalienable rights , such as " Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness ", arguing that people only have the rights that they are willing to fight and die for to protect. Despite the alliance between the U. The novel draws some comparisons between the Chinese and the Arachnids, and suggests that the lessons of one war could be applied to the other. Gale of Galaxy Science Fiction wrote in that "Heinlein has penned a juvenile that really is not.

This is a new and bitter and disillusioned Heinlein". Rating it 2. By , twenty years after its release, Starship Troopers had been translated into eleven languages and was still selling strongly. Heinlein nevertheless complained that, despite this success, almost all the mail he received about it was negative and he only heard about it "when someone wants to chew me out". The writing in Starship Troopers has received varied responses, with the scenes of military training and combat receiving praise.

He had so much technical stylistic mastery of the craft of writing science fiction that he could [tell the story] ' backwards and in high heels ' and get away with it. Criticism of the style of the book has centered on its political aspects. Heinlein's discussions of his political beliefs were criticized as "didactic", [12] [80] [81] and the novel was derided for "exposition [that was] inserted in large indigestible chunks".

However, it stated that the story was weak as a tale of an alien encounter, as it did not explore alien society in any detail, but presented the Arachnids as nameless and faceless creatures that wished to destroy humanity. Starship Troopers is generally considered to promote militarism, the glorification of war and of the military. Slusser instead says that Heinlein advocates for a complete "technological subjugation of nature", of which the Arachnids are a symbol, and that this subjugation itself is depicted as a sign of human advancement.

A review in Salon stated that the novel could almost be described as propaganda, and was terrifying as a result, particularly in its belief that the boot camp had to be an ingredient of any civilization. This was described as a highly unusual utopian vision. Other writers defended Heinlein. George Price argued that "[Heinlein] implies, first, that war is something endured, not enjoyed, and second, that war is so unpleasant, so desolate, that it must at all costs be kept away from one's home.

When he wrote the novel, the military draft was still in effect in the U. The society within the book has frequently been described as fascist.

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He has stated that the novel made an analogy between its military conflict and those of the U. Some reviewers have suggested that Heinlein was simply discussing the merits of a selective versus a nonselective franchise. Heinlein scholar James Gifford has argued that a number of quotes within the novel suggest that the characters within the book assume that the Federal Service is largely military.

For instance, when Rico tells his father that he is interested in Federal Service, his father immediately explains his belief that Federal Service is a bad idea because there is no war in progress, indicating that he sees Federal Service as military in nature. Gifford states that although Heinlein's intentions may have been that Federal Service be 95 percent non-military, in relation to the actual contents of the book, Heinlein "is wrong on this point. Flatly so. Dennis Showalter, writing in , defended Starship Troopers , stating that the society depicted in it did not contain many elements of fascism.

He argues that the novel does not include outright opposition to bolshevism and liberalism that would be expected in a fascist society. This period of Heinlein's writing has received more critical attention than any other, though he continued to write into the s. The setting of the book has been described as dystopian , but it is presented by Heinlein as utopian; its leaders are shown as good and wise, and the population as free and prosperous. Writers such as Robert A. Lowndes, Farmer, and Michael Moorcock have criticized the novel for being a hypothetical utopia , in the sense that while Heinlein's ideas sound plausible, they have never been put to the test.

Moorcock wrote an essay entitled "Starship Stormtroopers" in which he attacked Heinlein and other writers over similar "Utopian fiction". Authors and commentators have stated that the manner in which the extraterrestrial beings are portrayed in Starship Troopers has racist aspects, arguing that the nicknames "Bugs" and "Skinnies" carry racial overtones. John Brunner compared them to calling Koreans " gooks ". Some of Heinlein's other works have also been described as racist, though Franklin argues that this was not unique to Heinlein, and that he was less racist than the U.

According to this theory, if man lacks a moral compass beyond the will to survive, and he was confronted by another species with a similar lack of morality, then the only possible moral result would be warfare. The fact that all pilots in the novel are women in contrast to the infantry, which is entirely male has been cited as evidence of progressive gender politics within the story, although the idea expressed by Rico that women are the motivation for men to fight in the military is a counter-example to this.

Feminist scholars have described this reaction as a "conventionally masculinist" one. He calls this form of masculinity "all body, so to speak, and no brain". Heinlein's books, and Starship Troopers in particular, had an enormous impact on political science fiction, to the extent that author Ken MacLeod has stated that "the political strand in [science fiction] can be described as a dialogue with Heinlein," although many participants in this dialogue disagree with Heinlein.

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As well as his political views, Heinlein's ideas about a futuristic military as depicted in the novel were deeply influential among films, books, and television shows in later years. The novel has been cited as the source of the idea of powered armor exoskeletons , which Heinlein describes in great detail.

Starship Troopers had a direct influence on many later science fiction stories. John Steakley 's novel Armor was, according to the author, born out of frustration with the small amount of actual combat in Starship Troopers and because he wanted this aspect developed further. Hantke, in particular, compares the battle room in Ender's Game to Heinlein's prosthetic suits, stating that they both regulate but also enhance human agency. Conversely, Joe Haldeman 's anti-war, Hugo - and Nebula -winning science fiction novel The Forever War is popularly thought to be a direct reply to Starship Troopers , and though Haldeman has stated that it is actually a result of his personal experiences in the Vietnam War , he has admitted to being influenced by Starship Troopers.

Commentators have described it as a reaction to Heinlein's novel, a suggestion Haldeman denies; the two novels are very different in terms of their attitude towards the military. The Forever War does not depict war as a noble pursuit, with the sides clearly defined as good and evil; instead, the novel explores the dehumanizing effect of war, influenced by the real world context of the Vietnam War. Haldeman received a letter from Heinlein, congratulating him on his Nebula Award, which "meant more than the award itself".

Dickson 's novel Naked to the Stars has been called "an obvious rejoinder" to Starship Troopers. The story deliberately inverts several aspects of Starship Troopers ; the story is told from the point of view of diplomats seeking to prevent war, rather than soldiers fighting it; and the conflict is the result of the two species being extremely similar, rather than different. The film rights to the novel were licensed in the s, several years after Heinlein's death. The project was originally entitled Bug Hunt at Outpost Nine , and had been in production before the producers bought the rights to Starship Troopers.

It had the stated intention of treating its material in an ironic or sarcastic manner, to undermine the political ideology of the novel. The film utilized fascist imagery throughout, including portraying the Terran Federation's personnel wearing uniforms strongly reminiscent of those worn by the SS , the Nazi paramilitary. Other references to Nazism include the Albert Speer -style architecture and the propagandistic dialogue " Violence is the supreme authority!

The film reignited the debate over the nature of the Terran society in Heinlein's world, and several critics accused Verhoeven of creating a fascist universe. Others, and Verhoeven himself, have stated that the film was intended to be ironic , and to critique fascism. In December , Neal H. Moritz , producer of films such as The Fast and the Furious series and I Am Legend , announced plans for a remake of the film that he claims will be more faithful to the source material.