Author Topic: Starship Troopers  (Read 8139 times)

Really Ancien

Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #25 on: May 27, 2008, 07:39:56 pm »
I found it hard to dislike the shower scene.

Damon.

Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #26 on: May 27, 2008, 10:06:06 pm »
I'd never seen the film until it was on TV recently, but had read the book years ago. It's lame without the powered armour from the book - i.e. send (mostly) unprotected humans with rubbish weapons against powerful aliens that are highly resistant to being shot at. That makes sense ::-)

Neil

Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #27 on: May 27, 2008, 10:11:55 pm »
It did always trouble me a bit - all those vast warships in space - why didn't they just nuke the planets from orbit - "it's the only way to be sure".

Warfare with, to reference Roger Waters, "The bravery of being out of range".

Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #28 on: May 28, 2008, 12:52:18 pm »
Quote
SF satire is a fairly niche genre

Orwell's '1984'?

D0m1n1c Burford

Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #29 on: May 28, 2008, 07:39:34 pm »
Quote
SF satire is a fairly niche genre

Orwell's '1984'?

1984 is a brilliant vison of dystopia, but I would not classify it as SF or satire.  It is surely closer to Brave New World by Aldous Huxley than Starship Troopers.

Really Ancien

Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #30 on: May 28, 2008, 08:02:59 pm »
A dystopian novel which is both sci fi and satire and informed both Brave New World and 1984 is We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. The best review of which is here, The Social Affairs Unit - Web Review: <em>We</em> - Yevgeny Zamyatin doubtless we will have someone along soon to point out that this is a right wing think tank, in which case they are welcome to trawl up a better resume.
Part of review below.  The book was published in1924.
'The novel tells the story of D-503, a scientist and mathematician in OneState. He is engaged on the construction of the INTEGRAL, a rocket which will allow the export of OneState's totalitarianism to the rest of the universe. As the State Gazette puts it:

A thousand years ago your heroic forebears subjugated the whole of planet Earth to the power of OneState. It is for you to accomplish an even more glorious feat: by means of the glass, the electric, the fire-breathing INTEGRAL to integrate the indefinite equation of the universe. It is for you to place the beneficial yoke of reason round the necks of the unknown beings who inhabit other planets – still living, it may be, in the primitive state known as freedom. If they will not understand that we are bringing them a mathematically infallible happiness, we shall be obliged to force them to be happy. But before taking up arms, we shall try what words can do.'


Damon.

clarion

  • Tyke
Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #31 on: May 28, 2008, 09:42:07 pm »
A rubbish review.  At the time he wrote 'We', Zamyatin was a member of the Bolshevik Party, and had been since its inception in 1905 (even Trotsky was not so radical, having been a Menshevik).

It is an allegory about the creeping power of capitalism (& colonial imperialism), which regarded labour as a consumable, and had abandoned craftsmanship for the ability to work as an automaton.

The rebellion against authority reflects the growing support from the late nineteenth century through the 1905 revolution against the extreme authoritarianism of the Tsarist state.

Stalin's paranoia about the book would be related to their development of state capitalism in the twenties & thirties, and their general suspicion of radical artists (see Rodchenko, Mayakovsky, Stravinsky, Bulgakov, Pasternak et al).

However, it is a long time since I read it, and the book is not to hand, so I can't remember specifics.
Getting there...

Really Ancien

Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #32 on: May 29, 2008, 10:10:52 am »
You make a good point Clarion, this from the Wiki article on We.

'The Integral, the One State's space ship, has been designed by D-503 to bring efficiency of the One State to the rest of the universe. This is often seen as analogous to the ideal of a Global Communist State held by early Marxists and Trotskyites, but it can be more broadly read as a critique of all modernizing, industrial societies' tendency toward empire and colonization under the guise of civilizational development for "primitive peoples." While the Soviet state promoted the Revolution with almost evangelical zeal in Zamyatin's time, capitalist nation-states carried out their mission to serve as "Trustees" for colonized subjects with equal fervor. The common dominator between communist and capitalist apologies for expansion was their shared vision of progress through efficiency and technology, and, more fundamentally, a materialist view that reduces the world to physical laws and processes that can be understood and manipulated for utilitarian purposes. This was a world view that Zamyatin despised, and We dramatizes the conflict between nature/spirit and artifice/order. It was the sacrifice of imagination and human spirit to the ordered, numbered universe of progressive ideologies that inspired Zamyatin to write many of his essays, and if there is a hopeful note in the plot of We it is that imagination and spirit could be recovered and would win out in the end over the tyranny of order and efficiency.'  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_(novel)

Brave New World expresses this sense of convergence by the names of the central characters, Ford, Marx and Mond (one of the founders of ICI)
a theme in all these dystopias is the way in which paternalistic societies infantilise citizens as by product of the care which they provide, an extremely pessimistic view of the costs of the Social Contract, J.K Galbraith expressed a similar view of convergence between State Capitalism and the paternalistic multi-national capitalism of the giant corporations in his book 'The Affluent Society'.
The Social Affairs review is a good one because it gives a short resume, is well enough written to stimulate interest and includes an extract showing its nature as a science fiction satire.

Damon.

clarion

  • Tyke
Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #33 on: May 29, 2008, 10:23:51 am »
Ah - I hadn't realised the significance of the name 'Mond' - I thought it was just representative of 'monde' = world.  Thanks.
Getting there...

Really Ancien

Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #34 on: May 29, 2008, 10:44:43 am »
A very important book which hasn't been mentioned is 'The War of the Worlds', Wells wrote that as a satire on colonial conquest, the tripods were the Maxim guns used to subjugate African tribes. It informs many other works including Starship Troopers, one reading of which would be the way in which conflict against a 'Hive' culture promotes a form of social organisation which imitates the foe, a concern typical of the Cold War period when two great military-industrial complexes stood toe to toe and expressed their power through the conspicuous display of space exploration.
Interestingly colonialism seems to be coming back into fashion, failed states such as Zimbabwe and Burma are seen as ripe for external intervention to improve the lives of their citizens, a restraining factor is the UN, the nucleus of a rational world government which is yet to assert itself.

Damon.

Wascally Weasel

  • Slayer of Dragons and killer of threads.
Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #35 on: May 29, 2008, 03:08:06 pm »
A dystopian novel which is both sci fi and satire and informed both Brave New World and 1984 is We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. The best review of which is here, The Social Affairs Unit - Web Review: <em>We</em> - Yevgeny Zamyatin doubtless we will have someone along soon to point out that this is a right wing think tank, in which case they are welcome to trawl up a better resume.
Part of review below.  The book was published in1924.
'The novel tells the story of D-503, a scientist and mathematician in OneState. He is engaged on the construction of the INTEGRAL, a rocket which will allow the export of OneState's totalitarianism to the rest of the universe. As the State Gazette puts it:

A thousand years ago your heroic forebears subjugated the whole of planet Earth to the power of OneState. It is for you to accomplish an even more glorious feat: by means of the glass, the electric, the fire-breathing INTEGRAL to integrate the indefinite equation of the universe. It is for you to place the beneficial yoke of reason round the necks of the unknown beings who inhabit other planets – still living, it may be, in the primitive state known as freedom. If they will not understand that we are bringing them a mathematically infallible happiness, we shall be obliged to force them to be happy. But before taking up arms, we shall try what words can do.'


Damon.


Pre Star Wars, Movie SF produced a number of dystopian classics like 'Soylent Green' (based on 'Make Room! Make Room!' by Harry Harrison) and 'Rollerball (from a screenplay based on the short story 'Rollerball Murder' by William Harrison).

Great fan of Star Wars though I am (I was eight when the first one came out), I wonder if it dumbed down the genre for a lot of people.

Flying_Monkey

Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #36 on: May 30, 2008, 08:24:11 am »
Quote
SF satire is a fairly niche genre

Orwell's '1984'?

1984 is a brilliant vison of dystopia, but I would not classify it as SF or satire.  It is surely closer to Brave New World by Aldous Huxley than Starship Troopers.

Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World and We are all SF, but not genre SF. Dystopianism in literature is a kind of SF. It can also be satirical.

Things don't have to be strictly one thing or another, they can be many. SF can also be literature - you seem to be one of these people who think that anything that is considered literature cannot be SF by definition. That's simply a kind of prejudice. A lot of reviewers are unfortunately like this too - anything 'good' gets claimed by the mainstream and can't be SF...  >:(

BTW, that review of We was rubbish, as someone else mentioned. It is a superb book and one which Orwell later acknowledged that he read before writing Nineteen Eighty-Four.  BTW, fact-fans, Zamyatin also has a connection to my home-town - he worked in the shipyards of Tyneside for several years...

Really Ancien

Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #37 on: May 30, 2008, 10:17:07 am »

BTW, that review of We was rubbish, as someone else mentioned. It is a superb book and one which Orwell later acknowledged that he read before writing Nineteen Eighty-Four.  BTW, fact-fans, Zamyatin also has a connection to my home-town - he worked in the shipyards of Tyneside for several years...

I was hoping that someone might be able to pin down the precise relationship of We to Brave New World and thence to 1984. this review of We by George Orwell from 1946 is nicely annotated for anyone wishing to write about the subject. It is a bit longer than the Social Affairs review, so I was reluctant to cite it until peoples curiosity about the subject was more piqued.
We, Orwell Review
In which Orwell writes.
'So far the resemblance with Brave New World is striking. But though Zamyatin's book is less well put together--it has a rather weak and episodic plot which is too complex to summarise--it has a political point which the other lacks.'


Damon.

Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #38 on: May 30, 2008, 11:54:51 am »
Quote
Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World and We are all SF, but not genre SF. Dystopianism in literature is a kind of SF. It can also be satirical.

Things don't have to be strictly one thing or another, they can be many. SF can also be literature - you seem to be one of these people who think that anything that is considered literature cannot be SF by definition. That's simply a kind of prejudice. A lot of reviewers are unfortunately like this too - anything 'good' gets claimed by the mainstream and can't be SF...

Thanks, FM. As often in the past, you find the words where I didn't  :-[

What would you say is the difference between  'SF' and 'genre SF'? Is it the fact that in the former the novel does not hinge on or centre around technological developments impossible at the time of writing? I'd like to think so, but this viewpoint would push BNW into 'genre SF'. Or is it, as you possibly suggest, the fact that 1984 and BNW were both works by writers with an established reputation in mainstream literature, so that they could not, as you suggest,  by definition be classed as SF?
 
It seems as tho, in the world of the literary dis-intelligentsia, it is 'once an SF author, always an SF author'  -  quite unfair to, e.g. Christopher Priest, whose works effortlessly bestride both. Iain (M) Banks manages both, but then he started out  'mainstream', and appears to live away from the world of the literary soiree.


Really Ancien

Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #39 on: May 30, 2008, 12:28:14 pm »
Science Fiction is one of a number of genres which have been used as a device to explore Man and Society, Cowboy and Western films and TV series fulfilled this role as well. One famous example of a TV series being used to ilntroduce radical themes was The Adventures of Robin Hood in the late 50s, one of the writers was Ring Lardner Jr, who had been blacklisted in Hollywood for communist sympathies.

Damon.

D0m1n1c Burford

Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #40 on: May 30, 2008, 05:50:47 pm »
A very important book which hasn't been mentioned is 'The War of the Worlds', Wells wrote that as a satire on colonial conquest, the tripods were the Maxim guns used to subjugate African tribes. It informs many other works including Starship Troopers, one reading of which would be the way in which conflict against a 'Hive' culture promotes a form of social organisation which imitates the foe, a concern typical of the Cold War period when two great military-industrial complexes stood toe to toe and expressed their power through the conspicuous display of space exploration.
Interestingly colonialism seems to be coming back into fashion, failed states such as Zimbabwe and Burma are seen as ripe for external intervention to improve the lives of their citizens, a restraining factor is the UN, the nucleus of a rational world government which is yet to assert itself.

Damon.

H.G. Wells was also a strong supporter of the theory of evolution, and another interpretation of the book is that the conflict between the Martians and humans is an analogy that represents the struggle between two competing species as predicted by Darwinian theory.  It is simply played out on a larger scale.

The interpretation you have described was first postulated by Isaac Asimov.  European colonialism was seen by many at the time as representing superiority, partricularly technological superiority.

The book was also responsible (allegedly) for some readers becoming vegetarian, due to the fact that the Martians were using humans as food, which was a blatant analogy to the way in which humans breed and consume farm animals for just the same purpose.

Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #41 on: May 30, 2008, 06:03:15 pm »
I never saw Starship Troopers--not much into the Space Battles end of SF--but I remember reading an enjoyable review that linked the clean, beautiful characters wiping out icky bugs to various totalitarian fascinations with sanitation, bodily cleanliness, etc. I've tried several times to find that review online, but never have.

I have no idea if it was fair to the movie or not, and didn't much care at the time, but it was a fun review to read.
scottclark.photoshelter.com

mattc

  • n.b. have grown beard since photo taken
    • Didcot Audaxes
Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #42 on: May 30, 2008, 06:04:17 pm »

What would you say is the difference between  'SF' and 'genre SF'?
<SNIP>
It seems as tho, in the world of the literary dis-intelligentsia, it is 'once an SF author, always an SF author'  -  quite unfair to, e.g. Christopher Priest, whose works effortlessly bestride both. Iain (M) Banks manages both, but then he started out  'mainstream', and appears to live away from the world of the literary soiree.
I think it's simpler than that - anything considered "quite a good book" is branded as "can't be proper SF" :(

Basically liking "SF" is uncool, so if you're a cool reviewer ...

(p.s. oddly, I don't get the Banks SF books, but love most of his mainstream stuff (but not all). )
Has never ridden RAAM
---------
No.11  Because of the great host of those who dislike the least appearance of "swank " when they travel the roads and lanes. - From Kuklos' 39 Articles

Really Ancien

Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #43 on: May 30, 2008, 06:17:18 pm »
The interpretation you have described was first postulated by Isaac Asimov.  European colonialism was seen by many at the time as representing superiority, partricularly technological superiority.


It's actually an interpretation that predates the book as it was the central notion that Wells built his book around. It pays to go beyond the first likely looking Google find.

' the main thrust of the story had been influenced by events closer to home and a chance conversation between Wells and his brother Frank.

Walking in the countryside one day, they had discussed the calamity visited upon the aboriginal Tasmanians when the Europeans discovered their land. It had been an invasion in all but name and resulted in genocidal behaviour by the Europeans, who had no regard at all for the rights of the indigenous population. Systematically persecuted, robbed, killed and interned in concentration camps, by the time of the brothers' conversation they had been wiped out. It was another shameful episode in the history of colonialism. "Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?" would ask Wells in the opening chapter of the book.

During the same walk, Wells credits Frank with a crucial observation. "Suppose some beings from another planet were to drop out of the sky suddenly," mused Frank, "and begin laying about them here!"

Damon.

D0m1n1c Burford

Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #44 on: May 30, 2008, 06:59:23 pm »

What would you say is the difference between  'SF' and 'genre SF'?
<SNIP>
It seems as tho, in the world of the literary dis-intelligentsia, it is 'once an SF author, always an SF author'  -  quite unfair to, e.g. Christopher Priest, whose works effortlessly bestride both. Iain (M) Banks manages both, but then he started out  'mainstream', and appears to live away from the world of the literary soiree.
I think it's simpler than that - anything considered "quite a good book" is branded as "can't be proper SF" :(

Basically liking "SF" is uncool, so if you're a cool reviewer ...
I think this applies to some SF, but not all.  Exceptions include Dune, which has been made into at least two films, and also a mini series starring William Hurt, all to fairly good reviews.  However, there certainly seems to be a large amount of intellectual snobbery surrounding SF.  The same snobbery applies to admitting you enjoy fantasy novels.  Many book reviewers have criticised Terry Pratchet and Tolkein, because they do not see the genre as worthy of their attention.
Quote
(p.s. oddly, I don't get the Banks SF books, but love most of his mainstream stuff (but not all). )
Ditto.

Flying_Monkey

Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #45 on: May 30, 2008, 07:20:10 pm »
Quote from: D0m1n1c Burford link=topic=3245.msg56718#msg56718
(p.s. oddly, I don't get the Banks SF books, but love most of his mainstream stuff (but not all). )

I am the opposite. With Banks's earlier non-SF work he was doing some interesting things - For example, Espedair Street is stil the most heartfelt and moving novel of 'rock life' that has been written IMHO. But he seems to be repeating his 'eccentric families' trope again and again now...

On the other hand, his SF is grand, unfettered, sometimes utopian and sometime utterly barkingly mental. He was partly responsible for updated the 'space opera' sub-genre with genuinely dark wit and politics. Great stuff on the whole.

IMHO the best SF is profoundly political and says things about technological politics (and in many ways, much of politics is technological now) that no other form of writing does. J.G. Ballard argued that SF was the authentic literature of the C20th. I think he was correct.

We massively undervalue our SF authors in Britain too. Ballard and Moorcock get some notice, largely because he is much more connected to a broader left-literary scene... whereas John Brunner or Brian Aldiss are almost forgotten. Aldiss at his best was one of the most stylistically interesting writers that Britain produced in the last century - read Barefoot in the Head - by far the best psychedelic novel ever written IMHO (maybe Delaney's Dhalgren comes somewhere near)...

Manotea

  • Where there is doubt...
Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #46 on: May 30, 2008, 07:39:19 pm »
The film is just a shoot em up, albeit a highly enjoyable shoot em up. Any resemble to the book is co-incidental.

My mother said violence never solves anything." "So?" Mr. Dubois looked at her bleakly. "I'm sure the city fathers of Carthage would be glad to know that."

D0m1n1c Burford

Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #47 on: May 30, 2008, 09:06:11 pm »
Quote from: D0m1n1c Burford link=topic=3245.msg56718#msg56718
(p.s. oddly, I don't get the Banks SF books, but love most of his mainstream stuff (but not all). )
We massively undervalue our SF authors in Britain too. Ballard and Moorcock get some notice, largely because he is much more connected to a broader left-literary scene... whereas John Brunner or Brian Aldiss are almost forgotten. Aldiss at his best was one of the most stylistically interesting writers that Britain produced in the last century - read Barefoot in the Head - by far the best psychedelic novel ever written IMHO (maybe Delaney's Dhalgren comes somewhere near)...

Brian Aldiss is indeed a literary genius.  The equal of William S. Burroughs IMO.

Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #48 on: May 30, 2008, 10:41:11 pm »
Quote from: D0m1n1c Burford link=topic=3245.msg56718#msg56718
(p.s. oddly, I don't get the Banks SF books, but love most of his mainstream stuff (but not all). )

I am the opposite. With Banks's earlier non-SF work he was doing some interesting things - For example, Espedair Street is stil the most heartfelt and moving novel of 'rock life' that has been written IMHO. But he seems to be repeating his 'eccentric families' trope again and again now...

On the other hand, his SF is grand, unfettered, sometimes utopian and sometime utterly barkingly mental. He was partly responsible for updated the 'space opera' sub-genre with genuinely dark wit and politics. Great stuff on the whole.

IMHO the best SF is profoundly political and says things about technological politics (and in many ways, much of politics is technological now) that no other form of writing does. J.G. Ballard argued that SF was the authentic literature of the C20th. I think he was correct.

We massively undervalue our SF authors in Britain too. Ballard and Moorcock get some notice, largely because he is much more connected to a broader left-literary scene... whereas John Brunner or Brian Aldiss are almost forgotten. Aldiss at his best was one of the most stylistically interesting writers that Britain produced in the last century - read Barefoot in the Head - by far the best psychedelic novel ever written IMHO (maybe Delaney's Dhalgren comes somewhere near)...


I think Banks is starting to lose it a bit though.  I found "Matter" very disappointing, a rehash of previous Culture tropes.  "The Algebraeist" was not a Culture novel, and the better for it.  His non SF output is getting worse. I've read and re read most of the earlier stuff but have no desire to do the same to anything after "A Song of Stone", which I thought was his last attempt to write something different.

I think I got half way through "Barefoot in the Head" in my teens, then abandoned it. It just did nothing for me, perhaps I should try again. With Moorcock I read a couple of the Runestaff sequence and that's all.

Brunner is superb, I've just finished "The Stone That Never Came Down" after finding it in Oxfam.  Reading Stand on Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up they still seem fresh & relevant today,  perhaps the writing style puts some people off?

Just started "The World in Winter",  an Ice Age catastrophe from John Christopher.
Not fast & rarely furious

tweeting occasional in(s)anities as andrewxclark

Re: Starship Troopers
« Reply #49 on: May 31, 2008, 06:18:18 am »

I think Banks is starting to lose it a bit though.  I found "Matter" very disappointing, a rehash of previous Culture tropes.  "The Algebraeist" was not a Culture novel, and the better for it.  His non SF output is getting worse. I've read and re read most of the earlier stuff but have no desire to do the same to anything after "A Song of Stone", which I thought was his last attempt to write something different.

I think I got half way through "Barefoot in the Head" in my teens, then abandoned it. It just did nothing for me, perhaps I should try again. With Moorcock I read a couple of the Runestaff sequence and that's all.

Brunner is superb, I've just finished "The Stone That Never Came Down" after finding it in Oxfam.  Reading Stand on Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up they still seem fresh & relevant today,  perhaps the writing style puts some people off?

Just started "The World in Winter",  an Ice Age catastrophe from John Christopher.

I agree about "Matter" - I was disappointed. Shame as I really enjoyed "Look to Windward" and "The Algebraeist".

Neil