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Starship Troopers and "Dropping Anvils" 
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Post Starship Troopers and "Dropping Anvils"
I think this page gets it..."Some anvils need to be dropped" (on the reader's head, that is). Examples of some very good/great books that aren't subtle about what's important, including:

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein drops anvils about military service.

"If you want to participate as a citizen, you have to serve your country, up to and including being prepared to quite literally fight, even die, for the privilege. And it is a privilege, not a right."

Also, an all-volunteer army that's well trained, well equipped, and knows the value of the individuals that serve in it trumps an army that treats its infantry like so many potatoes to be thrown at enemies, even if the latter greatly outnumbers the former. Basically, if your idea of troop management is "let 'em die like pigs, We Have Reserves", then those "reserves" are going to run out a lot sooner than you think... and you are going to deserve to be screwed over once that happens.

Another perspective taken is that Heinlein, who was not especially pro-military, took the morally-brightest example of a militarized society (the Terran Federation) and compared them to the worst example possible (the bugs). The anvil falls from the comparison between the two.
There's also the Anvil that "violence never solves anything" is wishful thinking. Yes, it is preferable and best that you look for a non-violent solution to any given problem. But at the same time, sometimes that simply isn't going to work. Insisting on avoiding any violence once it's clear that a compromise can't be reached is dangerous in itself.

Lastly, there are two aesops regarding sexism and racism. Johnny Rico is Juan Rico and his girlfriend Carmen is an officer and a pilot, trying to demonstrate an integrated service being the ideal.

Though not completely integrated: women don't serve in Rico's branch of the military (the Mobile Infantry.) It is made explicit that most of the best pilots in the Space Navy are women, and Heinlein evidently believed that women should be able to serve in roles that didn't require getting up close in the enemy's face: in another novel, he opines that there wasn't a single job in the US Navy that couldn't be done just as well by a woman (or a eunuch, for that matter.)
In response to Starship Troopers, Joe Haldeman wrote The Forever War, which is often seen its the polar opposite. The primary anvil dropped is that militarism is very bad, and that blind trust in/glorification of the military results in horrible things happening to society. It also drops a more subtle one about patriotism being terribly misguided.

But Heinlein did not see The Forever War as being in any way the opposite of Starship Troopers, and told Haldeman that he very much liked The Forever War. Heinlein went out of his way to do that publicly

"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."

Wed Nov 26, 2014 5:26 pm
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