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Starship Troopers: Interpretation and Analysis


Polychromatic Pikathulhu
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Wouldn’t they need to warp technology to get their spore to cross interstellar distances in any sane amount of time?


Does the math.
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I was a Clarke-Asimov kid, though I think more from the books that were readily available; I don't remember when I knew Heinlein was one of the Three. I did read his Job in high school, but nothing else I can recall, until adulthood, when he didn't grab me. (Moon okay, Stranger weird, Farnham wtf, Horizon actually cool.)

My main exposure to the movie was the AMV
Is there actually mention of psychic powers in it? Or in the book?


RPGnet Member
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Is there actually mention of psychic powers in it? Or in the book?
The book has a "special talent" (aka a"spatial sensor") who appears to have some form of clairvoyance that he uses to draw maps to the arachnid tunnel system on Planet P. That's the only psychic power mentioned, as far as I remember.

Edit: corrected the details after rereading the relevant text.
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Mad Scientist
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I read a bit of all three, possibly Clarke the least. My impression was mostly that neither Asimov nor Heinlein tended to do well when they ran long...
Wouldn’t they need to warp technology to get their spore to cross interstellar distances in any sane amount of time?
Travel times that seem sane to humans may be optional. Though really the movie just didn't care.

Rose Embolism

Registered User
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I've found it amusing that Heinlein really missed how incredibly hellish the basic parameters of his setting were: genocidal war, not just between Humans and Bugs, but between Human planets is inevitable.

That is, Rico flat out states that Population growth is inevitable, barring catastrophe. The war between Humanity and the Bugs is one between two expansionist species, and boils down to competition for living space; either a species continually expands or it gets out competed.

Which means Rico's desultorey hope for peace is in vain; the war between the humans and Bugs will be, MUST be genocidal. Which means some time after the Bugs are gone and their planets colonized, the humans will look at the Skinnys and say "Say, nice planets you have there... "

Hey, I think we may have a reason why the Skinnys allied with the Bugs...

And it gets worse. Humanity will be expanding out in a (at first 3D then 2D wavefront, but the planets in the core will still be increasing in population, and that needs to be sent somewhere. If starflight takes time (never mind money), then eventually the inner planets will be too far away from the vacant frontier to send their excess population to. At that point, the nearby human planets, the ones obviously not properly utilizing their resources, will look very attractive.

So there's the future of Starship Troopers: an expanding ring of colonies surrounding mature populous planets, which in turn surround a ring of overpopulated, desperate worlds. And inside that...a growing void of radioactive, burnt out worlds.

The interesting thing is, this isn't just a reading of Starship Troopers- you can see the seed of the idea in other juveniles. For instance in Farmer inthe Sky, in a scene around a camp fire one of the scientists posits that population growth is uncontrollable, and that it will sooner or later lead to war.

Note that Heinlein came from a time period after the population bomb was recognized, but before the effects of birth control and the Demographic Transition were recognized. So to him of course pretty much all women are at some point going to become mommies, and have lots of kids. And the population will keep growing.


Registered User
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Interestingly that's basically the theme of The Mote In God's Eye. Unchecked population growth leads to apocalyptic wars.


Hiding in a snowdrift
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In many respects, Heinlein is a Malthusian. Just instead of widespread famine and diseases, there is war.
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