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Starship Troopers: Interpretation and Analysis

petros

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They could offer to count their own fuzz by touch for two years, if it would help.
That's the other part that keeps me thinking on the meanings of the book and film, has this government just created another Eternal War, or might it one day welcome veteran Bugs into the Citizenship? (the requirements for Citizenship being exactly the same) Or can it maintain peace with the Bugs without conquering them, as part of a negotiated surrender on their side, or an armistice? The parts with the Skinnies suggests that they'll try to get a peace, and that they can do this with aliens, and the part about how communism might work for Bugs suggests they'll be happy living next to a peaceful neighbor with a different ideology.
 

Lenin

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There were plenty of women who were commissioned officers in WWII in the US military
There's "in the military" and then there's "in command of a combat unit". Were there any women commanding navy ships in WWII, similar to Johnnie's schoolmate? Or on navy ships at all, except as passengers? (Carmen was a pilot in the book, so I guess not in total command of the ship, but probably a significant rank on an active combat unit.)

It seems to me from my TV education that the closest any US women officers got to war for a long time after WWII was as nurses in a MASH unit.
 

Cessna

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There's "in the military" and then there's "in command of a combat unit".
No, there's "in the military," as in you put up your arm, swore an oath, and were bound by the (then) Articles of War (or today's UCMJ). The women officers in the military were part of a chain of command and were legally empowered to issue orders like any other officer.

Yes, commanding a combat unit is important, but I wouldn't tell a man in WWII who didn't command a combat unit that he wasn't in the military, and I wouldn't tell a woman officer that either. Would you tell, for example, a ship's chief engineer he wasn't an officer because he didn't command a combat unit?

It seems to me from my TV education that the closest any US women officers got to war for a long time after WWII was as nurses in a MASH unit.
With absolutely no snark, MASH is not an accurate portrayal of the military. There is no doubt that women in the military faced all sorts of institutional discrimination, but please don't inadvertently denigrate what they did by writing them off because they didn't hold combat commands.
 

s/LaSH

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That's the other part that keeps me thinking on the meanings of the book and film, has this government just created another Eternal War, or might it one day welcome veteran Bugs into the Citizenship? (the requirements for Citizenship being exactly the same) Or can it maintain peace with the Bugs without conquering them, as part of a negotiated surrender on their side, or an armistice? The parts with the Skinnies suggests that they'll try to get a peace, and that they can do this with aliens, and the part about how communism might work for Bugs suggests they'll be happy living next to a peaceful neighbor with a different ideology.
I do wonder what a good-faith sequel to the novel would look like, written today. One that accepts that the Federation had its principles, that they worked for a time, and then... they had consequences, of some sort, leading to changes in the status quo that retiree veteran Rico finds challenge his whole accepted worldview.

If you had me writing it, I'd have the Bugs victors of the Second Colonial War. The other polities of the local interstellar community - humans, Skinnies, and others - have to come to terms with that. But the Bugs aren't 40K Tyranids; they have to face reality, and they have to cooperate with the other polities to share the resources of their space. And they've done it - the modern interstellar community is prosperous and nominally a relationship between equals. And someone will deliver a lecture on how this is the only rational solution to the situation, and sound very reasoned as they do so.

So of course the actual plot of the novel would concern socioeconomic forces that violate the assumed status quo, and the Starship Troopers that have to fight for peace, despite the implicit threat that this too shall pass and give way to something new itself.
 

Lenin

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please don't inadvertently denigrate what they did by writing them off because they didn't hold combat commands.
Wouldn't think of it. The British military was practically run by the women's auxiliaries during the war; any British war movie has women in uniform in the background while Kenneth More was flying in the Battle of Britain and sinking the Bismarck, and they weren't just pushing models around on sticks.

But despite the Blitz meaning that those women were in harm's way, that was all kind of forgotten about after the war when the boys came home and needed work, and I gather the same thing happened in the States, if not more so. I only bring up the difference between being an officer and being in combat as relevant to Heinlein not just having women on a navy warship but actually the majority (or all) of the crew. Yes, there were women in the US military, but how relevant was that in the public mind at the time?
 

Cessna

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Wouldn't think of it. The British military was practically run by the women's auxiliaries during the war; any British war movie has women in uniform in the background while Kenneth More was flying in the Battle of Britain and sinking the Bismarck, and they weren't just pushing models around on sticks.

But despite the Blitz meaning that those women were in harm's way, that was all kind of forgotten about after the war when the boys came home and needed work, and I gather the same thing happened in the States, if not more so. I only bring up the difference between being an officer and being in combat as relevant to Heinlein not just having women on a navy warship but actually the majority (or all) of the crew. Yes, there were women in the US military, but how relevant was that in the public mind at the time?
Okay, I see where you're coming from.

I don't know how the role of women in the story would have been received by a contemporary audience.
 

Taraqual

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I do wonder what a good-faith sequel to the novel would look like, written today. One that accepts that the Federation had its principles, that they worked for a time, and then... they had consequences, of some sort, leading to changes in the status quo that retiree veteran Rico finds challenge his whole accepted worldview.

If you had me writing it, I'd have the Bugs victors of the Second Colonial War. The other polities of the local interstellar community - humans, Skinnies, and others - have to come to terms with that. But the Bugs aren't 40K Tyranids; they have to face reality, and they have to cooperate with the other polities to share the resources of their space. And they've done it - the modern interstellar community is prosperous and nominally a relationship between equals. And someone will deliver a lecture on how this is the only rational solution to the situation, and sound very reasoned as they do so.

So of course the actual plot of the novel would concern socioeconomic forces that violate the assumed status quo, and the Starship Troopers that have to fight for peace, despite the implicit threat that this too shall pass and give way to something new itself.
Well, while not a sequel, Old Man's War by John Scalzi touches on similar ideas as Starship Troopers. And while Scalzi is the first to say he wasn't trying to redo Heinlein's book, the two stories are compared for a good reason (and he acknowledges RAH as his inspiration). And there, the Endless War is both sorta for good reasons (most alien races humanity encountered were genuinely hostile and genocidal) and also sorta because the humans are aggressive dicks and the military arm of the colonial government is way too powerful for its own good.

It gets complicated in a hurry. Agendas in agendas, and there's no monolithic anything. Many of the aliens that fought humans are willing to stop fighting after a while, but there are plenty on both the human and alien sides that aren't interested. Also, the shit the Colonial Military was pulling on the colonies and on Earth especially in order to keep its power was...I'd say "questionable," but there's no question a lot of it was shitty.

BTW, I'm a big fan of the whole OMW series, which I think is a good example of taking a specific setting and getting great stories of just asking nerdy questions like, "But if they can create custom-built posthuman bodies for old people to drive around, would they actually want all their soldiers to have been former geezers? And what would a being birthed in an adult-shaped supersoldier body be like?" And the really interesting questions in that setting come from Scalzi asking questions about the power of the military in the role of the human government and stuff like that.
 

DarkStarling

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Well, while not a sequel, Old Man's War by John Scalzi touches on similar ideas as Starship Troopers. And while Scalzi is the first to say he wasn't trying to redo Heinlein's book, the two stories are compared for a good reason (and he acknowledges RAH as his inspiration). And there, the Endless War is both sorta for good reasons (most alien races humanity encountered were genuinely hostile and genocidal) and also sorta because the humans are aggressive dicks and the military arm of the colonial government is way too powerful for its own good.

It gets complicated in a hurry. Agendas in agendas, and there's no monolithic anything. Many of the aliens that fought humans are willing to stop fighting after a while, but there are plenty on both the human and alien sides that aren't interested. Also, the shit the Colonial Military was pulling on the colonies and on Earth especially in order to keep its power was...I'd say "questionable," but there's no question a lot of it was shitty.

BTW, I'm a big fan of the whole OMW series, which I think is a good example of taking a specific setting and getting great stories of just asking nerdy questions like, "But if they can create custom-built posthuman bodies for old people to drive around, would they actually want all their soldiers to have been former geezers? And what would a being birthed in an adult-shaped supersoldier body be like?" And the really interesting questions in that setting come from Scalzi asking questions about the power of the military in the role of the human government and stuff like that.
Sounds like a prequel or inspiration to Starcraft when you say it that way.
 
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