Review of Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

SFFaudio Review

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
Themes: Science Fiction / Politics / War / Military / Spaceships

“The historians can’t seem to settle whether to call this one ‘The Third Space War’ (or the fourth), or whether ‘The First Interstellar War’ fits better. We just call it ‘The Bug War.’ Everything up to then and still later were ‘incidents,’ ‘patrols’ or ‘police actions.’ However, you are just as dead if you buy the farm in an ‘incident’ as you are if you buy it in a declared war…”
-excerpt from Starship Troopers

Written fewer than 15 years after the end of World War II, Starship Troopers (originally titled “Starship Soldier” for its first incarnation in Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine’s Oct & Nov issues of 1959) was to have been another of Heinlein’s beloved juvenile novels. Its content and far-reaching exploration of the society made it instead into the classic of hard science fiction it has become.

Starship Troopers won of the Hugo Award for 1959. It is the story of Juan “Johnny” Rico, recent high school graduate and new recruit to the Mobile Infantry, a futuristic paratrooper force which only takes the best. Just as Juan is ready to wash-out in shame, war is declared, and it’s up to Rico and the Roughnecks to mop up a little bug problem. J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings inspired hundreds of novels and revitalized modern fantasy storytelling. Similarly, Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers probably influenced more Science Fiction readers than any other novel of the last half of the 20th century. Spawning more imitators than was probably wise and even inspiring a whole sub genre of Science Fiction called “Military SF”. As with The Lord of the Rings the original inspired so many imitators for a good reason. It was a REALLY REALLY GOOD READ! Starship Troopers is spectacular SF. Semper mobilius.

The Recorded Books version.
Read by George Wilson
7 Cassettes – 9.75 hours, UNABRIDGED
Publisher: Recorded Books
Date Published: 1998

Its cover features original commisioned art, the library binding, available for additional cost, is of the durable vinyl clamshell type which makes for attractive and secure storage of tapes. Unlike the Blackstone Audiobooks version, there is very little extra material in the introduction and this is a disappointment. But, in its favor, it does include every word of the text and for that I am very pleased. In comparison to the superb Blackstone Audiobooks narration read by the gifted Lloyd James, George Wilson stacks up quite well, reading with obvious gusto. But if you were to twist my arm I’d still have to say in this case the Recorded Books edition is the lesser of the two.

The Blackstone Audiobooks version.
Read by Lloyd James
7 Cassettes – 9.75 hours, UNABRIDGED

Like all of Blackstone’s productions this one comes in a library style clamshell binding, which makes for attractive and secure storage of tapes. Its cover features the handsome art from 1987 ACE paperback release (the signature cover). And this superb production includes every single word in the book, including the teaser back cover, something I regard as akin to a necessary extra.

Lloyd James is terrific as the narrator, able to infuse his voice with the wide-eyed innocence of Rico and gruffness of Sgt. Zim. James’ is a voice you can count on, and this is an absolutely fabulous audiobook, and to my ears, the definitive version. So come on you apes pop a tape in and get listnin’.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Bonus:

Starship Troopers #LEGOized by me

LEGO Starship Troopers