Starship Troopers - Tor/Forge Blog

Heading_title

Close
post-featured-image

8 Military Sci-Fi Must-Reads

Ready, set, action! We’re obsessed with military sci-fi. If you’re ready to go on an adventure filled with aliens, terrifying technology, dangerous weapons, and even pirates, these books are for you. Here are some of our favorites, ranging from classic military sci-fi everyone should read to new and upcoming novels destined to become classics in their own right one day.

Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber

Place holder  of - 61 The Gbaba aliens destroyed nearly all of humanity. The few survivors have fled to Earth-like planet Safehold. However, because the Gbaba can detect any industrial emissions, the people on Safehold must regress to an earlier medieval time. Using mind control technology, the government on Safehold imposes a religion that every citizen believes in — a religion that keeps them safe. 800 years pass, and an android awakens to spur a technological revolution… and likely war. Off Armageddon Reef is just one of David Weber’s many impressive science fiction works.

Valiant Dust by Richard Baker

Poster Placeholder of - 29 When David Weber praises a sci-fi novel, it moves to the top of our reading list, and he calls Valiant Dust “new and extraordinary.” Baker drew on his background as a U.S. Navy officer to create an exciting tale of war and action set in space. The novel takes place aboard a starship led by gunnery officer Sikander Singh North, who, when faced with a planetary uprising, must prove to himself and his crewmates that he is the right man for the job.

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

Image Placeholder of - 70 In this adventure-packed military sci-fi classic, lead character Juan “Johnnie” Rico leaves his privileged life to join the military in its fight against an alien species known as the “Bugs.” As philosophical as it is fantasy, Starship Troopers was written in response to the politics of the Cold War and 1950s America. If you’re looking for a novel that strongly has plenty of action but also deals in real-world moral issues, then this book is a great option.

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

Placeholder of  -17 In The Old Man’s War series, interstellar space travel has led to territory wars with alien species. These wars are fought by elderly volunteers of retirement age, whose consciousness, along with their knowledge and skills, are transferred to younger bodies.. John Perry, the protagonist, has chosen to enlist on his 75th birthday, in the hopes that he will receive a homestead stake in one of the colony planets if he survives his two-year tour. This Hugo-award nominee is an enjoyable and thought-provoking series that provides a fresh interpretation of humanity’s future.

Unbreakable by W. C. Bauers

Image Place holder  of - 24 Promise Paen reluctantly returns to her birth planet of Montana to lead the Republic of Aligned Worlds’ Marines infantry, sent to Montana to stabilize the region from pirate raids. Haunted by her past and none too pleased to be back on her home planet, Promise has her work cut out for her. When the marines appear depleted, RAW’s rival, the Lusitanian Empire, is all too eager to take advantage. This suspense-filled, action-packed novel is W. C. Bauers’ wonderful debut.

Dauntless by Jack Campbell

Captain John “Black Jack” Geary has been in survival hibernation in enemy territory for over a century. While in hibernation, the captain is heroized in the Alliance for facing the Syndics in his “last stand.” Now, Geary wakes up to end the war once and for all. He aids a depleted Alliance fleet that is stranded on the Syndics’ territory, and sets forth on a mission to bring back the stolen hypernet key: the Alliance’s last chance at winning the war. If you enjoy Dauntless, check out the rest of the Lost Fleet series, which are equally as exciting.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

The award winning Ender’s Game series is one of the most well-known science fiction novels for a reason — Orson Scott Card creates a military sci-fi masterpiece using beautifully simple prose. Set in a time when Earth is at war with an alien species, Ender’s Game is about a young genius, nicknamed Ender, who is grouped with other skilled children to go through rigorous military training to prepare for a third alien invasion. Ender and his friends think they are playing video game simulations… but these “games” have much more dire consequences.

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

A science fiction classic and winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and Locus awards, The Forever War is about physics student William Mandella who is drafted into the army to fight in a thousand-year war on a faraway planet. When Mandella finally returns home, he finds that what felt like two years in space was nearly 30 years on Earth — and nothing seems to be the same. The Forever War is a captivating story about war, time dilation, death, and survival.

post-featured-image

Throwback Thursdays: Space Cadets and Starship Troopers: The Voyage Continues

Welcome to Throwback Thursdays on the Tor/Forge blog! Every other week, we’re delving into our newsletter archives and sharing some of our favorite posts.

In 2010, we published the first of a two volume biography of one of the giants of science fiction: Robert A. Heinlein. At that time, we had an idea: why not ask our authors about their favorite Heinlein novels? Tor editor Stacy Hill was our shepherd for this series, and updates us on our journey.

Robert A. Heinlein, Vol. 1 by William H. Patterson

From Tor editor Stacy Hill: In August, Tor will be releasing an all-new biography of a singular figure in the history of the genre: Robert A. Heinlein. This will be the first-ever authorized biography, and it’s a fascinating look at a famously private man.

As our own little celebration of Heinlein and his works, we thought it would be fun to find out just how much of an impact Heinlein’s stories and novels had on a number of our—and your—favorite sf writers. We asked them a simple question—what’s your favorite Heinlein novel?

We’ve been posting their answers once a week as we head toward publication of the biography and so far we’ve heard from David Brin, David Drake, David G. Hartwell, and L.E. Modesitt, Jr. Additionally, we’ve been picked up by Tor.com and Boing Boing, and Cory Doctorow has been posting notes on the biography. In the coming weeks, you’ll see contributions from Michael Swanwick, Charles Stross, and many more.

Thanks to all of you who have jumped in to tell us about your favorites: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Starship Troopers, Stranger In a Strange Land, and JOB are just some of the novels discussed in the comments so far. What other Heinlein novels do you all love?

What’s Your Favorite Robert A. Heinlein Novel, L.E. Modesitt, Jr.?

I’m certain, that, if asked, more than a few readers will list Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers as one of their favorite novels… and more than a few others will denounce it vigorously as a fascist military dystopia, no matter how the semi-libertarian Heinlein portrayed “our” future society. I’m one of those who happens to like it, because, after having been a military pilot and having served as a political staffer in Washington, D.C., Heinlein’s insights into both the military and into what supports workable government and what does not seem to me, at least, to be validated by what I’ve observed in politics and government over the past several decades. At its core, Starship Troopers examines what is required for effective and responsible government. For Heinlein, those who govern must pay a price for that privilege, and since he believes in broad-based governance, that means that every member of the electorate must pay through a term of military service. He doesn’t require military service, and no one is forced to serve, but if you don’t serve, you can’t vote, and you cannot be elected to public office. Interestingly enough, Heinlein does not suggest that this future society is optimal – only that it will work.

What is often ignored by those who criticize Starship Troopers is the fact that Heinlein was literally only fictionalizing the predictions of earlier scholars and politicians, such as deTocqueville and MacCauley, who predicted that any democracy would eventually fail because too great a proportion of the electorate would vote themselves greater and greater benefits without having paid for them in one way or another. Yet few criticize those who first made those points, which may also demonstrate why fiction is often more powerful than either scholarship or rhetoric directly from politicians.

What I also find amusing is that, in a sense, the military draft in place at the time that Heinlein wrote the book was in fact considered a price of “freedom” during World War II and immediately thereafter. In the Vietnam era that followed, however, the wide-spread use of educational deferments placed that price disproportionately on the less-advantaged males in American society, one of the factors leading to the abolition of the draft, in turn effectively repudiating any idea that citizens owed any moral debt to society, which was, of course, Heinlein’s point in his fictionalization of a future collapse of American government.

The other basic point underlying Starship Troopers is the idea that, like it or not, force in some form determines whether societies survive, and that any society that fails to understand that is doomed to fail. Heinlein was not, in fact, glorifying force, at least not as I read the book, but looking back through history and pointing out that such was the pattern human societies had exhibited from time immemorial. In presenting a biologically and socially very different culture in the “Bugs,” he was essentially postulating that any intelligent species would be both aggressive and territorial… and interestingly enough, I’ve recently read several scholarly articles suggesting the same thing, although the scholarly types use the term “predatory.” To me, that’s aggressive and territorial.

In the end, in Starship Troopers, Heinlein offers, if through a glass darkly, a fairly accurate picture of human faults, foibles, and virtues…and that may well be why some don’t like the book… and why I do.

L.E. Modesitt, Jr. can be found online at https://www.lemodesittjr.com

This article is originally from the August 2010 Tor/Forge newsletter. Sign up for the Tor/Forge newsletter now, and get similar content in your inbox twice a month!

post-featured-image

What’s Your Favorite Robert A. Heinlein Novel, L.E. Modesitt, Jr.?

Starship Troopers by Robert A. HeinleinI’m certain, that, if asked, more than a few readers will list Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers as one of their favorite novels… and more than a few others will denounce it vigorously as a fascist military dystopia, no matter how the semi-libertarian Heinlein portrayed “our” future society. I’m one of those who happens to like it, because, after having been a military pilot and having served as a political staffer in Washington, D.C., Heinlein’s insights into both the military and into what supports workable government and what does not seem to me, at least, to be validated by what I’ve observed in politics and government over the past several decades. At its core, Starship Troopers examines what is required for effective and responsible government. For Heinlein, those who govern must pay a price for that privilege, and since he believes in broad-based governance, that means that every member of the electorate must pay through a term of military service. He doesn’t require military service, and no one is forced to serve, but if you don’t serve, you can’t vote, and you cannot be elected to public office. Interestingly enough, Heinlein does not suggest that this future society is optimal – only that it will work.

What is often ignored by those who criticize Starship Troopers is the fact that Heinlein was literally only fictionalizing the predictions of earlier scholars and politicians, such as deTocqueville and MacCauley, who predicted that any democracy would eventually fail because too great a proportion of the electorate would vote themselves greater and greater benefits without having paid for them in one way or another. Yet few criticize those who first made those points, which may also demonstrate why fiction is often more powerful than either scholarship or rhetoric directly from politicians.

What I also find amusing is that, in a sense, the military draft in place at the time that Heinlein wrote the book was in fact considered a price of “freedom” during World War II and immediately thereafter. In the Vietnam era that followed, however, the wide-spread use of educational deferments placed that price disproportionately on the less-advantaged males in American society, one of the factors leading to the abolition of the draft, in turn effectively repudiating any idea that citizens owed any moral debt to society, which was, of course, Heinlein’s point in his fictionalization of a future collapse of American government.

The other basic point underlying Starship Troopers is the idea that, like it or not, force in some form determines whether societies survive, and that any society that fails to understand that is doomed to fail. Heinlein was not, in fact, glorifying force, at least not as I read the book, but looking back through history and pointing out that such was the pattern human societies had exhibited from time immemorial. In presenting a biologically and socially very different culture in the “Bugs,” he was essentially postulating that any intelligent species would be both aggressive and territorial… and interestingly enough, I’ve recently read several scholarly articles suggesting the same thing, although the scholarly types use the term “predatory.” To me, that’s aggressive and territorial.

In the end, in Starship Troopers, Heinlein offers, if through a glass darkly, a fairly accurate picture of human faults, foibles, and virtues… and that may well be why some don’t like the book… and why I do.

L.E. Modesitt, Jr. can be found online at https://www.lemodesittjr.com

…………………………

Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 (1907-1948): Learning Curve (978-0-7653-1960-9 / $29.99) will be available from Tor Books on August 17th 2010.

…………………………

Related Links:

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.