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Starship Troopers

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United States

Publication date
December 1959

Robert A. Heinlein

G. P. Putnam's Sons


Originally published
December 1959

Page count
263 (paperback edition)

Hugo Award for Best Novel

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Military science fiction Philosophical novel

Media type
Print (hardback & paperback)

263 (paperback edition)

Juan Rico, Lieutenant Rasczak, Sergeant Charles Zim, Lt. Col. Jean V. Dubois, Sergeant Jelal

Robert A Heinlein books, Hugo Award for Best Novel winners, Science Fiction books

Starship Troopers is a military science fiction novel by American writer Robert A. Heinlein, published hardcover in December 1959. The story was first published (in abridged form) as a two-part serial in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction as Starship Soldier.


The first-person narrative is about a young soldier named Juan "Johnny" Rico and his exploits in the Mobile Infantry, a futuristic military service branch equipped with powered armor. Rico's military career progresses from recruit to non-commissioned officer and finally to officer against the backdrop of an interstellar war between mankind and an arachnoid species known as "the Bugs". Rico and the other characters discuss moral and philosophical aspects of suffrage, civic virtue, juvenile delinquency, corporal punishment, capital punishment, and war.

Starship Troopers won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1960.

Writing of the novel

Some time during 1958 and 1959, Heinlein ceased work on the novel that would become Stranger in a Strange Land and wrote Starship Troopers. It was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in October and November 1959 as a two part serial called Starship Soldier. Although originally written as a juvenile novel for New York publishing house Scribner, it was rejected, prompting Heinlein to cease writing juvenile fiction for Scribners, end his association with that publisher completely, and resume writing books with adult themes. The novel was eventually published as teenage fiction by G. P. Putnam's Sons. A senior editor at Putnam's, Peter Israel, purchased the novel and approved revisions that made it more marketable to adults, and dodged the issue of whether it was aimed at children or adults: "Let's let the readers decide who likes it," he said at a sales conference.

According to Heinlein, his desire to write Starship Troopers was sparked by the publication of a newspaper advertisement placed by the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy on April 5, 1958 calling for a unilateral suspension of nuclear weapon testing by the United States. In response, Robert and Virginia Heinlein created the small "Patrick Henry League" in an attempt to create support for the U.S. nuclear testing program. Heinlein found himself under attack both from within and outside the science fiction community for his views. Heinlein used the novel to clarify and defend his military and political views at the time.


Starship Troopers takes place in the midst of an interstellar war between the Terran Federation of Earth and the Arachnids of Klendathu. It is narrated as a series of flashbacks by space marine Johnny Rico, a member of the "Mobile Infantry". This is one of just a few Heinlein novels set out in this fashion. The novel opens with Rico aboard the space corvette Rodger Young (named after Medal of Honor recipient Rodger Wilton Young), serving with the platoon known as "Rasczak's Roughnecks" (named after the platoon leader, Lieutenant Rasczak); about to embark on a raid against a colony inhabited by "Skinnies" (allies of the Arachnids). Rico himself is a 'cap [capsule] trooper' in the Terran Federation's Mobile Infantry. The raid itself is relatively brief: the Roughnecks land on the planet, destroy their targets, and retreat, suffering two casualties in the process (one, Dizzy Flores, dies during the return to orbit). The story then flashes back to Rico's graduation from high school, where the reader sees his close relationship with his best friend Carl and their decision to sign up for Federal Service together over the objections of Rico's father. This is the only chapter that describes Rico's civilian life, and most of it is spent on the monologues of two people: retired Lieutenant Colonel Jean V. Dubois, Rico's school instructor in "History and Moral Philosophy"; and Fleet Sergeant Ho, a disabled recruiter for the armed forces. Dubois elucidates the book's moral position in matters of war; whereas Fleet Sergeant Ho's monologues examine the nature of military service, and his anti-military tirades seem primarily in contrast with Dubois. Later it becomes apparent that his attitude and display of truncated limbs are intended to scare off unmotivated applicants.

Interspersed throughout the book are other flashbacks to Rico's History and Moral Philosophy course, which reveal that the rights of a full Citizen (to vote and hold public office) must be earned through voluntary Federal service. Those who do not perform this Service retain the rights of free speech, assembly, etc., but cannot vote or hold public office. This structure arose ad hoc after the collapse of the "20th century Western democracies", brought on by social failures at home (among which appear to be poor handling of juvenile delinquency) and military defeat by the Chinese Hegemony overseas.

In the next section of the novel, Rico begins training at Camp Arthur Currie on the Canadian prairie. Five chapters are spent exploring Rico's experience there, under the tutelage of career Ship's Sergeant Charles Zim. Fewer than ten percent of the recruits finish basic training; the rest resign, are expelled, or die in training. One of the chapters displays Ted Hendrick, a fellow recruit and constant complainer, who is flogged and expelled for striking a superior officer (Sergeant Zim) during a simulated combat exercise. Zim does not offer this information to his superior, but Hendrick does. Another recruit, a deserter who murdered a baby girl while AWOL, is hanged by his battalion after his arrest by civilian police. Rico himself is flogged for negligent handling of his equipment during a simulated nuclear weapons drill. Despite this punishment and his own earlier doubts about his fitness to serve, Rico eventually graduates and is assigned to a unit in the Fleet.

During Rico's training, the "Bug War" has changed from border incidents to a full-scale war, and Rico finds himself taking part in combat operations. The war "officially" starts with an Arachnid attack that annihilates the city of Buenos Aires (which kills Rico's mother). Rico briefly describes the Terran Federation's disastrous defeat at the Battle of Klendathu, during which his first unit and ship are destroyed. Following Klendathu, the Terran Federation is reduced to hit-and-run raids similar to that described at the beginning of the novel. This part of the book describes the daily routine of military life, as well as the relationship between officers and non-commissioned officers (personified in this case by Lieutenant Rasczak and Sergeant Jelal). Eventually, Rico becomes a career soldier, and one of his fellow troopers recommends him to Officer Candidate School, where he undergoes a second course of training. En route from the Roughnecks to OCS, Sergeant Rico encounters his estranged father, now Corporal Rico, in transit, and reconciles with him. Sergeant Rico is commissioned a temporary third lieutenant for his final test: a posting to a combat unit. Under the tutelage of his company commander, Captain Blackstone, and with the aid of his platoon sergeant, Zim (reassigned from Camp Arthur Currie), Rico commands a platoon during 'Operation Royalty': a raid to capture members of the Bugs' 'brain caste' and 'queens', and graduates as a second lieutenant. The final chapter serves as a coda, depicting Rico aboard the Rodger Young as the commander of Rico's Roughnecks (previously Rasczak's Roughnecks), preparing to invade Klendathu, with his father as senior NCO.


Large portions of the book take place in classrooms, with Rico and other characters engaged in debates with their History and Moral Philosophy teacher, who is often thought to represent Heinlein's opinion. The overall theme of the book is that social responsibility requires individual ownership. Social responsibility is an act of self acceptance of that responsibility along with the concomitant commitment to the debts that are incurred. Heinlein's Terran Federation is a limited democracy, with aspects of a meritocracy in regard to full citizenship. Suffrage can only be earned by at least two years of volunteer Federal Service ["the franchise is today limited to discharged veterans", (ch. XII)], instead of, as Heinlein would later note, anyone "...who is 18 years old and has a body temperature near 37 °C." The Federation is required to find a place for anyone who desires to serve, regardless of skill or aptitude (this also includes service ranging from teaching to dangerous non-military work such as serving as experimental medical test subjects to military service). There is an explicit contrast to the "democracies of the 20th century", which according to the novel, collapsed because "people had been led to believe that they could simply vote for whatever they wanted... and get it, without toil, without sweat, without tears." Indeed, Colonel Dubois criticizes the famous line in the U.S. Declaration of Independence about "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" as unrealistic.

Military history, traditions, and military science

The Korean War ended only five years before Heinlein began writing Starship Troopers, and the book makes several direct references to it, such as the claim that "no 'Department of Defense' ever won a war." Heinlein also refers to the American prisoners of war taken in that conflict, including the popular accusations of Communist brainwashing. After the Korean War ended, there were rumors that the Chinese and North Koreans continued to hold a large number of Americans. Rico's History and Moral Philosophy class at Officer Candidate School has a long discussion about whether it is moral to never leave a single man behind, even at the risk of starting a new war, and Rico questions whether it was worth it to risk two nations' futures over a single fellow soldier who might not even deserve to live by some standard, but concludes it "doesn't matter whether it's a thousand – or just one, sir. You fight."

Several references are made to other wars: these include the name of the starship that collided with Valley Forge; Ypres, a major battleground in World War I; the starship Mannerheim, a reference to the World War II-era Marshal of Finland; and Rico's boot camp, Camp Arthur Currie (named after Sir Arthur Currie who commanded the Canadian Corps during WWI). A brief reference is also made to Camp Sergeant Smokey Smith, named after a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross in World War II. The airport was the location of the U.S. Army Air Corps' Walla Walla Army Air Base in World War II. The 91st Bomb Group lays claim to being the first Army Air Forces outfit to use that base. Another World War I reference was the phrase "Come on, you apes! You wanna live forever?", which comes from Gunnery Sergeant Daniel Daly at the Battle of Belleau Wood (although instead of "apes", Daly said "sons of bitches"). This phrase, however, has been attributed to various people throughout military history, including perhaps the earliest documented citation by Frederick II of Prussia when he was meant to have said "Rascals, would you live forever?" at the Battle of Kolín. The starship corvette Rodger Young was named after the World War II Medal of Honor recipient, and lines from the chorus of Frank Loesser's Ballad of Rodger Young are used as the ship's recall signal. Another war reference, this one from the War of 1812, involves some implications of the court-martial of Third Lieutenant William Sitgreaves Cox, which are discussed in some detail.


Juan Rico begins the novel with no thought of his personal responsibility or of any particular group's responsibility to self or others. This theme is obliquely addressed in the novel's opening: "We had all inspected our combat equipment (look, it's your own neck -- see?), the acting platoon sergeant had gone over us carefully after he mustered us, and now Jelly went over us again, his eyes missing nothing." "Now I was going to have a hole in my section and no way to fill it. That's not good; it means a man can run into something sticky, call for help and have nobody to help him." "I've heard tell that there used to be military outfits whose chaplains did not fight alongside the others, but I've never been able to see how that could work. I mean, how can a chaplain bless anything he's not willing to do himself? In any case, in the Mobile Infantry, everybody drops and everybody fights -- chaplain and cook and the Old Man's writer.".

The theme is repeated through flashbacks to High School and Officer Candidate School in a required class called History and Moral Philosophy. In this view, everything from the right to vote to the punishments for various crimes are depicted as part of a larger effort to recognize society's needs and improve society, as distinct from self-interest. The service Heinlein envisioned was an all-volunteer service, long before the US military had changed to an all-volunteer model. Other than the rights to vote and hold public office, there is no other restriction between service veterans and civilians.

In the course of both the "current" plot and flashbacks Rico learns to take responsibility for ever-increasing groups: himself, his comrades, and eventually all of mankind (a shared responsibility), and accept that as the reason for remaining in the service. Further, Rico is seen to develop from a relatively powerless citizen, to a very dangerous fighter: "There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men. We're trying to teach you to be dangerous -- to the enemy. Dangerous even without a knife. Deadly as long as you still have one hand or one foot and are still alive.".

Military innovations

In addition to Heinlein's political views, Starship Troopers popularized a number of concepts and innovations in military engineering which have since become broadly present in other science fiction and some of which have been paralleled in real-life research. The novel's most noted innovation is the powered armor exoskeletons used by the Mobile Infantry. These suits were controlled by the wearer's own movements, but powerfully augmented a soldier's strength, speed, weight-carrying capacity (which allowed much heavier personal armament), and jumping ability (including jet and rocket boost assistance), and provided the wearer with improved senses (infrared vision and night vision, radar, and amplified hearing), a completely self-contained personal environment including a drug-dispensing apparatus, sophisticated communications equipment, and tactical map displays. Their powered armor made the Mobile Infantry a hybrid between an infantry unit and an armored one.

Another concept the book pioneered was that of "space-borne infantry". The heavily mechanized units of M.I. troops were attached to interstellar troop transport spacecraft, which then delivered them to planetary target zones, by dropping groups of Mobile Infantrymen onto the planet surface from orbit via individual re-entry capsules (hence the book's slang term "cap troopers" for M.I. troops). The uses for such a force—ranging from smash-and-burn raids, to surgical strikes, conventional infantry warfare, and holding beachheads—and the tactics that might be employed by such soldiers are described extensively within the novel. The tactics, training, and many other aspects of this futuristic elite force are carefully detailed: everything from the function of the armored suits themselves, to the need for multiple variants of powered armor, to the training of personnel in both suit operations and the specialized unit tactics that would be needed, to the operational use of the suits in combat.

Influence on U.S. military

While powered armor is Starship Troopers' most famous legacy, its influence extends deep into contemporary militaries. Over half a century after its publication, Starship Troopers was on the reading lists of the United States Marine Corps and the United States Navy. It is the first science-fiction novel to have appeared on the reading lists at three of the five United States military branches. When Heinlein wrote Starship Troopers, the United States military was a largely conscripted force, with conscripts serving two-year hitches. Today, the U.S. military has incorporated many ideas similar to Heinlein's concept of an all-volunteer, high-tech strike force. In 2002, a marine general described the future of Marine-Corps clothing and equipment as needing to emulate the Mobile Infantry. In 2012, an article on the US military buying ballistic face masks specifically referenced the "big steel gorilla[s]" of Starship Troopers.

Critical reception

Alexei Panshin called Starship Troopers a militaristic polemic. "The book's nearest cousin is the sort of recruiting film that purports to show the life of a typical soldier, with a soundtrack commentary by earnest sincere Private Jones who interprets what we see for us. The outstanding characteristic of a film of this sort, and of Heinlein's book, is slick patness. [...] There is no sustained human conflict. [...] All the soldiers we see are tough, smart, competent, cleancut, clean shaven, and noble."

John Brunner compared it to a "Victorian children's book" while Anthony Boucher, founder of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, remarked that Heinlein had "forgotten to insert a story."

In his review column for F&SF, Damon Knight selected the novel as one of the 10 best genre books of 1959. In a 2009 retrospective, Jo Walton finds Starship Troopers "military SF done extremely well." "Heinlein was absolutely at his peak when he wrote this in 1959. He had so much technical stylistic mastery of the craft of writing science fiction that he could do something like this [per Walton, he tells the story "backwards and in high heels"] and get away with it." "It’s astonishing that [Starship Troopers is] still controversial now, fifty years after it was first published," and "Probably [Heinlein would] have been delighted at how much the book has made people think and argue."


To Heinlein's surprise, Starship Troopers won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1960. By 1980, twenty years after its release, it had been translated into eleven languages and was still selling strongly. However, Heinlein complained that, despite this success, almost all the mail he received about it was negative and he only heard about it "when someone wants to chew me out."

Allegations of militarism

A common complaint about Starship Troopers is that it promotes militarism, the glorification of war and of the military. There was a two-year debate in the Proceedings of the Institute for Twenty-First Century Studies (PITFCS) that was sparked by a comparison between a quote in Starship Troopers that "the noblest fate that a man can endure is to place his own mortal body between his loved home and war's desolation" (paraphrase of the fourth stanza of "The Star-Spangled Banner") and the anti-war poem "Dulce et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen. Dean McLaughlin called it "a book-length recruiting poster." Alexei Panshin, a veteran of the peacetime military, argued that Heinlein glossed over the reality of military life, and that the Terran Federation-Arachnid conflict existed simply because, "Starship troopers are not half so glorious sitting on their butts polishing their weapons for the tenth time for lack of anything else to do." Joe Haldeman, a Vietnam veteran and author of the anti-war, Hugo and Nebula-winning science fiction novel The Forever War, said that he "disagreed" with Starship Troopers because it "glorifies war", but added that "it's a very well-crafted novel, and I believe Heinlein was honest with it".

Defending Heinlein, George Price argued that "[Heinlein] implies, first, that war is something 'endured,' not enjoyed, and second, that war is so unpleasant, so desolate, that it must at all costs be kept away from one's home." In a commentary on his essay "Who Are the Heirs of Patrick Henry?", Heinlein agreed that Starship Troopers "glorifies the military ... 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... he has the toughest job of all and should be honored." The book's dedication also reads in part "... to all sergeants everywhere who have labored to make men out of boys." Heinlein also received some complaints about the lack of conscription in Starship Troopers (the military draft was the law in the United States when he wrote the novel).

Allegations of fascism

Some critics assert that the Terran Federation depicted in the novel is a fascist society, and that Starship Troopers is therefore an endorsement of fascism. These allegations have become so popular that Sircar's Corollary of Godwin's Law states that once Heinlein is brought up during online debates, "Nazis or Hitler are mentioned within three days."

The most visible proponent of these views is probably Paul Verhoeven, whose 1997 film version of Starship Troopers portrayed the Terran Federation's personnel wearing uniforms strongly reminiscent of those worn by the SS. Most of the proponents for this view cite the idea that only veterans can vote and non-veterans lack full citizenship; moreover, only veterans are permitted to teach the course "History & Moral Philosophy", children are taught that moral arguments for the status quo are mathematically correct, and both capital punishment and corporal punishment are accepted as methods of teaching morality and reducing crime. The protagonists laud the utility of corporal punishment as a means of correcting juvenile delinquents. Federal Service is not necessarily military, although it is suggested that hardship and strict discipline are pervasive. According to Poul Anderson, Heinlein got the idea not from Nazi Germany or Sparta, but from Switzerland.

Many argue that Heinlein was simply discussing the merits of a "selective versus nonselective franchise." Heinlein made a similar claim, over two decades after Starship Troopers's publication, in his Expanded Universe and further claimed that 95% of "veterans" were not military personnel but members of the civil service and that only retired veterans could vote or hold office.

However, this issue is still controversial, even among the book's defenders. James Gifford and David Dyer-Bennet point to several quotes as indications that the characters assume Federal Service is military; for instance, when Rico tells his father he is interested in Federal Service, his father immediately explains his belief that Federal Service is a bad idea because there is no war in progress, indicating that he sees Federal Service as military in nature, or not necessary to a businessman during peacetime. Some Federal Service recruiters wear military ribbons, and a term of service "is either real military service... or a most unreasonable facsimile thereof." Moreover, the history of Federal Service describes it as being started by military veterans who did not originally allow civilians to join and are not described as allowing them to join later. Gifford decides, as a result, that although Heinlein's intentions may have been that Federal Service be 95% non-military, in relation to the actual contents of the book, Heinlein "is wrong on this point. Flatly so."

Allegations of utopianism

More recently, the book has been analyzed as a hypothetical utopia, in the sense that while Heinlein's ideas sound plausible, they have never been put to the test. This criticism has been leveled by writers such as Robert A. W. Lowndes, Philip José Farmer, and Michael Moorcock. The latter wrote an essay entitled "Starship Stormtroopers" in which he attacked Heinlein and other writers over similar "Utopian fiction." Lowndes accused Heinlein of using straw man arguments, "countering ingenuous half-truths with brilliant half-truths." Lowndes further argued that the Terran Federation could never be as idealistic as Heinlein portrays it to be because he never properly addressed "whether or not [non-citizens] have at least as full a measure of civil redress against official injustice as we have today". Farmer also agreed, arguing that a "world ruled by veterans would be as mismanaged, graft-ridden, and insane as one ruled by men who had never gotten near the odor of blood and guts."

Allegations of racism

The supposedly racist aspects of Starship Troopers involve the Terrans' relations with the extraterrestrial Bugs and the Skinnies. Richard Geib has suggested that Heinlein portrayed the individual Arachnids as lacking "minds or souls... killing them seems no different from stepping on ants." Both Robert Peterson and John Brunner believe that the nicknames "Bugs" and "Skinnies" carry racial overtones, Brunner making a comparison with calling Koreans "gooks" while Peterson suggested that "not only does the nickname 'Bugs' for the arachnids of Klendathu sound too much like a racial slur, but Heinlein's characters unswervingly believe that humans are superior to Bugs, and that humans are destined to spread across the galaxy."

Robert A. W. Lowndes argues that the war between the Terrans and the Arachnids is not about a quest for racial purity, but rather an extension of Heinlein's belief that man is a wild animal. According to this theory, if man lacks a moral compass beyond the will to survive, and he was confronted by another species with a similar lack of morality, then the only possible moral result would be warfare.


In 1976, Avalon Hill published Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers, a map-and-counter board wargame featuring a number of scenarios as written in the novel.

In 2005, Mongoose Publishing published Starship Troopers: The Miniatures Game, a miniature wargame which used material from the novel, film, and animated TV series.


In 1982, Radio Shack/Tandy Corporation published Klendathu by Leo Christopherson for the TRS-80 Model I, Model II, Model III and Color Computer.

In 1998, Mythic Entertainment released Starship Troopers: Battlespace which was available to America Online subscribers. The game, in which players battled each other in overhead space combat, allowed players to assume either Klendathu or Federation roles.

In 2000, Blue Tongue Entertainment released the top-down real-time tactics video game Starship Troopers: Terran Ascendancy.

In 2005, Empire Interactive and Destineer released a first person shooter video game Starship Troopers (video game) for Windows. The game is set 5 years after the events of the first film.

November 13, 2012 a mobile game that acts as a prequel to the series called Starship Troopers: Invasion "Mobile Infantry" was released worldwide via the App Store (iOS).


A Starship Troopers pinball machine was made by Sega Pinball in 1997.


In 1988, from October to December, Sunrise and Bandai Visual produced a 6-episode Japanese original video animation locally titled Uchū no Senshi with mobile infantry power armor designs by Kazutaka Miyatake (famous for his work on Macross/Robotech).

In August 1999, an animated series, Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, which took inspiration from both the novel and the first (1997) film, lasted 40 episodes until April 2000.

In July 2012, an animated movie entitled Starship Troopers: Invasion (2012) was released on DVD and Blu-ray. It features new characters, with Rico, now a General, playing a supporting role.

Live-action film

The film rights to the novel were licensed in the 1990s.

The name was first licensed for an unrelated B-movie script called Bug Hunt at Outpost Nine, which was then retitled Starship Troopers. The resulting 1997 film, written by Ed Neumeier and directed by Paul Verhoeven, shared character names and superficial plot details with the novel. The film received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics.

Admirers of Heinlein were critical of the film, which they considered a betrayal of Heinlein's philosophy, presenting the society in which the story takes place as fascist. Christopher Weuve, an admirer of Heinlein, has said that the society depicted in the film showed only a superficial resemblance to the society that Heinlein describes in his book. Weuve summed up his critique of the film as follows. First, "while the Terran Federation in Starship Troopers is specifically stated to be a representative democracy, Ed Neumeier decided to make the government into a fascist state ... Second, the book was multiracial, but not so the movie: all the non-Anglo characters from the book have been replaced by characters who look like they stepped out of the Aryan edition of GQ... Third, there is real element of sadism present in the movie which simply isn't present in the book." In Calum Marsh's 2013 article about the film in The Atlantic he stated that the '...sci-fi film's self-aware satire went unrecognized by critics when it came out 16 years ago. Now, some are finally getting the joke."

The powered armor technology that is central to the book (and became a staple of science fiction thereafter) is completely absent in the film, in which the characters use mid-twentieth century weapon and body armor technology. According to Verhoeven, this, and what he considered the fascist tone of the book, reflected his own experience in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands during WW II.

In the DVD commentary, Verhoeven noted that the divergence was intentional as he disagreed deeply with the political tilt of the original novel. Verhoeven had not read the book; he attempted to do so after he bought the rights to embellish his existing film, but found that he disliked it: "I stopped after two chapters because it was so boring... It is really quite a bad book. I asked Ed Neumeier to tell me the story because I just couldn't read the thing."

Three sequels followed: a television film, Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004), Starship Troopers 3: Marauder (2008) and Starship Troopers: Invasion (2012), straight-to-DVD releases.

In December 2011, Neal H. Moritz, producer of films such as The Fast and the Furious series and I Am Legend, announced plans to do a remake of the film that he claims will be more faithful to the source material. On May 30, 2014, Megan Ellison tweeted that her production company Annapurna Pictures will be producing the film. It was announced that the studio are rebooting the film with Mark Swift and Damian Shannon writing the film.


Dark Horse Comics, Mongoose Publishing and Markosia have held the license to produce comic books based on Starship Troopers, written by authours including Warren Ellis, Gordon Rennie and Tony Lee.


Starship Troopers influenced many later science fiction stories, setting a tone for the military in space, a type of story referred to as military science fiction. John Steakley's novel Armor was, according to the author, born out of frustration with the small amount of actual combat in Starship Troopers and because he wanted this aspect developed further. Conversely, Joe Haldeman's anti-war novel The Forever War is popularly thought to be a direct reply to Starship Troopers, and though Haldeman has stated that it is actually a result of his personal experiences in the Vietnam War, he has admitted to being influenced by Starship Troopers. Haldeman's historical novel 1968 has a soldier going crazy in Vietnam: he imagines himself killing alien bugs in a battlesuit, instead of actual Vietnamese people.

Harry Harrison wrote a satirical book called Bill, the Galactic Hero which he described as "a piss-take on Heinlein's Starship Troopers." John Scalzi's novel Old Man's War is, according to the author, explicitly patterned after Starship Troopers. In recent years, John Ringo's series Legacy of the Aldenata (also known as the Posleen series) featured a more explicit homage to Heinlein's book. In 1987, a Choose Your Own Adventure-style interactive book set in the Starship Troopers universe, Combat Command in the World of Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers: Shines the Name by Mark Acres, was published by Ace Publishers.

Film and television

The 1986 James Cameron film Aliens incorporated themes and phrases from the novel, such as the terms "the drop" and "bug hunt", as well as the cargo-loader exoskeleton. The actors playing the Colonial Marines were also required to read Starship Troopers as part of their preparation prior to filming.

Yoshiyuki Tomino, the creator of the mecha anime TV series Mobile Suit Gundam (1979) has cited Starship Troopers as an important inspiration. He coined the term "mobile suit" used to name the piloted mecha from the anime series as a reference to the novel's own "mobile infantry".

The 1988 Gainax OVA series Gunbuster borrows numerous plot elements from the novel.


Starship Troopers is thought to have influenced numerous games including Outwars, Tribes, Tribes 2, Warhammer 40k, Planetside 2, Crysis, StarCraft and Halo: Combat Evolved. On November 13, 2012 Spectre Media, LLC released Starship Troopers: Invasion "Mobile Infantry" for iOS devices, which acts as a prequel to the 2012 Starship Troopers: Invasion film by Shinji Aramaki.


Armorines from Valiant Comics is partially inspired by Starship Troopers, with a similar plot of a space-age human military battling alien bugs.

Release details

  • 1960-06-01, Putnam Publishing Group, hardcover, ISBN 0-399-20209-9
  • May 1968, Berkley Medallion Edition, paperback, ISBN 0-425-02945-X and ISBN 0-425-03787-8
  • January 1984, Berkley Publishing Group, paperback, ISBN 0-425-07158-8
  • November 1985, Berkley Publishing Group, paperback, ISBN 0-425-09144-9
  • November 1986, Berkley Publishing Group, paperback, ISBN 0-425-09926-1
  • 1987-05-01, Ace Books, paperback, 263 pages, ISBN 0-441-78358-9
  • 1995-10-01, Buccaneer Books, hardcover, ISBN 1-56849-287-1
  • 1997-12-01, Blackstone Audiobooks, cassette audiobook, ISBN 0-7861-1231-X
  • 1998-07-01, G. K. Hall & Company, large print hardcover, 362 pages, ISBN 0-7838-0118-1
  • 1999-10-01, Sagebrush, library binding, ISBN 0-7857-8728-3
  • 2000-01-01, Blackstone Audiobooks, CD audiobook, ISBN 0-7861-9946-6
  • 2006-06-27, Ace Trade, paperback, ISBN 0-441-01410-0
  • References

    Starship Troopers Wikipedia