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A Fine Old Debate About Starship Troopers 
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Joined: Mon May 02, 2011 2:10 pm
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Location: Juneau, AK
Post A Fine Old Debate About Starship Troopers
From the Heinlein Commentary blog at

We will go into Alexei Panshin in detail on this blog soon enough. There is a good deal to say. Meanwhile, I discovered during the research process on Panshin this debate by some leading SF personages about Starship Troopers circa 1960-61. Many of you may not have seen this obscure yet high-powered dust-up (, so I bring it to your attention. Here's one provocative quote, from James V. McConnell. Again, let me emphasize he's writing in 1961. It was ever thus:

Aside from the goodness or badness of war, the comments so many people have made about SS [Note:"Starship Soldiers" was the magazine version] indicate, to me at least, that s-f is becoming the haven for old, trite, worn-out ideas instead of the testing-ground for new thoughts most s-f devotees so loudly pretend. How many people have told me, these past few years, that Sturgeon is great, but when will he quit writing those peculiar stories and get down to reality? If Ted were not the great writer that he is, probably he would be mobbed, ostracized, or what have you. Like Heinlein apparently is to be. New gadgets we can stand apparently, but not new ideas, nor new ways of looking at old ideas nor even a close examination of the emotional responses most of us have to the safe, secure, comfortable values which society today applauds and inculcates in us. In my opinion, s-f readers (and writers, too) have become a bunch of old Aunt Nellies hell-bent on preserving the status-quo, glorifying the present norm, and ready to crucify anybody who dares rock the boat by thinking.

Heh, it was ever thus. I think that you'll enjoy comparing these comments on Starship Troopers with your own thoughts and memories of the book.

"There comes a time in the life of every human when he or she must decide to risk 'his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor' on an outcome dubious. Those who fail the challenge are merely overgrown children, can never be anything else."

Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:50 pm

Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:53 am
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Post Re: A Fine Old Debate About Starship Troopers
Even as a bona fide peacnik in the early 70s when I first read the book, I liked it, but what I have come to notice over subsequent re-readings is how *talky* the thing is.
The real criticism of Starship Troopers is not that it glorifies war or proves Heinlein was a fascist, but there's just so much not happening vs. happening. There are interesting scenes at first, Johnny at school and bucking the old man, and a couple of great battle scenes, but a lot of it is just Johnny thinking about stuff. Kinda tedious last time I read it.

Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:20 pm
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Post Re: A Fine Old Debate About Starship Troopers
Thanks Robert! I love McConnell's writing, e.g.:
One is not subjected from birth to a barrage of propaganda to the point that the finest thing a young man can do is to go to a hospital, that having one's appendix out is a glorious exciting adventure from which one is sure to recover, that girls will automatically pant and spread their legs at the sight of you in hospital garb.

Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:04 pm
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Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 4:32 pm
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Location: In the Ozarks, near Butler
Post Re: A Fine Old Debate About Starship Troopers
I have always marveled at the lack of reading comprehension of those accusing ST of glorifying war.

Wed Jul 18, 2012 10:48 am
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