Starship Troopers Paradox

In the novel Starship Troopers, the characters are dealing with an intergalactic war with giant bugs. I read this novel several years ago and I prepared to teach a class on science fiction and fantasy literature. Ultimately, I decided not to include this text in the syllabus, because I found it to contain very little actual science fiction. My argument to a colleague was that the giant bugs could simply be replace by Russian soldiers and very little of the text would change. The novel is more a military book than it is anything fantastical.

The same could be said for The Return of the Soldier as a piece of war literature. The structure of the text would remain intact if Chris were suffering from amnesia due to a bump on the head or Scarlet fever. As a reader, we hear very little about the war itself with the focus being on Chris’s love for Margaret and Kitty’s desire to return to the status quo. Even at the end of the novel, the decision to cure Chris was due to the idea that the truth must be told rather than his duties as a soldier or possible return to the Western front.



–Naomi Johnson


One thought on “Starship Troopers Paradox

  1. I haven’t read this book in ages–I remember I loved the movie, so I grabbed the book, and I was shocked. The movie is anti-war, while the book is pro-military as you said. I think one important aspect to Return of the Soldier is the aspect of Shell-Shock, which ultimately is a WWI condition. No one understood it and it could be as easily treated as “cowardice” or “faking it” as a legitimate condition. While I read Return of the Soldier, there was a strong sense of that–that Chris might be faking. Might have a secret life. I think that makes the setting important in that regard.

    As for Starship Troopers? I prefer the bugs over Russians, but that’s just me.


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