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Starship bloopers

(I need to blog more often, so here's one of hopefully a series of shorter, more frequent, opinions ...)

NOTICE (as of comment 322): the discussion is about the book, not the Verhoeven movie, which I have not seen. Stop with the movie discussion or I will start to delete comments. I run this blog for my amusement and I have zero interest in movies/TV adaptations of this novel.

Anent the "Heinlein was a fascist" accusations that are a hardy perennial on the internet, especially in discussions of Starship Troopers (the book, not the movie, which I have not seen because it's a movie): I'd like to offer a nuanced opinion.

In the 1930s, Heinlein was a soft socialist—he was considered sufficiently left wing and "unreliable" that he was not recalled for active duty in the US Navy during the second world war. After he married Virginia Gerstenfeld, his third and last wife, his views gradually shifted to the right—however he tended towards the libertarian right rather than the religious/paleoconservative right. (These distinctions do not mean in 2021 what they might have meant in 1971; today's libertarian/neo-nazi nexus has mostly emerged in the 21st century, and Heinlein was a vehement opponent of Nazism.) So the surface picture is your stereotype of a socially liberal centrist/soft leftist who moved to the right as he grew older.

But to muddy the waters, Heinlein was always happy to pick up a bonkers ideological shibboleth and run with it in his fiction. He was sufficiently flexible to write from the first person viewpoint of unreliable/misguided narrators, to juxtapose their beliefs against a background that highlighted their weaknesses, and even to end the story with the narrator—but not the reader—unaware of this.

In Starship Troopers Heinlein was again playing unreliable narrator games. On the surface, ST appears to be a war novel loosely based on WW2 ("bugs" are Nazis; "skinnies" are either Italian or Japanese Axis forces), but each element of the subtext relates to the ideological awakening of his protagonist, everyman Johnny Rico (note: not many white American SF writers would have picked a Filipino hero for a novel in the 1950s). And the moral impetus is a discussion of how to exist in a universe populated by existential threats with which peaceful coexistence is impossible. The political framework Heinlein dreamed up for his human population—voting rights as a quid pro quo for military (or civilian public) service—isn't that far from the early Roman Republic, although in Rico's eyes it's presented as something new, a post-war settlement. Heinlein, as opposed to his protagonist, is demonstrating it as a solution to how to run a polity in a state of total war without losing democratic accountability. (Even his presentation of corporal and capital punishment is consistent with the early Roman Republic as a model.) The totalizing nature of the war in ST isn't at odds with the Roman interpretation: Carthago delenda est, anyone?

It seems to me that using the Roman Republic as a model is exactly the sort of cheat that Heinlein would employ. But then Starship Troopers became the type specimen for an entire subgenre of SF, namely Military-SF. It's not that MilSF wasn't written prior to Starship Troopers: merely that ST was compellingly written by the standards of SF circa 1959. And it was published against the creeping onset of the US involvement in the Vietnam War, and the early days of the New Wave in SF, so it was wildly influential beyond its author's expectations.

The annoying right wing Heinlein Mil-SF stans that came along in later decades—mostly from the 1970s onwards—embraced Starship Troopers as an idealized fascist utopia with the permanent war of All against All that is fundamental to fascist thought. In doing so they missed the point completely. It's no accident that fascist movements from Mussolini onwards appropriated Roman iconography (such as the Fasces ): insecure imperialists often claim legitimacy by claiming they're restoring an imagined golden age of empire. Indeed, this was the common design language of the British Empire's architecture, and just about every other European imperialist program of the past millennium. By picking the Roman Republic as a model for a beleagured polity, Heinlein plugged into the underlying mythos of western imperialism. But by doing so he inadvertently obscured the moral lesson he was trying to deliver.

... And then Verhoeven came along and produced a movie that riffs off the wank fantasies of the Mil-SF stans and their barely-concealed fascist misinterpretation: famously, he claimed to have never read the book. I pass no judgement on whether Starship Troopers the move is good or bad: as I said, I haven't seen it. But movies have a cultural reach far greater than any book can hope to achieve, so that's the image of Starship Troopers that became indelibly embedded in the zeitgeist.

PS: I just want to leave you wondering: what would Starship Troopers have looked like if it had been directed by Fritz Lang, with Leni Reifenstahl in charge of the cameras?

PPS: I don't agree with Heinlein's moral framework, although I think I can see what he was getting at.

965 Comments

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1:

I enjoyed deconstructing the book the other day with my PolSci academic son in law. But mainly for the suits!

2:

Heinlein was a vehement opponent of Nazism

True. Since RAH was born in 1907, he saw the Nazi end-game: extermination of pretty much everybody the state disliked.

We are all getting a lesson in what happens when something falls out of the cultural memory. Nazis were socialists! Vaccines are bad! No need for financial regulations!

If RAH had been born in 1977, rather than 1907, would he have swallowed the Big Lie about DJT actually winning in 2020? I hope not. But we can't know.

3:

If RAH had been born in 1977, rather than 1907, would he have swallowed the Big Lie about DJT actually winning in 2020? I hope not. But we can't know.

I'm pretty sure we can know. Just comb Baen's author list for mil-sf authors aged 44, +/- a couple of years, possibly with a service background in Iraq/Afghanistan, but ideally Navy.

Heinlein turned 44 in 1951, only two years after publishing "Sixth Column" (although to be fair John W. Campbell should cop the blame for much of the racism in that turd-ball).

It's a depressing thought, isn't it?

4:

I would consider Forever War by Joe Haldeman to be an interesting retort to Starship Troopers, being definitely more...in your face with the points it is communicating. Along with other ones to go with like the potential development of human society & race.

5:

I reread it a couple of years ago and this time the ending came across as almost like 1984, with Rico finally loving the army and even his father joining his unit.
That said, in 1984's Expanded Universe Heinlein says that he stopped working on Stranger in a Strange Land to write Starship Troopers in response to the campaign for a nuclear test ban, to glorify the military.

“That book glorifies the military!” Now we are getting somewhere. It does indeed. Specifically the P.B.I., the Poor Bloody Infantry, the mudfoot who places his frail body between his loved home and the war’s desolation—but is rarely appreciated. “It’s Tommy this and Tommy that and chuck him out, the brute!—but it’s ‘thin red line of heroes’ when the guns begin to shoot.” My own service usually doesn’t have too bad a time of it. Save for very special situations such as the rivers in Nam, a Navy man can get killed but he is unlikely to be wounded … and if he is killed, it is with hot food in his belly, clean clothes on his body, a recent hot bath, and sack time in a comfortable bunk not more than 24 hours earlier. The Air Force leads a comparable life. But think of Korea, of Guadalcanal, of Belleau Wood, of Viet Nam. The H-bomb did not abolish the infantryman; it made him essential … and he has the toughest job of all and should be honored. Glorify the military? Would I have picked it for my profession and stayed on the rolls the past 56 years were I not proud of it?

He then goes on to argue for a franchise limited in some way, if not by public service
Democracies usually collapse not too long after the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses … for a while. Either read history or watch the daily papers; it is now happening here.
which supports your Roman Republic theory.
Let’s stipulate for discussion that some stabilizing qualification is needed (in addition to the body being warm) for a voter to vote responsibly with proper consideration for the future of his children and grandchildren—and yours. The Founding Fathers never intended to extend the franchise to everyone; their debates and the early laws show it. A man had to be a stable figure in the community through owning land or employing others or engaged in a journeyman trade or something.

And proposes selling votes, having to solve a quadratic equation to vote (with eugenic twists) then end up suggesting that we it allow women to vote and hold public office.

6:

Yes. While I strongly disagree with his approach to enforcing civic responsibility, he has a very good point that one such is needed. Smaller and more stable societies can sustain it mainly by social pressure (though rarely did above a few thousand people), but we have seen (in many countries, including the UK and USA) what happens when that breaks down.

7:

To a great extent, that is the difference between WW II and Vietnam.

8:

I have one contrary opinion, namely that the Bugs were not Nazis but Commies, and the Skinnies were their fellow-traveler dupes.

Other than that, great. Now do Farnham's Freehold.

9:

Democracies usually collapse not too long after the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses … for a while. Either read history or watch the daily papers; it is now happening here.

And this, in my opinion, is where Heinlein went wrong! Because it's glaringly obvious that the real threat to democracy in the USA today emerged after the plutocrats discovered they could directly buy bread and circuses (or, rather, tax cuts and reactionary social policies to distract the ordinary voters). Indeed, a similar internal threat brought down the USSR; it wasn't the workers revolting and demanding bread and circuses, it was the power hierarchy ossifying and focusing on its own narrow interests.

But I'm at risk of wandering off-topic ...

10:

That is true, especially if you account for that Haldeman would later edit his book too post-war as he clearly thought more on his wartime experiences in retrospect. Though Haldeman has been quoted to respect Heinlein's work, so I think it can be safely understood what the book was trying to get at, and took his own take of "how society could be based on how wartime experiences affected my outlook of grand scale conflict". Especially since Haldeman further humanises the non-humans and how the society took efforts to make them evil, much like the political sentiment at the time of the evil commies etc. among the other political topics brewing in his head that translated into the writing such as LGBT+ and how an older generation adjusts to generational change.

11:

In fact that line about bread and circuses is a perennial conservative slur against the plebs, who even in Roman times didn't vote themselves that.

12:

Looking at online debates among serving US and UK military, there’s a mix of responses to the “middle aged, seen a war zone have an opinion”. The bulk of it is reassuringly skeptical of war as a means of achieving… any desired diplomatic end state. IIRC Ender’s Game, Old Man’s War, The Forever War, and Starship Troopers have all appeared on military reading lists (U.K. forces don’t have as much enthusiasm for reading lists, not least due to cynicism / anti-intellectualism). That’s not to say that there aren’t some rather sad puppies in uniform, just that it would be lazy to assume they’re in the ascendant.

The irony is that a commonly-used US term for their deployments 2001-2021 among the skeptical is… “The Forever War”

Going back to the Riefenstahl “Starship Troopers”? Much the same plot and iconography, but without women in combat roles, zero humour, no knowing winks. And maybe a few more torchlight ceremonies.

And as for other Military SF/F authors, it’s worth noting that Robert Mason (who wrote the excellent “Chickenhawk” about his experiences as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam) also wrote “Weapon” and “Solo” in the 1980s/90s (when in his mid-40s), about an AI combat robot… Murderbot in Nicaragua, if you like. By your criteria, it should be interesting to see the 2030-onwards crop of ex-military SF/F authors, responding as middle-aged types to a youth spent at war.

13:

Other than that, great. Now do Farnham's Freehold.

I am not touching that bait! It is stinky and writhing with maggots—

Okay, hold your noses.

"Farnham's Freehold" was published in 1964, which means it was written some time prior to 1963 -- it takes time to edit and schedule production of a magazine serial, never mind a book-shaped novel.

Now, Heinlein was born in 1907 and raised in Kansas City (Missouri, not quite Kansas). To put his background in perspective, when he was 15, the Tulsa race massacre happened about 200 miles from his home.

I mention this not because I think he had anything to do with the massacre, but to point out that he grew up as a white man in the era of Jim Crow, sunset towns, and lynching. He almost certainly didn't have black neighbours or really know any African-Americans, until he joined the Navy -- and possibly not even then.

And when he got out of the Navy he settled in California, which was a mostly white state (insofar as the whites didn't want to put up with the Chinese, Japanese, or Mexican communities, never mind the native Americans or the AAs from back east).

So: Heinlein wasn't necessarily a racist, but he grew up in a (by modern standards) racist hell-hole and he for sure had a lot of unexamined beliefs and prejudices that tainted his writing.

Fast-forward to the late 1950s/early 1960s. The civil rights movement was in motion, but it would not have impinged on Heinlein personally except insofar as he traveled through parts of the USA where it was a thing.

So he decided to sit down and write a novel about racism in the USA with only limited understanding, a whole bunch of under-examined prejudices, and oblivious to what today we'd call his white privilege.

In this context, "Farnham's Freehold" looks like it's meant to say "it's not much fun to be treated like a slave by other ethnicities, huh?" to a typical white SF reader of the day. Only Heinlein set off on a blindfolded wild ride on a pogo stick through a minefield, and detonated a whole bunch of racist landmines that not only undermined the message but left him wide open to accusations of racism that are impossible to ignore or excuse.

(My opinion: he should have left the MS on the shelf for a few years, then re-written it, at a minimum. Or preferably drowned it in the bath tub. I'm not sure it could have been salvaged: as a 50-something white male from Missouri, he was the wrong guy to write that book in the first place. Should have given the job to Samuel Delaney or Octavia Butler. Hell, pick any gay or other ethnic minority author: at least they'd have more experience of being othered and hated by racists or 'phobes with an exterminationist agenda.)

14:

I'm always cynically amused by those who take past empires built through conquest as a model for the present and/or an iconographic objective. The obvious problem with the Roman Empire is that it was built on conquest, and a particularly nasty form of it; it's where we get the very concept of a "second-class citizen." All too often, particular conquests were in service of providing more land holdings for the upper classes, and/or pacifying those who wanted to be Important by providing some (but not prime!) land for them. Slavery. Cultural imperialism, with required assimilation. Conversely, looking backward, so many of the advocates for those empires would have been its victims... but have managed to convince themselves otherwise. (Mr Rees-Mogg, I'd like you to meet Mr Lion.)

It's not that the Roman Empire had no positive effects, and perhaps even on balance might have been "a good thing" (if only because some version of it is the only thing we know). It's that blind worship of it ends up somewhere close to "the object of power is power" with very, very few detours or exceptions. Over Here, we can see that now with the worship of Confederate icons; people really don't like acknowledging that great-great-grandfather founded his "heroic struggle" on treason (as a visiting professor proclaimed about George Washington in a US History class, many years ago, before introducing himself as an Oxford don).

Empires don't have baggage that they're dragging. Oh, just ignore that fully-loaded lorry behind Mr Cicero, ok?

15:

Indeed, the plutocrats buying up the state is far more common and there are warnings from history there, like Sparta for example.
A more interesting Heinlein book on government is Tunnel in the Sky, which warns you to look out for the PPE types taking over.
The 'Heinlein makes you a fascist' trope is a bit naïve - depending which Heinlein book you pick up and take too literally you could end up an Imperial Monarchist (Glory Road), a globalist bureaucrat (Star Beast) an MMT+UBI with Universal Healthcare supporter (Beyond this Horizon), a libertarian cabal with an AI leader (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress) or a media friendly actor in a constitutional monarchy (Double Star).


16:

depending which Heinlein book you pick up and take too literally you could end up an Imperial Monarchist (Glory Road)

Eh?

Glory Road isn't about imperial monarchism; if anything, Star's role is to handle arbitration and dispute resolution along the same lines as a CEO in a contemporary multinational, per Andy Groves' algorithm for running Intel. (TLDR is: no exec can fully grasp everything that's going on below them. So what you do is: you wait until there's a dispute that keeps getting kicked up a level until it lands on your desk. Then you let both (or all) sides make their cases to you. You pick whoever seems most sensible, and roll with it -- or you send them all back to rethink their cases before they come back to you. Oh, and you try to be a suitable figurehead for that nebulous thing, corporate culture.) In Glory Road, the Emperor/Empress isn't hereditary, although how they're selected is unclear.

The real point of "Glory Road" is that it's an attack on the narrative problem of myths and fairy tales, namely what happens after "... and they all lived happily ever after"? Because the quest-story ends halfway through the book, leaving our hero to grapple with the essential meaninglessness of being a trophy consort after he defeated the Big Bad, saved the empress, got the girl, and became rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

(There's also the usual Heinleinian hobby-horse riding into the ground, this time about sex and power exchanges, but that's probably just Heinlein turning sixty and grouchy about sex.)

17:

When the topic of the Roman Republic comes up, I think it's always useful to remember that if you were going to vote, you had to be at Mars Field at the crack of dawn, yet the rich got to vote early, the Middle class next, and then the poor. So not only did you have to take the day off if you were poor (i.e. no money for food or work), you'll be in the queue for hours, literally hours.

I sometimes think that's where the GOP got some of it's voter suppression ideas from.

As a side note this is where bribery came in. If you were a wealthy Roman you had about 8 hours to convince the plebs to vote for you (either by money, food, or drink). I often thought that was the missing part of ST. It has the strict regime of the Roman Republic, but none of it's flaws. And we all know the flaws would be there. In terms of a long term solution, it wouldn't last, because sooner or later, a general is going to suggest maybe the problem isn't the bugs, or the skinny's but a different division. Where would be the Rubicon in that scenario I wonder? Lunar orbit?

18:

Alec Nevala-Lee in Astounding (the group biography of Heinlein, Campbell, Asimov and Hubbard) suggests that the 'typical white SF reader' Heinlein was addressing Farnham's Freehold was Campbell, who was an out an out racist and pro-slavery. He also says that Glory Road was mocking Campbell's narrow view of fantasy.
I may be misremembering Glory Road a bit, but I thought Star was the remote Emperor who indeed settled disputes as a last resort, but didn't try to deal with minutiae.

19:

I believe Verhoeven never read the book! I read ST when I was a teenager, and the thing that really captured my imagination was the mobile body armor and the troopers ability to fly-jump around the battlefield. There was no mobile body armor in that movie. I saw the movie at the theater when it came out and was very disappointed.

20:

Your memory of Star from "Glory Road" matches mine.

(Parenthetically: I did my obligatory Heinlein homage novel -- "Saturn's Children" riffs extensively off "Friday" -- so feel no obligation to go back for seconds. But if I did, I'd probably do "Glory Road". It needed an edit to get rid of the axe-grinding over sex/power exchanges, but aside from that, it's a delight.)

Viewing JWC as the target audience for "Farnham's Freehold" makes perfect sense, and indeed, it'd need to be as heavy-handed as it was to sucker him into reading it to the end. Otherwise he'd just bail. (I think that's the most charitable explanation I've yet heard for what is otherwise a terrible book.)

21:

The difference between Starship Troopers as book and movie is that, if you're somewhere between 15 and 30 the book is likely to make you think, whereas the movie... isn't. I certainly don't agree with all of Heinlein's surface-level conclusions, but he wrote it in a way that made twenty-five-year-old me consider a particular principle and say, "Hmmm. That's interesting," then think about it for awhile, and this quality is why the book is a classic. Rereadings later in life show no sign of any visits by the Suck Fairy.

The less said about the movie the better. I thought that it dishonored the source-material worse than any movie I've ever seen, to the point, Charlie, that if you ever have someone purchase an option on your work I'd strongly suggest a "no Verhoeven" clause! (In fact, I'd suggest a "no Verhoeven" clause as an appendage to all option contracts by any author anywhere!)

As for Farnham's Freehold, I'd agree that it was a disaster, and it's very sad that Heinlein didn't think to run it by any black acquaintances!

The really sad thing about/for Heinlein is that nobody these days thinks about an author's background or education, or when they were born, or about what the author was actually attempting to accomplish with a particular, and that goes very strongly for Heinlein's followers in the line of MilSF - it's fairly clear that most of them don't actually get or think about Starship Troopers beyond the "Hooray for the troops, let's talk about fighting" level.

And the bit about "who gets to vote" becomes very interesting if you expand it a little to say... teachers or social workers. ~Shrugs~ Just sayin'...

22:

And the bit about "who gets to vote" becomes very interesting if you expand it a little to say... teachers or social workers. ~Shrugs~ Just sayin'...

It would, but I got the impression from the book that the government services used a lot of civilian contractors so I imagine many jobs would be contracted out. If you volunteered they had to find something for you to do, but why give a volunteer a great job if part of the reason for requiring a term of service is testing commitment?

23:

Fully agree with Charlie, but one point must be emphasized: "The political framework Heinlein dreamed up for his human population—voting rights as a quid pro quo for military (or civilian public) service"

As you note, Heinlein made it clear early in the book that military service was only one way to gain the right to vote. He listed several other forms of public service that were acceptable alternatives. But as a novelist, he made the right call (knowing his audience) and rather than writing a rip-roaring yarn about shuffling papers in a soulless bureaucracy, he chose a war story.

Last time we discussed this (back in 2018), several folks disagreed. To avoid repeating that discussion, I suggest that before you post a rebuttal, you please go back to the primary source (i.e., what Heinlein actually wrote, not what people say he wrote). I don't have time right now to skim the first 50-some pages of my copy to find his specific description of national service, but those who disagree should feel free to do the work and find me a quote from Starship Troopers that says "only military service qualifies you to vote".

I completely get why people like to call Heinlein a fascist, but they're wrong. My reading of Heinlein biographies and some of his papers suggests he was frequently a nasty man who treated people who disagreed with him quite badly, but Charlie nailed it: he was a right-wing libertarian, not a fascist.

24:

You know, I was silly enough to by a Kindle version of Starship Troopers. My dad's version apparently perished under cat vomit some years ago.

Anyway, the weird thing is that in the Starship Troopers universe, federal service is what's required to get a voting franchise, not military service. If you want to be able to vote, you have to serve a time doing stuff for the government. Volunteering to get shot at is not only optional but discouraged, at least by the people taking them in.

Here's a quote (Kindle p.33): "But if you came in here in a wheel chair and blind in both eyes and were silly enough to insist on enrolling, they would find something silly enough to match. Counting the fuzz on a caterpillar by touch, maybe. The only way you can fail is by having the psychiatrists decide that you are not able to understand the oath.”

So there may be a couple of points here.

One is that what the genre knockoffs that follows this model influences what we think is in the original, even if it's not exactly there. This is true for LOTR, HPL, REH, and others.

The other thing is that I'm not sure how much of this is Heinlein doing a libertarian philosophical screed a la Ayn Rand, and how much of it is him being a market savvy SF author. We tend to think libertarian means "screed writer, no? Does that (and his later writing) color our view of what he was up to here?

Just to be obnoxious, I'll pose the alternative: he's a writer trying to make a living. In this book, he took the common stuff most people think they know about Rome (e.g. World History classes from high school), mating it with a "what if I could take out the ugly parts" creativity spurth, the normal impulse for anyone committing SFF, feeling around for a story that's appropriate for the times (fighting kommie kritters with nukes is Kewl).. And after doing all this he rolled a natural 20 in the sense that people are still aping the book decades later, even though his estate doesn't get licensing fees for the knockoffs. Was this is core philosophy, or was he trying a Rand and trying to make bigger points?

25:

It's been years, decades even, since I read the book but, probably unpopular opinion, I quite liked it.

Perhaps it's not having had dreams of, or having played at, being a soldier, sailor or similar but my memory of the book is thinking "this world/galaxy is horrible but this political system is worse" although I enjoyed some of the ideas in whatever their moral indoctrination classes were called. I didn't have the language back then (I last read it sometime in my teens), but today I still occasionally look back and think of them when I see people reframing (or refusing to reframe) history. The furore around Winston Churchill where Britain's generally older and more right-wing figures stridently object to any acknowledgement of things he patently did wrong while more progressive members of the historian profession are saying "he was undoubtedly a great wartime leader, and should be lauded for that, and also for doing that while dealing with his mental health difficulties but..." Reframing the Crusades as purely about population pressure "but you have to dig deeply to prove it" remains with me as clearly as another author and "the rule of five" and the picture of the child born with six fingers.

I thought the message, the parody message came through quite clearly. I think it does in the movie too. The core film might hype up the right wing mil-SF fanbois. But the adverts, just like in Robocop, really ridicule the whole of the society. But like a lot of humour, if you're the butt of the joke, it's easy to miss it.

26:

IIRC he wrote the book because there was a "no nuclear weapons" campaign which worried him. Beyond that I'd agree with your "he's a writer trying to make a living" interpretation. But he also definitely had Opinions and he took great pride in the idea that his work could make people think.

27:

I don't know if I'd agree that Heinlein was a right-wing libertarian, at least not as we understand the term today. He obviously believed that adulthood came with responsibilities as well as privileges, which is something modern right-wing Libertarians don't seem to understand.

28:

"It's glaringly obvious that the real threat to democracy in the USA today emerged after the plutocrats discovered they could directly buy bread and circuses" and this was also so in Rome. Heinlein did some decent historical research, but he was not a critical historian. In his view of how republics fall, Heinlein followed the prevailing belief of historians of the 20th century, up to his time. (This was also the source of one of the worst problems with with Farnham's Freehold.)

Heinlein thought well of The Forever War - he said so, face-to-face, to Joe Haldeman.

BTW, Roman universal conscription is where (via Machiavelli and Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, the one born in 1655) we got the "well-regulated militia."

29:

"He almost certainly didn't have black neighbours or really know any African-Americans, until he joined the Navy -- and possibly not even then."

Not even then. He was an officer, and blacks would have been a very, very small majority of Navy sailors, in specialized servant job (mess attendant). They'd have serve his food, but there would be at least a double social gap between white officers and black mess attendants.

30:

Please note, you're confusing the Roman Republic with the Empire. They had different pressures (the Republic had to survive, it wasn't the monster that it became as an Empire).

31:

I should reread Glory Road. But Star as "arbitrator" reminds me of the Worldcon costume my late ex and I did in Denver in '08. She was the "Supreme Artiter", and I was her "Chief Executor", emphasis on the "execute".

Her line on leaving the state: "An arbitration? Are the missile pods loaded?"

32:

Yup. I make it a point to say I don't write military sf - actually, I just did a post on it yesterday https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=354486706016089&id=102609341203828

I'm not interested in milSF fanboys (or, as I refer to it, military pr0n). [snark]As some folks I've seen post, these are guys who can't run a mile, Meal Team 6, and run around in the woods... and are sure they're ready for urban warfare....

I'll also note that every so often, the thread in the US gets loud enough to get an op-ed, that we *should* have a national service requirement, to be done (usually) between high school and college), and options include the Peace Corps, VISTA, etc. That would be a Good Thing, I think.

33:

"A writer trying to make a living."

And let's not forget that, in addition to JWC, he's *also* writing for a market that was assumed to be 80% or 90% white males between 12 and 26.

34:

Charlie @ 9
The ultra-rich buying up bread-&-circuses & subverting the previously-stable Democracy.
BoZo has REALLY LEARNT this one & is following IQ45's lead, but is, so far getting away with vast amounts.
I mean, Dido Harding in charge of the NHS ( See previous thread ) etc.
It took how long to bring about implosion of the CCCP?
Fall of Kruschev to 1990? ( about 26 years ) Or from the appointment of Andropov in 1982 ( So 8 years ) ?
Where are we on that trajectory?
Assuming, of course, we don't get the "distraction" of a War with the PRC .....

Kevin Marks
OTOH
There is a very well-known subset of fascism, that is currently very powerful in the USA.
R.A.H. trashed that, utterly, in one of his earliest works - usuall called "Revolt in 2100" ( Christofascism )

whitroth
.. the Republic had to survive, it wasn't the monster that it became as an Empire
NO many times - NO
Carthage, Syracuse, Corinth, the conquest of Gaul, for that matter.

35:

I happen to agree about Rome.

It was an expansionist Republic from pretty much the get-go, although getting sacked by Gauls would rather put people on edge.

That said, I indulged in a little alt-history along the lines of "If Rome was so evil, what would have happened if Rome never rose?" A badly timed eruption of the Phlegraean Fields would have sterilized that part of the Peninsula rather nicely, for instance...

So anyway, I started reading a bit on Hellenistic history (Alexander to Actium, to be precise). My quick impression was "holy crap, what did I step in? And how do I get this off my legs?" Rome was pretty bad, but much of what was going on in the Hellenistic eastern Mediterranean was arguably worse, with a bunch of super-rich of varying skill levels (or lack thereof) indulging their fantasies of divine rule and killing each other in the most expensive ways they could devise and sacking the landscape repeatedly in the process. Rome was somewhat better in comparison. That said, I can certainly see where the popularity of messiahs in that region comes from. Anything to get to a better world would be immensely popular, whether it's itinerant Buddhists preaching in the big cities or homespun mystics.

Actually, if you can figure out how to file the serial numbers off a story of the super-rich destroying each other, only to be subjugated in turn by a scrappy and innovative democracy, you could make a fantasy for the 21st Century...Just sayin'

36:

Just to be obnoxious, I'll pose the alternative: he's a writer trying to make a living.

This is absolutely true of Heinlein all along. He started writing short fiction for the pulps because his Navy pension was too small to live off on its own; there may also have been alimony payments to Leslyn MacDonald (who he divorced in 1947: the bio details are unclear but MacDonald died in 1981).

I don't think the financial pressure really eased on him until the runaway success of "Stranger in a Strange Land".

37:

Troutwaxer noted: "I don't know if I'd agree that Heinlein was a right-wing libertarian, at least not as we understand the term today. He obviously believed that adulthood came with responsibilities as well as privileges, which is something modern right-wing Libertarians don't seem to understand."

I should've said mid- to late-stage Heinlein. My memory is that he did maintain a belief in adult responsibilities to the end of his career, but that those responsibilities shifted from the state to the individual's chosen family group (e.g., particularly "Time Enough for Love" and "Friday", and probably "Number of the Beast"). That may not be strict Aynal-retentive Rand libertarianism, but it's heading closer to that direction than any other simple label I can come up with. You're right to split hairs on this point if we want to dig deeper, but for a superficial discussion, "right wing libertarian" fits better than fascist.

38:

"A rip-roaring yarn about shuffling papers in a soulless bureaucracy." wasn't that The Star Beast? And one the major characters of that story was African, most likely Black, though I don't think that was stated in the text. (Not likely that would make it into a 1950s juvenile.)

There is, I think, in Heinlein, a Swiftian, or perhaps Twainian, level of satire. (Does anyone recall if he mentioned Swift? He did mention Twain.) And his naïve readers miss that.

39:

he wrote the book because there was a "no nuclear weapons" campaign which worried him.

Now that's an interesting piece of timing!

"Starship Troopers" dropped in 1959, the year of Sputnik. At that time the CIA was screaming at Eisenhower about a Missile Gap existing, with estimates that the USSR had as many as 700 ICBMs poised and ready to obliterate the USA at 30 minutes' notice.

As it later turned out -- see also the U-2 program and Project Oxcart, not to mention the spy satellite program -- the USSR had only about a dozen ICBMs back then, which took 6 hours to fuel up on the launch pad. They were mostly R-7s, the ancestor of today's Soyuz launcher, and made a piss-poor ICBM (but a much better satellite launcher).

But back then, the US media were partial to the CIA interpretation, which was selectively leaked through media channels to drum up an atmosphere of near hysteria. The 1950s were really something else, and like most of his generation Heinlein had been borderline-traumatized by living through WW2, even if he hadn't been on the front lines.

40:

Greg: It took how long to bring about implosion of the CCCP? Fall of Kruschev to 1990? ( about 26 years ) Or from the appointment of Andropov in 1982 ( So 8 years ) ? Where are we on that trajectory?

Going by Thatcher -> Present, I think we're probably overdue. If you subtract the New Labour interregnum, then we've had 29 barely-interrupted years of Thatcher and her doctrinaire fanboys since 1979. So we're already overdue.

41:

Remember the horrifyingly bad pun (or dad joke) at the end of Star Beast? And how Heinlein in 1954(!) smuggled a John Thomas into a book published by Scribners' kidlit imprint?

42:

Actually, multiple historians have pointed out that the US has been this polarized before. The late 19th century had lots of bread-and-circus style rallies, where the point was to provide a lot of food and more beer, get everyone riled up and parading in an us versus them style, and to not talk politics during the election because the last thing you want is for the mobs following your banner to think about what they were demonstrating for. This was the norm in US politics, and yet somehow, we got through that. Sort of. For a little while.

I think the bigger global picture, the part that's relevant for the UKians in the audience, is to not make the mistake of thinking history is destiny, or that history is even very good at rhyming. If there isn't a Mandate of Heaven, rebuilding Rome won't be useful either. And if you can believe in Black Swan Theory, historical cycles, and climate change, then you're almost as good at compartmentalizing contradictory ideas as any authoritarian follower. One of these is not like the others.

43:

I don't know if I'd agree that Heinlein was a right-wing libertarian, at least not as we understand the term today.

Like "Republican", the term "libertarian" seems to have drifted over the last generation.

After all, most contemporary Republicans would find Reagan too left-wing for their tastes, let alone a Commie like Eisenhower. :-/

44:

The history of Starship Troopers is laid out in Expanded Universe (which admittedly he wrote 20 years laters so may be embellished a with hindsight, but Astounding agrees). He was worried by the Test Ban proposal and wrote a reds under the bed polemic:

Last Saturday in this city appeared a full-page ad intended to scare us into demanding that the President stop our testing of nuclear weapons. This manifesto was a curious mixture of truth, half-truth, distortion, exaggeration, untruth, and Communist-line goals concealed in idealistic-sounding nonsense.

The instigators were seventy-odd local people and sixty-odd national names styling themselves “The National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy.” It may well be that none of the persons whose names are used as the “National” committee are Communists and we have no reason to suppose that any of the local people are Communists—possibly all of them are loyal and merely misguided. But this manifesto is the rankest sort of Communist propaganda.

And so on. Eisenhower ignored the lobbying.
Heinlein continues (in 1984).
Presently I resumed writing—not Stranger but Starship Troopers. The “Patrick Henry” ad shocked 'em; Starship Troopers outraged 'em. I still can't see how that book got a Hugo. It continues to get lots of nasty “fan” mail and not much favorable fan mail … but it sells and sells and sells and sells, in eleven languages. It doesn't slow down—four new contracts just this year. And yet I almost never hear of it save when someone wants to chew me out over it. I don't understand it.

Then he explains the franchise thing:
  • “Veteran” does not mean in English dictionaries or in this novel solely a person who has served in military forces. I concede that in commonest usage today it means a war veteran … but no one hesitates to speak of a veteran fireman or veteran school teacher. In Starship Troopers it is stated flatly and more than once that nineteen out of twenty veterans are not military veterans. Instead, 95% of voters are what we call today “former members of federal civil service.” Addendum: The volunteer is not given a choice. He/she can't win a franchise by volunteering for what we call civil service. He volunteers … then for two years plus-or-minus he goes where he is sent and does what he is told to do. If he is young, male, and healthy, he may wind up as cannon fodder. But there are long chances against it.
  • He/she can resign at any time other than during combat—i.e., 100% of the time for 19 out of 20; 99+% of the time for those in the military branches of federal service.
  • There is no conscription. (I am opposed to conscription for any reason at any time, war or peace, and have said so repeatedly in fiction, in nonfiction, from platforms, and in angry sessions in think tanks. I was sworn in first in 1923, and have not been off the hook since that time. My principal pride in my family is that I know of not one in over two centuries who was drafted; they all volunteered. But the draft is involuntary servitude, immoral, and unconstitutional no matter what the Supreme Court says.)
  • Criticism: “The government in Starship Troopers is militaristic.” “Militaristic” is the adjective for the noun “militarism,” a word of several definitions but not one of them can be correctly applied to the government described in this novel. No military or civil servant can vote or hold office until after he is discharged and is again a civilian. The military tend to be despised by most civilians and this is made explicit. A career military man is most unlikely ever to vote or hold office; he is more likely to be dead—and if he does live through it, he'll vote for the first time at 40 or older.
  • 45:

    Roman universal conscription is where (via Machiavelli and Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, the one born in 1655) we got the "well-regulated militia."

    At least Roman Senators didn't fetishize the Right to Bear Swords and argue that they could carry them into the Forum.

    46:

    "Actually, if you can figure out how to file the serial numbers off a story of the super-rich destroying each other, only to be subjugated in turn by a scrappy and innovative democracy, you could make a fantasy for the 21st Century...Just sayin'"

    You rang? Not the next book I get published, which is in a different universe, but the one after that is the creation of the Terran Confederation, and the trillionaires' internecine wars finally push us over the line.

    Bonus points: most of the PoV characters are women.

    47:

    As I've said a number of times before, I haven't read any Heinlein between Moon and Friday. In between was that water on the brain, that was surgically removed in the late seventies....

    And, please, I've also said for many years, if I want to read right-wing propaganda, I'll take Heinlein any day - he could, in fact, *write*, as opposed to Rand, who would never have gotten out of the slush pile without friend$$$$$. Her "writing" is *dreadful*, on par with Eye of Argon.

    48:

    Charlie! Sputnik was 4 Oct 1957.

    49:

    Reading your post, what came to mind was, of course, the CCC, and the Federal Writers' Project, and other programs of the New Deal. All would qualify as federal service.

    As did Woody Guthrie composing songs for the government....

    50:

    The difference between Starship Troopers as book and movie is that, if you're somewhere between 15 and 30 the book is likely to make you think, whereas the movie... isn't.

    Given that the script and acting in the movie was done so that 12 year olds could follow it in detail, well, ... And most all 12 year olds. Even the one who are barely getting by in school.

    I leave it on every now and then if it pops up on a TV channel as an amusing diversion while writing emails or such. But past that ...

    It's a movie made from a comic book.

    51:

    Oh, dear. Now my SO is calling me cruel, and asking why I would do that, when it struck me to write a fanfic parody of Anthem, or Atlas Shrugged, in the style of Eye of Argon....

    52:

    The difference between Starship Troopers as book and movie is that, if you're somewhere between 15 and 30 the book is likely to make you think, whereas the movie... isn't.

    My father (1925-2001) was considered to not be a racist in the later 60s onward. It cost him much of his social standing in our little back water of Americana.[1] Anyone with his views today would be considered a racist. Not much of one but still. At some point you have to allow for the environment where people existed. Not some utopia they never knew.

    And I still have words and phrases and jingles in my head that I'll never be able to remove that I picked up and used in the 60s/70s.

    [1] I'm still learning things about my family and the community I grew up in 50 years after the fact that surprise me.

    53:

    My keyboarding went nuts. Total user error. That quote for for another comment I was making. But my reply was to your comment.

    55:

    I'm on the opposite end of the experiental spectrum here - I've seen (and really like) the movie but not read the book.

    Only wanted to say that wrt the OP Paul Verhoeven explicitly *did* base some of the camera work on Leni R


    "...I was looking for the prototype of blond, white and arrogant, and Casper Van Dien was so close to the images I remembered from Leni Riefenstahl’s films. I borrowed from Triumph of the Will in the parody propaganda reel that opens the film, too. I was using Riefenstahl to point out, or so I thought, that these heroes and heroines were straight out of Nazi propaganda. No one saw it at the time. I don’t know whether or not the actors realised – we never discussed it. I thought Neil Patrick Harris arriving on the set in an SS uniform might clear it up..."


    from this article https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2018/jan/22/how-we-made-starship-troopers-paul-verhoeven-nazis-leni-riefenstahl


    I think it's a totally fair point that the only thing the movie really shares with the book, from what I understand, is the title.

    I vaguely remember him also saying somewhere that the point of the movie was that fascism turns everyone in to fascists, which seems on the money and is a pretty accurate description of what happens in the movie.

    56:

    This was the norm in US politics, and yet somehow, we got through that. Sort of. For a little while.

    I think the "smoke filled back rooms" had a lot to do with it. They resulted in some really bad things. But overall they keep the boat somewhat steady. Just not steady in a way that many liked when the 60s finally blew up.

    57:

    After all, most contemporary Republicans would find Reagan too left-wing for their tastes

    He negotiated with, compromised with, and was friends with Tip O'Neill. Any single one of those would get him laughed out of the party today.

    58:

    I have the opposite: I have only watched the movie, but have not read the book. I guess I am too young for that? (35)
    I don't know if I read _any_ Heinlein, but I certainly have read Mil-SF

    On first viewing, it is a blatant, bad, cheesy, strange, military fan-p0rn movie. However, on second and third viewing, when the brain knows what is going on and can think, I can only frame it as "Propaganda - The Movie!". That needs some explanation: The movie is basically an in-universe propaganda movie, as a citizen would see on their whatever-device.
    -> The propaganda ad-breaks, the framing of the characters, etc. That interpretation doesn't quite work in a few scenes, e.g., the one where the the officer sends his corporal to die for no good reason.
    It doesn't get better in repeat viewings, it's still bad. But it has things in it that are either intentional and badly executed or brilliant accidents.

    I was not inspired to think of anything this movie portrayed as worthy to implement in the real world, but I was told I have at least two brain cells, so that does not surprise me. People getting all "Rar-Rar Hurra, space facism rocks!" over this movie I cannot emphasize with.

    For a Riefenstahl version, I can buy it being essentially unchanged story-wise. Details would change:
    All human soldiers being portrayed as heroic all the time. Minor defeats are causes by human weakness, not because the enemy is too strong. (no major human defeats.) All human deaths are portrayed as evil acts by monsters and the fallen are raised as martyrs of the cause.
    A straight up propaganda movie, essentially.

    59:

    I haven't read RH in 50 or so years. His books that is. I read his Byte magazine articles and his blog at times. (What a confusing mess of navigation.)

    But I like him. And many times didn't agree with him. His politics, computer thoughts, whatever.

    But I always felt that he had thought through his positions and was right as a result. Unlike so many people.

    And at times would admit to changing his mind and that he had qualms about his conclusions.

    60:

    Those are just two sides of the same coin - the problem comes when an electorate turns into a flock of sheeple, and start following demagogues and (worse) rabble-rousers. For representative democracy to work, the electorate MUST be sufficiently well-informed, thoughtful and (above all) involved to be at least resistant to those.

    The other aspect is to avoid 'them and us' in governmental organisations, which is demonstrably not working in the UK at present.

    I agree with him that universal public service is an important part of a solution, but I do not at all agree with his take on it.

    61:

    There, I agree with you. I have read precisely one Rand (Atlas Shrugged), which I was pointed at as a way of understanding their mindset, and it was hard to tell whether it was more scrofulous as philosophy or literature.

    62:

    fwiw, my take on Starship Troopers the movie: perfectly credible first-person shooter of a movie, bearing no resemblance whatsoever to the book, and redeemed from a literary perspective only by the scene with the brain-eating bug-eyed monster.

    YMMV.

    63:

    #11 - As the Romans didn't have a universal franchise, the plebs couldn't vote, for that or anything else.

    #19 - Similar feelings about the book, and mild disappointment about the film.

    #23 Para 3 - You're correct about the actual (lack of) statement but I think it's fairly clear that Rico believed that you had to do military service to gain the franchise, and to become eligible for some civil service careers.

    64:

    my take on Starship Troopers the movie: perfectly credible first-person shooter of a movie, bearing no resemblance whatsoever to the book

    Take interesting book. Mil-SF.

    Turn into comic book. With liberal interpretation / deletion of details.

    Make a movie from comic book. Don't worry about any details.

    65:

    I believe you're thinking of Jerry Pournelle, not Heinlein.

    66:

    You rang? Not the next book I get published, which is in a different universe, but the one after that is the creation of the Terran Confederation, and the trillionaires' internecine wars finally push us over the line.

    Oh cool! Maybe you'll be able to make Progr-SF a thing, sort of like the inverse of MilSF and for a bigger audience.

    67:

    Side note on using "comic book" to mean "overly simplistic" or just plain "stupid". If you believe that, you haven't read any comic books (in which I include graphic novels) since, say, 1970. A lot of the newer stuff is every bit as good as purely textual fiction and some is better; Neil Gaiman's and (much of) Alan Moore's work comes to mind, but there are many others. And I'm probably doing an injustice to pre-1970 comics, but I'm speaking to the comics I've actually read.

    68:

    pirateFinn @ 4: I would consider Forever War by Joe Haldeman to be an interesting retort to Starship Troopers, being definitely more...in your face with the points it is communicating. Along with other ones to go with like the potential development of human society & race.

    Perhaps in a way. But Haldeman was writing about the Vietnam War, while Heinlein was writing about WW2 and the Korean War. Different wars, different experiences.

    69:

    If you've never seen the movie, don't bother. It is a grotesque travesty of Heinlein's writing.

    And aside from the politics it gets wrong, it's poorly acted, the writing is SHIT even for screen writing, the special effects are appalling in their representation of the military (not even up to the cheesy level of Star Trek) and the "soldiers" are not tactically proficient, they're JUST PLAIN STUPID.

    It is an insult to the intelligence of anyone who has ever served, including draftees who hated serving in the military.

    travesty noun

    trav·​es·​ty | \ ˈtra-və-stē\
    plural travesties

    Definition of travesty
    1 : a debased, distorted, or grossly inferior imitation
    a travesty of justice

    2 : a burlesque translation or literary or artistic imitation usually grotesquely incongruous in style, treatment, or subject matter


    70:

    On this book, I tend to think that if most teenage boys, the readers it was aimed at, come away thinking powered armour is cool as is blowing lots of people up and only letting vets have the vote, then maybe Heinlein wasn't as great a writer as some people like to think he was. As in, if he meant there to be multiple layers and maybe take the mickey out of such attitudes, he didn't do a good enough job writing it. Or maybe teenage boys at that time were deeper thinkers than in the late 20th century, but I doubt it. Or maybe the editors wouldn't have accepted such a book. Maybe he should have written it aimed at adults instead.

    71:

    I never read it. I might now that I have study-avoidance procrastination reading opportunities, it's possible it could have a place in that list. I generally prefer to use my time to discover, try to understand and build on good ideas, though, and not spend it trying to understand why I disagree with bad ones. It might have been timing, when I was a teenager in the 80s there was a lot of good writing available, I never really had to fossick in the midden of 50s post-war-US genre stuff (though I definitely read Asimov, Dick and some others). Pre-war crime fiction was what really drew me in, I guess. At the moment it's still that I want to support good ideas so I'm more likely to spend money on this, for instance than giving some of it to Heinlein's heirs. Same reason I avoid buying Murdoch papers or following links to Murdoch sites. It's a form of voting.

    I'm interested in the depiction of public service that emerges in this thread. Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash already portrays it as a joke*, more or less, and it's roughly equidistant in time with Starship Troopers and the present. I wonder when and how it moved, in big-L Libertarian thinking, from Heinlein's viewpoint to the "small government" mindset, because those are clearly very different positions and potentially explain some of the other differences. There's a definite trajectory, but the shape is not clear in my head. Fascism has always been a bit paradoxical on the role of the state, at least from the representation we get of it in the current "right".

    I did see the movie, and enjoyed it as a very dark comedy. Floss nails it above, it's all about the banality of evil in the tradition of Arrendt. It's a mirror to The Hollywood and/or FPS culture of the 90s (which is only worse since, from gamergate to incels to alt-right) and how close it already was. But it's also how just going along with the official story makes us all into cheerful, righteous monsters. If Heinlein had a different point that's being missed, I don't think Vorhoeven really cared. And sure maybe that's rough if the book is important to you, but that's not really relevant. Sometimes the message is presented via a sort of reductio ad absurdum, and unfortunately this often doesn't work, because people can have a surprising threshold for absurdity sometimes that undermines the best intentions. And so I think is the case here: the overtly stooopid, gamer-style militarism is there so get under the radar of the gamer-types, the teenage boys of the 1990s (much like the take on Farnham above), who then are supposed to grasp how ridiculous it has become by the end. The reason it's just not Verhoeven's best work, IMHO, is that this massively overestimates the audience. But at least it is (sort of) an attempt at engagement, and it beats the snooty indifference I find myself withdrawing to.

    * I'm not taking an position on what Stephenson actually represents there, but my impression is it's a form of genre-savvy parody so if he's not actually presenting the libertarian viewpoint at least he's parodying it.

    72:

    Starship Troopers was not one of Heinlein's juveniles. In fact Scribner's, (who published Heinlein's juveniles) turned it down.

    73:

    Frank is right @24, Heinlein was a writer trying to make a living.

    - Heinlein was a Trickster[1].

    Look at Lost Legacy and Beyond This Horizon. That is Heinlein, the rest is him writing stories to tweak people's Victorian morals and utterly screw with their heads. He created genre categories so that he would be remembered and read long after he was dead.

    Look at best selling authors over the past century, most are forgotten soon after they died. He wanted to keep his books alive, so he played the long game and won.

    Very few people can even begin to understand the bizarre world that he was born into, grew up in, and had to survive, while still making a living as a writer.

    BTW, What I love about people calling him a "Libertarian" is:

    - The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is his ultimate prank.

    It is the most anti-Libertarian tome ever written. He wrote it in such a way that the book would be embraced by Libertarians, pushed as their religious text, bought and read by anyone calling themselves Libertarian.

    Take a hundred Libertarians and have them emigrate to Luna. Within a week, most of them will be dead because the Loonies would not put up with their crap. At the end of five years, there would be no Libertarians, only Loonies.

    The beautiful thing is, no matter what I say, no one will believe that he tricked them, and his books will still be read, his name living on.

    [1] The Trickster and the Paranormal by George P. Hansen

    74:

    Charlie @ 40
    EXCEPT the madwoman of Grantham ,whtever her many failings, would never, ever have gone for thie current Brexshit nonsense - hell - she was one of the.principal architects of the Single Market.

    David L
    At some point you have to allow for the environment where people existed. Not some utopia they never knew.
    Yeah
    Will the nutjobs campaigning against "slavery " & persecuting people 200-years-dead, PLEASE get their heads out of their arses, & campaign against slavery that is happening RIGHT NOW?
    Or is that too dangerous, because demonstrating outside W1B 1JL just MIGHT get you arrested?

    (separate) Tip O'Neill? A "Democrat"? Something even more dangerous?

    allynh
    "Double Star"
    One of his best - also about responsibility & absolutely not "libertarian"

    75:

    I think there are three ideological (?) themes Heinlein combined in Starship Troopers.

    First of all, it's a homage to the citizen soldiers of World War 2, particularly the Airborne Infantry of D-Day and "A Bridge Too Far". It took a vast number of citizens answering Democracy's Call to defeat the Fascists & the Nazis.1

    https://www.nationalww2museum.org/students-teachers/student-resources/research-starters/research-starters-us-military-numbers

    Secondly it deals with the ambiguous "ending" of the Korean Conflict - along with the Cold War & China falling to Mao's communists. Vietnam was just on the horizon, but hadn't really moved into the mainstream of public awareness at the time.

    By the time Heinlein wrote Starship Troopers, the Soviets and Chinese Communists looked to be as much a threat to the rest of the world's freedom as the Nazis & Fascists had been prior to World War 2 WITH the additional threat of nuclear weapons.

    The third thing is Heinlein's involvement in Sinclair Lewis's EPIC (End Poverty In California) movement and civic involvement. For Heinlein, every Right demands the acceptance of an equal responsibility.

    If you have the right to vote you also have the obligation to educate yourself about the issues of the day and vote responsibly, i.e.
    FOR progressive taxation,
    FOR fair wages and union representation,
    FOR good schools that teach SCIENCE unconstrained by religious bigotry,
    FOR fair housing policies,
    FOR conservation - the earth is not ours, we are merely stewards, holding it in trust for future generations,
    FOR public works (TVA, CCC, WPA, ...) providing jobs for those who can find no other work2, but NOT for bread & circuses and
    FOR Free Enterprise but NOT for dog-eat-dog, anything goes, Laissez-faire capitalist Fascist Oligarchy.

    And that's what the Libertarian (Loony-Toonarian?) right wing-nuts get wrong. They demand "rights" without responsibility.

    1 Not the United States alone, but that's the part I know the most about. Y'all will know the contributions your own countries made to that fight.

    2 It was, after all, during the Great Depression of the 1930s that many of Heinlein's political views first took shape.

    76:

    I think that, in addition to being caused by Heinlein's reaction to the anti-nuclear newspaper ad, Starship Troopers was written under the influence of the dialectic that opposed Heinlein to Alice Dalgliesh, the editor of Scribner's and Sons Children's Book Division.

    She made him hopping mad, from 1947 to 1959, as he pumped out yearly juvenile novels for Scribner's and Sons.

    77:

    Troutwaxer @ 72: "Starship Troopers was not one of Heinlein's juveniles. In fact Scribner's, (who published Heinlein's juveniles) turned it down."

    Yes, the entire publishing board at Scribner's turned it down. But originally Heinlein had meant it to be his latest juvenile. Since it couldn't be salvaged he found another publisher and quit making juveniles.

    78:

    yohansenbabe @ 19: I believe Verhoeven never read the book! I read ST when I was a teenager, and the thing that really captured my imagination was the mobile body armor and the troopers ability to fly-jump around the battlefield. There was no mobile body armor in that movie. I saw the movie at the theater when it came out and was very disappointed.

    I'm pretty sure I read Starship Troopers when I was in the seventh grade (first year of Junior High School here - 1962). I pretty much devoured all of the Sci-Fi available from the school library. I particularly remember that first edition cover.

    Growing up here in North Carolina, that was also the age I was attending Boy Scout Camporees sponsored by the Army down at Fort Bragg. So I very early associated the Mobile Infantry with paratroopers.

    I wasn't disappointed by the movie, I was FURIOUS about how grotesquely it misrepresented Heinlein's work ... still am.


    79:

    Yes, but when he went to Putnam's he did some revision to make the book more adult. It would be interesting to see exactly what those revisions were.

    80:

    Robert Prior @ 22:

    And the bit about "who gets to vote" becomes very interesting if you expand it a little to say... teachers or social workers. ~Shrugs~ Just sayin'...

    It would, but I got the impression from the book that the government services used a lot of civilian contractors so I imagine many jobs would be contracted out. If you volunteered they had to find something for you to do, but why give a volunteer a great job if part of the reason for requiring a term of service is testing commitment?

    I got the impression that government services used a lot of veterans. Those jobs were held by and for those who had proven their commitment to society was greater than their commitment to self interest. That's really the whole of the concept of government in the book. Even the contractors would have been veterans.

    The thing about "If you volunteered they had to find something for you to do" is really about the nascent Civil Rights movement when Heinlein was writing the book. The future government in Starship Troopers does not discriminate. There's no Jim Crow. Even if you're deaf, dumb & blind you can volunteer and they will find some place for you to serve that will test you and allow you to demonstrate that you put the good of society above self.

    The only reason someone can be refused the opportunity to serve and earn citizenship is if it's determined they are incapable of understanding and fulfilling the oath.

    Which just caused an epiphany ... Could Donald Trump serve? Not WOULD, but COULD?

    Does he have the requisite mental capability to understand and fulfill an oath of service? (No question that if he did "volunteer", he'd desert at the first opportunity, but could he even meet the single requirement for eligibility in the first place?)

    81:

    Greg Tingey @ 34: whitroth

    "italics"

    .. the Republic had to survive, it wasn't the monster that it became as an Empire

    NO many times - NO
    Carthage, Syracuse, Corinth, the conquest of Gaul, for that matter.

    The Roman Republic lasted 482 years, 509 BC (244 Ab urbe condita) to 27 BC (726 Auc). How different is the government of the British Isles today from that of 1539? ... or 1539 from 1057?

    And how does the modern U.K. relate to the British Isles in 455 (482 years after the end of the Roman Republic)? Has anything from that time made its way into modern governance?

    The Roman Republic of 27 BC was not the same as the Roman Republic of 509 BC

    82:

    I wasn't disappointed by the movie, I was FURIOUS about how grotesquely it misrepresented Heinlein's work

    I sympathise. I really enjoyed the Netflix adaptation of Altered Carbon, but I was quite upset about the way it simplified the politics (turning a complex political rebellion against oligarchs into a semi-mystical crusade against immortality). I believe Morgan himself was fine with it, and it was still pretty amazing to see on a bunch of levels, but it took something away (and along with a certain other twist away from the books, removes a lot of the future storyline of the novel's sequels). But hey, the way that stories are developed for the movies is complex and things that resemble the books they are based on more than superficially are actually pretty rare. For Verhoeven, I'm pretty sure ST was just a vehicle... certainly the studio didn't care about following Heinlein that closely. For this stuff it's usually simpler (and closer to the truth) to treat them as entirely different texts, it's just that the movie "borrows from" or "is inspired by" the novel. It's still rough, I get it. But this appears to be how things mostly work.

    83:

    Charlie Stross @ 39:

    he wrote the book because there was a "no nuclear weapons" campaign which worried him.

    Now that's an interesting piece of timing!

    Heinlein himself said he was inspired to write Starship Troopers because of the Eisenhower Administration's decision to suspend nuclear testing and Soviet nuclear tests that followed soon thereafter, along with an April 1958 advertisement by National Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy calling for unilateral suspension of Nuclear Testing by the U.S.

    Heinlein was clearly no fan of unilateral disarmament

    The interesting thing to me is that the Eisenhower Administration at that time was already in negotiations with the Soviet Union that led to a joint testing moratorium ("I won't if you don't") 1958-1961 and eventually to the 1963 Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water) signed by the Soviet Union, United Kingdom & United States signed in Moscow on 5 August before being opened to other signatures (currently 123 signatories to date).

    Neither the Committee's advertisement, nor Heinlein's book seems to have factored into those negotiations.

    84:

    From Starship Troopers:

    >>> """"Mr. Salomon! How did the present political organization evolve out of the Disorders? And what is its moral justification?”

    Sally stumbled through the first part. However, nobody can describe accurately how the Federation came about; it just grew. With national governments in collapse at the end of the XXth century, something had to fill the vacuum, and in many cases it was returned veterans. They had lost a war, most of them had no jobs, many were sore as could be over the terms of the Treaty of New Delhi, especially the P.O.W. foul-up—and they knew how to fight. But it wasn’t revolution; it was more like what happened in Russia in 1917—the system collapsed; somebody else moved in.

    The first known case, in Aberdeen, Scotland, was typical. Some veterans got together as vigilantes to stop rioting and looting, hanged a few people (including two veterans) and decided not to let anyone but veterans on their committee. Just arbitrary at first—they trusted each other a bit, they didn’t trust anyone else. What started as an emergency measure became constitutional practice…in a generation or two.

    Probably those Scottish veterans, since they were finding it necessary to hang some veterans, decided that, if they had to do this, they weren’t going to let any “bleedin’, profiteering, black-market, double-time-for-overtime, army-dodging, unprintable” civilians have any say about it. They’d do what they were told, see?—while us apes straightened things out! That’s my guess, because I might feel the same way…and historians agree that antagonism between civilians and returned soldiers was more intense than we can imagine today.""""

    This parallels almost exactly the rise of fascism after the First World War. An ostensible Upton Sinclair socialist with military connections is more likely than not to know that. I don't think he was a fascist but he was sure expressing sympathy for some fascistic things.

    85:

    Damian @ 82:

    I wasn't disappointed by the movie, I was FURIOUS about how grotesquely it misrepresented Heinlein's work

    I sympathise. I really enjoyed the Netflix adaptation of Altered Carbon, but I was quite upset about the way it simplified the politics (turning a complex political rebellion against oligarchs into a semi-mystical crusade against immortality). I believe Morgan himself was fine with it, and it was still pretty amazing to see on a bunch of levels, but it took something away (and along with a certain other twist away from the books, removes a lot of the future storyline of the novel's sequels). But hey, the way that stories are developed for the movies is complex and things that resemble the books they are based on more than superficially are actually pretty rare. For Verhoeven, I'm pretty sure ST was just a vehicle... certainly the studio didn't care about following Heinlein that closely. For this stuff it's usually simpler (and closer to the truth) to treat them as entirely different texts, it's just that the movie "borrows from" or "is inspired by" the novel. It's still rough, I get it. But this appears to be how things mostly work.

    Netflix didn't just gratuitously trash Morgan's work in making Altered Carbon the way Verhoeven did. They at least made an attempt to respect the work while bringing it to the screen.

    Verhoeven had no such respect for the source novel he utterly perverted.

    86:

    I believe you're thinking of Jerry Pournelle, not Heinlein.

    Totally.

    Oops.

    Actually while reading this post I sort of merged them together in my brain.

    87:

    Tip O'Neill? A "Democrat"? Something even more dangerous?

    Served as the 47th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1977 to 1987. Basically during most of Ronnie's term.

    So they talked and worked together. Which is anathema today.

    If course this is a strange situation for many here considering how the UK PM relates to the HoC.

    88:

    Side note on using "comic book" to mean "overly simplistic" or just plain "stupid". If you believe that, you haven't read any comic books (in which I include graphic novels) since, say, 1970.

    Yep. Well except for what's in the news papers over here. Given these conditions I stand by my statements.

    89:

    On Heinlein's ideas on race circa 1960, this unsent letter to Francis Marion "F.M." Busby might be helpful https://www.bradford-delong.com/2015/04/weekend-reading-robert-a-heinlein-letter-for-fm-busby-on-freedom-and-race-relations.html It was published in one of the Virginia Editions.

    90:

    I liked Starship Troopers (at a much younger age). And, probably unpopular, liked the movie -> it felt like a natural 'movie' extension of the novel. (Fascist military government made quite a bit more obvious, to the point of parody.)

    My opinion is that libertarianism, like much of US politics, is distorted by racism.

    There's a fraction of liberatarian's who are engineers, or otherwise system people, and simply attracted to the notion that making the portion of society with a monopoly on force less powerful will increase stability and freedom by providing fewer points of failure. I found that argument somewhat attractive, decades ago. (Eventually decided that optimizing for human freedom nowadays wasn't dominated by minimizing government intervention but by modifications to systems parameters that are politically infeasible.)

    But, discussion of libertarianism is pretty useless without discussion of the other 80%, who are simply racists looking for ideological cover. Having read / questioned people on libertarian blogs and looking at ideological inconsistencies, 80% is about right.

    91:

    I notice in passing that he says slavery in British North America began in 1619! But he is aware that he does not know many black people.

    I think it is to Heinlein's credit that people with such different philosophical and political views can find things in his fiction which speak to them.

    92:

    I got the impression that government services used a lot of veterans. Those jobs were held by and for those who had proven their commitment to society was greater than their commitment to self interest. That's really the whole of the concept of government in the book. Even the contractors would have been veterans.

    Yes, but my point (possibly poorly expressed) was that those jobs can't be what what counts as government service for qualifying for citizenship if they require citizenship to hold them.

    Also, Rico's father ends up as an NCO in the mobile infantry — so a successful middle-aged businessman with (presumably) decent organizational skills ends up being assigned as a combat soldier. Sure, there's a war on — but it seemed like there was always a war on somewhere. So while Heinlein said that veteran meant 'veteran civil servant' and 'young and healthy might end up in the military' and only 5% of veterans served in the military, we don't see those non-military civil servants or meet veteran bureaucrats who spent two years as a file clerk and can now teach the civics course…

    Of the three young people in the book, two are military (infantry and navy) and one ends up on a research base which is apparently worth being destroyed in the war (which implies military research, not counting spruce budworms).

    There's also the passage in Rico's OCS where he is a bit appalled at how earlier militaries had a long logistics tail, and proud of how in the MI everyone fights and they use civilians for things that were done by soldiers in earlier times — which begs the question why those things aren't done by the 95% of volunteers who aren't military…

    Honestly, I have trouble reconciling the world as portrayed in the book with Heinlein's statement about what he meant.

    93:

    Troutwaxer @ 21: The difference between Starship Troopers as book and movie is that, if you're somewhere between 15 and 30 the book is likely to make you think, whereas the movie... isn't.

    It certainly made me think when I read it, somewhere between 15 and 20 (I don't recall exactly). And the conclusion I came to was ... Heinlein's "Service for Citizenship" scheme wouldn't work.

    Heinlein envisaged a state where citizens and non-citizens were equal in every way, except that non-citizens were excluded from politics. But there is a fundamental thing that happens when you disenfranchise a group; they automatically become second class citizens in every other respect too. The people with the franchise vote in their own self interest, and so politicians play to that in order to get elected. Whenever there is a decision to be made between giving something to the franchise and giving it to the rest, well its the voters who get it because they are the ones the politicians have to keep happy.

    This trend would be worsened in Heinlein's state because the people with the vote have *earned* it. So they will naturally assume they have also earned the right to lord it over the plebs. Pretty soon you have laws that require a non-citizen to wear a badge announcing their status, and step off a pavement to let a citizen pass, and not buy a house in parts of town allocated to voters ...

    The bit about "if you volunteer they will find something for you to do" is ripe for abuse too. There was a piece I read about the USSR conscription (never been able to find it since). Basically the mandatory 3 year stint in the military was absolute hell; first years got beaten up and had all their stuff stolen by the second years, second years got beaten up and had all their stuff stolen by third years, and everyone got beaten up and had their stuff stolen by career NCOs. Officers were a separate caste and completely corrupt. BUT if you were the son of an apparatchik then your father could wangle your 3 years of "service" as being training for the apparat instead of military service. Allocations to this were like gold dust, and were a major currency within the USSR civil service.

    There is little doubt in my mind that in Heinlein's "service for citizenship" state things would go the same way. If you were a non-voter then your son or daughter could volunteer, and would be handed one of the shit jobs, probably down a mine in Siberia or as front-line infantry. But the children of a voter would be able to wangle a much cushier job as an assistant teacher or something.

    94:

    That's a good point. On the other hand, the Soviets didn't have to let their military services become hell-pits.

    I suppose you could handle the other issues constitutionally, but I'm guessing it wouldn't last more than 3-500 years.

    95:

    On the other hand, the Soviets didn't have to let their military services become hell-pits.

    At some point the USSR political leaders decided that individuals were cogs and expendable. Which in times of war made military service, ah, not nice. Which likely just became the norm. And based on the way Stalin treated the officer corp prior to WWII they had to feel a bit "dog eat dog" themselves.

    96:

    unreliable/misguided narrators, to juxtapose their beliefs against a background that highlighted their weaknesses, and even to end the story with the narrator—but not the reader—unaware of this.

    This pretty much describes the Verhoeven film, which criticises military SF as a whole not specifically Heinlein.

    I think it's his best film. Propaganda, consciously in the style of Beverly Hills 90210, where the humans aren't even self-aware enough to ask 'Are we the baddies?'. If he went wrong it was in assuming that everyone would notice the parody. To be fair, one of the humans wears an actual Nazi uniform so it's not like he didn't try and make it obvious.

    97:

    Personally, I got that the movie was parody. I just thought the book deserved better treatment. I don't agree with what seems, at least on the surface, to be the book's thesis, but it's a respectable read and it encourages thought about how citizenship should work, so I would definitely count it as a win!

    If Verhoeven wanted to make fun of MilSF there are lots of other authors he could have picked, some of whom are far more deserving than RAH, who for all his faults was at least trying.

    98:

    On the other hand, the Soviets didn't have to let their military services become hell-pits.

    Well no, they didn't *have* to. But on the other hand this is what always seems to happen when the people on the receiving end have no voice in the government. The people in charge decide that, since they are doing all this difficult and skilful work of serving the public, its only right that the benefits should flow to them and theirs. They don't get to see all the bad stuff behind the scenes, so it doesn't trouble them.

    99:

    #69 - Well, when I first read ST, I actually was what is now called a "tweenage boy". I do remember thinking that "power armour is kewel". But I also remember thinking "veterans' franchise is an interesting idea, but is it actually a good idea?"

    #75 - Well, this is more about me than about ST, but I pretty much agree with your statements.

    #80 - Could Trumpbaby serve? A good question, exactly on your test of being precluded from taking the oath by want of understanding.

    #84 - Not entirely. RH 'may' have outsmarted himself here, by making the veterans' service movement start in Scotland. There is a strong commitment to actual public service "for the good of all" here.

    100:

    On whether Trump could serve in ST:

    He could have taken the oath. All oaths are presumptively valid unless you have been ruled mentally incompetent. Trump is legally competent to do stuff in the US, and there is no doubt he would be in ST too.

    He would certainly never have found his way into the Mobile Infantry. I wrote in @94 about the tendency for such systems become corrupt, with the offspring of the rich and powerful being given the cushy jobs while the plebs do the suffering and dying. Fred Trump would undoubtedly have greased his son into some easy form of "service" that would further his career rather than joining the "losers" in the MI.

    101:

    The best riff ever on MilSF is Norman Spinrad's "The Iron Dream" - Hitler emigrates to the US after dabbling in radical politics and become a MilSF author. Every nazi fantasy in MilSF is laid out.

    Question: which SF author would have made the "best" fuhrer in some alternate timeline?

    102:

    There's a worked example in US politics of favoured sons in military service working out in real time -- George P. Bush. His uncle GW Bush was dragged endlessly in the press for getting a cushy Air National Guard slot in Texas in the late 60s when less favoured individuals were being drafted and sent to Vietnam. The Bush family consiglieres noted this and when George P. Bush was selected as the next Bush to occupy the Oval Office they made sure George P. had solid military experience in a war zone on his resume (Iraq as, I think, a military lawyer) before he resigned his commission and took up a hereditary political appointment in Texas to start his climb up the greasy pole.

    103:

    There's a bit in Starship Troopers where they go on shore leave in Seattle, and the cops are wearing veteran ribbons, and when they get into a fight with some locals described as:

    There were some young fellows there, too, about our age—the right age to serve a term, only they weren't—long-haired and sloppy and kind of dirty-looking. Well, say about the way I looked, I suppose, before I joined up.

    The police back the troops “It's a mighty serious thing, a civilian assaulting a member of the Armed Forces…” so yes, there is clearly privilege.

    104:

    The interesting contrast is that British Favoured Sons tended to go to “a decent Regiment”. The Duke of Windsor served WW1 in the Coldstream Guards, but to his frustration wasn’t allowed anywhere near fighting; his younger brother was, however (the future King George VI was a turret captain on a battleship at Jutland).

    That carried on; Elizabeth in the ATS, Charles allowed command of a minesweeper, William a SAR helicopter pilot; while Andrew (for his many sins) served in the Falklands War, and Harry in Afghanistan. Just watch what happens to Charlotte - fifteen years from now, and a fast jet pilot in the RAF, perhaps?

    As for Heinlein’s obsession with tooth-to-tail, the US forces typically run that at a greater level to other Armed Forces; but it’s unavoidable. Someone has to count blankets and repair helicopters, and for all the unrepentant “everyone a soldier first” propaganda, there’s a massive difference between “being a basic rifleman/woman in a team of eight” (achievable and desirable), and being part of an effective infantry unit of several hundred (actually rather difficult; infantry is a specialist technical skill in its own right). Most soldiers don’t appreciate that fact, so it’s not a surprise that a sailor like Heinlein didn’t…

    105:

    Troutwaxer @ 21: The difference between Starship Troopers as book and movie is that, if you're somewhere between 15 and 30 the book is likely to make you think, whereas the movie... isn't.
    I think I read the book not long after the film came out, so I was in my late teens for both. If anything, I think the film did a better job of making it obvious that it was a criticism of the whole idea. When I read the book I got the impression that Heinlein intended the whole setup to be taken seriously.
    Given how many people seem to have taken Heinlein at his word and used it as permission to go full-on libertarian, I can't fault Verhoeven for deciding that he had to sink to putting-the-characters-in-nazi-uniforms levels of unsubtle, in order to get the point across.

    Although I was annoyed at the lack of powered armour in the film.

    106:

    The interesting contrast is that British Favoured Sons tended to go to “a decent Regiment”.

    There's a bit in the movie "Kingsman" where the source of the money that pays for the Neat Toys of the Kingsmen organisation came from -- it was the inheritances of the 19-year old Favoured Sons who as ensigns and first lieutenants led the Poor Bloody Infantry over the top at the Somme and the other meat-grinders of WW1. Eton and Harrow have rather extensive memorials to students and teachers who lost their lives fighting for King and Country.

    No-one in the US military was ever going to assign a Bush offspring to a posting anywhere near the pointy end in Iraq or elsewhere, their own promotion and future political prospects would be toast if anything happened to him and they knew it. I figured there would be similar knock-for-knock deals in the Federal Service system with people in the higher echelons of politics making sure their nephews and grand-daughters got the cushy jobs while people like Juan Rico got what was left.

    107:

    Counterpoint - The sequence where a member of Rico's unit in Basic goes AWOL, and rapes and kills a girl.

    After he is recaptured, he is hanged in front of the unit, who also do a period of mourning for the dead girl. The Armed Forces take their responsibilities seriously too.

    108:

    Although I was annoyed at the lack of powered armour in the film.

    There was actually a six-episode anime series made in Japan of Starship Troopers which, of course, did have powered armour. Not only that they had the different kinds of armour suit, command, scout and heavy weapons. The story was messed around a little, Juan Rico was a bit of a dick and it didn't push the Federal Service message. No Doogie Howser SS though which is a bonus.

    109:

    And it led to the demise of several aristocratic lines. For all its faults, most of the 19th and 20th century aristocracy took duty to the country seriously, whereas one cannot say the same about the current plutocracy. Despite its risible politics, Weber's Manticore system got that aspect about right.

    110:

    Re the last, yes. It also applies to simple hillwalking - as one of the few people who regularly spent a week out (and I don't mean bothies) in the Highlands, I found ARRSE the most reliable source of equipment information (*). The authors of most MilSF and similar stories who describe long treks under less than ideal conditions have obviously no experience of what it's like.

    (*) In Russian railway terms, I may have been soft class to their hard class, but it was a similar trip.

    111:

    When I was a regular in GEnie in the 1980s James D. MacDonald, was the moderator for the Science Fiction Round Table. MacDonald had been in the US Navy for 15 years and he pointed out the impossible violence used for training members of the Mobile Infantry and for future society in general in Starship troopers.

    Heinlein was an advocate of corporal punishment for training animals and humans. He had a field day in that novel. He didn't realize that violence breeds more violence and that he was describing a school for useless brutes instead of modern soldiers.

    112:

    Troutwaxer@95 / Paul@99:

    Perhaps the Soviet's "didn't have to" let their military services "become" hell-pits. Perhaps... but there were centuries of such a tradition in Russia, and there wasn't exactly a model of humane treatment of the cannon fodder PBI in the 1920s and 1930s. Then, too, there was the really great example of their own "civil war" at the dawn of the Soviet era.

    Martin@105:

    The real "American Way of War" is "establish initial stasis and win through logistical superiority." That's how the First War of American Secession was won — yes, Cornwallis blew it "on the ground," but he was put in position to fail by the lack of a tail in the British army, sort of a real-world zugzwang; the reality is that he didn't have better operational/strategic options, and that set up his operational/tactical missteps. It's less apparent with naval forces, but (for example) the contrast in the targets of submarine warfare between the USN and IJN from 1942 to 1945 is consistent, too. Had Heinlein's knowledge of military history not been skewed by the Mahanite monomania of Annapolis, perhaps he might have seen this. Even when fighting "overmatched" opponents like the Iraqi forces (twice!), that's been the American approach, and usually it works... except when the opponent is all teeth, virtually no tail, and devoted to asymmetric strikes without regard to either "holding territory" or a "front line." Like Vietnam and Afghanistan.

    At least in theory, this will be even more important in "space battles" when life support is at issue, too; The Forever War has at least two sequences in which logistical failures lead to the field problems.

    113:

    I find endlessly perplexing how so many people do not see how hilarious of a satire starship troopers is.

    I mean, yes, the connection to the book is tenuous at best, but Verhoeven by his own words was interested in making an antifascist satire about the military like he had just done with Robocop about the American society in general, and the book license was simply something the studios had there at that moment.

    But anybody that knows the work of Verhoeven in general could not think for a second that he was in any way praising fascism, violence or anything like that.

    In fact, form an interview that I read, he was mostly inspired instead by a book titled "friendly fascism", by Bertram Gross.

    Even the "badness" of the movie was mostly a conscious choice, like the choice of recruiting all soap opera young actors, to give out the feeling of watching a propaganda piece.

    Maybe i don't feel the outrage at the "butchery" of the Heinlein book because I never particularly liked him and his works even as a kid that read any SF I could get my hands on and was pretty insensitive to politics.
    For some reasons, his works always strongly triggered my BS alarms, like more blatantly partisan authors did not

    114:

    It took a vast number of citizens answering Democracy's Call to defeat the Fascists & the Nazis.

    True, except that the breakdown of the US Army in 1941-45 was 39% volunteers, 61% draftees.

    Apparently this ratio was more or less reversed in Vietnam, with volunteers being the majority. However, before WWII most Americans agreed that the Axis was a threat to the USA. Not so much Vietnam, hence the growing disenchantment with the war, and the resumption of the use of Skedaddle Ridge and other options for draft dodgers.

    115:

    I don't think Starship Troopers is the book which suggests that going full-on Libertarian is a good idea. That would be any Lazarus Long book and The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress.

    I've often made the joke that there are two kinds of Libertarians - those who don't know Ayn Rand was writing fiction, and those who don't know Heinlein is writing fiction - so let me address the second sort of Libertarian here: Neither Lazarus Long nor Manny Rodriguez lives in the kind of moral vacuum inhabited by the modern Libertarian. Lazarus Long is someone for whom taking responsibility is a very natural thing. He definitely wants his freedom, but he also has a gut-level response to fixing the things he sees as broken - his "Libertarian" impulses are offset by the fact that he has a good heart. For all his arrogance, he instinctively wants to be a good neighbor. He's got - old-fashioned idea here - character.

    Manny is also uninterested in being oppressed/talked down to by the brutes from Earth, but he also exists in a society with any number of very necessary rules - the hard vacuum is just outside, and farming on the Moon can't be easy. He's a member in good standing of what we'd describe today as a polyamorous, multi-generational marriage, which means that he's got a ton of obligations to both the older members of his marriage and also his/their children, and like any marriage there is a certain amount of negotiation and acceptance of responsibility and he's also part of a large group effort rebelling against Earth, which is something that requires discipline and the ability to take orders. (Also notice that Manny is obviously Hispanic - in a book written in 1966!)

    Neither Lazarus nor Manny is a racist internet troll/militia member who lives in mom's basement, and I suspect that Heinlein, if he were still alive today would not have a high opinion of the average Libertarian.

    116:

    The internet troll libertarians would be out the airlock as soon as they tried their PUA crap on women in Luna City.

    117:

    For some reasons, his works always strongly triggered my BS alarms, like more blatantly partisan authors did not

    Just out of curiosity, what is your cultural background and how old are you? I ask because I'd not expect anyone who comes from outside the U.S. and is under 45 or so to view Heinlein kindly.

    118:

    I think after 1950 - "Destination Moon", RAH found himself marooned in a dystopian future that he had not imagined, rather than the Shiny, Happy Technological futures he wrote about. He saw the USA as an Impotent Superpower, lacking the Ideological Guts to resolve the situation.
    Personally, I had read RAH as a pre-teen and young teen, and stopped because there was nothing new. When Stranger in a Strange Land became popular, I read it and rejected it as empty political Porn. I read nothing new after that.
    I was forced to re-evaluate RAH when his bio was published a few years ago. Now, I reject most of his writings as turgid mush, written to earn a few cents a word. I do credit him for "Destination Moon", without which there would be no USA manned space program.

    119:

    I find endlessly perplexing how so many people do not see how hilarious of a satire starship troopers is.

    So I was around twelve when I read Starship Troopers. I've always been more interested in material culture than social culture, so I wasn't tossing off Heinlein's technology and focusing on his social message or lack thereof, I was trying to figure out how that powered armor thing would work. That's most of what I remembered out of Starship Troopers anyway, and I can see I was far from alone. Being politically aware is a late development for me.

    Where Verhoeven fucked up--and he did fuck up IMHO--was in not reading the book and seeing how strongly the powered armor meme resonated. As with most fucked-up SF (looking at you, Star Trek and Star Wars), there's a point at which "why are you bothering to call this stupid crap SF?" kicks in and throws would-be nerds like me out of the movies.

    My guess is that Verhoeven could have made his anti-fascist movie with the powered armor and had a hit on his hands. Instead, he's scorned, and I think very rightly, for being arrogant, sloppy, and doing a gut-and-replace on the book, instead of minimally honoring the text by including the stuff people remembered. I mean, you'd think the guy who did Robocop could do powered armor. No?

    120:

    I am an Anglo, not a US person, and under 45 and I am a fan of Heinlein's fiction up to the 1950s / thinner than my thumb. He saved my father growing up in a series of small towns with abusive parents, and he was unquestionably the most influential US SF author of the middle of the 20th century. He was also an evangelical mystic, he had a queer sense of duty, and his ideas on race in 1965 were not as enlightened as he remembered them in public- and I choose to forget those things and focus on the good. "de mortuis nil nisi bonum."

    121:

    Kindly do not ignore the role of that sociopath Stalin.

    122:

    It works perfectly well as a film if you imagine it's based on the Sarah Brightman/Hot Gossip song, and not the book.

    123:

    Yep. Jim was having the Navy pay for his BA in English (he's an old friend, who I knew from the SCA in the late seventies/early eighties).

    He and his recently-late lady, Debra (damn it, she was a friend from the same period) have written a number of books.

    124:

    *snort*
    *chuckle*
    ROTFLMAO!!!

    Mods, we may have a chatbot.

    125:

    The lack of powered armor is definitely part of it for me. The second sin of Verhoevin's movie is it's lack of any quality of thoughtfulness. As satire goes it's pretty adolescent - hey Beavis, this MilSF is all fascist and stuff!

    Look Butthead, that guy is wearing a Nazi uniform! (Followed by coarse laughter.)

    Verhoeven's strategy for "satirizing" one of science-fiction's great trope-codifiers is to downplay the cool parts and expand the ugliness, sometimes all out of proportion to what Heinlein wrote - the knife-throwing scene is a good example of this - which is a shame, because part of what makes Starship Troopers so cool is that the good stuff and the ugly stuff go hand-in-hand, with any halfway intelligent reader seeing a lot of moral ambiguity to the text and asking themselves whether they'd want to live in such a society. The idea that it would have been impossible to portray this in a two-hour movie is... (expletive deleted.)

    126:

    RANT
    So, if he wanted to do a satire of milpr0n, wRITE YOUR OWN STORY, don't take someone else's and trash it.

    How about if we do the film from the old underground comic, The New Adventures of Jesus, where he goes to the movies (sir, could you please turn down your halo?), and Jesus in the movie is played, apparently, by Schwarzenneger, and at the end, rather than be crucified, he swings the cross as a weapon, and all the animals in the arena come out, and they defeat the Romans?

    Think everyone will enjoy that, and understand the satire?

    127:

    "Turgid mush"?

    Have Spacesuit, Will Travel?
    Double Star?
    Time for the Stars?

    I have real issues with your opinion.

    128:

    Thank you for the attitude, says this "draft dodger".

    Actually, I fought it, and #insert Alices_Restaurant_My_version, they agreed they wanted me like a hole in the head.

    And are you counting the guys who joined the National Guard in that "draft dodgers"?

    129:

    Quite. Modern "[Ll]ibertarians"* are all about MAH RIGHTS, and there are zero duties or responsibilities involved, and apparently all of them were born like Venus, fully-formed, with no debts to their parents or society.

    * There were left-wing libertarians, at least up to the beginning of the fifties. I have a booklet my father picked up by them, published by a union shop... a *Wobbly* union shop, which would cause modern libertarians to run screaming for their assault rifles.

    130:

    That makes sense. I think you've got to be U.S. born and of a certain age to really feel Heinlein in your gut. I'm in my mid-fifties and had a couple relatives who ran farms in Iowa and Kansas respectively, so most of what Heinlein wrote seems very natural to me. If what Heinlein learned from this background is bullshit it's genuine, "everyone knows this" kind of bullshit. (And yes, in some places it is definitely wrong.)

    The "thinner than my thumb" rule is usually pretty good for Heinlein - his later work was really uneven. On the subject of race he did very well* for someone who was born in Missouri in 1907, though he fails pretty significantly according to any modern assessment. He did as badly as Farnham's Freehold and as well as Citizen of the Galaxy.

    * If this is hard to believe, remember that Ferguson, where Michael Brown was killed, is in in Missouri - imagine what the place was like in 1907! (Shudders.)

    131:

    "So, if he wanted to do a satire of milpr0n, wRITE YOUR OWN STORY, don't take someone else's and trash it."

    Yes. This. Absolutely.

    Ref. also #82 "the way that stories are developed for the movies is complex". "Are" != "have to be": an infuriatingly common thought pattern is to assume uncritically that just because at the moment X is usually done in a certain way, that is necessarily the best possible way to do X, or sometimes even the only possible way to do X - and never mind that X may have often been done in a different way at a different time and left a whole slew of examples demonstrating that the former method(s) produced a superior result.

    "I need to change it like this to make the point" is not an excuse. Nor is "I have to change it like this because of the different medium". Chances are such statements aren't even true, and are just disguised ways of saying "I'm not skilled enough to make the point without changing it" or "I'm not actually trying to tell the story anyway, I'm just concerned with making a spectacle". And even if they are genuinely true, they still aren't excuses.

    If you have changed the story then change the flaming title. It's a different story so give it a different name: don't deceive the audience into expecting one story and then giving them a different one.

    (Which, of course, they do not do, because the whole point is to batten on the pre-existing popularity of the real story in order to deceive the audience into paying again for their shit fake version.)

    132:

    Troutwaxer noted: "That makes sense. I think you've got to be U.S. born and of a certain age to really feel Heinlein in your gut."

    Not necessarily. I'm Canadian born and still living here, and pushing 60. I first encountered Heinlein as a tween (Tunnel in the Sky, Have Spacesuit Will Travel, the Rolling Stones) and was completely smitten. He wrote the kinds of character I wanted to be and the kind of women I wanted to date (though at that age, I wasn't yet quite sure why one might want to date). I always enjoyed his writing because, as he makes semi-explicit in Starship Troopers, it's OK to have your own opinion (witness the disagreements among the characters in Number of the Beast)-- as long as you've thought it through and have a few facts on your side. And say what you will about his prose, it's still easier to read than most authors.

    That being said, when I returned to Heinlein as an adult, I didn't agree with as much of what he was saying as I'd done a decade or two earlier. Some of the logical flaws were clearer, whereas others I still had to spend some time thinking about before I could be reasonably confident I was right and he was wrong. I'll always be grateful to him for that -- for challenging me to think more clearly than I might otherwise have done.

    133:

    "the way that stories are developed for the movies is complex"

    Insert story of The Postman here:

    http://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/postmanmovie.html

    134:

    "I mean, you'd think the guy who did Robocop could do powered armor. No?"

    Maybe he was thinking "I've just done Robocop, I can't do powered armour again or it'll just be Robocop 2: The Spawn"?

    Hard for me to comment much on the main point because I haven't read the book. Not really a Heinlein fan. I read Stranger in a Strange Land mainly because I had discovered it was the origin of this word "grok" that I'd seen crop up occasionally as part of other writers' versions of the slang of the future, and partly also because I had vaguely heard of it as some grade of "hippy bible", and I wanted to find out what this shit was really all about (much as I read Wuthering Heights so I could understand what Kate Bush was going on about). It was... OK, really; can't put it any more strongly than that. And it went on too long and got boring by about half way through and some bits were definitely shit, but it was good enough for me to read the whole thing without wondering why I was bothering or wishing afterwards that I hadn't.

    It did give me enough of a signal that Heinlein was likely to be tolerable that I looked at some of his other stuff, but it turned out that nothing grabbed me enough to read any more than a few pages, just enough to get the feel of it and decide I wasn't interested. And Starship Troopers itself I never even looked at because I reckoned that with a title like that it was bound to be silly. But it did strike me during this phase that Heinlein was not a usefully predictable author: not the kind of author where you can read one book and like it and thereafter be reasonably confident that their other books will also be worth buying. Heinlein seemed to veer all over the shop and to have produced a lot of stuff which was all different enough that an impression of any one book was no guide to what any other book might be like.

    I've since seen much the same opinion reported elsewhere, and it is one that has been expressed numerous times by commenters on previous threads. So I do have to wonder: is it really valid to postulate that "Heinlein was a fascist" on the basis of this book at all? Surely he is an author who it is unusually unwise to associate with a particular ideology just because one book seems to support it.

    135:

    Boldly done!

    Upthread somebody linked a letter from Heinlein to F.M. Busby wherein Heinlein explicates his thinking and experience in his own voice, and from the part of it I read (it's long) I think you're mostly correct.

    136:

    Weighing in late about What Heinlein Got Wrong in SST:

    I read the book in 197[34], as an early teen, and while I was captivated by the technological picture I was strongly taken in by the categorical opposition to conscription. Registration for the draft was abolished when I was 15, and I went to the only mass protest I've ever attended in 1980 when the Carter Administration was talking about reinstating it. Not because I was afraid of being drafted (being already old enough then to expect I'd never come up) but because of the ideological appeal of the all-volunteer military.

    Well, we have run that experiment for getting close to 50 years now, and it is clear that it was a huge mistake.

    The idea that denying the Army limitless cannon fodder would prevent hopeless foreign military adventures? See the last 18 years to refute that.

    The idea that an "everybody fights, the paper-pushing and commissary jobs get hired done" organization is superior to "draftees do everything that needs doing?" Again, look what happens to the hired staff when there's no safe place for them to do the cooking and cleaning.

    The AVF Army is an amazing organization that can (or could, 20 years ago) literally go to the other side of the world and knock over the government of a pretty powerful country in a few weeks. I mean, after they spent 6 months hauling in all the stuff needed for the task. But then what? When you've only got a million guys, you can't have half of them be Arabic-speaking MPs, which is what the US needed if it really intended to replicate the post-WWII outcomes in Germany and Japan. Ignoring altogether the fact that Germany and Japan in 1945 had pre-existing national identities around which to build new States, which Iraq and Afghanistan lacked.

    So, in addition to what's already been pointed out upthread about how in SST's world, non-veterans will inevitably be 2nd-class citizens in more ways than lacking the vote, the fundamental conceit of the story just doesn't work in the actual world.

    137:

    Canada is close enough to the U.S. that the ideas Heinlein was born with probably slip across the border fairly easily. While I'd assume you didn't think exactly like a USian, you probably either came close or were familiar with U.S. ideas/culture from the media.

    138:

    I have been dreaming for years for Verhoeven's take on The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. ST is one of the very few examples when I prefer a film over a book.

    139:

    Sorry. Movies are NOT a book re-done onto film/video.

    They are:
    We have an idea to turn a really staggeringly big pile of money into a hugely staggeringly bigger pile. (Please see footnotes on page 359 for risks.)

    And amazingly getting together that big pile of money usually means a lot of people get to have a say in the final product.

    Lucas, Spielberg, etc... are exceptions.

    140:

    Er, yeah, that's just what I'm complaining about.

    141:

    Ah, yes, hiring contractors to take care of the back-office work, to free up troops for combat.

    Did you see the stories, a dozen or 15 years ago, where the troops were expected to last all day on one quart? of water, because "the contractor couldn't was having trouble getting insurance to send people to a war zone"?

    142:

    For some reason Americans of a certain age idolize conscription. Lets look what US conscript armies since 1890 have actually done. There is the army that Woodrow Wilson rounded up to fight on the Western Front. There is the army that finally entered WW II. Then they formalized some things to make sure that rich white people's sons stayed out or got easy duty while poor men's sons went straight from high school to Basic Training. Then there is Korea and the American intervention in 30 years of conflict in Southeast Asia. For much of that period they had a volunteer Marine Corps and Navy to "throw a little country against the wall" every administration or so.

    I don't see anything good about that system, other than that as more people have experience of being in a military, the more will be realistically cynical about it. My understanding is that eg. French conscription in the middle of the 20th century was just as inequitable (if you had the right class background, you could spend your whole service in one training course after another and never get put on a boat to Indochina or Algeria).

    143:

    I think that's what was so refreshing about the Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, and, hell, even the Disney Marvel Movies: they realized that fan service and taking care with the props pays huge dividends, allowing them to fiddle around with plot and character to fit them onto the screen.

    Note that none of the above says I particularly appreciated the LOTR plot. But the movies entertained me, because it was obvious the crew gave a shit about the finished product. Compare this with the 1970s Bakshi version of LOTR (or Jackson's Hobbit mess) to see the difference.

    The problem with Verhoeven's SS Troopers is that it didn't care about the people who loved the book (most of whom needed believable armor and bugs), and he didn't respect his personal vision enough to make a decent satire a la Dr. Strangelove (assuming he could which is not a given).

    And I'll admit I've seen a few minutes on TV. I never saw it in the theaters, because my thought process on seeing the ads was literally "Wow, no powered armor? It probably sucks." And apparently I was right.

    I go through a similar process every time I see someone adapt A Wizard of Earthsea with an anglo Ged. Especially if he's blond.

    And please note that blatant fan service doesn't mean I automatically go. Star Wars, Star Trek, Twilight, and Hairy Potter all convinced me otherwise. But blatant lack of care is my normal cue to save money and stay home reading obscure science books. Last time I broke that rule was John Carter.

    Final Note: SS Troopers cost $105 million to make, and brought in $121 million. That's actually not much better than John Carter did, and is about on par with what the investors would have made if they'd invested in something like a Napa Vineyard.

    144:

    Paras 1 and 2 - Are you referring to "Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, based on an idea by JRR Tolkien"? No I don't think it's a whole lot worse than Bakshi's version, mostly because it's more spectacular and more complete.

    I haven't even tried to watch "PJ's The Hobbit, BoaIbJRRT" though.

    145:

    Pixodaros @ 90: On Heinlein's ideas on race circa 1960, this unsent letter to Francis Marion "F.M." Busby might be helpful https://www.bradford-delong.com/2015/04/weekend-reading-robert-a-heinlein-letter-for-fm-busby-on-freedom-and-race-relations.html It was published in one of the Virginia Editions.

    "All I’m trying to say is that if I have any prejudice against Negroes, I am not aware of it. "

    Puts it pretty succinctly

    Heinlein was a product of his time and his society. He had no overt prejudice (that he was aware of), but he no more recognized his privileged place in society than a fish recognizes that it is swimming in water.

    And he could get uppity is he thought someone was accusing him of being "all wet". By the 60s Heinlein was well on his way to being the grumpy old curmudgeon some of writings published after his lifetime reveal.

    146:

    skulgun @ 84: rom Starship Troopers:

    >>> """"Mr. Salomon! How did the present political organization evolve out of the Disorders? And what is its moral justification?”
    Sally stumbled through the first part. However, nobody can describe accurately how the Federation came about; it just grew. With national governments in collapse at the end of the XXth century, something had to fill the vacuum, and in many cases it was returned veterans. They had lost a war, most of them had no jobs, many were sore as could be over the terms of the Treaty of New Delhi1, especially the P.O.W. foul-up—and they knew how to fight. But it wasn’t revolution; it was more like what happened in Russia in 1917—the system collapsed; somebody else moved in.

    Again, Heinlein is writing about "contemporaneous" events - the Great Depression and its aftermath; how the Second World War ended with Stalinism firmly in control of the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe behind an "Iron Curtain" and China "falling" to communism along with the ambiguous end to the Korean Conflict that gave every evidence of being a powder keg just waiting for a spark to touch it off (with the UN coalition that had fought that war somewhat in disarray).

    The "P.O.W. foul-up" is a specific reference to questions regarding the fate of POWs under the Korean Armistice

    The first known case, in Aberdeen, Scotland, was typical. Some veterans got together as vigilantes to stop rioting and looting, hanged a few people (including two veterans) and decided not to let anyone but veterans on their committee. Just arbitrary at first—they trusted each other a bit, they didn’t trust anyone else. What started as an emergency measure became constitutional practice…in a generation or two.

    Those veterans were in Aberdeen because the UK-US/NATO alliance from the Second World War was still a thing that hadn't yet fallen apart over the Vietnam War. The UK still had an Army in Asia in 1960 and they sent divisions to the UN contingent during the Korean Conflict.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aden_Emergency

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indonesia%E2%80%93Malaysia_confrontation

    This parallels almost exactly the rise of fascism after the First World War. An ostensible Upton Sinclair socialist with military connections is more likely than not to know that. I don't think he was a fascist but he was sure expressing sympathy for some fascistic things.

    No it doesn't, and no he's not.

    Fascism rose up in countries that did have (for the most part) functional governments and their path to power, along with the reasons for it was different in each case - Germany (on the losing side of WWI), Italy (on the winning side in WWI), Japan (also on the winning side in WWI) and Spain (Neutral during both World Wars before & after the fascists came to power). In none of these cases did fascism fill a void where government had collapsed and no longer existed.

    See also: Post-war Gangsterism & Juvenile Delinquency ... other themes he takes on in Starship Troopers.

    In the late 50s there was considerable concern in the U.S. (and I think also in the U.K.) that society was somehow out of control in ways it should not have been after beating the fascists in WW2. Heinlein's Starship Troopers society reflects those concerns.

    Remember also that Heinlein is firmly of the opinion there can be no rights without an attached co-equal responsibility.

    1 AKA - "Never fight a land war in Asia", which I believe originally refers to the 19th Century British colonial experience in Afghanistan.

    147:
    When you've only got a million guys, you can't have half of them be Arabic-speaking MPs, which is what the US needed if it really intended to replicate the post-WWII outcomes in Germany and Japan.

    What in Ghu's name makes you think that the US wanted to have a functioning, democratic Iraq or Afghanistan after their invasions?

    IMO, Afghanistan was the real payback for 9/11 - "OBL was actually resident in Afghanistan, so let's smash them against the wall. Can't go after Saudi Arabia. They're our friend and ally! Which leads us the main course: Iraq. Let's kill things and break shit!"

    148:

    Robert Prior @93:

    I got the impression that government services used a lot of veterans. Those jobs were held by and for those who had proven their commitment to society was greater than their commitment to self interest. That's really the whole of the concept of government in the book. Even the contractors would have been veterans.

    Yes, but my point (possibly poorly expressed) was that those jobs can't be what what counts as government service for qualifying for citizenship if they require citizenship to hold them.

    Yeah, that's my point about "Federal Service" as well.

    Also, Rico's father ends up as an NCO in the mobile infantry — so a successful middle-aged businessman with (presumably) decent organizational skills ends up being assigned as a combat soldier. Sure, there's a war on — but it seemed like there was always a war on somewhere. So while Heinlein said that veteran meant 'veteran civil servant' and 'young and healthy might end up in the military' and only 5% of veterans served in the military, we don't see those non-military civil servants or meet veteran bureaucrats who spent two years as a file clerk and can now teach the civics course…

    Two things:
    1. Johnnie's father ended up in the mobile infantry because he specifically volunteered for it. He wasn't just assigned by happenstance, he actively campaigned to be a part of it. It harks back to number of OLDER men who volunteered to become paratroopers. William C. Lee, "Father of the U.S. Airborne" was 47 years old when he organized the 101st Airborne Division in 1942. He was 46 when he commanded the jump school at Ft. Benning, GA. If he hadn't had a heart attack in early 1944, he'd have jumped with the division on D-Day. He would have been 49 then and he would NOT have been the oldest paratrooper to take part in the Normandy Invasion.
    2. Heinlein's later claim that only 5% of the Starship Troopers "veterans" served in the military is revisionist retconning in response to criticism accusing him of writing a homage to fascist militarism. It's not. It's a book about the responsibilities of citizenship.

    There's a line somewhere near the end of the book where Johnnie surmises that "Lieutenant Rasczak" had "voted" with every drop he made even though he never lived long enough to exercise his franchise. I think Heinlein was really stung by the accusations of being a fascist apologist.

    Of the three young people in the book, two are military (infantry and navy) and one ends up on a research base which is apparently worth being destroyed in the war (which implies military research, not counting spruce budworms).

    There's also the passage in Rico's OCS where he is a bit appalled at how earlier militaries had a long logistics tail, and proud of how in the MI everyone fights and they use civilians for things that were done by soldiers in earlier times — which begs the question why those things aren't done by the 95% of volunteers who aren't military…

    Because
    1. those 95% of volunteers are a revisionist retcon
    2. the portion of volunteers who are NOT in the military are para-military pioneers, building new worlds for humanity to inhabit à la the CCC & WPA, but with "lions, tigers & bears, oh my" and other largely unknown dangerous circumstances. They're not available to do those "jobs" civilians (veterans) are hired to do because they're off somewhere in the universe doing dangerous, difficult work. Or they're like Carl - "starside R&D" out on Pluto.

    Honestly, I have trouble reconciling the world as portrayed in the book with Heinlein's statement about what he meant.

    That's because his later statement doesn't reflect his original idea, it's equivocating in response to criticism (unwarranted criticism I think, but it still affected him deeply).

    149:

    I'm going to put on a helmet and some armor before making this comment, but the fundamental strategic error of the post 9/11 world was not making an extensive effort to prune back the Saudis, particularly those who practiced Wahabism, with special attention to Saudi/Wahabi missionaries in countries not Saudi Arabia. The secondary strategic error was not beginning our serious efforts to go green immediately after 9/11 - gets the U.S. out of the gulf-states and they can take care of themselves. Or not.

    150:

    Paul @ 94: Troutwaxer @ 21:

    The difference between Starship Troopers as book and movie is that, if you're somewhere between 15 and 30 the book is likely to make you think, whereas the movie... isn't.

    It certainly made me think when I read it, somewhere between 15 and 20 (I don't recall exactly). And the conclusion I came to was ... Heinlein's "Service for Citizenship" scheme wouldn't work.

    That's a criticism I can accept. There's lots of shit in Heinlein's writing that I think, upon reflection, probably wouldn't work.

    The ones that get my back up though, are those that accuse him of writing a fascist apologia in Starship Troopers. The postulated society may be impractical and unworkable, but it's not fascism.


    151:

    I was in the middle of reading a Tim Powers book when everybody started attacking Starship Troopers, so I pulled out the book and started reading it again.

    The first chapter always causes me to tear up, it is so full of love.

    I'll go ahead and finish the book before I finish the Tim Powers.

    I have books to read, books to write. I'll wait to harvest the comments section after it closes. There is often something useful that I can harvest.

    Thanks...

    152:

    Nojay @ 107:

    The interesting contrast is that British Favoured Sons tended to go to “a decent Regiment”.

    There's a bit in the movie "Kingsman" where the source of the money that pays for the Neat Toys of the Kingsmen organisation came from -- it was the inheritances of the 19-year old Favoured Sons who as ensigns and first lieutenants led the Poor Bloody Infantry over the top at the Somme and the other meat-grinders of WW1. Eton and Harrow have rather extensive memorials to students and teachers who lost their lives fighting for King and Country.

    No-one in the US military was ever going to assign a Bush offspring to a posting anywhere near the pointy end in Iraq or elsewhere, their own promotion and future political prospects would be toast if anything happened to him and they knew it. I figured there would be similar knock-for-knock deals in the Federal Service system with people in the higher echelons of politics making sure their nephews and grand-daughters got the cushy jobs while people like Juan Rico got what was left.

    There used to be a tradition of service among the scions of the American political class.

    FDR's sons served in the military during WW2 and after.
    Elliot flew reconnaisance missions over North Africa & Europe;
    FDR jr served on a Destroyer convoying from "Iceland to Minsk", supported the Sicilian invasion and ended up as Captain of a Destroyer Escort that earned 5 battle stars for WW2 against Japan;
    James was a Marine Raider who earned the Navy Cross for his participation in the Makin Island Raid, and a Silver Star from the Army during the later invasion of Makin by the 27th Infantry Division;
    John - the youngest - was a conscientious objector who nevertheless served on board the USS Wasp & earned a Bronze Star for herowism under fire.

    Eisenhower's son John served in the Army during WW2 & Korea, receiving a Bronze Star and earning the CIB & Glider Wings. He served in the Army & Army Reserve from 1944 to 1974.

    Beau Biden (the other Biden son the GQP never want to mention) served in the Delaware Army National Guard, temporarily leaving his position as the elected Attorney General of Delaware to deploy to Iraq with his Guard Unit in 2008-2009

    But since the U.S. military is has been an "all volunteer" force since 1973, I don't think future generations of Bushes or Trumps need worry whether their parents political clout will be sufficient for them to get those "cushy jobs", 'cause they won't need to find a "safe" position.

    There's nothing wrong with being a REMF, particularly in a military that has no draft. It still means you volunteered to place your body between country and war's desolation.

    153:

    JReynolds @ 115:

    It took a vast number of citizens answering Democracy's Call to defeat the Fascists & the Nazis.

    True, except that the breakdown of the US Army in 1941-45 was 39% volunteers, 61% draftees.

    Apparently this ratio was more or less reversed in Vietnam, with volunteers being the majority. However, before WWII most Americans agreed that the Axis was a threat to the USA. Not so much Vietnam, hence the growing disenchantment with the war, and the resumption of the use of Skedaddle Ridge and other options for draft dodgers.

    The Vietnam War - and the response to it by Americans of draft age - plays no role whatsoever in the thinking behind Starship Troopers. It was a war that hadn't happened yet.


    154:

    I'm going to put on a helmet and some armor before making this comment, but the fundamental strategic error of the post 9/11 world was not making an extensive effort to prune back the Saudis, particularly those who practiced Wahabism, with special attention to Saudi/Wahabi missionaries in countries not Saudi Arabia. The secondary strategic error was not beginning our serious efforts to go green immediately after 9/11 - gets the U.S. out of the gulf-states and they can take care of themselves. Or not.

    Problem is that solar-powered tanks and aircraft carriers aren't things. Oh, and the Bush family's been in the oil business since George I made his stake in it, so they were probably more interesting in tying up Middle Eastern Oil (Iraq, Saudi, Kuwaiti) in an American net and putting the kibosh on Iran than on anything else. If you think of oil as a central pillar of 20th Century military power, this actually makes sense, bloody-handed and greedy though it is. For some reason, most of the countries in the region hate being treated that way, although (Sarcasm) I can't understand why(/sarcasm).

    That said, I'm more a fan of the Sufis than the Wahhabis, left leaning softie that I am. Love me some Mullah Nasruddin.

    Finally, I'd point out that OBL did have the germ of a legitimate complaint against the west and oil companies. His family got rich servicing them, along with servicing Saudi oil fields, and he was trained by the CIA at one point when it looked like he could be useful to American interests in Afghanistan. That kind of treatment could make a man bitter, not that this was an excuse to become a monster.

    155:

    Troutwaxer @ 116: (Also notice that Manny is obviously Hispanic - in a book written in 1966!)

    Also notice that Manny is very obviously a Black Man with a young, attractive very White wife ... which is how the Professor engineers his arrest somewhere in the southern U.S. (Georgia I think, but it might have been Kentucky) which in turn solidifies Lunar opinion in favor of "the revolution".


    156:

    True, except that the breakdown of the US Army in 1941-45 was 39% volunteers, 61% draftees.

    Apparently this ratio was more or less reversed in Vietnam, with volunteers being the majority.

    One of the things that makes this analysis complicated is that WW2 USA was on a total war footing, whereas Vietnam War USA was not. As a result, the US War Dept stopped taking volunteers in Dec. 1942 (See executive order 9279.) Let me repeat that for emphasis: Such was the importance of experienced workers in key industries that the military barred them from enlistment.

    You could make the case that, effectively, most of the US population was serving, whether or not they were in uniform.

    But all of that is tail stuff when there's sexy tooth action for everyone to get excited about! Let's make everyone a tooth; that's how to make an effective military!

    Sorry, got distracted. Something about a hereditary warrior aristocracy where they all go prancing about in fancy suits of armour?

    157:

    hcmeyer @ 119: I think after 1950 - "Destination Moon", RAH found himself marooned in a dystopian future that he had not imagined, rather than the Shiny, Happy Technological futures he wrote about. He saw the USA as an Impotent Superpower, lacking the Ideological Guts to resolve the situation.
    Personally, I had read RAH as a pre-teen and young teen, and stopped because there was nothing new. When Stranger in a Strange Land became popular, I read it and rejected it as empty political Porn. I read nothing new after that.
    I was forced to re-evaluate RAH when his bio was published a few years ago. Now, I reject most of his writings as turgid mush, written to earn a few cents a word. I do credit him for "Destination Moon", without which there would be no USA manned space program.

    I remember reading some years ago that Heinlein's experiences with Hollywood working on "Destination Moon" (and possibly the way "Rocketship X-M" stole its thunder) convinced Heinlein not to sell the the movie rights for Starship Troopers.

    Considering the deliberate, slanderous travesty Verhoeven chose to make of the work, I think Heinlein was well justified.

    158:

    whitroth @ 125: *snort*
    *chuckle*
    ROTFLMAO!!!

    Mods, we may have a chatbot.

    Hadn't thought of that. I thought it was just someone we all know & love trying on another new persona & skipped to the next comment.


    159:

    whitroth @ 129: Thank you for the attitude, says this "draft dodger".

    Actually, I fought it, and #insert Alices_Restaurant_My_version, they agreed they wanted me like a hole in the head.

    And are you counting the guys who joined the National Guard in that "draft dodgers"?

    Some of them were. There were a couple of them still in the Unit when I joined the National Guard in 1975.

    My own story vis a vis the draft was I drew a high supposedly safe number in the first lottery. My roommate drew 001 and went ahead and enlisted the next day to get ANYTHING but infantry. He ended up as a high-speed chicken fucker (comsec operator) at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, but somehow managed to complete his tour before the Cambodia thing blew up.

    The thing about those high, safe numbers was they were a national average. But if your local draft board for any reason didn't have any people with low numbers to call, they called people with higher numbers.

    I got my letter to dine at Alice's Restaurant (i.e. report for a pre-induction physical exam) in September. It was nothing like the movie. Passed with flying colors. They told me to expect THE LETTER in October.

    But it didn't come in October. It didn't come in November ... or December. I stopped worrying about it, stopped waiting for the other shoe to drop some time around March of the next year.


    160:

    It's been awhile since I last read the book, but are you sure the issue wasn't his participation in a plural marriage? IIRC he talked about it in an interview, then he was arrested. Unfortunately, the book is in storage.

    161:

    whitroth @ 142: Ah, yes, hiring contractors to take care of the back-office work, to free up troops for combat.

    Did you see the stories, a dozen or 15 years ago, where the troops were expected to last all day on one quart? of water, because "the contractor couldn't was having trouble getting insurance to send people to a war zone"?

    No. Probably reported on in one of the issues of Army Times (I was a subscriber) that somehow didn't get delivered (mail was sometimes slow and erratic) while I was over there.

    162:

    I remember a long time ago - quite possibly in Omni? - reading an interview with Verhoeven where he complained about not being able to do the powered suits because of budget issues.. It was pretty clear he wanted to, and that he understood the importance but reality sometimes intrudes.

    Remember, no plan survives contact with the enema. I think that is especially the case for movies.

    I strongly disagree with the idea that one needs to be American to get Heinlein; I'm about as British as it is possible to be and grew up reading RAH stories. So were/are/did many of my friends. I don't think I've ever heard any of them suggesting that ST was anything other than a ripping bit of satire on the whole military flag-shagging attittude. Given that we would generally opine that "Yanks don't get satire", that would be quite a compliment to RAH.

    163:

    Pixodaros @ 143: For some reason Americans of a certain age idolize conscription. Lets look what US conscript armies since 1890 have actually done. There is the army that Woodrow Wilson rounded up to fight on the Western Front. There is the army that finally entered WW II. Then they formalized some things to make sure that rich white people's sons stayed out or got easy duty while poor men's sons went straight from high school to Basic Training. Then there is Korea and the American intervention in 30 years of conflict in Southeast Asia. For much of that period they had a volunteer Marine Corps and Navy to "throw a little country against the wall" every administration or so.

    They were still drafting for the USMC in early 1970, when they didn't get enough enlistees.

    164:

    " his participation in a plural marriage?"

    It was a long time ago that I read it, but IIRC you are correct.

    My own particular beef with Heinlein was his unflagging enthusiasm for the death penalty for just about everything, including things that were neither wilful misconduct nor urgent dangers.

    JHomes

    165:

    Looks like GPT-2 (or very related) output to me.
    (SotMNs postings have content and discussion (often obfuscated) of oft-very-current events and topics, though there is sometimes text that strongly resembles chaff.)

    166:

    Tim, I hate to break this to you, but Heinlein was dead serious. Yes, there was a somewhat unreliable narrator. There was a certain amount of thoughtful discussion about one's civic duty, much of it rooted in ancient practices - and much of that discussion was wrong, but RAH was very, very serious when he wrote ST.

    167:

    There's a very, very long, complex, fairly pedantic discussion here on "Warriors versus Soldiers." I would strongly recommend it with reference to Starship Troopers. This discussion has heavily influenced my current interpretation of the book, because what's obvious is that Heinlein's MI are soldier's not warriors, and that's what makes the book tolerable.

    https://acoup.blog/2021/01/29/collections-the-universal-warrior-part-i-soldiers-warriors-and/

    168:

    JReynolds @ 148:

    When you've only got a million guys, you can't have half of them be Arabic-speaking MPs, which is what the US needed if it really intended to replicate the post-WWII outcomes in Germany and Japan.

    What in Ghu's name makes you think that the US wanted to have a functioning, democratic Iraq or Afghanistan after their invasions?

    IMO, Afghanistan was the real payback for 9/11 - "OBL was actually resident in Afghanistan, so let's smash them against the wall. Can't go after Saudi Arabia. They're our friend and ally! Which leads us the main course: Iraq. Let's kill things and break shit!"

    Chaney & Bush didn't want the Afghanistan portion of the GWOT at all. On 9/12 Rumsfield was already complaining there were no good targets to bomb in Afghanastan, so we should go after Iraq straight away.

    https://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=131579&page=1

    CLARKE: Well, Don Rumsfeld said -- when we talked about bombing the al Qaeda infrastructure in Afghanistan, he said, "There are no good targets in Afghanistan; let's bomb Iraq." And we said, "But Iraq had nothing to do with this," and that didn't seem to make much difference.
    GIBSON: But the administration has made the point that their response immediately was to go into Afghanistan.
    CLARKE: Their response that week -- they debated Iraq versus Afghanistan for a week. And their response that week was, "Let's do Afghanistan first," with the clear implication that there was a second.
    And the reason they had to do Afghanistan first was it was obvious that al Qaeda had attacked us and it was obvious that al Qaeda was in Afghanistan. The American people wouldn't have stood by if we had done nothing on Afghanistan.
    But what they did was slow and small. They put only 11,000 troops into Afghanistan. There are more police here in Manhattan -- more police here in Manhattan than there are U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

    And for Iraq, they didn't have "a million guys". They had 309,814, and they only had that many because the UK provided 45,000, Australia provided 2.000, Poland provided 194 (Special Forces), 70,000 Peshmerga (Autonomous Kurdistan) and 620 members of the Iraqi National Congress (Ahmed Chalabi's guys)

    It was always about Iraq from day one ... with junior along for the ride because "They tried to kill my daddy!"

    But they did believe they were going to create a democratic Iraq - for values of "democratic" out of some NeoCon Libertarian Free-Market smoke & mirrors pipe dream. High on their own supply & suckered by their own propaganda.

    The best, most accurate, most informative reporting on what they thought they were doing and what actually went down is Naomi Klein's BAGHDAD YEAR ZERO Pillaging Iraq in pursuit of a neocon utopia

    You can trace the ideas back to Cheney's & Rumsfeld's participation in the Project for the New American Century with Iran as the wheel for new American "benevolent global hegemony" and Iraq as the hub around which that wheel would revolve. Iraq was never the end game. With 9/11 they finally got their new Pearl Harbor.

    It's deja vu all over again just like Watergate: Forget the myths the media has created about the White House. The truth is these are not very bright guys ... follow the money.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QodGxD19_as

    169:

    Troutwaxer @ 161: It's been awhile since I last read the book, but are you sure the issue wasn't his participation in a plural marriage? IIRC he talked about it in an interview, then he was arrested. Unfortunately, the book is in storage.

    Maybe both, but IIRC, it was showing a photograph of his wife ... possibly his newest wife ... to the interviewer that was the tipping point for the incident.

    170:

    IIRC, the US Marine Corps has accepted conscripts at various times in its history, but the marine corps of the Banana Wars and gunboats in China in the 1920s and 1930s was volunteer. My point is that governments have avoided the unpopularity of mass mobilization by having a parallel volunteer military for the small wars (often recruited from those with no other options: whereas on 10 September 2001 the US military did a pretty good job of reflecting the class and race balance of the US population as a whole, because it had so many resources that it could attract people with options).

    171:

    Are you referring to "Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, based on an idea by JRR Tolkien"?

    My nieces gave me the extended edition on DVD because they knew I liked the novels, so I watched them all, including all the 'making of' documentaries included — which were actually more interesting than the films :-)

    Jackson's visual inspiration was apparently the Brothers Hildebrandt artwork rather than Tolkien's own drawings, so what you see is already removed from the original.

    There was an interview with one of the scriptwriters about the modifications she made to the dialogue, and what struck me most was that she said that she thought Tolkien would like her version better than what he wrote! I was expecting something about modifying to suit a different medium, but nope, just 'this is better and I'm certain the original author would agree with me'.

    So yeah, decent enough films if you can ignore the really screwed up combat scenes, but still disappointing.

    172:

    JBS @ 170: Troutwaxer @ 161:

    It's been awhile since I last read the book, but are you sure the issue wasn't his participation in a plural marriage? IIRC he talked about it in an interview, then he was arrested. Unfortunately, the book is in storage.

    Maybe both, but IIRC, it was showing a photograph of his wife ... possibly his newest wife ... to the interviewer that was the tipping point for the incident.

    Or it might have been a photograph of ALL of the wives AND husbands showing the mix of races, sexes & ages. That could yank a whole bunch of chains at the same time.

    173:

    And for Iraq, they didn't have "a million guys". They had 309,814, and they only had that many because the UK provided 45,000, Australia provided 2.000, Poland provided 194 (Special Forces), 70,000 Peshmerga (Autonomous Kurdistan) and 620 members of the Iraqi National Congress (Ahmed Chalabi's guys)

    Canada also contributed troops. Sneakily, not to Iraq but by really upping our contingent in Afghanistan so that the government could say that they weren't supporting the Iraq invasion*, but freeing up American troops for the invasion by taking over their duties in Afghanistan.


    *There was a lot of opposition to that up here. But there was also a LOT of not-so-diplomatic pressure from America to sign on, with quiet threats to attack our exports if we didn't do something.

    174:

    IIRC it was specifically the miscegenation that triggered the legal problem.

    175:

    The Heinlein Concordance says:

    Lexington, Kentucky
    Place where Manuel Garcia O'Kelly was arrested for bigamy, miscegenation, and "inciting public immorality" after describing and showing pictures of his [multi-racial] family. He found out much later that Stuart LaJoie had "planted" the questions that led to Mannie discussing his family, knowing that such a result would ensue and that Mannie's arrest would arouse outrage — and thus increase support for the Revolution — back home in the Moon.

    https://mycroft.heinleinsociety.org/concordance/books/mhm_hc.htm

    176:

    So I guess we've both got part of the picture.

    177:

    So yeah, decent enough films if you can ignore the really screwed up combat scenes, but still disappointing.

    I watched the first two, but in the second one the story went so far away from the book that I didn't watch the third one. I kind of understand the reasons to change things for the different medium, but I'm grumpy and middle-aged, so Faramir was the last straw for me.

    Nice visuals, but still left me feeling a bit empty.

    The same happened with the Hobbit movies, I watched the first one and didn't go to see the later ones.

    178:

    Here’s a thing. What an author writes is not always what a reader reads. To a significant degree I simply don’t care what AuthorX thinks they were saying; it’s what I think I am reading. Since I don’t necessarily share cultural background, or gender/sexual/age/wealth/taste with AuthorX that is always likely to some degree.
    And let’s not forget that authors lie for a living. It’s in the name.

    179:

    Rabidchaos @ 157
    Such was the importance of experienced workers in key industries that the military barred them from enlistment.
    You could make the case that, effectively, most of the US population was serving, whether or not they were in uniform.

    Yeah - having learnt the hard way in '14-18 - we did that as well the 2nd time around.
    My father was told: "You are drafted - into the Scientific Civil Service" f'rinstance. ( Devising, making, & testing new explosives, mostly. )

    JBS @ 159 ( & Bill Arnold )
    But, would we be able to tell the difference, anyway?
    I mean, they are both entirely content-free ...
    What is GPT-2?
    And NO - SomN's postings have minimal to zero content - in fact I'm not sure that "she" isn't a chatbot.

    Oh yes, question: IF that posting was another chatbot, what does one do about it?
    Barr it? Or wind it up, so that it's electronics go poof!
    You tell me.

    180:

    #153 - Disagree. Being a REMF in an "all volunteer service" means actively trying to become and stay rear echelon.

    #163 - Never read the cited interview. Otherwise I'll agree to being Scottish, or British, but regard calling me "English" as an insult. That said, I'll also agree your para 3 with notes:-
    a) Yes, satire, well part satire anyway.
    b) It's subtle, but RAH does say that there is no such thing as "safe rear echelon" in interstellar warfare. EG, Rico's mother's death when the Bugs use asteroids to "bomb" South America (can't recall the cited city off hand).
    c) There are sequences, like the MI raid on the Skinnies' planet, that are pure MilSF, years before the term was invented.

    #172 "By rights we shouldn't be here". Yes, because the production and screenwriting teams retconned in scenes that don't exist in the books they used as a basis.

    181:

    The secondary strategic error was not beginning our serious efforts to go green immediately after 9/11 - gets the U.S. out of the gulf-states and they can take care of themselves. Or not.

    I started saying the way to, if not solve, at least change the problem, to oil and middle eastern conflict was for at least the US to put say $.005 tax per gal of gas and increase it by that amount every 2 or 3 months. Eventually this would move the world to something other than oil in many cases for energy and take away the money flowing into the region and being used to make a mess of things. Most everyone I knew/know on the right and left told me to pound sand.

    I started saying this in 78/79.

    Says he who remembers the gas wars as a teen where prices would get down to $.25/gal at times.

    My point was to slowly make gasoline more expensive so that people would gradually migrate to the more efficient cars and or other means of transportation that wasn't based on gas.

    I was thinking in terms of 20+ years. Most people wanted things solved in 1 to 5. So far we're 40+ years into this based on my starting point and basically nothing has changed.

    182:

    Nitpick

    FDR jr served on a Destroyer convoying from "Iceland to Minsk", supported the Sicilian invasion and ended up as Captain of a Destroyer Escort that earned 5 battle stars for WW2 against Japan;

    Minsk is the capital city of Belarus, a landlocked state. Getting a convoy there would be rather tricky.

    I presume you meant the coastal Russian city of Murmansk.

    183:

    True, except that the breakdown of the US Army in 1941-45 was 39% volunteers, 61% draftees.

    Not really a valid number for the point you're trying to make.

    My father was drafted. Not because he didn't want to volunteer but because he knew it would happen as soon as he graduated from high school. And it did. The local draft boards back then basically took the high school graduation roles and sent out the notices. When he showed me a class picture from when he graduated in 43 there were about twice as many girls and boys. He said a lot of the boys had dropped out to sign up.

    Older guys waited to be drafted many times. Especially if they had their first decent job in 10 years. And so many jobs early in the war were in support of the war that the "guys" were told to keep their job until. Until they got drafted and/or until the women were brought in.

    My recollection of a report I read a few decades ago was that the average age of a private was 22 for the US in WWII.

    Very different times. Economically and socially than anything since.

    184:

    I'm Italian, over 45 but under 50.
    There is to say that at the same time I was reading Heinlein I was also reading other more or less militaristic/conservatives/preachy/with problematic ethics authors like Poul Anderson, Jack Vance, Larry Niven, Purnelle etc., and I had no issue with them (at the time ofc), or mixing them with authors like Mack Reynolds, James White, John Brunner or Frederick Pohl etc.
    But Heinlein rubbed me the wrong way: it made me think at the author "well, I don't think you've figured things out as much as you think you've figured them out".

    185:

    Thanks for taking a serious look at Starship Troopers.

    I think of it as a love letter to the military. So far as I know, it portrays an idealized military where everyone is competent and trustworthy.

    There's one way it's very different from more recent milsf-- it's got very little in the way of tactics. This is something I notice because I'm bad at visualization.

    I don't know whether it was conscious, but Heinlein neatly dodged an issue by making it a future where ethnic prejudice is gone. Otherwise, I think the idea of earning the right to vote by doing dangerous civic duty might well have led to people from some groups being much more likely to die before they got to vote.

    Any theories about why people didn't get the franchise until after they were out of service?

    #3: I don't think Heinlein would have liked Trump-- Heinlein cared about truth and practicality, and I don't think he would have wanted to be that much of a follower, but we'll never find out.

    $5: My copy of Expanded Universe isn't handy, but I think Heinlein suggested *limiting* the franchise to women who were past 40(?) and had children. No votes for men.

    So far as I know, there are no historical examples of democracies failing because the public voted itself too much largesse from the government.

    #13: I'm pretty sure Heinlein *did* know black people. FF is remarkably accurate about microaggressions, and presents them as explicitly about how white people were treating black people, rather than having an allegorical handling of racial prejudice.

    To my mind, FF would have been quite a good anti-racist book except that Heinlein blew it by making the black slaveholders cannibals.

    #20: I believe Glory Road has the stupidest thing from Heinlein's fiction-- the idea that it's a Earth weirdness that women can charge for what they have in infinite supply. Heinlein did get better-- in Time Enough for Love, he said that prostitutes were professionals who deserved respect.

    #23: The service needed to get the vote had to be *dangerous*, at least potentially. So it could include being a subject for medical experimentation or working in the laboratories on Pluto.

    You could probably get decent novels out of those, but they'd be less fun than Starship Troopers. And there might be some interesting discussion about whether or not to adopt new tech to make those lines of work safer.

    #40's: I suspect Heinlein was drifting away from libertarianism. If I recall the The Cat Who Walked Through Walls correctly, there was a dawning realization that there are drawbacks to living on a privately owned space habitat.

    #73: George Hansen is doing a zoom presentation about UFOs on June 12.

    https://www.millenniumoss.com/flyerfornextmeeting.html

    A general thing: I think Heinlein should have explained why he was mistaken about WW3 happening.

    #135: _The Pleasant Profession of Robert Heinlein_ by Farah Mendlesohn is an examination of Heinlein's ideas and themes through his writings, and the book happened because Heinlein's ideas changed enough through his career that such a book was worth writing.

    I was surprised by some things in it. Heinlein is commonly described as an individualist, but most of his happy endings are about people finding a place in a larger society. A very high proportion of his characters are plausibly of color. There really is a lot about wanting to be a woman.

    #165: Good point about Heinlein being altogether too fond of formal and informal death penalties, though another surprising thing from The Pleasant Profession is that while Heinlein was strongly in favor of private ownership of hand weapons, there's very little use of them in the stories.

    186:

    The truth is these are not very bright guys ... follow the money.

    Oh, I think most of them were. They just had a deluded ideology.

    I know way too many people who have very very very high IQs but very warped ideologies. Which puts a crazy spin on most of their actions.

    187:

    I think in the case of the movie the powered armor would have been a distraction, in a way it would not have been in robocop.

    For the political point of view of the movie (and of the book too, if a bit less because you can cram more stuff in a book than you can in a movie), the power armor is an extra: arguably, in the book it was only there to make slightly more plausible the importance of the low trooper in an age of atomic weapons (and with a minor point of being a candy bait for the tech crowd).

    This is useful if you want to defend the plausibility of the system as depicted in the book, and an obstacle if you are trying to make a point of the fascist absurdity that was his target.

    Even then, you could have paid lip service to it, but then you must face how hard it would have been practically. Especially because he had already dealt with full cyborg suits in Robocop, he likely well understood how incredibly hard would have been having an army of them (check the Robocop trivia section on imdb, there are plenty of examples of the real troubles they had with the suit, including the suffering for the actor).

    So, pay a lot of money to have a lot more troubles filming to be a bit more faithful to a book when you are trying to send a different message and this being more faithful making your intended message weaker by making the intended mocked protagonists cooler? I wouldn't have, too! :-p

    188:

    Pixodaros @ 90, referring to an unsent letter written about 1964-5 by Heinlein on race issues.

    Thanks for that link. Its difficult to read today; you just keep having to remind yourself that by the standards of that time and place Heinlein was probably pretty centrist. For me the biggest thing, apart from the language, is his insistence that "the Negro" must pull himself up by his own bootstraps by e.g. learning calculus at a time when calculus was being taught to white kids but not black ones.

    One other thing in it caught my eye, about 2/3 of the way through:

    But I must add: This item is not intended to persuade you, convince you, nor anything; it has been primarily a means of letting me get my own thoughts verbalized and in order on a subject which has been troubling me a great deal.

    That's something I sometimes do myself when I have a big complicated problem to think through, and its a very valuable exercise. In that paragraph Heinlein also says that he intends to send the letter. I suspect that he changed his mind due to a growing realisation that he was on the wrong side of the argument. This piece is certainly in marked contrast with "Mannie", the protagonist of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. TMiaHM was published in 1966, and shows Mannie being arrested for being a black man with a white wife (the actual charge was "bigamy", but it was the racial mix of the Davis clan that had the judge seeing red). At another point Mannie also waxes sarcastic about the idea of dividing Lunar society up into racial categories. The later part of the unsent letter touches on libertarianism and the idea of a society without central authority. So it looks like many of the themes in TMiaHM were already floating around Heinlein's brain at the time, and his shifting ideas about race were a part of that. The first part of TMiaHM was serialised in December 1965, so it looks like Heinlein's attitude to race must have undergone a marked shift over a fairly short time. The latter part of the letter makes reference to the social-government nexus regulating sex; perhaps he considered how this concept might also apply to race.

    "Friday", published in 1982, has Friday presented as complete mix; as her father figure Baldwin says in his final letter to her "You can never afford to be racist: you would be biting your own tail". The book also features a character (one of Friday's co-wives) who denied being racist "while exhibiting that irrational attitude every time she opened her mouth", which is an interesting contrast to Heinlein's "... if I have any prejudice against Negroes, I am not aware of it". And of course the whole point of Friday was the fantastic racism she experienced due to her "Artificial Person" status. Early in the book she talks of "passing" as a "real" human, clearly equating the racism of American society in 1982 and the discrimination that Friday suffered.

    189:

    #186 - Nothing I'd argue with unless I was in a nitpicky mood and not pressed for time.

    General - John Fitzgeral Kennedy, future president, was a PT Boat commander in the Pacific during WW2.

    190:

    I'm not sure that Starship Troopers was a satire on how the military of 1959, more a model for what it should be. So whilst full citizenship is tied to service, we have no conscription and soldiers can resign at any time (even during wartime). There's no bar on the grounds of race, sex or disability. Women are considered better ship pilots and Naval officers (women) have seniority over Army officers (men). Finally, with the right to refuse a medical discharge a promising naval Lieutenant is not going to be kicked out after catching TB and end up writing SF for a living.

    Farnhams Freehold on the other hand is the only Heinlein book that made me feel unclean. I get what he was trying to do - but it didn't work to put it mildly.

    191:
    The Vietnam War - and the response to it by Americans of draft age - plays no role whatsoever in the thinking behind Starship Troopers.

    You're right - I'm engaging in Topic Drift before post 300.

    192:
    Remember, no plan survives contact with the enema.

    No plan survives contact with the cinema?

    193:

    This is a quote from the Wikipedia article on Korean war POWs that JBS linked to:

    "The discrimination extended to the children of POWs who were restricted in their careers, barred from membership in the Workers' Party of Korea, college admissions and military service.[14] Mr. Koh Eul Won, a former POW who escaped to South Korea in 2001, testified that "in North Korea, one must complete military service to be treated like a human being. However, our children were rejected by the military solely for the reason of being the children of POWs. Therefore, our children had no choice but to work in the coal mines as we had done." Young-Bok Yoo, who escaped in 2000, also writes about the discrimination and surveillance in his Memoirs."

    This,ironically, illustrates what the system in ST is more likely to be like, than the one Heinlein wrote about. This is why Verhoeven made the satire he did. I would like to point out that Verhoeven is Dutch, and born in 1938, living through the Nazi occupation. He is also highly intelligent, having a double masters in maths and physics. That he managed to make an anti Nazi satire of America, in Hollywood is a massive achievement. Critiquing it on the basis of a lack of power armour, or some such, seems to be missing the point. He needed a recognisable IP to get it made, this may be considered disrespectful to Heinlein, but I would consider it a worthy goal. I would say Verhoeven is a very underrated director, with people often missing what he is saying because of the type of film he makes.

    194:

    Troutwaxer noted: "I'm going to put on a helmet and some armor before making this comment, but the fundamental strategic error of the post 9/11 world was not making an extensive effort to prune back the Saudis"

    Yup. The rot that lies at the heart of U.S. democracy is how many recent leaders have benefited personally from running the state as if it were their personal money-generating machine. If the Saudis didn't have oil and ties to U.S. Big Oil, they would have been squashed long ago.

    On the topic of the death penalty, the only thing you can say with certainty is that it ensures the executed person won't sin again. There's no evidence it discourages capital crimes or accomplishes much else that's good. It certainly doesn't reform the dead person. You might make a case that it's more merciful than decades of incarceration, waiting every day to learn whether you'll die next week. I wouldn't. It's punishment porn, pure and simple, and that also explains why the U.S. has not standardized on the guillotine which, to the best of my knowledge, is far more humane than electrocution or lethal injection. I guess those who get off on the notion of killing someone slowly wouldn't like it.

    195:

    @JBS #169:

    But they did believe they were going to create a democratic Iraq - for values of "democratic" out of some NeoCon Libertarian Free-Market smoke & mirrors pipe dream. High on their own supply & suckered by their own propaganda

    Thanks for saving me the trouble of making that response. We (meaning US voters) were most definitely promised that our troops would be greeted as liberators, with flowers and candy strewn in their path as the marched into Baghdad. That this was idiocy was easily predictable and in fact widely predicted, but that was how it was sold.

    Republican cadres already included a large number of highly-placed rubes "high on their own supply" but I think the real goal of the Rumsfeld-Cheney-Wolfowitz group was "install a pliant puppet that will pump all the oil as fast as possible and sell it to us, after having purchased our services to bring the oilfields up to spec with new equipment that they will also buy from us, so that we can tell the Saudis to go fuck themselves next time they try to orchestrate a shortage." That and "provide bases for massive garrisons that we can use to menace the Iranians for the indefinite future." For some of that group, Iraq was almost as much a sideshow as Afghanistan: what they really wanted was to remove Iran as a regional power.

    The AVF wound up as something very much like SST's MI, a supremely effective tool for breaking stuff and killing people. The amazing folly of the neocons was their assumption that breaking stuff and killing people is all that it takes to win a war. That lesson seems still not to have been absorbed by our elites.

    And for Iraq, they didn't have "a million guys".

    I was referring to the total size of the US Army, as a round approximation, not to that fraction of it that was sent to the Gulf.

    196:

    So the argument is that Verhoeven is a misunderstood genius? Let's see, he got $105 million to make Starship Troopers, the general reaction was that "this sucks on a variety of levels," although to be fair it made around 10% ROE so it didn't bomb. That's a huge megaphone for an anti-fascist, and he didn't do a great job getting the message out.*

    Now let's throw in some powered armor. You can argue that it's too costly an effect, except that George Lucas solved that problem back in the 1970s with the stormtroopers, and Verhoeven's armor in the movie is arguably a more complex version of the same effect (lots of plastic suits). So throw that argument out.

    So you take something like a Star Wars stormtrooper, but make the armor a bit more practical (if nothing else, let the actors see where they're going, so they can actually move like human beings). Why use stormtrooper armor? Because you're going to need a lot of miniatures, and why not make a design that's easy to churn out as puppets?

    To this, you add a SF version of a 1950s era jet pack (undoubtedly Heinlein's inspiration). Deck it out with a missile rack, use shiny lights and ILM effects instead of actual jets when it's flying, because the smoke trail always looks fake anyway. So we've got a stormtrooper with a jetpack and atomic missiles. Fairly easy to miniaturize en masse.

    Next we've got to identify the heroes in the middle of the battles. The normal Hollywood BS version is to have them take off their helmets. You can get around this with a clear faceplate, or with big fat military insignia on the armor (aka heraldry). I'd suggest doing both, so that the miniature has the logo decals on it, while the full scale has the actor's face visible. Wanna make those logos fascist? Go right ahead, Warhammer 40K style (also around when the film was made, and arguably they would have been better inspiration than the stormtroopers).

    Finally, you take Heinlein's mobile infantry concept, which is daft. The soldiers jump huge distances with exoskeletons and jetpacks. Normally that spells "TARGET" to any sane soldier (comments from the real veterans?), but let's go with it. What else moves that way? Fleas. So basically when the mobile infantry drops on a city (via puppet effects and animation), the little jet-propelled stormtroopers go jumping around like fleas on a carpet, shooting their guns and lobbing overly powerful explosives. It's straightforward to do this now with CGI, and probably possible in the 1990s with miniatures without breaking the bank. If you want to hand the MI a loss, have the flea horde drop on a flat, open plain, with the enemy dug in, and shoot them out of the air en masse (also as in the book, IIRC).

    So here's my question: you have rocket-powered human fleas wearing stormtrooper armor and lobbing nukes. And you can't make an anti-fascist satire out of this? Well, if you're a misunderstood genius like Verhoeven, apparently you can't. But I suspect it could be done.

    *It's worth mentioning at this juncture that we're all hypersensitized to fascism due to the events of the last few years. IIRC in the 1990s, fascism was considered to be the ideology of losers, with jokes about Illinois NAZIs and skinheads being disposable extras in films. Perhaps now would be a better time to make an anti-fascist satire?

    197:

    To be fair to the Iraqis, they knew that the oil works were the real target for the Americans (not hard to predict, with Bush and Cheney in charge). IIRC, they did as much as they could to destroy all their geologic data on the oil fields and to wreck the oil-pumping infrastructure, to deny the US a win in that regard. And I think they at least partially succeeded.

    On a realpolitik level, one could argue that controlling that much oil was a valid strategic goal. I'm not arguing the morality, I'm literally talking about power politics. That, in itself, is not "high on their own supply." Evil and shortsighted, absolutely. But not deluded in itself.

    IMHO, the Bushies doped/duped themselves in two regards. One was that Bush II apparently genuinely believed it was possible to install a client democracy in Iraq, which shows a woeful lack of understanding on par with the SS Troopers idea of bombing aliens until they ally with us. The other was the small-government ideology that using mercs and contractors would get the job done better and cheaper, which turned out to be wrong on multiple levels too. To be fair on this last point, the US Military Industrial Complex specializes in bloat, so trying to trim that is a legitimate goal. Problem is, the industrial side is at least as bloated as the government side, and cutting oversight doesn't make it more efficient, it just makes it easier to siphon money out. Which, at least in Cheney's and others' views, was also probably a central goal.

    198:

    In the unlikely event that I ever re-read Starship Troopers, my visual for the powered armour is going to look a lot like the splendid stuff from Edge of Tomorrow. Powered armour, Tom Cruise getting repeatedly killed and Emily Blunt. Very silly, very entertaining, slightly off topic.

    199:

    (Veering off topic around comment 200, not 300, because this thread has already chewed over the admittedly lightweight OP ...)

    the fundamental strategic error of the post 9/11 world was not making an extensive effort to prune back the Saudis, particularly those who practiced Wahabism, with special attention to Saudi/Wahabi missionaries in countries not Saudi Arabia.

    Nah, you're way too late -- as is normal for American perspectives on Middle Eastern politics.

    First mistake: letting Britain and France get away with the Sykes-Picot treaty circa 1918-19, which divvied up the rump of the Ottoman Empire and, in particular, carved up the Arab world between two hostile European empires. This was secondary to Britain getting elbow-deep in Persia, because of the oil, which fuelled dreadnoughts, prior to the first world war ... because of the obvious deficiencies in refueling at sea using coal that the Russian Baltic Fleet learned in 1906.

    TLDR: the mistakes go way back.

    Second mistake: a toxic devil's brew of feckless idealism, cold-eyed realpolitic, casual racism, and western orientalism, that culminated in (a) backing the coup against Mossadegh in Iran in 1953 to re-install the Shah, (b) backing assorted coups against Arab monarchies around that era that variously installed Ba'ath regimes or tried to overturn the Ba'ath regimes when they proved to be, uh, pro-Arab rather than pro-western. Ba'ath was seen as a bulwark against communism: well yes, but only because communism was one of four rival ideologies in play at the time: Ba'athist nationalism, communism, monarchism (a spent force) and ... islam, which only grew as a political creed to rival Ba'athism after the communists and monarchists were suppressed).

    Third mistake: missing the significance of a turbulent priest in exile in Paris who squared the circle of fundamentalist Shi'ite islam and democracy, so that when the Shah fell the Ayatollah Khomenei was Rather Popular.

    Fourth mistake: not even recognizing the unholy cold war between Shi'ism and Sunni Islam existed. Which is still dominating regional politics to this day (see also: Yemen, Lebanon). And ...

    Fifth mistake: focussing on the Iranian revolution of 1979 and totally missing the Saudi religious revolution of 1980, mostly because the King stayed in place by embracing theocracy with open arms.

    The latter is the hard bit. A whole bunch of destabilization happened in the late 1970s, from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to the Iranian revolution and the rise of the Saudi theocrats.

    The US (and the west in general) viewed the Middle East through the lens of Capitalism v. Communism, with a side-order of securing the oil supplies and a smidgen of using Israel as a proxy to keep the local Ba'ath regimes around the east of the Mediterranean in line.

    But that was simply the wrong paradigm. What was actually going on in the Middle East was an inflammation of the long-running Shi'ite/Salafi cold war. Israel was seen as an insurgent Crusader Kingdom like, oh, imagine Fidel Castro's Cuba if Cuba was as rich as Japan, had nukes, and periodically invaded Florida and Texas.

    Nobody trusted the United States; they saw the USA as, at best, powerful but blinkered idiots who could be pointed at one's enemy for shits and giggles. Then the cold war ended abruptly; the US got involved in propping up the oil oligarchs in Kuwait, the Gulf War campaign saw giant US bases springing up on Saudi soil -- the holy land of Islam, remember -- and we know where that led.

    Hypothetically: if Russia had stayed in Afghanistan, and if April Glaspie hadn't inadvertently green-lit Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, there'd have been no US bases in Saudi Arabia and Osama bin Laden would have been content to stay in the hills there, plinking at commissars.

    200:

    "well, I don't think you've figured things out as much as you think you've figured them out".

    I'll definitely give you that one.

    I think the background of this discussion, and not only with your posts, is that Heinlein is a very respected figure in science fiction in the U.S., and MilSF isn't the only form of SF for which he wrote the primary document (or one of them,) nor is it the only book wherein he subtly undermined the racist tropes of his day.

    U.S. Science-Fiction fans don't like to see him disrespected; at this point in history Heinlein may be the field's "Fox News Uncle,"* but he's our Fox News Uncle, and you can disagree with him all you want, but if you're not respectful in disagreeing you're going to hear from the man's family, and that's what happened to Paul Verhoeven. This is not an attempt to threaten, BTW, but to make clear the background of U.S. fans defending the man in a fashion which probably seems a little irrational.

    * The family conservative, the guy who get's all his opinions and "facts" from Fox News.

    201:

    Finally, you take Heinlein's mobile infantry concept, which is daft. The soldiers jump huge distances with exoskeletons and jetpacks. Normally that spells "TARGET" to any sane soldier (comments from the real veterans?), but let's go with it.

    Your excuse -- and funky visual effects reference -- is stealth. Give them stealth armour with chameleon camouflage: that's an excuse both for bad-ass angular armour and for colour-changing panels.

    They even apply stealth surfacing to drones these days, and there's R&D under way at making tank camouflage that can change to mimic the background. (At worst: plate your main battle tank with horrifyingly expensive micro-LED displays relaying what a camera on the opposite side of the tank can see. As tanks are multi-million dollar appliances, blowing a few hundred K on active camouflage isn't a terrible idea.) So stealthed powered armour with flight characteristics more like a helicopter gunship than a ballistic path is not totally implausible. (What's really implausible is spam in a can on a battlefield dominated by combat drones, but I digress.)

    202:

    And all you've done is recite the Reader's Digest version of the highlights.

    I think that mass media and then the Internet has also contributed to the mess there. (And in other places.)

    "How you going to keep them down on the farm when they've seen Paree".

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgqVCJpRqWQ

    Way too many people know now that the mess in their immediate location isn't the way the world works.

    203:

    (What's really implausible is spam in a can on a battlefield dominated by combat drones, but I digress.)

    Hard for most to imagine what kind of mobile computers we would be carrying around today back in the 50s. Isaac Asimov got it somewhat in Foundation but still most SF writers couldn't make the leap to imagine where we are now much less where we will be in the future.

    I remember one story where they were making hyper space leaps but having to input the values into the computer after looking up numbers in log table books.

    For many it meant a leap from tubes to semis to ICs to full computers on a chip. Big leap for most.

    Anyway, removing the Spam in the can required imagining computer power that very few writers (if any back then) were able to do.

    204:

    Yeah.

    There's also a couple of complicating factors emerging from the USA being the hegemonic thalassic empire of the age:

    a) the USA has developed a foundational mythology about being plucky rebels against an Empire. But this is a terrible foundation when your job is to run an empire, because it means you're perpetually lying to yourself.

    b) The USA war of independence was to no small extent a war in defense of slavery (it's no coincidence that it got under way just two Atlantic sailing seasons after the Mansfield decision essentially outlawed slavery in England: it was glaringly obvious that it was only a matter of time before abolitionism arrived throughout the British Empire). But this also gets swept under the rug in popular accounts of (a), leading to yet more inconsistencies between the USA's self-opinion and its actions.

    c) The lying reaches a crescendo with Woodrow Wilson. (Do I need to explain?) His toxic hypocrisy ends up dominating US foreign policy for most of a century. (Kicking it into the long grass was about the only good thing I can think of attributing to the neoconservatives.) Led to the sort of outcome best summed up in the immortal phrase from the Vietnam war, "we had to destroy the village in order to save it."

    d) Oil corrupts: absolute oil corrupts absolutely.

    e) Pace (c), there came into existence a promotion ladder in the State Department that existed in embryo from roughly the 1860s onwards and became dominant in the latter half of the 20th century, by which one cannot rise to the top of State unless one has successfully conducted at least one reasonably contained colonial war. (This was also true of the British Empire in the 19th century. And of other empires.) Climbing this ladder was necessary in order to be able to paint onesself as successful on foreign policy, or to use FP as a springboard to the Oval Office. Note that "winning a contained war" is not invariably (or even often!) beneficial to the planet as a whole: other countries use soft power, foreign aid, peacekeeping missions, etc. to achieve the same diplomatic outcomes without the violence. (Example: the EU, which doesn't have the military force projection or diplomatic cohesion to go full imperial.) But it's how the Empire rolls.

    The purpose of a system is what it does. The purpose of the US State Department is to generate convenient colonial wars in order to exert dominance/control over potential rival hegemons. But that breaks down when it runs into an Outside Context Problem, where a bunch of diplomats who think they're dealing with a nice cohesive Post-Westphalian State based on shared enlightenment values discover to their horror that they've wandered into a wasteland populated by pissed-off nihilistic tribesmen, and meanwhile they're wearing flak jackets with targets painted on them.

    205:

    The story with the log table books was _Starman Jones_.

    As for advances in computers, there was a Sheckley story where the government sent robots to the battle of Armageddon because they would more effective than humans. So the robots were taken up to heaven and the humans were left behind.

    206:

    Charlie, you're preaching to the choir - I'm well aware of Sykes-Picot* and other horrible misunderstandings of Middle-Eastern history by the U.S. and/or Europe in the decades leading up to 9/11. I simply wasn't discussing them.

    * Possibly the very worst political decision in history, which may well kill more people than WWII as the centuries go by - I'd be very surprised if the Sykes-Picot death toll is under a million at this point, and all the ways that decision could go pear-shaped in the future are highly unpleasant to contemplate.

    207:

    While you're correct, the bigger point was that Verhoeven's opus was released in 1997. So I'm imagining something that would have been affordable with 1990s technology, which is why I suggest stormtroopers with jet packs, something that can be made in large quantities on both a human scale and as practical miniatures for big fight scenes.

    Thinking about it, something like the space marines from Warhamster 40oK would have been even more appropriate, since they were popular at the time (premiered in 1987) and are far more obviously fascist than SST is. That's if you're trying the Verhoeven Gambit.

    Right now, given the insect apocalypse and our concerns about fulminating fascism worldwide, I think a pro-bug, antifa story is far more appropriate than any form of SST.

    208:

    Energy. It's become a hobbyhorse for me and I have a habit of reaching for the "energy" magnifying glass any time I look at anything speculative these days but...

    Assume the ST motor-driven powered armour plus weapons and ammo loadout plus the fleshy meatbag inside weighs, all-up, 500 kilos or so. Something has to power this sucker for ground movement and it has to be able to deliver at least a hundred kW of power. They might get away with a self-contained fuel-driven generator of some type. I'd expect Heinlein was intending they'd use infinite-capacity Shipstones made from Unobtainium, maybe. He'd used them before in other stories.

    Additionally something has to lift this half-tonne of easily-identifable slow-flying target with an acceleration of a couple of gees multiple times. This would be rocket motors of some kind which means fuel and oxidiser and lots of it. We have people here on Earth using small gas turbines to fly around nearly-naked for a few minutes but a suitable oxygen atmosphere can't be guaranteed on all possible battlefields and so carrying their own oxidiser is probably necessary.

    Basically the energy budget of powered armour comes up short unless they use lots and lots of extension leads and maybe spring-loaded boots, IMO.

    209:

    Nojay @ 209: "Basically the energy budget of powered armour comes up short unless they use lots and lots of extension leads and maybe spring-loaded boots, IMO."

    When I reread it just for the powered armor I noticed that he never even hints at the source of power for the motors in the legs.

    On the other hand he states that the powered armor needs "jump juice" to rocket higher than their legs can bring them and that they expend all the jump juice and need refills after a day of combat.

    210:

    Yeah - having learnt the hard way in '14-18 - we did that as well the 2nd time around.

    I heavily suspected that would be the case, but decided to not get into it given my lack of knowledge on the subject. The internet does not need more confidently asserted falsehoods.

    211:

    Hard for most but the ground had been covered quite well by Stanislaw Lem a long time ago. I will have to dig out the book to remember its title, but he has more or less accurately predicted each stage of military tech development as it relates to computers and AI from 1970 to now.

    I have little doubt that his projected end result of autonomous machines making human battlefield survival something that might be measured in fractions of seconds will be reached.

    212:

    But, would we be able to tell the difference, anyway?
    I mean, they are both entirely content-free ...
    What is GPT-2?
    Taking those in order:
    SOMN's posts have a characteristic structure and relate in some way to either the topic of discussion or current events. In contrast, FRNJweaver's posts are much closer related to a standard letter structure.

    I disagree on SOMN's posts being content free. I rarely find enough signal to justify the noise, but there is signal there. I am unconvinced of that regarding FRNJweaver.

    GPT-2 is an open source AI project. Basically, you train it on a ton of sample text, and then it'll generate text in that style with mixed success.

    213:

    For once we agree on an energy issue!

    Yes, I think powered armor in most situations is daft, as are walking mecha weapons. You need something like the "Mr. Fusion" from Back to the Future to make the mobile infantry combat suits work as advertised.

    There's other daftness, not including the starships. Battlefield micronukes? I don't think it's possible for a human with a jetpack to outrun the smallest useful nuke, AFAIK. While yes, with unlimited energy the human could go fast enough, battle armor's not exactly streamlined enough to go supersonic without generating a lot of heat and turbulence. And figuring out which posture to accelerate--Standing up? Sitting? without the grunt passing out--is another one of those fun and interesting conundrums.

    214:

    Thinking about reasonable mechanized combat armor for mobile infantry, I've got a modest proposal:

    Codename ECHIDNA.

    It's a suit that does what infantry is supposed to be really good at: digging in. Using it, a warfighter can dig a foxhole in under a minute in anything less than reinforced concrete.

    To make it most useful with soldiers, the armor is thickest on the suit's gluteal regions, and the smart turret gun is also mounted on the suit's backside.

    More seriously, combat engineers could used powered suits better than most infantry. Mole suits aren't kewl, but they are cool for nerds.

    215:

    If you want to bless me you can bless my bottom...

    216:

    "No plan survives contact with the cinema?"
    I am totally stealing that

    217:

    More seriously, combat engineers could used powered suits better than most infantry.

    Currently the research appears to be more focused on logistics people; exoskeletoned stevedores can load and unload vehicles faster and with less damage to their bodies than either forklifts* or unaugmented people. Plus, limiting their use to ships and established bases means they can plug into an extension cord. Most of the material suggested the immediate focus is on ammunition handling.

    * Forklifts win when everything is already palletized and they can drive into the vehicle.

    218:

    Yes, I agree. In cinema, this is of course the famous exoskeleton in Aliens, and I agree that this makes sense.

    What I was thinking is the Israeli strategy of burrowing through walls between adjacent houses as a form of urban assault, rather than going door to door down the street, when fighting in Palestinian settlements. I don't support this, merely point out that there's potentially a role for powered armor in places where they're already using armored bulldozers and blowing holes through walls.

    As for concerns about drone war, I think the ECHIDNA would be an adequate answer to that....

    219:

    (What's really implausible is spam in a can on a battlefield dominated by combat drones, but I digress.)

    Who controls the drones and from where? It'll be a long time before people are comfortable letting computers control weapons with a more complicated decision than missile incoming -> fire. Controlling drones from a climate-controlled office back in home country only works against people who lack any sort of jamming that can reach said drones (ground vehicles and quad copters are a lot easier to reach than Global Hawks). That said, we're seeing a lot more integration of drones of a variety of sizes and mobility types, so spam in a can controlling the surrounding drone swarm is probably going to show up in one form or another.

    220:

    Confusion -- It's been quite some time since I re-read Star Ship Troopers, but ... isn't Johnny Rico Argentinian. I know I'm not the only one who is confused by this -- it's a perennial discussion. I kinda leaned Argentinian due to the history of Germany with Argentina, and then particularly the history of nazis in Argentina during WWII and after.

    I shall commit heresy here: Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will is a brilliant cinematic work, far more so than either Heinlein's novel or Verhoeven's movie. I've seen Riefenstahl's film only once, which was enough. It was a terrifying experience, not least because it was awe-ful, in the old meaning of the word. Olympia was almost as impressive. Both films also were all the more shocking to my system, knowing a woman had made them. Which has left me with a great deal to unpack, which unpacking continues, despite it having been years since I watched them.

    Never felt that way from Heinlein's novel or the movie.

    The real world experience of a real world tyranny always diminishes a fantasy recreation. Which was one of the most effective themes of Díaz's The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, in which Sauron looks a piker compared with Trujillo. Then I learned it in real life 2016-2020 -- and that was nothing close -- yet -- to Trujillo or the nazis. We can always get there though, I suppose.


    221:

    Yes, though that omits the main 1984 aspect - specifically, the need to turn Russia into a containable enemy, following the demise of the USSR. China would not do, as it was and is not containable. What utterly baffles me about the USA psyche is their fear, almost panic, when faced with utterly negligible opponents. Remember the (apparently genuine) hysteria that the USA would be conquered by Saddam Hussain unless it invaded Iraq?

    222:

    Paws
    Yes & Churchill / Attlee / Macmillan / Heath / Callaghan all did military service, too.

    H
    SS Troopers idea of bombing aliens until they ally with us.
    Worked on fascist Italy in WW II didn't it?

    Charlie @ 200
    Ever read "A Line in the Sand" - about Sykes - Picot??
    Sunni / Shia - NOT such a "cold" war & it's been running since Karbala. ( 680 CE / 61 AH )

    @205 (b)
    Have you ANY IDEA how desperately loudly & wrigglingly almost every US commenter will deny that one, down to selling their grandmother for soap manufacture?
    Oh one little extra - never mind the "OCP" - winning a "Short Victorious War" - all too often doesn't turn out that way, or not for the idiots starting it, anyway.

    Rabidchaos
    Thanks about GPT-2
    SomN's posts have a structure?
    Who knew?

    223:

    Olympia is the most amazing film I have every seen, but its showing is often discouraged purely because of who its director was. As far as I know, Triumph des Willens is still effectively banned in the UK, so I have never seen it.

    224:

    First mistake: letting Britain and France get away with the Sykes-Picot treaty circa 1918-19

    I don't think the US could stop Britain and France from doing that. Certainly not the US of the 1910s and 20s. Internationally, it was still a distinctly second string power, capable of throwing raw material and raw bodies at European-scale problems but lacking the institutional expertise and the established industries to be recognized as a superpower in its own right. With the short shrift our education system gives WW1, most Americans tend to back-project the status quo at the end of WW2 onto their understanding of the world post WW1. We weren't yet, and lacked some key ingredients necessary for, the super power we would in time become. As a result, our diplomatic position in negotiating the end of WW1 and the subsequent events was already weak for taking on two super power empires trying to empire.

    Of course, domestic isolationism meant we didn't even try. Were American politicians and diplomats to believe the story they tell about America and choose their actions to live up to that ideal, then tilting at the Sykes-Picot windmill would still set up their successors with a reputation that might have enabled ending Sykes-Picot in a way that minimized bloodshed and benefited the people on the ground, with long term soft power and security benefits for the American Empire.

    Instead, we had pig-headed ignorance at best and bloody-minded opportunism at worst.

    225:

    Juan Rico's family were Filipinos who lived in Argentina. They spoke Tagalog at home. These were some of the little details of the story in which, I think, Heinlein was pointing out that without borders and prejudice people would move around frequently - as they have historically.

    226:

    #191 - As I read it, they had the opposite issue in ST. Not needing to conscript people for the military, but more volunteers than they knew what to do with.

    #200 bullet 1 - Agreed, with a note that British Middle Eastern power politics goes back even further ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balfour_Declaration ).

    #204 - The earliest I can come up with ICs is circa Project Apollo.

    #214 - Well, the Douglas AIR-2 Genie had a range of about 6 miles, which was less than the effective range of its 1.5kT nuclear warhead. Standard tactics for the system involved firing it, and then performing an Immelmann turn (now renamed a Yo-Yo) on full afterburner, to get away,

    #221 - Rico is Hispanic yes, his mother was killed in Argentina yes, but I don't think it's actually specified where he was born or resident.

    227:

    Remember the (apparently genuine) hysteria that the USA would be conquered by Saddam Hussain unless it invaded Iraq?

    Idiots led by liars.

    228:

    No, it wasn't done on Italy, and that wasn't the reason they ended up joining the allies. Mussolini had suckered them into believing in glorious campaigns of expansion, they discovered they had been had, and had changed their minds.

    229:

    In re Sykes-Picot: anyone know sf about living with the consequences of bad treaties or other arrangements from very long ago?

    230:

    Pixodaros @ 171: IIRC, the US Marine Corps has accepted conscripts at various times in its history, but the marine corps of the Banana Wars and gunboats in China in the 1920s and 1930s was volunteer. My point is that governments have avoided the unpopularity of mass mobilization by having a parallel volunteer military for the small wars (often recruited from those with no other options: whereas on 10 September 2001 the US military did a pretty good job of reflecting the class and race balance of the US population as a whole, because it had so many resources that it could attract people with options).

    Except that it didn't.

    It was heavily skewed toward minorities & "working class" whites "recruited from those with no other options", particularly in the lower ranks. Even with standards waived (height/weight, physical fitness, prior/current drug use) recruiters often had a hard time fulfilling their quotas, especially for combat arms.

    At the time, the total footprint of the U.S. military (including parents, spouses, dependents, significant others & Best Friends Forever of service members) was 1.5% of the U.S. population and included (interestingly enough for the subject of this blog post) a significant number of non-citizens who had joined the military in hopes of gaining green-card/naturalization status.

    231:

    Mikko Parviainen @ 178:

    So yeah, decent enough films if you can ignore the really screwed up combat scenes, but still disappointing.

    I watched the first two, but in the second one the story went so far away from the book that I didn't watch the third one. I kind of understand the reasons to change things for the different medium, but I'm grumpy and middle-aged, so Faramir was the last straw for me.

    Nice visuals, but still left me feeling a bit empty.

    The same happened with the Hobbit movies, I watched the first one and didn't go to see the later ones.

    For all the film's faults, Peter Jackson did not set out to deliberately trash the source novels. Verhoeven did. Fuck him.

    232:

    paws4thot @ 181: #153 - Disagree. Being a REMF in an "all volunteer service" means actively trying to become and stay rear echelon.

    No, it just means you're doing your job where you are assigned to do it. And the place you have been assigned is not at the point of the spear.

    #163 - Never read the cited interview. Otherwise I'll agree to being Scottish, or British, but regard calling me "English" as an insult. That said, I'll also agree your para 3 with notes:-
    a) Yes, satire, well part satire anyway.
    b) It's subtle, but RAH does say that there is no such thing as "safe rear echelon" in interstellar warfare. EG, Rico's mother's death when the Bugs use asteroids to "bomb" South America (can't recall the cited city off hand).
    c) There are sequences, like the MI raid on the Skinnies' planet, that are pure MilSF, years before the term was invented.

    Buenos Aries. Could have been any city not in the Continental U.S. to indicate the "Federation" is a world-wide society that is not an extension of the U.S. government as it existed when Heinlein was writing the book. Both the Philippines and South America were former Spanish colonial possessions. Same reason the beginning of the Federation happens with the veterans in Aberdeen.

    He does kind of skim over how "western civilization" goes from losing an Asiatic War to becoming a world government.

    Economically (although he gives scant attention to it in the book) his society appears to be very much the U.S. of the 1950s writ large. It's the post war boom years shared by everyone. There's no attention given to how you'd actually achieve such a utopia, it's just a golden age there in the background.

    He's not describing how society works, he's pontificating on the way he thinks people should act in a free and just society.

    233:

    "I don't think the US could stop Britain and France from doing that."

    Indeed, they couldn't. All Woodrow Wilson's idealistic plans for how America would shape the post-war world according to the principles of self-determination and democracy and stuff just like the propaganda had been saying - propaganda which had been in significant part directed at the US in the first place, to try and persuade them to come in on the Entente side (or at least not interfere with the blockade of Germany too much) - basically went pffft as soon as the winners got round the table and Britain and France steamrollered everyone else's intentions out of consideration. The two principal Western participants pretty much got it all their own way (albeit with many disagreements between the two as to what that way should be) and nobody else really got a look-in. (Though in the case of his top idea - the League of Nations - it was mainly the US itself that sabotaged it by Congress refusing to ratify it.)

    In any case the US were themselves ambivalent over the Middle East because they wanted the oil (fretting about domestic reserves running out being a significant US concern of the time). In the end the easiest way for them to get what they wanted was to basically go with the flow and pick up the crumbs from Britain's table. (Also, everyone was a bit confused over what were the most important bits to get because at that time nobody really had much idea how much oil there actually was or where it was all buried; some deposits had advertised their presence by leaking out of the ground naturally, so they were known of, but not known about, and what quantities might be found for the looking in places where there weren't any natural leaks was pretty much down to conjecture.)

    A lot of the reason Britain got away with it was because of the locals being glad that at least they weren't the French.

    The Saudis got their start basically because the British found them a more puppetisable option than any of the other camel herders who would be king...

    It was also Britain who started off the mess in Israel by supporting Zionism as a propaganda exercise to get Jewish opinion on their side in the war, and then finding themselves in a position where they actually did have to try and go through with it. (Which they fucked up, badly.) It didn't become a matter of such major importance to the US until after the next war.

    Second Greg's recommendation of "A Line In The Sand", which deals not only with the actual wartime stuff that set up the initial conditions but also covers in detail the sewage farm that ensued once the war was over and Germany was no longer the overwhelming consumer of attention. Also worth looking at is "The First World Oil War" by TC Winegard, which goes into the oil-related motivations and actions in that area which don't usually get talked about that much.

    234:

    ha, starship troopers, that book does bring back some memories. Twas' in 1974, I had brought two books with me on vacation at the seaside, ST and The three stigmatas of Palmer Eldritch. At the time, one of my main concerns was how to avoid being drafted (In peacetime, little risk of being shot at, but I didn't fancy spending one year being ordered about by the stupidest people on Earth)
    Heinlein's ludicrous militarism and bullshit politics didn't go down well with me, yet the book was somewhat readable and luckily quite short, so I didn't fling it into the sea, though I was tempted to do so at times.
    Philip K Dick's book was great, still one of my favorites.

    235:

    the beginning of the Federation happens with the veterans in Aberdeen.

    Quick check -- can anyone with the source material check for me if the "Aberdeen" mentioned in the book was specifically Scotland or was it left unspecified? I think Maryland in the US has an Aberdeen, home to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, a weapons testing area (including Naval weapons) and I thought this was the Aberdeen referenced in the story for the longest time.

    236:

    Its commonly believed that the US military over-recruits poor and racialized people, but that was not really true circa the 1990s (and one reason many blacks ended up in the military was that they perceived it as a less racist institution than other employers or because it had attractive benefits like free education). This changed in the late 2000s as it became hard not to see what a disaster the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were and recruiters got desperate. The late 2000s were when they were recruiting people without a high-school degree or with criminal convictions.

    My source was probably David R. Segal and Mady Wechsler Segal, "America’s Military Population," Population Bulletin, Vol. 59, No. 4, December 2004 especially table 1 and figure 7 ... what is your source?

    237:

    "My understanding is that eg. French conscription in the middle of the 20th century was just as inequitable"

    French conscription at the beginning of the century basically said that you had to provide a body to the army for two years - but it didn't have to be your body. You could get someone else to do it for you if you wanted; as long as a recruit turned up to correspond with "your" slot at the right time they weren't too bothered if it wasn't you. And IIRC it wasn't too hard to find a substitute for the asking even if you weren't a nob. There were people who took money to do it (some of them even made a profession of it and went round several times), but there were also quite a lot of people who actually wanted to do it and you stood a decent chance of being able to tap one of them up even if you didn't have any money.

    Not a bad idea really, to let the people who would hate it and be shit anyway replace themselves with people who actually liked the idea. The ones who went round several times no doubt cut into the numbers of supposedly militarily pre-trained civilians to be pulled back in in time of war, but I don't think by all that much, and in any case all the European conscription countries who followed that idea fucked it up and fell way short of obtaining the full possible yield, even Germany.

    When they did decide they needed a better yield they tidied up some of the sloppiness and moved to taking people for three years instead of two, but by that time WW1 was nearly upon them and there wasn't time for the changes to have much effect.

    238:

    Bellinghman @ 183: Nitpick

    FDR jr served on a Destroyer convoying from "Iceland to Minsk", supported the Sicilian invasion and ended up as Captain of a Destroyer Escort that earned 5 battle stars for WW2 against Japan;

    Minsk is the capital city of Belarus, a landlocked state. Getting a convoy there would be rather tricky.

    I presume you meant the coastal Russian city of Murmansk.

    That would be my guess if I'd thought about it. "Iceland to Minsk" is a quote from his brother James ...

    Brother James Roosevelt summarized "Brud's" naval service: "Franklin served on a destroyer that dodged torpedoes from Iceland to Minsk [sic!]. He became executive officer of the destroyer USS Mayrant (DD-402), which was bombed at Palermo in the Sicilian invasion. The famed war correspondent Quentin Reynolds went out of his way to write mother how bravely Franklin performed in that bloody ordeal, in which he was awarded the Silver Star Medal for exposing himself under fire to carry a critically wounded sailor to safety."
    239:

    In re Sykes-Picot: anyone know sf about living with the consequences of bad treaties or other arrangements from very long ago?

    Well, the Arabesk trilogy by Jon Courtenay Grimwood -- which I highly recommend -- deals with a Middle East where the outcome of WW1 was rather different and the Ottoman empire still exists into the 21st century: a warped/hard-boiled variant cyberpunk crime trilogy, starting with Pashazade, it didn't sell into the US market for some years because of immediate post-9/11 sore-headedness (sympathetic arab protagonists?!? Impossible!).

    240:

    That makes me wonder what changes there have been in demographics of who read this work and Heinlein in general, because sure, some of his books are aimed at 12, 14 year olds, but most of the rest of his books have been read avidly by what we would now call young adults. How much they have been read by full blown adults in the 20's and 30's I don't know; other issues arise such as I re-read Stranger in a strange land when I was around 30 and it was pretty rubbish, although some of that was cultural changes.

    241:

    And the zillion (mostly very bad) ones about where Britain did not completely balls it up in the 1770s.

    242:

    David L @ 184:

    True, except that the breakdown of the US Army in 1941-45 was 39% volunteers, 61% draftees.

    Not really a valid number for the point you're trying to make.

    My father was drafted. Not because he didn't want to volunteer but because he knew it would happen as soon as he graduated from high school. And it did. The local draft boards back then basically took the high school graduation roles and sent out the notices. When he showed me a class picture from when he graduated in 43 there were about twice as many girls and boys. He said a lot of the boys had dropped out to sign up.

    My father tried to enlist twice and was turned down twice before being drafted. He would have been 20/21 years old by then; graduated from high school in June 1940.

    243:

    On the matter of the American revolution, a book I got a few years ago (I think previously owned by a prof of American history at Stirling uni)called "A mighty Empire" by Marc Egnal, makes it clear how much the revolution was a matter of a lot of people seeing opportunities for expansion and turning their 13 states into a big strong empire.

    244:
    Eisenhower's son John served in the Army during WW2 & Korea, receiving a Bronze Star and earning the CIB & Glider Wings. He served in the Army & Army Reserve from 1944 to 1974.

    In the run up to the 2008 election John Eisenhower wrote an Opinion arguing against children of presidents serving in combat. In effect he was arguing against his own service.

    Among the tidbits: His father made him promise to never be taken alive in the Korean War. The common worry about presidential children is their being taken as a hostage and the effect on that on the president's mental state. The knowledge or even suspicion that your own child killed himself to protect your president, I imagine, would have a similar corrosive effect on presidential mental health. Somehow Eisenhower disagreed.

    245:

    David L @ 187:

    The truth is these are not very bright guys ... follow the money.

    Oh, I think most of them were. They just had a deluded ideology.

    I know way too many people who have very very very high IQs but very warped ideologies. Which puts a crazy spin on most of their actions.

    Having a high IQ doesn't make you smart. I have a high IQ. When I was younger I had a very very very VERY (MENSA level) high IQ. It has diminished quite a bit since then, mainly due to lack of opportunity to exercise it (You lose what you don't use).

    But no, having a high IQ doesn't make you smart.

    246:

    Toby @ 194: This is a quote from the Wikipedia article on Korean war POWs that JBS linked to:

    "The discrimination extended to the children of POWs who were restricted in their careers, barred from membership in the Workers' Party of Korea, college admissions and military service.[14] Mr. Koh Eul Won, a former POW who escaped to South Korea in 2001, testified that "in North Korea, one must complete military service to be treated like a human being. However, our children were rejected by the military solely for the reason of being the children of POWs. Therefore, our children had no choice but to work in the coal mines as we had done." Young-Bok Yoo, who escaped in 2000, also writes about the discrimination and surveillance in his Memoirs."

    This,ironically, illustrates what the system in ST is more likely to be like, than the one Heinlein wrote about. This is why Verhoeven made the satire he did. I would like to point out that Verhoeven is Dutch, and born in 1938, living through the Nazi occupation. He is also highly intelligent, having a double masters in maths and physics. That he managed to make an anti Nazi satire of America, in Hollywood is a massive achievement. Critiquing it on the basis of a lack of power armour, or some such, seems to be missing the point. He needed a recognisable IP to get it made, this may be considered disrespectful to Heinlein, but I would consider it a worthy goal. I would say Verhoeven is a very underrated director, with people often missing what he is saying because of the type of film he makes.

    If Verhoeven wanted to make an anti-Nazi satire about living through the Nazi occupation of Holland in WW2, he should have written his own goddamn book, instead of trashing Heinlein's. He's a despicable person who committed a despicable act.

    247:

    My father tried to enlist twice and was turned down twice before being drafted. He would have been 20/21 years old by then; graduated from high school in June 1940.

    I suspect much of it was due to draft boards being very very local. Your dad might have already had a job. My father didn't.

    Each board had numbers to meet based on local population totals. And so they were made of up of a collection of local "heads of society" who sifted through the list of availables and sent out notices. I'm sure these boards had a few issues with favoritism.

    248:

    Fascinating that people who appreciate the book is satirical while recognising that some take it literally can’t appreciate exactly the same is true for the film… (how anyone can watch Robocop and not recognise Verhoeven is more complex than the stereotype suggests…)

    249:

    Heteromeles @ 208: While you're correct, the bigger point was that Verhoeven's opus was released in 1997. So I'm imagining something that would have been affordable with 1990s technology, which is why I suggest stormtroopers with jet packs, something that can be made in large quantities on both a human scale and as practical miniatures for big fight scenes.

    The original Star Wars film (aka Episode IV: A New Hope) was released in 1977 ... followed by Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983), so required "SPECIAL EFFECTS" technology already existed in 1997 and was well within the producers' budget.

    Not to mention Ray Harryhausen's prior work.

    250:

    The Bushies were told in 2002 that the Iraqi oilfields were already trashed by 10 years of sanctions and that no way would the production goals be realized. The response was to shoot the messengers.

    The "high on their own supply" part was more directed at the other point I mentioned, that the invaders would be welcomed because they deposed a dictator.

    As for realpolitik, yes a coherent plan to seize the oil by proxy and use it as a lever against the Saudis would have made sense, had it been executed competently. I presume that this was what the 98 (I think that was the number) of Senators expected, when they voted to approve the AUMF.

    That was before the steely-eyed masters of realpolitik sent an Evangelical college youth group to administer the occupation, fired the entire Iraqi army with no plan for disarming them or even feeding them afterwards, and in general screwed the pooch. "High on their own supply" is an extremely charitable characterization of all that.

    251:

    'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'

    252:

    I think you're conflating JBS and timrowledge. Also, see my note at 201.

    253:

    Rabidchaos @ 218:

    More seriously, combat engineers could used powered suits better than most infantry.

    Currently the research appears to be more focused on logistics people; exoskeletoned stevedores can load and unload vehicles faster and with less damage to their bodies than either forklifts* or unaugmented people. Plus, limiting their use to ships and established bases means they can plug into an extension cord. Most of the material suggested the immediate focus is on ammunition handling.

    * Forklifts win when everything is already palletized and they can drive into the vehicle.

    That's what we can do now. But what will we be able to do in the future that no one has thought of yet? Why doesn't anyone in Starship Troopers have a smart phone or a tablet computer?

    Why does no one in Star Wars or Alien have a smart phone or a tablet computer? I do remember a scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey where one of the astronauts is eating a meal watching his parents's recorded birthday greetings on some kind of a flat pad display.


    254:

    MENSA level just doesn't require a high IQ (your definitions may vary).

    I am not clear on the idea of the IQ being on a "use it or lose it" basis. It largely seems to be intrinsic. You can forget knowledge but, forgetting how to think seems like a problem you might want to discuss with a physician.

    Of course, IQ tests are based on an assortment of knowledge so, they are testing all kinds of various things at the same time. You will be at a disadvantage if you've forgotten that this question implies 3^2 * 4^2 = 5^2 or didn't take algebra.

    255:

    Heteromeles @ 219: Yes, I agree. In cinema, this is of course the famous exoskeleton in Aliens, and I agree that this makes sense.

    What I was thinking is the Israeli strategy of burrowing through walls between adjacent houses as a form of urban assault, rather than going door to door down the street, when fighting in Palestinian settlements. I don't support this, merely point out that there's potentially a role for powered armor in places where they're already using armored bulldozers and blowing holes through walls.

    Those kind of tactics for fighting room to room & house to house in cities dates from the Second World War. I don't know if it was invented by the Germans, Soviets or the U.S. forces ... probably developed independently by all three.

    You don't need powered armor or bulldozers. C-4 works just fine. Never had to do it in combat, but it was part of my MOS, so I did get to practice it in training.

    256:

    @147 et al: one of the reasons for the crazed, got-to-have-an-enemy attitude of those running the US is, of course, that the ultra-wealthy, since the 1800s, have been TERRIFIED of a revolution that would resemble the French or Russian, and they would not just not be rich and powerful, but in danger of being shot for what they'd been doing.

    Therefore, it's *always* "be terrified of [fill in the blank], you have almost nothing, but if They take over, you'll lose everything."

    I point to everything from the Haymarket Affair to the Red Scare of 1919 in the US, and on, and on.

    Also, the aftermath of WW I included Wilson's stroke, and so a shortage of even his diplomacy, and Harding....

    257:

    Foxessa @ 221: Confusion -- It's been quite some time since I re-read Star Ship Troopers, but ... isn't Johnny Rico Argentinian. I know I'm not the only one who is confused by this -- it's a perennial discussion. I kinda leaned Argentinian due to the history of Germany with Argentina, and then particularly the history of nazis in Argentina during WWII and after.

    Philippines. At one point Johnny mentions his family speaks Tagalog at home.

    I shall commit heresy here: Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will is a brilliant cinematic work, far more so than either Heinlein's novel or Verhoeven's movie. I've seen Riefenstahl's film only once, which was enough. It was a terrifying experience, not least because it was awe-ful, in the old meaning of the word. Olympia was almost as impressive. Both films also were all the more shocking to my system, knowing a woman had made them. Which has left me with a great deal to unpack, which unpacking continues, despite it having been years since I watched them.

    Riefenstahl was celebrating fascism and more particularly the German variant Nazism. Heinlein was NOT. That's the fundamental flaw in Verhoeven's film; the thing he gets wrong that makes his film EVIL. He's hatefully misrepresenting Heinlein's work.

    Never felt that way from Heinlein's novel or the movie.

    The real world experience of a real world tyranny always diminishes a fantasy recreation. Which was one of the most effective themes of Díaz's The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, in which Sauron looks a piker compared with Trujillo. Then I learned it in real life 2016-2020 -- and that was nothing close -- yet -- to Trujillo or the nazis. We can always get there though, I suppose.

    Heinlein wrote Utopian Science Fiction. Many of the ideals he espoused would fall apart confronted with real world evil. In the real world, most people don't equate rights with responsibilities. They're shiftless, irresponsible and selfish. That's what Heinlein was writing against.


    258:

    Hell, yes. But the Saudis are "Our Friends", and the Bush family is alllll about oil, and so was Cheney, who wanted to invade Iraq all along (see "Project for a New American Century").

    259:

    Well, of course some did dodge the draft that way. I'm not saying all or nothing.

    I'm also a little older: I became eligible years before the lottery, so Alice's Restaurant was the way to go (though my father told me they'd be happy to help me get to Canada).

    Years later, I burned my draft card when the draft expired. Then came the lottery. 347, here.

    260:

    The death penalty: in the 1860s, I think it was the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court did a study... and of 60 or so people convicted to be hung, the death penalty had not deterred them from their crime,

    261:

    Sykes-Picot was a French and Brit treaty made prior to the end time of WWI, designed for them to pick off the oil rich lands of the Middle East that were under control of the Turks. So it was part of the secret deal for France and Britain to divide up what was left of the Ottoman hegemony. The US had nothing to do with that.

    Moreover, by the time it was presented as a fait d'accompli at the Conference, Wilson was down with the Influenza. It was expected he would die. He didn't die, but his recovery was very slow, and he was never the same. We're speaking of his brain power.

    At that time WWI began Wilson was a total peacenik/isolationist, reflecting the tone of the US electorate, with exceptions such as Theodore Roosevelt. Wilson got re-elected on "He Kept Us Out Of War!"

    With the sinking of the Lusitania he changed horses and the federal government rolled out a propaganda machine like nothing ever seen before or even imagined to change people's minds, and began the stupendous draft, while allowing out in the open the Feds to start lending money to the Allies, and supply them with everything they needed. Before that, lending anything to the Allies by US banks, and providing supplies from US manufactures was strictly forbidden by the Fed. After the first year, I think, the Fed sub rosa allowed the banking House of Morgan to lend through the Bank of Britain and their own British Morgan banking and financial institutions there. House of Morgan made stupendous more fortunes out of entire war effort. They were already stupendously rich and had been for a century, were established both here and in UK, and even Europe, and were opening into the Far East.

    More importantly this meant AFTER the War, the US became the global money power - lender of resort. It ruled global credit and capitalization. Before WWI, Europe, and particularly Britain were the credit powers, with the credit balance flowing toward England, not the US. After the War that was over, to everyone's surprise, even including Jack Morgan's.

    ~~~~~~

    The Plebs of Rome weren't able to vote. So they couldn't vote for their bread and circuses.


    262:

    Yep. The paradigm, esp. in the US, has been about money, and the ultra-wealthy protecting their plantations (factories, etc). The whole idea of any other reason for conflict elsewhere in the world is beyond them. Religion? That's for Sundays, and no one Important pays attention the rest of the week. Nationalism? That's what we feed the suckers.

    Etc.

    263:

    Troutwaxer @ 226: Juan Rico's family were Filipinos who lived in Argentina. They spoke Tagalog at home. These were some of the little details of the story in which, I think, Heinlein was pointing out that without borders and prejudice people would move around frequently - as they have historically.

    That would explain something I have never quite understood. I knew they were Filipinos, but I thought they lived in the Philippines. I've always wondered a bit about why his mother would be visiting relatives in Buenos Aires.

    But if they were Filipinos living in Argentina Buenos Aires makes more sense to me.

    I don't spend much time thinking about Starship Troopers. Only when I encounter blog posts about it, or when "Libertarians" start quoting it to justify Neo-fascist beliefs

    264:

    JBS @ 254: "Why does no one in Star Wars or Alien have a smart phone or a tablet computer? I do remember a scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey where one of the astronauts is eating a meal watching his parents's recorded birthday greetings on some kind of a flat pad display."

    Astronaut Frank Poole was suntanning himself when he watched his parent's distance-delayed birthday message on a wall screen.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpzCGZnpXkE

    Poole was eating when he watched BBC 12's previoius interview of the crew on a thin flat pad display.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDha7nj4s10

    Kubrick got things right in his movie because he was a rare film director who actually read books in addition to having co-wrote the 2001 script with Arthur C. Clarke.

    Hollywood film directors and producers don't read books. They just watch movies or TV. You can't possibly expect any of them to direct or produce anything interesting about the future. They have a near zero amount of scientific culture in their tiny brains.

    That's why I wasn't surprised by the film version of Starship Troopers.


    265:

    stirner @ 235: ha, starship troopers, that book does bring back some memories. Twas' in 1974, I had brought two books with me on vacation at the seaside, ST and The three stigmatas of Palmer Eldritch. At the time, one of my main concerns was how to avoid being drafted (In peacetime, little risk of being shot at, but I didn't fancy spending one year being ordered about by the stupidest people on Earth)
    Heinlein's ludicrous militarism and bullshit politics didn't go down well with me, yet the book was somewhat readable and luckily quite short, so I didn't fling it into the sea, though I was tempted to do so at times.
    Philip K Dick's book was great, still one of my favorites.

    Who was going to draft you? In 1974 it couldn't have been the U.S. because the switch to an "All Volunteer Force" here went into effect 1 July 1973.

    266:

    Nojay @ 236:

    the beginning of the Federation happens with the veterans in Aberdeen.

    Quick check -- can anyone with the source material check for me if the "Aberdeen" mentioned in the book was specifically Scotland or was it left unspecified? I think Maryland in the US has an Aberdeen, home to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, a weapons testing area (including Naval weapons) and I thought this was the Aberdeen referenced in the story for the longest time.

    It says "Aberdeen, Scotland" in the book. [p.229, May 2010 Ace Premium Edition]

    On the next page it says "Probably those Scottish veterans, ..."

    Aberdeen, Maryland was named after Aberdeen, Scotland by Scots immigrants.

    267:

    Those kind of tactics for fighting room to room & house to house in cities dates from the Second World War. I don't know if it was invented by the Germans, Soviets or the U.S. forces ... probably developed independently by all three.

    You don't need powered armor or bulldozers. C-4 works just fine. Never had to do it in combat, but it was part of my MOS, so I did get to practice it in training.

    I think you missed the turn. In Palestinian territories where the buildings are wall to wall, the Israelis are blasting through the walls, so that they can't be sniped upon. Yes, they use C-4, but that gets wasteful.

    As for the rest, allow me to introduce you to an Israeli Teddy Bear. Yes, they do in fact use these things as anti-insurgency systems.

    268:

    "The US had nothing to do with [Sykes-Picot]"

    This is true. But they did get their first chunk of potentially-oily Middle East through being willing to play ball with the British in the post-war implementation phase.

    "With the sinking of the Lusitania he changed horses"

    s/sinking of the Lusitania/Zimmerman telegram/

    269:

    Pixodaros @ 237: Its commonly believed that the US military over-recruits poor and racialized people, but that was not really true circa the 1990s (and one reason many blacks ended up in the military was that they perceived it as a less racist institution than other employers or because it had attractive benefits like free education). This changed in the late 2000s as it became hard not to see what a disaster the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were and recruiters got desperate. The late 2000s were when they were recruiting people without a high-school degree or with criminal convictions.

    My source was probably David R. Segal and Mady Wechsler Segal, "America’s Military Population," Population Bulletin, Vol. 59, No. 4, December 2004 especially table 1 and figure 7 ... what is your source?

    Experience. Being there. Thirty-two years in the U.S. Army & Army National Guard ...

    one of those recruits who joined up to escape a severe recession because of the lack of other options; they offered three hots & a cot and skills training that I might be able to apply to civilian employment1, along with a paycheck to help me support my "family".

    "I finally found a home in the Army."

    The guy who got drafted into the Marines in 1970 was a friend from high school.

    1 Which sort of did happen, just not the way I expected it too.


    270:

    David L @ 248:

    My father tried to enlist twice and was turned down twice before being drafted. He would have been 20/21 years old by then; graduated from high school in June 1940.

    I suspect much of it was due to draft boards being very very local. Your dad might have already had a job. My father didn't.

    Each board had numbers to meet based on local population totals. And so they were made of up of a collection of local "heads of society" who sifted through the list of availables and sent out notices. I'm sure these boards had a few issues with favoritism.

    I know all about the local nature of draft boards & how they fill their quotas. See my comment at 160: regarding my own dealings with the local Durham, NC draft board in 1970.

    He had a job as a clerk at a local Menswear store in Durham, NC. Hardly critical to the defense of the U.S. or to the war industries. In the summer he was a lifeguard at a YMCA camp out at Reedy Creek Park (what is now the western side of Umstead State Park - the entrance off of I-40).

    I think they just weren't ready for the in-rush of volunteers. The draft gave them a mechanism to find the correct round pegs to stick in the square holes in a more or less orderly fashion.

    271:

    Thinking about reasonable mechanized combat armor for mobile infantry, I've got a modest proposal:

    Codename ECHIDNA.

    It's a suit that does what infantry is supposed to be really good at: digging in. Using it, a warfighter can dig a foxhole in under a minute in anything less than reinforced concrete.

    Of course! The Echidna troopers are the obvious users for a Cultivator Number Six entrenching tool, which was considered impractical in WWII.

    Presumably the future version will be atomic powered and able to turn.

    272:

    Johnny99.2 @ 249: Fascinating that people who appreciate the book is satirical while recognising that some take it literally can’t appreciate exactly the same is true for the film… (how anyone can watch Robocop and not recognise Verhoeven is more complex than the stereotype suggests…)

    I don't "appreciate the book is saterical". I believe Heinlein meant every word he put in his protagonists mouth straight from the heart. The values he expounds are the values I learned as a child in church and scouting and in school - honesty, fair play, service to community; there are no rights without responsibilities. The problem with the U.S. today is not those values, but that we don't live up to those values.

    When people say Starship Troopers is fascist, they're saying that I am a fascist. That makes me angry.

    I've never watched Robocop. The only other film by Verhoeven I've seen was Total Recall, which I thought was Ok, better than Conan the Barbarian but not as good as The Terminator.

    Verehoeven's Starship Troopers is not only a bad film, it's a viciously hateful film.

    273:

    zephvark @ 255: "MENSA level just doesn't require a high IQ (your definitions may vary).

    When I was younger, in those days when I was easily impressed with how overwhelmingly intelligent I was, MENSA was held up as the exemplary ne plus ultra for high IQs.

    I am not clear on the idea of the IQ being on a "use it or lose it" basis. It largely seems to be intrinsic. You can forget knowledge but, forgetting how to think seems like a problem you might want to discuss with a physician.

    I'm not that clear on it either. I haven't forgotten how to think, but some of the tools I once had aren't in as great shape as they once were; sat in the drawer too long and got all rusty. Anyway, I know I'm not as smart as I used to be even if there's no noticeable cognitive decline.

    Of course, IQ tests are based on an assortment of knowledge so, they are testing all kinds of various things at the same time. You will be at a disadvantage if you've forgotten that this question implies 3^2 * 4^2 = 5^2 or didn't take algebra.

    I thought that was trig, at least the beginning of it? Or maybe it was geometry.

    274:

    The values he expounds are the values I learned as a child ... honesty, fair play, service to community; there are no rights without responsibilities.

    The glory of empire, the necessity of war, the utility of crushing your enemies, the essential superiority of your sort and the corresponding inferiority of others, the unknowability of those others and thus not just their irrelevance, but their unpredictability. "after we defeat them they will become willing allies". Really?

    Albeit Heinlein is unusual today in supporting very high levels of tax* and the execution of tax evaders. Which in turn supported a generous welfare state, at least for citizens (the underclass took what they were given and liked it... or else).

    * remember that in the 1950's even the USA had 50%+ income tax rates and a much broader tax base than any country has today... although apparently that tide may be turning with the moves towards a "universal" corporate tax rate. We can but hope for the same being applied to incomes.

    275:

    If he went wrong it was in assuming that everyone would notice the parody. To be fair, one of the humans wears an actual Nazi uniform so it's not like he didn't try and make it obvious.

    Verhoeven has a strange knack for failing to get his point across. "Showgirls" was supposed to be an expose of how tawdry is the world of Las Vegas entertainment, but pretty much everyone took it to be high-budget porn. "Robocop" was supposed to be a warning of corporations becoming law in themselves, instead it was seen as a straight-up action movie. And "Starship Troopers" was supposed to be a parody of fascism, and it's not like Verhoeven was subtle about it (Neil Harris' uniform?), yet people hate it because it "butchered Heinlein". Or worse, love it because fascist imagery appeals to them.

    276:

    whitroth @ 260: Well, of course some did dodge the draft that way. I'm not saying all or nothing.

    I'm also a little older: I became eligible years before the lottery, so Alice's Restaurant was the way to go (though my father told me they'd be happy to help me get to Canada).

    I think we are close to the same age. I was eligible for the draft for two years before the lottery came about. But the way the draft boards worked was a little different before & after the lottery was instituted. Before the lottery, draft boards counted voluntary enlistees (including Navy & Air Force) against their quotas. My local board was in a town without extensive economic resources for young men, so they had a lot of volunteers they could count against their quota.

    But the rules changed with the lottery and the quotas had to be filled with all draftees. That's why even with a high number I almost got drafted.

    Years later, I burned my draft card when the draft expired. Then came the lottery. 347, here.

    I still have my draft card around here somewhere. I was still carrying it in my wallet when I went to Iraq in 2004. About the time I retired from the National Guard I decided to stop carrying it because it was getting seriously shopworn and I wanted to preserve it for future generations to admire.

    PS: You do know that by revealing your lottery number, you've also revealed when your birthday is.

    277:

    On the other hand, the Soviets didn't have to let their military services become hell-pits.

    I grew up in the Soviet Union, and my understanding is that infamous dedovshchina was (still is) somewhat of an accident. Before WWII Soviet army had its share of abuses, but at least it went with the rank -- no privates abusing other privates just because they had been in for a year longer. This changed after 1945 as survivors felt they were entitled to special treatment compared to the newbies who never fought, and dumped their boot polishing and other chores onto these newbies. Which of course the newbies enthusiastically dumped onto the next year's conscripts. And ad infinitum.

    But this was still just "doing ded's chores", not active torture. Things got really bad in 1968 or 1969 (I forgot the exact year) when Soviet Politburo suddenly reduced the conscription from 3 years to 2 years in the army, and from 4 years to 3 in the navy. But they did not reduce it retroactively -- everyone already in the military had to complete their 3 or 4 year term. This made current conscripts to actively hate the upcoming ones, with predictable results. And they have been passing the baton ever since.

    Of course the fact that officers and their civilian bosses do not care what one conscript does to another, makes the whole thing possible.

    278:

    Remember the horrifyingly bad pun (or dad joke) at the end of Star Beast? And how Heinlein in 1954(!) smuggled a John Thomas into a book published by Scribners' kidlit imprint?

    I never read "Star Beast". What is the pun, and what is a "John Thomas"? (Google is not helpful with this one.)

    279:

    "John Thomas" is somewhat outdated slang for "penis". The princess kidnapped by aliens (aka Lummox) had been raising John Thomases (she was on her sixth or seventh generation of John Thomas by the time of the story) as a hobby.

    280:

    The kindest thing I could say about the New American Century is that they were a group which believed that the Sykes-Picot worms could put back in the can - something like a century later - and anything else I'd have to say about them would be considerably less-kind.

    281:

    I mean, you'd think the guy who did Robocop could do powered armor. No?

    I had read that production companies considered the power armor, and decided they had no budget for it. No idea whether Verhoeven argued against it or not.

    282:

    Robocop was full of crude satire and had a fun twist at the end. It also starred His Holiness Peter Weller.

    283:

    For further information, see the tale of John Thomas Allcock: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8e6O1JO_Z-w

    284:

    ""Robocop" was supposed to be a warning of corporations becoming law in themselves, instead it was seen as a straight-up action movie. And "Starship Troopers" was supposed to be a parody of fascism, and it's not like Verhoeven was subtle about it"

    Maybe he should have been subtle? As I said earlier I've not seen ST, but I have seen Robocop, and the warning message is so much less subtle than a brick that the critical faculties shut down in self-defence and just leave you to watch the action. I'm not sure if I've even heard of Showgirls, but I now know exactly what kind of thing it probably is and am similarly unsurprised at its failure to convey the supposed message.

    285:

    Robocop, and the warning message is so much less subtle than a brick that the critical faculties shut down in self-defence

    I dunno, I thought it was a bit over the top at the time. Funny over the top, but still the bluntness of "this corporation likes killing people" was right up there in lights. A big dose of "we want to be the corporate boot stamping on the human face forever", or in USA language "this machine kills peasants".

    Interesting that Orwell turned out to be wrong about the humour inherent in the goose-step, it's still used completely unironically by fascists. Luckily people have stopped laughing.

    286:

    I'm not sure if I've even heard of Showgirls, but I now know exactly what kind of thing it probably is and am similarly unsurprised at its failure to convey the supposed message.

    I've not actually seen it myself but was unaware it was supposed to have a 'message.' As I heard it, the basic concept should have been solid if cynical: Make an engaging 'chick flick' with relatable female characters dealing with emotionally evocative issues - but make them dancers, on the theory that men will happily watch beautiful women prancing around half naked. Yet somehow what was made managed to interest neither demographic.

    287:

    Verhoeven has a strange knack for failing to get his point across. "Showgirls" was supposed to be an expose of how tawdry is the world of Las Vegas entertainment, but pretty much everyone took it to be high-budget porn. "Robocop" was supposed to be a warning of corporations becoming law in themselves, instead it was seen as a straight-up action movie. And "Starship Troopers" was supposed to be a parody of fascism, and it's not like Verhoeven was subtle about it (Neil Harris' uniform?), yet people hate it because it "butchered Heinlein". Or worse, love it because fascist imagery appeals to them.

    Ah, America, where someone can write Barbarians at the Gate as a Wall Street expose, and people on Wall Street take it as an instruction book, not a warning...

    John Belushi did more with "I hate Illinois Nazis" than Verhoeven did with that entire movie, so far as I can tell. Probably not an accident, either.

    288:

    Yeah, that's what I meant - it's too blunt and over the top, so you have no choice but to look past it to see the movie instead of seeing it and the rest of the movie as integral. Kind of like how you can look at gentle snowfall and enjoy the scene of fluffy white dots swirling against stark bare trees, but when it's pelting a blizzard you have to put goggles on and keep scraping it off them just to see where you are.

    The goose step just baffles me. Used by fascists and also used by non-fascists because they were using it first, but both lots are quite unbelievably oblivious to what a bunch of fucking clowns it makes them look. Don't they know any Monty Python?

    I quite like the idea of countering a demonstration by a bunch of goose-stepping fascists by having a bunch of anti-fascists doing a mass performance of the Silly Walk and taking the piss. People are more likely to feel fellowship with the side they are laughing with than the side they are laughing at, and it would help the uncommitted masses to direct their resentment at having a demonstration screw up their day specifically at the instigators of it, rather than simply impartially wishing both sides would just fuck off.

    289:

    the Israeli strategy of burrowing through walls between adjacent houses as a form of urban assault, rather than going door to door down the street

    The Canadian army did that in WWII, according to an exhibit at the Canadian War Museum. I suspect other armies did as well, but don't know for certain.

    290:

    It'll be a long time before people are comfortable letting computers control weapons with a more complicated decision than missile incoming -> fire.

    That ship may well have sailed…

    “The lethal autonomous weapons systems were programmed to attack targets without requiring data connectivity between the operator and the munition: in effect, a true ‘fire, forget and find’ capability,” the experts wrote in the report.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/drone-fully-automated-military-kill-b1856815.html

    Here's the original report. Search for "autonomous" to find the reference.

    https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N21/037/72/PDF/N2103772.pdf?OpenElement

    291:

    So it was part of the secret deal for France and Britain to divide up what was left of the Ottoman hegemony. The US had nothing to do with that.

    Yes. Sort of.

    Wilson was one of those "smartest guy in the room" types who believe he and a few like him could re-draw the worlds maps to solve many of the problems leading up to WWI. And he was inflicted by that "white man's burden" so the locals couldn't be trusted to deal with such issues on their own and needed Wilson and others to fix things for them.

    So while the US didn't exactly deal directly with the middle eastern UK/France deal they/we were totally on board with the concept of the big dogs re-mapping the world.

    There's an interesting history of Ho Chi Minh trying to get Viet Nam as a country out of the treaties at the end of WWI. And being ignored. And ...

    292:

    I think they just weren't ready for the in-rush of volunteers.

    I'll agree with that. It takes a while to order up millions uniforms, underwear, shoes, rifles, bullets, trucks, jeeps, etc... for a few million men. Then a few million more. Then ...

    And toothpaste, razors, combs, kitchens, plates, etc... And if some here say, those were already in the economy, not in the US in 1941. While the Navy build up starting a few years earlier was slowly ending the depression, the results, such as they were, were not very evenly distributed.

    293:

    but make them dancers, on the theory that men will happily watch beautiful women prancing around half naked.

    Ah, drop the half.

    That movie was so bad it was funny. I mean really really really bad.

    294:

    Sorry, realised what you meant after I hit submit :)

    Am also reminded of the Gordon Gecko movie that was trying to satirise yuppies but an awful lot of them thought "it's a great movie, we should all be like that". Satire is hard, and can easily miss one way or the other. Worse, it can miss both ways with different audiences.

    Given the current rush to develop autonomous killing machines (that are deliberately designed for mechanical killing, rather than the various data centres that just run software designed to drive people to suicide)... I wonder if Robocop will be seen as having got the form wrong but the rest basically a documentary. Change the death corp name from Trout-on to Halibut-on and away you go...

    295:

    whitroth @ 130: Modern "[Ll]ibertarians"* are all about MAH RIGHTS, and there are zero duties or responsibilities involved, and apparently all of them were born like Venus, fully-formed, with no debts to their parents or society.

    Funny you should say that. See the discussions between me and Heteromeles in the previous post starting at 341, and especially Heteromeles @ 795.

    Actually all this, plus reading "Debt: The First 5,000 Years" has reminded me of another Heinlein book "Citizen of the Galaxy" published in 1957. Heinlein seems to have swallowed an anthropology text book or two, and a chunk of the book is author exposition explaining how his societies work.

    Briefly, slave-boy Thorby is bought for a knock-down price by Baslim the Cripple, who raises him as an adopted son. Thorby gradually realises that Baslim is actually a spy digging up dirt on the slave trade. After Baslim's death Thorby is adopted by a clan of "Free Traders"; an extended family who ply the spaceways in search of profit.

    Some of the big themes in the book are trade, debt, freedom and status. This is explained by anthropologist Dr Margaret Mader (a thinly disguised version of Margaret Meade) who is doing field work studying the Free Traders. She explains how each ship (i.e. extended family) in the Free Trader society is a patrilocal matriarchy; wives join their husband's family, but the family is actually run by the senior female. The notional head of the family is the Captain (everyone has both ships rank and family relationships). His wife or mother is Chief Officer, and she runs the family side and hence makes all the big strategic decisions.

    Ships trade daughters to avoid inbreeding; when two Free Traders are in the same port their Chief Officers may agree to trade two eligible young women. The young women are given no choice in this. According to Mader, the girls have to be dragged off their home ship, but by the time they arrive at their new home they have dried their tears and are already looking for young men to flirt with. "If a girl catches the right man and pushes him, some day she could be sovereign of an independent state. Until then she is nobody". Mader also comments that if it weren't for the matriarchy this would be slavery, but as it is its the girl's big chance.

    (Turns out you can read Mader's exposition here starting around page 112.)

    Thorby was adopted from outside the Free Trader families because of a debt of honour owed by the Free Traders to Baslim (who it turns out rescued an entire shipload of them from slavery). Mader comments that Baslim had bought Thorby as a slave and made him free, but now the Free Traders have inadvertently made him a slave because he has no choice in his fate; he is under orders from the senior officers who make up his new family, and "Grandmother" is already lining up a wife to ensure it stays permanent.

    There is a lot more to the book, and I recommend it. It was the first Heinlein I ever read, and still one of my favourites.

    (On race: at one point Baslim is meditating on what to do with the growing Thorby after he is dead, and refers to Thorby as "green". Not being familiar with American idiom at that age, I thought that was his skin colour.)

    [[ link fixed - mod ]]

    296:

    #254 - Why does no one in Alien have a smart phone or a tablet computer?
    Well, I'd say because they're a small spaceship crew in a sub-light universe, so don't really have anyone to phone to. Let's also remember that Mother has voice recognition, which seems to reduce the utility of "smart" phone features, and of tablets.

    #256 - Maybe not so much? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plastic_explosive tl;dr version. Gelignite was invented in 1875, then not much development happened until Nobel 808, then C1 in the 1940s.

    #274 - It's Pythagorean theorum, which is Eucleudian geometry.

    Showgirls - Never seen it, but I do remember "film critics" debating whether it was "satire" or "high grade p0rn", and not watching it as a result.

    297:

    Juan Rico's family were Filipino - the use of Tagolog, of course - but I recall no real information in the book as to where little Johnny grew up. (Could have been KC, maybe he and LL were neighbours??? :-) )

    His Mother was visiting Beunos Aires (to visit an Aunt?) when it was nuked.

    298:

    Pigeon & foxesaa
    Indeed - the RMS Lusitania sinking dampened Imperial German efforts, but it was the Zimmerman incident that did it - completely.

    299:

    The Last Laugh is a documentary about holocaust humor (that is, humor by Jews, not anti-Semitic humor), and one of the points is that the only humor Nazis haven't appropriated is from The Producers. That's the one where the mockery is just too intense.

    Perhaps what's needed to deal with the goose step is someone with enough skill at physical comedy that no one can see goose-stepping without thinking of the parody.

    301:

    I think this sort of cuts to the main fact that would have been obvious to Verhoeven but isn't to many here, and that is that Heinlein is niche, and outside a certain audience he is really (like really) obscure. So there's a huge extent to which the comparisons some make with LOTR are just nonsense: LOTR has and (even before the movies) long had a huge readership throughout the world, certainly the English-speaking part and also through translation. This just isn't the case for Heinlein. Being Australian, which is to say pretty avidly consuming a huge amount of US cultural output for most of my life, I pretty much hadn't heard of him at all till poking around SF groups in usenet days, and I was late to usenet.

    It definitely isn't at the level of "getting it" either. I'm not much younger than you are (early 50s here) and rural background, the things that the folks who stayed on the farms and in the small towns think that "everyone knows" are the selfsame things that make any articulation with them challenging. And hey Australia's fringe right-wing party has launched its federal campaign in my grandfather's town at least once, so it cuts close to home when you even joke about there being some sort of respectable traditional wisdom in that kind of thing. And I guess that's the same reason I refer to the 50s as a midden, up above, for that matter. And maybe that's the metaphor: there's good stuff in there, but you have to go through a lot of unpleasant stuff to find it; as for the era so for the individual authors, maybe individual works. I know every Bildungsroman will get a loyal fanbase of people who grew up with it as they passed through the same life stages depicted in the novel. But seriously, it's awful enough when it's Harry Potter...

    302:

    Perhaps what's needed to deal with the goose step is someone with enough skill at physical comedy that no one can see goose-stepping without thinking of the parody.

    That would be this then.

    John Cleese is of course the civil servant in the Monty Python Ministry of Silly Walks sketch. Nobody before or since has done a silly walk like him.

    303:

    Damian @303:

    I think this sort of cuts to the main fact that would have been obvious to Verhoeven but isn't to many here, and that is that Heinlein is niche, and outside a certain audience he is really (like really) obscure.

    Well, having grown up in Oz, in Melb'n, and about to hit the big 6-0 in a few weeks, Heinlein was quite well-known here by the time that obscenity of a movie came out, and a large number of my friends and acquaintances who were not SFF readers made the point that, "Hey, someone has made a movie by one of your people!".

    Now, growing up in Upper Kumbucka West may have limited your options at the library, but even my cousin-by-marriage who owns most of the Mallee, and doesn't read for pleasure, (being a boarder at Geelong Grammar had some negative effects on him), pointed it out to me.

    So no, saying RAH was unknown outside the SFF ghetto really ignores the reach that his stuff had. (Many, many mundanes in the 60s and 70s knew what "grok" meant.)

    304:

    of 60 or so people convicted to be hung, the death penalty had not deterred them from their crime

    The UK's Home Office did a similar study somewhat earlier; back when the death penalty was applied to pickpockets, a survey of pickpockets about to be hanged proved that not only had they all seen pickpockets being hanged before they were caught, many of them had plied their trade among the crowds gathered for the public executions of pickpockets.

    Shorter: actually witnessing someone being executed for crime (X) does not deter some people from committing crime (X) at the very same time. (Oh, and crime (X) is not a crime of passion.)

    More recently: the UK stopped executing people in 1965. Of post-mortem capital cases referred for examination, roughly 10% of the condemned were believed to be innocent on the basis of modern forensic evidence (DNA matching wasn't a thing back then).

    305:

    This thread seems split between people saying Verhoeven is misunderstood, and people misunderstanding Verhoeven, which is funny. I also think ST, springs from Heinleins misunderstanding of how things work or perhaps it is supposed, as JBS says, to be utopian. That, though, seems a very strange description of ST.
    Damian mentions Harry Potter. In Heinlein's work he trys to some extent to examine prejudices, his own and others. HP though, I got the impression, was full of unexamined prejudice. I think JKR, is now making that clear. I have not read the books, admittedly, but it seemed immediately clear they were regressive. The old fashioned styling, the names, the private school and most obviously the special group who refer to outsiders by a word (muggles) that has clear parallels to racial slurs and suchlike. Is this a valid interpretation?

    306:

    No, if The Ministry of Silly Walks hasn't made the goose step something people are unwilling to do in public, then it wasn't funny enough.

    307:

    people misunderstanding Verhoeven

    Well, if we're going to allow Heinlein to explain what he really meant by his novel, we should probably allow Verhoeven the same courtesy.

    Robert Heinlein’s original 1959 science-fiction novel was militaristic, if not fascistic. So I decided to make a movie about fascists who aren’t aware of their fascism. Robocop was just urban politics – this was about American politics. As a European it seemed to me that certain aspects of US society could become fascistic: the refusal to limit the amount of arms; the number of executions in Texas when George W Bush was governor.

    https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2018/jan/22/how-we-made-starship-troopers-paul-verhoeven-nazis-leni-riefenstahl

    Verhoeven added that Heinlein’s philosophy was fascistic; for the director, as well as screenwriter Ed Neumeier, their film was having an open fight with the novel. The idea behind “Troopers,” according to Verhoeven, was to create a story that “seduced the audience” on one level, but then make it clear to the audience what they were admiring was actually evil.

    “Our philosophy was really different [from Heinlein’s book],we wanted to do a double story, a really wonderful adventure story about these young boys and girls fighting, but we also wanted to show that these people are really, in their heart, without knowing it, are on their way to fascism,” Verhoeven said.

    The film was widely rejected in 1997. At the time, critics didn’t see the double narrative and panned the film for advocating the very the neo-Nazi tendencies Verhoeven and Neumeier were actively trying to skewer. Watching the film today, 19 years removed, it is hard to understand how people missed Verhoeven’s obvious satiric perspective, with its heightened artifice, campy performances, propaganda newsreels and clear references to Nazi flags and uniforms.

    https://www.indiewire.com/2016/11/paul-verhoeven-slams-starship-troopers-remake-fascist-update-perfect-trump-presidency-1201747155/

    308:

    >"Robocop" was supposed to be a warning of corporations becoming law in themselves, instead it was seen as a straight-up action movie.

    The straight-up action carries a much stronger and more bluntly-delivered message. While the drama parts are gesturing in the direction of "this story is about doing the right thing in spite of a corporation that literally owns your body", the action parts are saying "What society needs is to give the police the power to inflict iron-fisted justice on these drugged-up maniacs." And it's not at all subtle - the criminal antagonists are all crazy Mad Max criminals who blow stuff up for the fun of it. In the fight in the drug lab there's a shot of Robocop literally crushing cocaine vials under his armored boots. There's also the whole Jesus parallel where he dies, gets resurrected, and "walks on water" in the final sequence. It's a straight power fantasy - "Imagine if we had like, a perfect, totally uncorruptible cop, and just turned him loose to shoot all the bad guys. That would be pretty awesome, right?"

    And like, maybe that seemed like a reasonable stance to take in the 80s when crime rates were higher - I wasn't alive then - but nowadays it comes across as "Yay police violence!" with "Boo corporate corruption" in second place.

    309:
    And like, maybe that seemed like a reasonable stance to take in the 80s when crime rates were higher - I wasn't alive then - but nowadays it comes across as "Yay police violence!" with "Boo corporate corruption" in second place.

    No, conflating police with military (and police work with war), and therefore believing that killing the bad guys would be an appropriate answer to criminality was never a reasonable stance.

    310:

    I'm amused that anyone thinks Verhoeven could've made power armour work in 1997 if the man himself thinks he couldn't have done it. Say what you will about the director, Robocop is testament to the fact that he knew his VFX. This video demonstrates just how much work was involved in putting together power-armour VFX in 1987 (which hold up pretty well today) just for one character, and even 10 years later those efforts couldn't have been scaled to convincingly portray a whole battalion of mechanically-enhanced soldiers.

    I'm also surprised anyone thinks the film wasn't timely, in the context of the resurgent white power movement and on the eve of the GWOT (and the corresponding explosion in recruitment efforts). Completely understand why anyone would be upset by an unfaithful adaptation, even though I'm not sure you could have done one in the post-Vietnam climate, and it's fair to say Verhoeven should have just come up with his own property. And by no stretch of the imagination is it a good movie. But it's hard to fault a film that made a trojan-horse effort to undermine pro-military wankfest jingoism (whose subscribers it would have appealed to, regardless of what Heinlein was trying to get across).

    311:

    "Ah, America, where someone can write Barbarians at the Gate as a Wall Street expose, and people on Wall Street take it as an instruction book, not a warning..."


    Out host is fond of saying that irony died with the election of trump and Brexit, my personal opinion as a European is that it died earlier with the post WWII rise of USA.

    To keep with the original theme of post, I must note that Heinlein was also very convinced that the American public was especially vulnerable to con artists.


    312:

    {threadjack} Look, I know but I seriously need some help here. My mother suffers from wet macular degeneration (the incurable sort), and we are playing around with spectacles and magnifiers to help her read.

    Now I have just brought to mind that James White (Sector General series) also had an eye complaint that meant that he used spectacles and a magnifier to read. I am looking for informed information on what his complaint was, and on what sort of magnifier he used. TIA to anyone who has useful information.

    313:

    I've heard Michael Lewis talk about how he intended Liar's Poker as an expose' of Wall Street and was surprised people were taking it as advice.

    314:

    Charlie
    13/08/1964 is the date given by wiki - the legislation was a year later, but the "authorities" were against it, & the public wasn't ...

    Rbt Prior
    but then make it clear to the audience what they were admiring was actually evil.
    The Third Wave was exactly that.
    I first heard of it in "The Next Whole Earth Catalog" - truly scary, showing how easily people are seduced.

    MSB
    But - & this seems to be at the root of many US problems - that attitude seems to be the norm in the US.
    The contrast with here is stark

    315:

    Several people in my family suffer(ed) from wet macular degeneration. My mom (diagnosed years ago) swears by AREDS 2 vitamins and regularly eating kale and other leafy greens. Her vision isn't deteriorating as fast as others have and some years it hasn't deteriorated at all. For what it's worth.

    316:

    James White (Sector General series) also had an eye complaint that meant that he used spectacles and a magnifier to read.

    James suffered from diabetes rather than macular degeneration per se. He explained it to us once at a convention -- the lenses in his spectacles were enough for his eyesight to reach to the magnifying glass he used to read text. This made him a second-stage lensman, he said.

    A gentle man and a gentleman, muchly missed.

    317:

    Out host is fond of saying that irony died with the election of trump and Brexit, my personal opinion as a European is that it died earlier with the post WWII rise of USA.

    Worth rereading Linebarger's Psychological Warfare, his post WW2 writeup of what he did as a propaganda officer in WW2.

    The problem with valuing irony and cynicism is, per the psyops officer, it makes you easier to manipulate with propaganda, not less. When people don't know who or what to believe intellectually, they tend to revert to feelings, which are more easily manipulated.

    I'd say that irony and cynicism have their US home now in the Republican Party and those to the right of them. Not that democrats are earnest do-gooders with no sense of humor (well, I am, as you've all notice. But I'm weird). But what makes (some?) Republicans so hard to work with is that they assume you're lying and that you're trying to con them, even when you're trying to help them reach their own goals. After enough of this, if you're like me, you finally realize that's how they are with each other, and they assume everybody works that way... Well, not all of them, but all it takes is a few inept practitioners (naming no names) to show the pattern. And that's Linebarger's point. When you assume that everyone's playing games with you and grabbing power is your only tool, you're more vulnerable, not less. This is where the truth can set you free, at least a little.

    P.S. Paul Linebarger wrote under the pen-name Cordwainer Smith, and by upbringing and training, he was an internationalist.

    318:

    I thought Roberto Benigni did a somehow excellent job with humour in a Holocaust Movie with 'Life is Beautiful'. That included his character doing a humorous goose step as he was being marched off to die by a camp guard.

    It still amazes me how he managed to take the most horrific subject matter and build a wonderful movie. It is no surprise he won awards for it.

    319:

    I'm also surprised anyone thinks the film wasn't timely, in the context of the resurgent white power movement and on the eve of the GWOT (and the corresponding explosion in recruitment efforts). Completely understand why anyone would be upset by an unfaithful adaptation, even though I'm not sure you could have done one in the post-Vietnam climate, and it's fair to say Verhoeven should have just come up with his own property. And by no stretch of the imagination is it a good movie. But it's hard to fault a film that made a trojan-horse effort to undermine pro-military wankfest jingoism (whose subscribers it would have appealed to, regardless of what Heinlein was trying to get across).

    Hunh? 1997 had Clinton in power. That's when the film came out. The Global War on Terror started in 2002. To be very blunt, Starship Troopers could have come out in July 2001 and still been anachronistic, because 9/11 caught a lot of people completely by surprise.

    While I agree that it's far easier to do powered armor now, I strongly urge you to look again at Star Wars Stormtrooper armor. Based on how inept the stormtroopers are, we instinctively assume that it's no more than the plastic shell that it looks to be. But it's obviously supposed to be powered armor, with air filter up top and batteries between the shoulderblades. Lucas just didn't use it that way, because his rebel mooks would have died like flies if the Empire actually had mobile infantry and used them in maneuver warfare. Or, if you want, look at the space marines from warhamster. They're even more like the MI.

    Anyway, I think the time for Starship troopers the movie has passed, and I doubt even Old Man's War could get made now (sorry if you're reading this John). This isn't a polemic, just looking around at climate change, decarbonization, real worries about an authoritarian takeover, and even more real worries about cyberwar and autonomous drones. It's a different landscape, and it's probably better to write to that than to the paleofuture of 65 years ago, and we ended up going down a different road.

    320:

    ...Heinlein is niche, and outside a certain audience he is really (like really) obscure.

    No. Just no. Far more like-Tolkien than not-like Tolkien, and certainly in Tolkien's league in terms of sales. As in "Heinlein wrote books sixty years ago which have been continuously in print until the present day." Four best-sellers. Four Hugos, (and a number of Retro-Hugos.) First science-fiction Grand-Master. Introduced multiple words into the English language. Stranger in a Strange Land has so far been printed 132 times in six languages and sold five million copies.* Heinlein's books regularly went through somewhere between 20 and 50 printings, including translations into multiple languages.** For example, Time Enough For Love was translated into five languages and had 41 separate printings.

    If nothing else, read Heinlein's Wikipedia article before posting such inaccurate information. You're so far outside the facts that you're not even wrong!

    For number of printings I used this (and counted printings by hands): http://www.isfdb.org/

    * The Return of the King had 274 printings into ten languages, but I'd say anyone who wrote a book with more than a hundred printings is a major authorial badass!

    ** Even a relative turd like To Sail Beyond The Sunset was printed 13 times and translated into three languages!

    321:

    That is to say, Heinlein differs from Tolkien in that Tolkien's magnum opus was made into a film by someone who had some reverence for the story the writer was trying to tell, while SST was "made into a movie" by someone who had no reverence for the story, and in fact had an entirely different story to tell.

    I have seen RoboCop, Showgirls, and SST, all when they ran in theatres. I can attest that the people who keep pointing at interpretations that make Verhoeven some kind of visionary are the really weird ones. Nobody else gets those interpretations. Practically everyone who has ever watched those movies saw glorification of police brutality, high-production-value soft porn/revenge fantasy, and neo-Nazi propaganda in that order.

    322:

    Yeah... and the stuff you learned in church and the Boy Sprouts growing up... most folks pass off as "and then you grow up", and vote GOP.

    323:

    Correction: in the 50's, the top tax bracket was not 50+%, it was, I kid you not, 90%.

    And what JBS and RAH learned growing up, sigh, is relegated to "Sunday school stuff", and the Trumpistas see that as for suckers... or yeah, good, but I need to take care of this first....

    324:

    Actually, after I hit ennter, I realized I should bring up Mark Twain's Letters From The Earth, published 30 years after he died, as his daughter was horrified by it. Letters from Satan, who's taking a vacation from Heaven on the Earth, and is sending letters to Gabriel and Michael.

    Among his comments are "they try not to fall asleep at Sunday church services, but think they want to spend an eternity with a harp..."

    325:

    Re yr PS: yeah, but the odds on someone reading this blog, coming down to that comment, and *then* relating my legal name to that are insignificant.

    Esp. when they probably have it from the OPM breach a few years ago.

    326:

    My grandad had that. (When I was of the age where cardboard is a preferred constructional material, I presented him with a 3D cardboard model I'd made of the ophthalmoscope photograph of the condition in Wolff's "Diseases of the Eye"...)

    His reading specs were a pair of ordinary spectacle frames but without ordinary lenses in them; instead there was an extra structure stuck on the front, with two more-or-less cylindrical barrels about half the size of a C cell suspended in the centre of the gaps where ordinary lenses would be, each containing a complex multi-element optic providing extreme magnification along with whatever other correction he also needed. Not the kind of thing you could just pick up in the High Street or even just pick up from a purveyor of watchmakers' supplies; they were a custom fitment from a specialist optician. I think there had also been some element of needing to wait until the progress of the disease had slowed enough that he wouldn't keep needing new fitments at unfeasibly short intervals. He did get new fitments once or twice, but he got several years' use out of each iteration.

    His route to getting these things had at least begun with the NHS, so although it was a bit of a long process at least there wasn't any uncertainty about where to start. And of course this was long before computer-controlled machines for carving custom-shaped lenses to shape to sub-wavelength precision were around; now that they are, I would expect that that route now leads more quickly to a more precisely fitted solution.

    327:

    I should point out that after WWII, Uncle Ho contacted the US, and tried to get us to support him.

    Instead, that asshole Truman invited the French to take it back.

    328:

    I agree. Certainly, Stranger was a HUGE best-seller, and I can remember mainstream outlets, including, IIRC, the NYT, having reviews about it. In the US, at least, I'm not saying he was a household name, but he *was* a name that would come up if someone not a fan tried to say something about sf.

    329:

    My mother has macular degeneration which has been gradually progressing for years and when we were visiting last week she was showing us a magnifying device that she's just got which is apparently fantastic for all sorts of things. I've just asked Dad to send me the details so I'll pass them on when I get them. It's basically a tablet with a camera on an arm, as well as doing magnification it'll read text to her.

    330:

    I don't think that's a valid interpretation.

    But then, I've been in fandom so long that I remember the slogan "fans are slans". And both from the SCA and fandom, many refer to mundanes.

    Will you really argue that They are not mundane?

    331:

    I remember the radio ads for Job, so yes, I think Heinlein would be considered a household name during the era that bestselling books were advertised in mainstream media.

    332:

    #317 - Thanks; tried the diet and it's been rejected for reasons of her taste.

    #318 - Yes, the diabetes is mentioned in his Wikipedia (but nothing associated is). I also thought I remembered something "like" your account but I only got to attend his GoH speech the time he and I were at the same con.

    #328 - Cheers. It's a fairly recent diagnosis, and we're chasing around trying to find what will help most.

    #331 - Further to the above, this sounds like it might or might not help, but she's a bit technophobic...

    333:

    Since my Grandmother and Aunt also had/have MD as well as the leafy green stuff I take ICaps tablets, which provide the same stuff to help avoid/slow it developing.

    334:

    Chiming in to note that Roberto Benigni somehow managed to square the circle of making a humorous movie about the Holocaust that was also brilliant. And one of the key scenes included him doing a mocking version of the goose step while being marched off by a camp guard to be shot.

    I enjoyed Robocop as a teenager with little critical insight. When I saw parts of it a couple decades later I was appalled at the casual fascism (which was also rampant in most of the 'cop' movies and tv shows of the 70s through to very recently). Most of them were/are rooted in the apparently deep seated fear many Americans have of their neighbours propensity to commit wanton mayhem at the slightest opportunity. Also racism.

    I must have watched Showgirls at some point for my sins because I remember it. I suspect it was when I was at sea, most boats I worked on had vast libraries of VHS movies, which I would work my way through when I ran out of books. Showgirls was utter dreck, neither high nor low brow, just garbage from beginning to end. Whatever the director was trying to do was utterly lost in a mess of poor writing, worse acting and terrible scenes.

    I remember watching the SST movie as well, prior to any real appreciation of SF in general or Heinlein in particular. Brainless action movie with gratuitous nudity thrown in. Yes, the fascism was evident and maybe satirical, but otherwise it was just a dumb movie.

    Of course, I very rarely find movies that are worth the time to watch them. One of the reasons movies like 'Life is Beautiful' are such treasures.

    335:

    And plenty of people (most?) who read Starship Troopers took it entirely at face value. As our good host points out you can also read into it something rather more complex. Books and films are creative. It’s art. You can interpret the films as you please. But don’t dismiss what others see just because you don’t see it.

    336:

    On the note of Heinlein's literary status per the Stephen King test ("the best kind of literary prize is royalties", or words to that effect), Heinlein scooped a million dollar advance for "The Number of the Beast" circa 1978-ish. And back in the 1980s, a million dollars was serious money.

    337:

    And plenty of people (most?) who read Starship Troopers took it entirely at face value. As our good host points out you can also read into it something rather more complex. Books and films are creative. It’s art. You can interpret the films as you please. But don’t dismiss what others see just because you don’t see it.

    Obviously the street makes its own use of things.

    That said, no creative product is produced in a vacuum. Stories especially respond to the artistic environment in which they're produced.

    Because of that, you have to at least contemplate the idea that, if someone doesn't see something in an artwork and you DO see something in an artwork, that perhaps what you're seeing is your own creation, not what's there...

    A good example of this with Verhoeven is someone writing in the Age of Trump that people in the 1990s were so stupid to not see the obvious fascist posturing in the film, forgetting that the latter day commenters have been steeped in a resurgent right wing culture that was at best underground in the 1990s.

    338:


    Nancy Lebovitz @308: No, if The Ministry of Silly Walks hasn't made the goose step something people are unwilling to do in public, then it wasn't funny enough.

    Then I'm afraid it's not possible. Look at the Greek ceremonial guards in the article below. Or just Google for Greek guard silly walk.

    https://www.forces.net/evergreen/worlds-weirdest-changing-guard-ceremonies

    339:

    That's an interesting bit of "inside baseball." It certainly puts any idea that Heinlein was a
    "minor" writer safely out of our misery!

    340:

    Well, I remember seeing said Greeks on what (unknown to me) was a Michael Palin travelogue, and starting the "It's not very silly" part of the Ministry of Silly Walks sketch.

    341:

    There is also the indo-pakistany change of border guard.

    Here : https://youtu.be/izO02t7KfCE

    342:

    whitroth @ 324: Yeah... and the stuff you learned in church and the Boy Sprouts growing up... most folks pass off as "and then you grow up", and vote GOP.

    Where do you find "Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Brave, Clean and Reverent" in the GQP? When was the last time you heard of the GQP "doing a good deed every day"? Instead of helping old ladys cross the street they're likely to run them over and steal their social security!

    Where does
    "Jesus loves the little children
    All the children of the world
    Red, Brown, Yellow, Black & White
    They are precious in his sight
    Jesus loves the little children of the World"


             fit into the Republican platform?

    Would Trumpolini ever recite "we hold these truths to be self evident, that ALL men are created equal ...", much less try to live it in word an deed?
    ... and be ashamed of himself if & when he inevitably falls short and strive to atone and do better?

    If the GQP is what "growing up" is about, fuck it. I won't! They can't make me!

    I'll stick with those values I learned in the Boy Scouts & church even if maybe I'm not so obedient or reverent as some would want ... but I'll obey my conscience!

    Even as it turns out that the teachers & preachers & leaders who inculcated those values in me didn't actually live them themselves, there's no excuse for NOT making them real; no excuse for not making this country what it pretended to be.

    You just gotta' walk the walk!

    That's the message I found in Starship Troopers and Heinlein's other writings.

    343:

    whitroth @ 327: Re yr PS: yeah, but the odds on someone reading this blog, coming down to that comment, and *then* relating my legal name to that are insignificant.

    Esp. when they probably have it from the OPM breach a few years ago.

    Yeah, didn't mean anything. Just with all of today's concerns about doxxing and internet stalking it gave me a chuckle. I don't tell people when my birthday is, because if I go out to eat with someone I don't want them telling the wait staff and embarrassing me with the clapping & singing ...

    1. The singing is usually pretty awful and ...
    2. They always bring you some kind of chocolate cake and I can't eat chocolate, it makes me throw up.

    344:

    Thank you for raising this. Its inspiring me to go back to some of my oldest books and revisit them.

    I started on Asimovs Mysteries, went to Rocketship Galileo (which happily I no longer have) and took in eventually everything written by Heinlein, Asimov and Clarke before branching out into Harry Harrison, Van Vogt, Tolkein and Frank Herbert. So, we're thinking early 70s here and all I had ever read prior to those was Swallows and Amazons plus the Narnia septet.

    I must reread those that remain, it won't take long. All the books were pretty thin with LOTR, Farnhams Freehold, Stranger in a Strange Land and the Moon is a Harsh Mistress as exceptions.

    From the 13 year old school kid in the 70's perspective I found Heinlein's stuff a bit of a romp with thought provoking moments. Even at the time some of the no volunteer, no vote stuff didn't feel quite right, but I was in it for the totally different world and assumed that in a different world things would be different, so it didn't jar really.

    In a different world my Dad was a soldier shooting people, 30 years later the world had changed and you couldn't have met a nicer more peaceful man. What would our societies have become 20 years ago if the White House, Buck House or the Kremlin had been targeted by Bin Laden as well as the WTC?

    Anyway, must do some rereading and see what need to be dumped to free up shelf space a bit. The Day After Tomorrow went long ago.
    Do we say Herbert was a libertarian nutjob because his most successful universe was corrupt feudal?

    345:

    I have read when I was younger pretty much all I could of Cordwainer Smith.

    I loved it but he is clearly a writer of these times, the 50s & 60s, where intellectuals and Hollywood would grant psychiatrist and other psy-professions with quasi magical powers.

    I have since learned that scientific fraud and blatant invention of experiments has marred a significant part of the published research in this field.

    Call me a cynic, but I would need better evidence. Specially for results dating from this period.


    346:

    I should point out that after WWII, Uncle Ho contacted the US, and tried to get us to support him.

    By then he was considered to be if not self declared to be a communist. So no one in the US was going to support him after WWII.

    347:

    And back in the 1980s, a million dollars was serious money.

    Isn't chicken feed even today unless you run in circles that live on the upper east side of NYC or similar in London.

    348:

    Look at the Greek ceremonial guards in the article below. Or just Google for Greek guard silly walk.

    There's a border gate between Pakistan and India.

    And the North Korean Army on parade.

    And a lot more.

    349:

    (Moving this on from being about the movies, noting the directive at the top of the blog) Entirely agree the humans see patterns that aren’t there (Exhibit A: religion). But isn’t that the point of any art? It’s the response it evokes. There is no wrong response. Unless you think the authorial intent dictates a “correct” response?

    My impression is that JBS has a deep emotional response to the book. It hit deeply. I suspect (can’t know) it’s not landed the way the author intended. Certainly not my response. It’s still valid.

    I’m not saying don’t discuss what we feel and why we feel it. If that’s the response then that’s the response. The interesting discussion is what and why. It’s not to be had arguing the response is wrong

    350:

    My memory of reading the book is 3 times about 10 years apart. Early teens, middle 20s, middle 30s. Each time I read it differently.

    In my 20s I was rooming with a Jesuit educated liberal. He had an interesting take on the book. In my 30s, married with young children it also struck me differently.

    Interestingly I don't have all that much memory about the mobile body armor. Except that to me it seemed he would be wearing something the side of a Humvee at a minimum.

    352:

    whitroth @ 329: I should point out that after WWII, Uncle Ho contacted the US, and tried to get us to support him.

    Instead, that asshole Truman invited the French to take it back.

    I don't think "invited" tells the tale.

    American President Roosevelt and General Stilwell privately made it adamantly clear that the French were not to reacquire French Indochina after the war was over. He told Secretary of State Cordell Hull the Indochinese were worse off under the French rule of nearly 100 years than they were at the beginning. Roosevelt asked Chiang Kai-shek if he wanted Indochina, to which Chiang Kai-shek replied: "Under no circumstances!"

    The U.S. didn't have any way short of armed intervention to prevent the French from reasserting their claim. Interestingly enough (i.e. I didn't know this before) it was a force of British & Free French soldiers, along with captured Japanese Troops who reestablished French "control" over Indochina in late 1945.

    The U.S. were afraid to break with the French Government over it because there was a very real threat of French Communists revolting and establishing a Soviet style government in France if the French Government had been weakened by the U.S.

    This was also the period when the Iron Curtain was falling and the WW2 alliance between Britain, France & the U.S. with the Soviet Union was falling apart. There was civil war in Greece with the Soviet Union covertly supplying the Greek National Liberation Front & Greek Peoples National Liberation Navy while Britain and the U.S. not so covertly supplied the National Republican Greek League

    The U.S. didn't become involved in Vietnam until after the French defeat and the partition of Indochina (into Cambodia, Laos & Vietnam - with Vietnam being temporarily pending nationwide "Free" elections. Those in the south of Vietnam objected that there could be no free elections in the north under communist control, and the U.S. backed them.

    Another thing I hadn't known before is that the 1954 Geneva Conference wasn't about Vietnam to begin with. It was about Korea

    "to settle through negotiation the questions of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea, the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, etc."

    But they decided to tack the French Indochina question on.

    "the problem of restoring peace in Indochina will also be discussed at the Conference [on the Korean question] to which representatives of the United States, France, the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Chinese People's Republic and other interested states will be invited."

    Ironically they reached an agreement on Indochina, but not on Korea, a problem unresolved to this day.

    353:

    And fair enough. I had it the other way around (better critical than popular reception, loyal but small fanbase) and I guess I'm mistaken in that.

    354:

    This thread has been absolutely fascinating because of peoples responses. My interpretation of Heinlein's intent, is that JBSs response is exactly the response he wanted, but I don't know. But (apologies to our host if this breaks his ruling) it is peoples response to Verhoeven's films that is most interesting. Whilst any response to art can be said to be valid, responses to facts is a different matter. It is blatantly obvious both Robocop and ST are satires, even at the time. I saw Robocop as a teenager, and it was obvious. Someone even provided a quote from Verhoeven, saying ST was a satire. But people can still not except it. This is fascinating, people seem to have some kind of mental block about this. With someone stupid or ignorant, I could understand missing it, but that does not fit people on this blog. Is this something akin to cognitive dissonance? Has the challenge to the underpinnings of the culture caused their brains to shut down? This is partly hyperbole, perhaps, but there really is a question to be answered. To our host, I would say, that it is worth watching ST. You will see what I and others were talking about, and might have some answers on peoples reactions. Or just watch this clip, of in film propaganda films:
    https://youtu.be/EKHme9MvMx0

    355:

    Heteromeles @ 333: I remember the radio ads for Job, so yes, I think Heinlein would be considered a household name during the era that bestselling books were advertised in mainstream media.

    He was more well known after the CBS interview regarding the Apollo 11 moon landing.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PLTkYJ7C40

    356:

    David L @ 352: "Interestingly I don't have all that much memory about the mobile body armor. Except that to me it seemed he would be wearing something the side of a Humvee at a minimum."

    It's supposed to be much smaller than a Humvee. It looks like a steel gorilla and it's 2000 pounds, according to my Berkley Medallion edition (page 81 to 84) of 1968.

    357:

    The U.S. didn't become involved in Vietnam until after the French defeat and the partition of Indochina

    Actually once the French got in deep we (the US) funded their military there. If not all then a large chunk of it.

    358:

    Just to carry all the things he was throwing about couldn't be carried in such a thing.

    In my imagination.

    359:

    it is peoples response to Verhoeven's films that is most interesting. Whilst any response to art can be said to be valid, responses to facts is a different matter. It is blatantly obvious both Robocop and ST are satires, even at the time. I saw Robocop as a teenager, and it was obvious

    Your comment makes the point that SST was interpreted differently by many depending on the decade when first encountered. If you were born around 1980 your life was lived and experienced very differently than those of use alive when it was first published.

    Especially in global military and geopolitical matters. Which colored the lenses we all see the world through.

    360:

    Michel2Bec @ 343: There is also the indo-pakistany change of border guard.

    Here : https://youtu.be/izO02t7KfCE

    Looks like the love child of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and a Maori Haka

    361:

    Shorter: actually witnessing someone being executed for crime (X) does not deter some people from committing crime (X) at the very same time.

    I'm reminded of something I saw many years ago... An American police force came up with the idea that they could catch illegal drug users by dressing up some of their number as stereotypical drug dealers, hanging around sleazy parts of town, and then having officers swoop in and collect anyone who tried to buy drugs. (Sounds like a good plan when around the water cooler, right?) They tried it and to first approximation it worked...

    What they didn't anticipate was that questionable street denizens would pester their undercover officers even while uniformed officers had a previous customer handcuffed and getting inserted into a police car. With police officers right there arresting other drug users, people still bugged the 'dealers' in the middle of the process trying to buy drugs.

    Anyone hoping to take the 'War on Drugs' seriously would want an enforcement encounter that looked less like a Monty Python skit.

    362:

    Grant @ 346: Thank you for raising this. Its inspiring me to go back to some of my oldest books and revisit them.

    I started on Asimovs Mysteries, went to Rocketship Galileo (which happily I no longer have) and took in eventually everything written by Heinlein, Asimov and Clarke before branching out into Harry Harrison, Van Vogt, Tolkein and Frank Herbert. So, we're thinking early 70s here and all I had ever read prior to those was Swallows and Amazons plus the Narnia septet.

    Pretty much the same path as the one I took, although Rocketship Galileo was my first, leading me to Paul French's (Asimov) "Lucky Star" books and on to the wider worlds of SciFi. I didn't find Asimov's mysteries until much later after I had immersed myself in the writings of Agatha Christie, P.D. James, Margery Allingham, et al. John Maddox Roberts has written quite a few nice mystery stories set in the late Roman Republic as it makes it's transition to empire.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SPQR_series

    Fantasy genre came later still via The Black Company & Garrett P.I.

    363:

    Which colored the lenses we all see the world through.

    Quite. By my time, delibarately living close to a nuclear target, as a way to make sure you would be among the first to be painlessly vaporised rather than live through the times that followed, that was definitely a thing. It was almost a general consensus that dying in the first stage of an apocalyptic war would be better than surviving it. "The living will envy the dead" was a cliche, almost, overused enough to turn up in comedy.

    It's almost like we're pre-conditioned to see a climate apocalypse as relatively mild, the slow-boil rather than the instant of flaming oblivion. Actually even putting it mildly, it comes across as worse, to me anyway. Maybe I'm just imagining more of how bad it may be than others who don't see it that way, maybe I'm wrong in that too, dog knows I hope so. But it make's OGH's metaphor for climate change even more retrospectively obvious I guess.

    364:

    For a subtly different take on the importance of eugenics and the glory of empire... Peter Watts is grumpy Canadian..

    An act committed for a political, religious, or ideological purpose, check. Intended to intimidate, check. To compel people to do or refrain, to intentionally cause harm, to cause death or injury check check check. The Vatican’s treatment of Indigenous peoples is a classic example of terrorism as defined by the Canadian government itself. ... A PM who proclaims his Catholic identity without any apparent shame.

    I give you a sarcastic Australian on a similar topic: Come Home (Cardinal Pell) - Tim Minchin

    365:

    JBS
    And, IIRC - something I learnt much later, was that "we" - the Brits - with experiance in India & Burma & with Indian Indepandance obviously coming, didn't want anything to do with it.
    Another reason why, when asked to "help" the US in Vietnam, we said "NO!"

    366:

    climate apocalypse ... it comes across as worse, to me anyway

    It's a great future for our children, this climate refugee business. Rather than dying suddenly with no warning we get to spend 30+ years watching the catastrophe unfold, fighting to prevent it as best we can, and seeing those around us shrug and make it worse. The good news is that all going well 50 year olds like me will likely just die of heatstroke in our 80's, it's only if a couple of the "too hard to model" events happen that we're going to be badly affected. But the 20 year olds... sucks to be them. If they're lucky a war will kill off enough of them that the survivors won't be too badly off.

    Still, it's important to focus on what's politically palatable now rather than the horrors that await us in the future.

    367:

    I think in particular Riefenstahl herself is rather more complex figure than comes across in this thread. She was an utterly brilliant cinematographer who pioneered the form and established a lot of the conventions we are familiar with today (even if we don't necessarily realise that we are familiar with many cinematography conventions... until someone breaks them for effect). In interviews and her own writing she claims she wasn't aware of the propaganda value of the stuff she did, but it doesn't really ring true. Of course she knew she was making propaganda, it's just that her own internal motivations were different. That representation of grand-scale spectacle you see in Triumph of the Will has been re-used so many times and so often, for things that definitely include propaganda too, but perhaps mostly do not. I think people see the US and European filmmakers of that era as disconnected from each other, but there's a lot of evidence to say this is untrue: the influences flowed both ways constantly, including behind the pre-war Soviet border (Eisenstein was heavily influenced by early Hollywood). And spectacle was something that everyone was trying to get right at that time.

    Not saying that makes it all okay, of course. But there is enough in the context to make it more interesting to study than to denounce, I suppose.

    368:

    Haven't read all the comments yet but amazed that folks are still on topic post-300 Comment!

    Anyways - I first read Heinlein and Asimov when I was a young teen and vaguely recall reading ST. My impression then and still is that Heinlein wanted to be the provocative SF writer. His characters and situations were mostly pretty short-sighted and cliquish/clannish and didn't much care about or look at any potential long-term ethical considerations or consequences. So I really don't see him/his stories as a spokesman for social responsibility. (He also seemed to be infatuated with engineers - no idea why.)

    I've re-read my Asimov books but not Heinlein - once was enough.

    369:

    Johnny99.2 @ 351: (Moving this on from being about the movies, noting the directive at the top of the blog) Entirely agree the humans see patterns that aren’t there (Exhibit A: religion). But isn’t that the point of any art? It’s the response it evokes. There is no wrong response. Unless you think the authorial intent dictates a “correct” response?

    My impression is that JBS has a deep emotional response to the book. It hit deeply. I suspect (can’t know) it’s not landed the way the author intended. Certainly not my response. It’s still valid.

    I think it may have a lot to do with when and where you first encounter it. I came to it at age 13, some time in 1962 or 1963. John F. Kennedy was President:

    In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility--I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it--and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

    And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.

    My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

    Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.

    In Starship Troopers I found a like call to service.

    And I still believe that is what Heinlein had in mind when he wrote the book. It was both an ode to the service and sacrifice of "the greatest generation" and a lament, a warning of what would happen if we, as a society, lost that commitment to serve democracy.

    370:

    Niala @ 358: David L @ 352:

    "Interestingly I don't have all that much memory about the mobile body armor. Except that to me it seemed he would be wearing something the side of a Humvee at a minimum."

    It's supposed to be much smaller than a Humvee. It looks like a steel gorilla and it's 2000 pounds, according to my Berkley Medallion edition (page 81 to 84) of 1968.

    First edition cover:

    I believe it's Chapter 7 if you don't have the same edition.

    It's a development from the body armor that was already coming into use in the late 50s (our world), although "flak jackets" were already in use during WW2. Somewhere in there is a bit of exposition about the development from body armor to a wearable tank to the "modern" MI's slimmed down 2000 pound steel gorilla" suits.

    371:

    It's almost like we're pre-conditioned to see a climate apocalypse as relatively mild, the slow-boil rather than the instant of flaming oblivion. Actually even putting it mildly, it comes across as worse, to me anyway. Maybe I'm just imagining more of how bad it may be than others who don't see it that way, maybe I'm wrong in that too, dog knows I hope so. But it make's OGH's metaphor for climate change even more retrospectively obvious I guess.

    I'd disagree about that, but respectfully, not sarcastically.

    Up until, oh, 2018 in the US, give or take, most people I had to deal with figured either climate change wouldn't happen (so don't worry about it), or everyone's going to die a la nuclear war (so don't worry about it). The key point wasn't the reality of either scenario, it was that they didn't want to deal with it.

    Now about 40% of the population is dealing with it, at least a little, although another 20 percent or so are convinced it's all propaganda from groups who are trying to seize power, because that's how their side works. But for most of those 40 percent, climate change will be over by 2050, so if we can last that long, things will get better. It's manageable. When those of us who know point out that the only way climate change will be over by 2050 is if a miracle or something kills us all first, that we're fighting right now to keep the changes manageable and over the course of hundreds of years, rather than unmanageable and over the course of hundreds of thousands of years, there are wise looks, pained agreement...and as soon as short-term memory has dropped the moment, we're back at 2050 again.

    I think what colors our lenses isn't the international crises, it's the norms we grew up with: things like global travel, tourism as a good thing, just war as a thing, climate change as a technological problem with technological solutions, and so forth. It's really, really hard to admit that the pleasant lifestyle one grew up in (speaking for myself) is probably the most destructive the world has ever known, and that our greatest legacy won't be the internet, but only our pollution.

    Thoughts along that line lead almost inevitably to the opposite, that we all should die off and leave the world to those more pure than ourselves.

    But the sad part is that the future's most likely even worse: we are that bad, some of our descendants will survive (our in the species sense), and that they won't remember us or carry on our culture, because it will be useless to them.

    Do we become even more monstrous to be among the survivors? That's the Traditional White Way at the moment. Or do we try to get some portion of justice for all those we've trampled already, to give them some space in the future too?

    And that almost inevitably leads to depression, so most people avoid thinking about it too hard, either.

    It's hard.

    372:

    Appropos of post-300, but this is bouncing around the interwebs: a new article in Ecology claiming that staghorn ferns are eusocial plants.

    I haven't read the whole paper (thank you, paywall), but the science seems good. The problem is that the staghorn fern colonies in question are mostly composed of plants that are clones of each other via rhizomes. This leads to the inevitable botany problem of what counts as an individual. Still, some plants (ramets) are non-reproducing and specialized for nutrient and water capture, while others have a different morphology and do almost all the reproducing.

    It's one of those interesting problems, whether the parts of a complex plant count as eusocial individuals in a colony or not. In some ways, that's how plants work, because most are not really individuals the way we are*. Still, the observation and data processing part of the science seem good, the conclusions are controversial, and this gives SFF writers more grist for the mill. Happy Friday!

    *For the majority non-botanists here, the thumbnail. What defines different kingdoms on the tree of life is fundamental stuff, like what counts as an individual, how nutrition is obtained, how reproduction is done, and so forth. I'll ignore colonial animals like corals and go with humans. An individual human has more-or-less defined numbers of organs: one brain, two eyes, one heart, etc. Lose an organ, and you're crippled or dead. Get bisected, you're dead. For plants, organs are leaves, stems, and roots (flowers and fruits are modified leaves and stems). Plants shed their organs all the time, and they seldom have a set number of any. Many plants, if bisected, can grow as two genetically identical individuals, so what counts as an individual plant, especially in a rhizomatous species like staghorn ferns, gets complicated.

    If you want an easy metaphor, plant individuals are more like human corporations than humans. Many corporations hire and fire workers all the time, and may grow new branches or shed underperforming ones. It's not an exact metaphor, but if you don't want to become a plant nerd, it's reasonably close. The one thing to remember is that plants don't have CEOs (e.g brains). As corporations, they're entirely run by workers without any management. For them it works quite well...

    373:

    JBS @ 372: "First edition cover:"

    That's the edition I first read. It was at the Fraser-Hickson library. Years later an idiot crook stole it, probably hoping to make a lot of money from a first edition. Imbecile! First editions are worth something when they're in a pristine state only. Library books are in anything but a pristine state. There are some exceptions like The Bay Song Book or The Book of Songs of the Bay, of course.

    Anyway, while this cover has fond memories for me I swear by the cover of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction of November 1959 (where it was printed as a two-part serial: Starship Soldier) when it comes to the most realistic depiction of MI in combat.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starship_Troopers#/media/File:StarshipSoldier.jpg

    374:

    that almost inevitably leads to depression, so most people avoid thinking about it too hard

    I think that's something we all grapple with, at least those with the sense of it. It's a fatalistic perspective, if only because making a significant difference at this stage is just so remote and unimaginable. Of course that is nuanced, and there are useful things to do. But as you say, the useful things are both hard to focus on well enough to achieve anything and also hard to keep in perspective at the same time. I wonder whether there is a language where "perspective" and "despair" are synonyms, or whether perhaps there's even a word in English that has them both as synonyms.

    375:

    And back in the 1980s, a million dollars was serious money.

    Isn't chicken feed even today unless you run in circles that live on the upper east side of NYC or similar in London.

    Well, it will get you 1/3 to 1/2 a detached house in Toronto.

    (Back in the early 1980s the average house cost about a year's average income. The average income has about doubled, house prices have gone up 20 times. Now a year's income will let you purchase a parking spot.)

    376:

    It is blatantly obvious both Robocop and ST are satires, even at the time. I saw Robocop as a teenager, and it was obvious.

    Curious question: is satire not really part of American popular culture? Or are there subjects that are considered off-limits to satire?

    Wondering because the three films we've discussed (and the book one of them was based on) satirized what seem to be hot-button topics for many people, and huge numbers of people apparently didn't realize they were satires.

    Granted, films (especially in the cinema) carry you along without pauses to think, so it's harder to spot hints — but when something that is so obviously a satire is still treated by critics as being not a satire I wonder is the problem is that the critics mental landscape doesn't include satire, either in that medium or for those subjects.

    377:

    Greg would like that rant…

    Why have we not banned this odious hate group and thrown its silly-hatted officials into jail? Why haven’t we, at the absolute least, told them to pay some fucking taxes?

    378:

    its silly-hatted officials

    It did occur to me that what they're apparently missing is an official walk. Pompously ambling around like lost geriatrics does not count.

    379:

    Since the topic has shifted to Vietnam, I'd like to offer a perspective from one of my former teachers. He was a Vietnam vet. It's been decades, so I don't remember it completely. I'll try to reconstruct it below

    "In hindsight, the Korean War was justified while the Vietnam War was a mistake. However, at the time, in the first few years of the war, they were practically considered the same war. What was the difference we should have seen at that time?

    Is the Korean War only considered just because the Kims declared themselves god-kings, while the Vietnamese government modernized a-la China. How could we have known that at the time?

    My point is, it's very easy to judge history if you just look at events in isolation with 20/20 hindsight. It's not so easy if you try to piece it together in real time"

    380:

    Curious question: is satire not really part of American popular culture? Or are there subjects that are considered off-limits to satire? Wondering because the three films we've discussed (and the book one of them was based on) satirized what seem to be hot-button topics for many people, and huge numbers of people apparently didn't realize they were satires.

    Here's one way to see the problem. We stupid, ignorant, uncultured, fascist, and multiply spat-upon Yanks currently live in a moment where "Yeah, that January 6 thing was a nonviolent protest, you stupid libtards, can't you take a joke?" is regarded as a legitimate legal defense against charges of attempted insurrection.

    It isn't.

    Therefore, and this is rather important, the people claiming that something commonly seen as objectionable was meant as harmless satire have to actually demonstrate their point to a skeptical audience. This is because, to be blunt, that tactic's been weaponized against things we care about in the US, and it's currently not on the list of tactics of polite debate.

    Anyway, Starship Trooper got effectively skewered in Bill the Galactic Hero in 1965, so doing it in 1997 is about thirty years too late.

    381:

    Toby @356:

    This thread has been absolutely fascinating because of peoples responses. My interpretation of Heinlein's intent, is that JBSs response is exactly the response he wanted, but I don't know. But (apologies to our host if this breaks his ruling) it is peoples response to Verhoeven's films that is most interesting. Whilst any response to art can be said to be valid, responses to facts is a different matter. It is blatantly obvious both Robocop and ST are satires, even at the time. I saw Robocop as a teenager, and it was obvious. Someone even provided a quote from Verhoeven, saying ST was a satire.

    Verhoeven has always struck me as the sort of creature that will say something inappropriate^Wdownright offensive, and on noting the negative reaction, tack on, "Only joking."

    He changes his story, repeatedly, until he gets to one that seems to keep everybody quiet.

    But Hollywood will keep throwing him money, because in their terms he makes money. Losing money on the in vs. out scale is often still a winner from their point of view.

    382:

    I am not sure I'd call it a US-specific thing, being as I encounter an unrelenting stream of catastrophic sense-of-humour-failure in my own backyard. And probably even more of the "oh you are offended; I was only joking" bullcrap that just seems to be a massive part of western culture, not just anglophone, these days. But the satirical side that all these people miss itself misses the thing that grows more obvious every day as well. And that is that we (broad, sweeping "we" here) vaguely conscious middle-class, relatively comfortable westerners are drawing up against a pretty convincing wall of evidence that we, despite any efforts to be otherwise, are in fact the monsters of our imagination, the destructive force that is tearing the world apart. Our footsteps burn villages, our breath is a searing wind, our petro-chemical-derived effluent is infiltrating the very guts of all the world's fish and fowl and forming vast rafts of waste in the major oceans. That's without even getting to our emissions, which on their own now mean too many things to take in at once. In some ways satirical material that shows people become monsters is too mild to take seriously these days.

    383:

    Ioan
    Korea / Vietnam
    Barbara Tuchman wrote a book called: "The March of Folly"
    Which included Vietnam - & people could tell.
    Real experts, like P M A Linebarger/Cordwainer Smith wouldn't touch 'Nam with someone else's & said so, but were not listened to.

    Said book was heavy on: "Why do governments, down the ages, pursue policies which are OBVIOULSY contrary to their own interests?"
    Which brings us back to "We have had enough of experts" - Slimy Gove on Brexit.

    384:

    Just a quick thank you to Charlie for tolerating my threadjack, and thanks for caring enough to try to help to those who responded.

    385:

    My Dad got back to me this morning:

    "Link below gives details of the model Mum has. If you are registered partially sighted, you escape VAT.

    https://uk.optelec.com/products/comp-10-hd-wrld-optelec-compact-10-hd-speech.html

    She says this is probably way over the top for somebody newly diagnosed and that a bright light and a good magnifier would probably suffice!"

    Mum works with her local sight loss support organisation, there is probably one nearby that could advise you.

    Best wishes, it's not a fun thing to deal with.

    386:

    As we've already crossed the 300-threshold I'm maybe allowed an off-topic remark following from the thread about powered armour above:

    Basically the energy budget of powered armour comes up short unless they use lots and lots of extension leads and maybe spring-loaded boots, IMO.

    This is in a nutshell what kills Iron Man (and by extension the whole Marvel bunch of superhero movies of the last decade) for me.

    387:

    Perhaps you've hit the nail on the head. "Are we the baddies?" and the answer being "yes", may be the answer.
    https://youtu.be/rWvpvlT9pJU
    For anyone who hasn't seen it, this is the origin of the meme. Western and Middle class too!
    Anyway, your comment was very well written, poetic. So thanks for that.

    388:

    Re. the thermodynamics of power armor and related topics:

    I always interpreted the armor as a kind of "personal tank", with the question then becoming just how small you could make a functionally useful tank. But mostly, I just interpreted the suits as typical golden-age magical fun tech.

    That being said, lots of the components of power armor already exist, mutatis mutandis: heads-up displays, GPS, grenade launchers, battlefield communication nets and IFF systems, ceramic body armor, small rocket launchers (e.g., PIAT/ManPAD). In that loose sense, Heinlein got a lot of things right. There are even semi-practical jetpacks being demoed (e.g., https://taskandpurpose.com/news/jetpacks-british-royal-navy/).

    To create a true Heinlein-class personal mobile assault armor, I suspect you're going to need (effectively) direct conversion of matter into energy (which would also make "blaster"/"phaser"-type weapons feasible). I suspect that without that amount of power, you run into the rocket problem (i.e., the amount of energy required to transport your own fuel supply becomes prohibitively high), exacerbated by the weight of carrying a day's worth of munitions.

    What I've seen that makes the most sense is assistive technologies such as exoskeletons (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWnXOh4r6Dw), with high energy recovery rates and really smart use of the available energy to apply the minimum energy for the maximum effect. For example, those spring-steel foot replacements (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/blade-runners-do-high-tech-prostheses-give-runners-an-unfair-advantage/) seem potentially interesting, if unproven.

    389:

    that tactic's been weaponized against things we care about in the US, and it's currently not on the list of tactics of polite debate

    Was that the case back in the 80s and 90s, when those films were made?

    390:

    That being said, lots of the components of power armor already exist, mutatis mutandis

    If that's the sort of thing that rocks your boat, your best recent example in fiction would be The Red: First Light by Linda Nagata (first book in a trilogy; author is a past Nebula winner and Hugo nominee). Plays with a lot of the same emergent AI themes I hit on in "Rule 34", but does it as political thriller/Mil-SF, and she's been paying attention to DARPA's wish-list for the past couple of decades. (The politics is relatively inoffensive, as long as you're okay with portrayals of the 21st century USA as a colonial imperial power, and with domestic terrorism up to and including nukes.)

    391:

    Was that the case back in the 80s and 90s, when those films were made?

    Not really: it's very much a thing that emerged with the odious alt-right since 2008.

    392:

    Toby @ 389
    "We have met the Enemy & he is us"

    Charlie @ 392
    The USA IS a colonial, Imperial power.
    But, then so is the PRC, who, let's face it are a far worse evil ( Hard to believe for some, I know, but ... )
    Is there a name for the US "alt-right" that specifically labels them as the fascist authoritarian scum that they are, without muddying the waters, I wonder? Do we need a new word, or to resuscitate an old one?

    394:

    MSB @ 388: This is in a nutshell what kills Iron Man (and by extension the whole Marvel bunch of superhero movies of the last decade) for me.

    That and the assumption that encasing 90kg of meat in metal makes said meat immune to accelerations in excess of 100 gravities.

    395:

    I just call them Nazis.

    396:

    But, then so is the PRC, who, let's face it are a far worse evil ( Hard to believe for some, I know, but ... )
    Is there a name for the US "alt-right" that specifically labels them as the fascist authoritarian scum that they are, without muddying the waters, I wonder? Do we need a new word, or to resuscitate an old one?

    A couple of points: it's worth separating Imperial and Hegemonic. The US is both, but PRC is more-or-less imperial. The difference is whether the subject territories (Hawai'i, Tibet, etc) are absorbed as part of the imperium, or whether they're notionally independent client states. The US, with its system of over 100 (over 200?) military bases in other countries across the world is the largest hegemon the world has so far seen, and the closest to a world government because of that. Like it or hate it, I think the US model will be vied for in the future, so long as states are a thing. Which, with climate change, they probably won't be, but it's worth keeping this in mind.

    I'm quite sure China wants US-level hegemonic status, along with a version of the Mandate of Heaven appropriate for the 21st Century. Indeed, if you want to get into SF again, posit a solarpunked world that's surviving climate change, where the United States Hegemony has replaced the Roman Empire as the "western model," while Chinese Communism has replaced the Mandate of Heaven/Chinese Imperium as the default eastern model (not sure what happens with India or Russia), and these models vie for power in the world and possibly elsewhere.

    As for words, just think about some symbols, like swastika and fasces. Prior to WW2, these were not objectionable. Now they're, erm, verboten, downplayed where they still occur (as in the US House of Representatives). Think about how the left cannot use National Socialism. Now we're stuck with a bunch of evil* authoritarians trashing "right," "Conservative," and "Republican." All of which were good words once upon a time. So that's what they've perverted now. And until some ethical conservatives can reclaim and resuscitate them, at best they'll likely become unusable in politics.

    And quite honestly, that sucks. It would be nice to be able to draw a fylfot without being labeled a Nazi, or to form a national socialist party without being labeled a Nazi. Or to tell the parable of the fasces without being labeled a fascist. Oh well.

    *Evil: variously defined as "the people of the lie," malignant narcissism, and similar. It's a socially contagious mental illness, at least in my book. Fortunately, it does have a good cure rate, especially for mild cases (cf: anti-racism)

    397:

    To create a true Heinlein-class personal mobile assault armor, I suspect you're going to need (effectively) direct conversion of matter into energy (which would also make "blaster"/"phaser"-type weapons feasible).

    Much ink has been spilled on Golden Age SF failing to foresee miniaturized electronics. Rather less has been spilled (but should!) on its utter disregard of energy source, and Heinlein was one of the worst offenders. In "Methuselah's Children" a starship takes off from the Moon, lands on Earth, takes up 100,000(!) refugees, takes off again and leaves the Solar System -- all without refueling of any kind, and apparently without pesky issues like air resistance.

    398:

    He also led the underground in 'Nam against the Japanese... and we were still allies of the USSR.

    399:

    By the time of Dien Bien Phu, the US was paying 80% of the French military budget to fight in Vietnam.

    400:

    Clearly, that was before FDR died in '45. I *said* that Truman invited the French.

    401:

    One "English" ton. If I was against them, I'd dig a *lot* of trap holes, and cover them over. There's a limit to how long they can fly, I think....

    402:

    I have behind me as I sit and type my late-seventies Fortran textbook, "Fortran for Humans". The illustrations are wonderful... including the one that illustrates a problem, with a demonstration. Demonstrators marching along the sidewalk carrying signs... and one, clearly the police infiltrator, with freshly-shined shoes. No one else's are.

    This was a joke going back to, well, I heard it by the end of the sixties.

    403:

    Satire is neither common, nor a regular thing. Even when I got onto usenet in late '91, folks would add "satire" tags.

    Now... American "humor" is "laugh at me, I'm stupider than you are". Most of it seems to be delivered with a 2x4 upside the head.

    404:

    RAN
    That SOB, MacNamara, LBJ's Sec of "Defense", before he died in the nineties, admitted, publicly, that the war had been a "mistake", and that it happened because he and his people didn't have the cojones to tell LBJ, when the latter asked him, that it couldn't be won on any acceptable terms... and then LBJ committed half a million men, leaving him unable to politically back out.

    And it was referred to as MacNamara's war in the late sixties.

    405:

    In "Methuselah's Children" a starship takes off from the Moon, lands on Earth, takes up 100,000(!) refugees, takes off again and leaves the Solar System -- all without refueling of any kind, and apparently without pesky issues like air resistance.

    Bad example: the spaceship in "Methuselah's Children" was explicitly a NAFAL interstellar colony transporter with a very early magic wand space drive -- I forget if it was inertialess or anti-grav, but there was a specific reason why Lazarus Long hijacked it.

    And it was in any case not the point of the story, which was to contrast how even centuries-long life expectancy was dwarfed by interstellar distances, and how normal human historical periods passed in an eyeblink relative to not-as-fast-as-light travel.

    406:

    it happened because he and his people didn't have the cojones to tell LBJ, when the latter asked him, that it couldn't be won on any acceptable terms

    You're not accounting for the Abilene paradox, whereby a group of people collectively decide on a course of action that is counter to the preferences of many or all of the individuals in the group. It involves a common breakdown of group communication in which each member mistakenly believes that their own preferences are counter to the group's and, therefore, does not raise objections."

    It's a common cognitive bias to assume everyone else in a group is (a) reasonable and (b) agrees with the group's consensus. And sometimes the consensus emerges by accident, as when you convene a committee to determine how to win the war in Indochina: the very name of the committee leads everyone on it to assume everyone else thinks the war is winnable, so obviously they're missing something and should shut up about their misgivings.

    407:

    Thanks. Message forwarded to my sister so we can discuss it before talking to Mum.

    408:

    Nope, typical transpondian short measure. An English ton is 2240 lbs, just a few shovel fulls different to a metric tonne.

    409:

    Oh, oh, a parody. Iron Man walks out, and jumps to fly after a baddy... and baddy's henchman pulls the extension cord out of the socket....

    410:

    Paul @ 396 : "That and the assumption that encasing 90kg of meat in metal makes said meat immune to accelerations in excess of 100 gravities. "

    In 203 racing driver Kenny Brack survived 214 gravities when his racing car crashed.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenny_Br%C3%A4ck

    411:

    RE: Powered armor.

    Yes, we need a magic energy source.

    We also need magic shoulder joints, so that the arms can lift heavy weights and transfer them through the exoskeletal should to the carapace around the body.

    We also need good lumbar support connected to those shoulders Actually, full spinal support, but with the ability to turn the helmet without sacrificing neck protection (make like a crab?)

    We also need a really excellent pair of hip joints, to transfer the load from the arms through the shoulders down the back through the legs and into the feet.

    And note this all has to be an exoskeleton, so it fits outside. The experimenters are proving its doable, but those joints have to be elegant to provide any lateral range of motion.

    And unlike Edge of Tomorrow, exposed hydraulic pistons do not good armor make.

    But the real miracle is the feet. If your armor weighs a tonne or so (1000 kg), it rests on feet that cover a few hundred square centimeters, so it's basically in the load range of a SUV tire. Not bad for walking on roads. But for landing on the roof of a building from a height? That takes some miraculous engineering, miraculous because the structural engineer had to figure out where the armor would land years in advance and reinforce it properly. I don't think most roofs are designed to have a large, flying, full-loaded bull land on them (to pick something in the same weight class).

    412:

    Iron Man’s armor would look a lot less cool with great big snowshoes.

    413:

    "utter disregard of energy source"

    It's a very old problem. IMO the most frequent crime against plausibility in Jules Verne's works is that his standard magic energy source is plain old electrochemical cells. One of his stories he has a whole town, and then the surrounding countryside also, finding that all the people are getting unusually lively and bouncy, because the atmosphere over a huge area is having its oxygen concentration greatly increased by some bloke electrolysing huge quantities of water using a battery-powered plant in his shed. Even in Verne's day chemistry was more than far enough advanced to make it obvious that the energy imbalance of such an idea is well beyond silly, and he has plenty of other stories which are nearly as far out the window on exactly the same point.

    414:

    Niala @ 375: JBS @ 372:

    "First edition cover:"

    That's the edition I first read. It was at the Fraser-Hickson library. Years later an idiot crook stole it, probably hoping to make a lot of money from a first edition. Imbecile! First editions are worth something when they're in a pristine state only. Library books are in anything but a pristine state. There are some exceptions like The Bay Song Book or The Book of Songs of the Bay, of course.

    Anyway, while this cover has fond memories for me I swear by the cover of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction of November 1959 (where it was printed as a two-part serial: Starship Soldier) when it comes to the most realistic depiction of MI in combat.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starship_Troopers#/media/File:StarshipSoldier.jpg

    Yeah, that may be an even better representation of what the powered armor suits looked like in action. I'm only familiar with the first edition cover because it was the only edition at the time I found it & the copy in the school library still had its dust jacket intact.

    I had already read Rocketship Galileo and The Star Beast in grammar school, so I was looking for Heinlein first time I got to use the school library in Junior High and that was the first one I found. What actually caught my eye was the parachutes. Never really thought about it as an illustration for the powered armor until now.

    I don't know what pages the exposition about powered armor might have appeared on in that first edition, but it's not page 81-84 in my current paperback copy (purchased a couple of years ago in response to another discussion of Heinlein & Starship Troopers here).

    Whatever edition you may currently have (or consult), it's Chapter 7 (p 124 in mine).

    415:

    Unobtanium is a long-standing Science-Fictional tradition. Or you can just strap bottles of morning dew to your body.

    416:

    "I always interpreted the armor as a kind of "personal tank""

    "Is that thing an armour or a personal tank?" as Haynes said to Kinnison. Of course, the Lensmen had had direct matter to energy conversion since back in the mists of time/Nevia, as well as some unspecified technology for accumulators that gave them nuclear-style energy storage density.

    417:

    Iron Man’s armor would look a lot less cool with great big snowshoes.

    Well true, but we're talking practicality here.

    Just thinking about it the combat armor helmet has to have a good air handling muzzle on the face. And given how many weapons are slung on the rest of it, the helmet is also a good place to rig a couple of SIGINT/Comms/Jammer antennas.

    And as you pointed out, proper jump boots (tm) should have big feet, for shock absorption, spreading out weight, extra jump jet fuel, and the like..

    So add it all up, and the armor begins to have a familiar silhouette: Wile E. Coyote.

    And that seems quite sensible to me. You?

    418:

    Robert Prior @ 377:

    And back in the 1980s, a million dollars was serious money.
    Isn't chicken feed even today unless you run in circles that live on the upper east side of NYC or similar in London.

    Well, it will get you 1/3 to 1/2 a detached house in Toronto.

    (Back in the early 1980s the average house cost about a year's average income. The average income has about doubled, house prices have gone up 20 times. Now a year's income will let you purchase a parking spot.)

    I remember my father telling me (sometime back in the early 60s) that as a rule of thumb you could afford the mortgage on a house that cost twice as much as your annual salary. I think he was basing that on the VA loan he took out to buy the house we lived in during the years I was in public schools (grades 1-12). I believe his interest rate was 4.5%

    Interestingly, the price for my own home was just about that, twice my annual income. And then I found out many years later that the price for my home in 1975 was the same as my dad had paid for a house in 1955. But that's because I got a super-sweet deal. I wasn't even looking to buy, I wanted to find a place I could rent that I wouldn't spend my whole paycheck filling the gas tank just to commute too & from work.

    NOW, if I was interested in selling, I could probably get a quarter-million for the piece of dirt the house sits on. Don't mean nothin', just an interesting factoid.

    419:

    Robert Prior @ 378:

    It is blatantly obvious both Robocop and ST are satires, even at the time. I saw Robocop as a teenager, and it was obvious.

    Curious question: is satire not really part of American popular culture? Or are there subjects that are considered off-limits to satire?

    Good satire is. Gratuitous anti-American bullshit not so much.

    420:

    MSB @ 388: As we've already crossed the 300-threshold I'm maybe allowed an off-topic remark following from the thread about powered armour above:

    Basically the energy budget of powered armour comes up short unless they use lots and lots of extension leads and maybe spring-loaded boots, IMO.

    This is in a nutshell what kills Iron Man (and by extension the whole Marvel bunch of superhero movies of the last decade) for me.

    "Hand Wavium" appears to be the most powerful energy source known to man, but we still haven't figured out how to harness it outside of science fiction novels and Hollywood special effects. Willing suspension of disbelief is the essential ingredient in today's anti-gravity powered vehicles.

    See also: Waldo & Magic, Inc.

    421:

    I have behind me as I sit and type my late-seventies Fortran textbook, "Fortran for Humans"...

    This sets up the joke is that you've been writing Fortran since it was only Threetran. *grin*

    422:

    whitroth @ 402: Clearly, that was before FDR died in '45. I *said* that Truman invited the French.

    No he didn't. He was in no position, had no political leverage, to stop them. But that was NOT an "invitation".

    423:

    whitroth @ 404: I have behind me as I sit and type my late-seventies Fortran textbook, "Fortran for Humans". The illustrations are wonderful... including the one that illustrates a problem, with a demonstration. Demonstrators marching along the sidewalk carrying signs... and one, clearly the police infiltrator, with freshly-shined shoes. No one else's are.

    This was a joke going back to, well, I heard it by the end of the sixties.

    It goes back farther than that I think. A common commentary in the 1930s & 40s was that the American Communist Party (actually CPUSA?) could not have existed if not for the FBI informants ... they were the only ones whose paid dues kept the group afloat.

    424:

    it's very much a thing that emerged with the odious alt-right since 2008

    In which case, whether or not satire is currently acceptable, that's not the reason so many Americans apparently totally missed it when the films were first released.

    425:

    Speaking of Heinlein, after 3 mass shooting in America in 24 hours, I feel we are living in "The Year of the Jackpot".

    426:

    When I bought my house in the 90s, it was 4-5 times my salary — at the bare limits of affordability, and not what I wanted but rather what I could afford.

    A couple of years after buying it I was salary-frozen for a few years, then got sub-inflation increases for years after, so I ate a lot of rice and beans for a decade.

    427:

    Charlie Stross @ 407:

    In "Methuselah's Children" a starship takes off from the Moon, lands on Earth, takes up 100,000(!) refugees, takes off again and leaves the Solar System -- all without refueling of any kind, and apparently without pesky issues like air resistance.

    Bad example: the spaceship in "Methuselah's Children" was explicitly a NAFAL interstellar colony transporter with a very early magic wand space drive -- I forget if it was inertialess or anti-grav, but there was a specific reason why Lazarus Long hijacked it.

    And it was in any case not the point of the story, which was to contrast how even centuries-long life expectancy was dwarfed by interstellar distances, and how normal human historical periods passed in an eyeblink relative to not-as-fast-as-light travel.

    Inertialeess. They dived down towards the Sun at maximum accelleration (which was almost not enough for them to get away) and then Libby turned his "drive" on canceling the ship's inertia and light pressure/solar wind flings the ship straight away at damn near the speed of light.

    The ship they hijacked didn't "take off" from the moon, the ship was being built in orbit as a generation ship. It was the second one, the first being the "Vanguard" from Orphans of the Sky

    Nor did it land on Earth to pick up "passengers" - they used "shuttles"

    Heinlein fudged the interstellar distances a bit because the whole round trip from the Solar System to the two planets only takes 74 years (experienced as only a few years by the Howard Families due to "time dilation'.

    Plus, I remember the journey from the first planet to the second was near instantaneous. And then the little people of the second planet guide Libby in creating a FTL drive.

    Mostly vast interstellar distances are just papered over with an "I'll explain later ..."

    428:

    Good satire is. Gratuitous anti-American bullshit not so much.

    Robocop was set in Detroit, but I wouldn't call it anti-American. America didn't even exist in Starship Troopers.

    Serious question: what makes you consider either of them anti-American?

    429:

    Robert Prior @ 426:

    it's very much a thing that emerged with the odious alt-right since 2008

    In which case, whether or not satire is currently acceptable, that's not the reason so many Americans apparently totally missed it when the films were first released.

    Calling it satire after the fact doesn't mean that it is, in fact, satire. You can call it gourmet, but it's still a shit sandwich.

    430:

    I first read Starship Troopers as a teen in the late 1980s and, personally, always imagined the powered armour as being a bit Space Marine Terminator suit-ish (Warhammer 40K). Obviously, with the ability to fly involved. Fundamentally, a 'step into' piece of kit as opposed to 'strap it on'. Probably an indication of the stuff I was reading/doing at the time. I was never a comic book guy, for example.

    I'd never really considered that the "How is it powered?" question is an issue. If you're talking about 700 years in the future, an unobtanium power source sort of goes without saying.

    The thing which dates most SF movies, even the good ones (and older SF books, for that matter) is the lack of computing/technological prowess on offer. The leap in tech over the past decade has been so massive that even the most futuristic show from the 1990s/2000s looks hopelessly dated. Problem is, anybody thinking seriously about what might be possible in a few hundred years time wouldn't get anywhere when showrunning.

    As for the disappearance of inertia in superhero films featuring characters who don't have any specific superhero invulnerability, you just have to shrug and ignore it. On the other hand for non-superhero stuff, I have less patience. Peter Jackson's King Kong remake was utterly stupid for the way in which the heroine was chucked around as KK fought some dinosaurs. She would have been a crumpled smear of flesh after all of that action.

    431:

    Robert Prior @ 428: When I bought my house in the 90s, it was 4-5 times my salary — at the bare limits of affordability, and not what I wanted but rather what I could afford.

    A couple of years after buying it I was salary-frozen for a few years, then got sub-inflation increases for