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Want to Join the Space Force? Read the Manual: Starship Troopers


Last time I tried using a balloon for a parachute, I faceplanted off my roof.

Just last August, President Trump announced that the US Government will develop a United States Space Force by 2020. Some of of the main missions include maritime security among the US forces and our allies, and to protect potential future ventures for commercial business in space. Some people think that the proposition is ridiculous (I am in agreement; the necessity of a space force is not prevalent enough to create another branch of the military) while others fully support Trump’s decision to develop such a force.

I think that humanity has always looked to the stars for answers, but in 1959, Science Fiction writer Robert Heinlein wrote Starship Troopers, a penultimate novel about the life of a young Army recruit who earns his way through the ranks and becomes a commissioned officer. The recruit’s name is Juan Rico, and joins an elite fighting division called the Mobile Infantry; power-armor donning space soldiers, if you will. The backdrop of the story is set in the near future, where interstellar travel is made possible by FTL, (Faster Than Light) known as Cherenkov Drive. The Terrans are at war with multiple alien factions, and Rico finds himself in the midst of what they call the “Bug War”.

Starship Troopers may be a book about military science fiction, but the real purpose of the book is much more controversial than a standard sci-fi story. Robert Heinlein used the book as a platform to discuss numerous topics, the most notable being his anger at President Eisenhower’s decision to suspend nuclear tests. in the late 50’s.

Heinlein discusses the both the honors and the false valors behind military service. He also discusses how technology would bring changes to military forces all around the world. Lastly, he also discusses how war would inevitably be present in all of humankind’s conflicts.

Why is this book important in the wake of these talks about implementing a space force? I think that Starship Troopers is relevant today because it opens up a conversation of how warfare will be undeniably present as we enter a new era of space travel. While commercialization is still years away, the future of space travel is an upcoming reality and the US at a whole must be cognizant of such changes.

However, military service is one thing that will never change. In Starship Troopers, we are shown that the human race has become homogenous, under one culture. Earth as a whole are united, but through military service. I do not agree or think that the future will become military dominated, but I still agree with the fact that Heinlein realizes that, during wartime, especially in the wake of an era of space, military service will become vital and necessary, and possibly even more turbulent than any conflict that has come before it. As horrible as that sounds, I think that the modern purpose of the novel is to make sure that our conflicts in space do not get to the level of such violence, and hopefully, we will all get together to cooperate peacefully.

Other than that, Starship Troopers is an excellent read, and I implore you to read it. For fans of either science fiction, coming of age, or military fiction, it’s a great book that truly delves into many topics that you wouldn’t think about when seeing the cover at first glance.

– Matt Cuartero


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