As critic H. Bruce Franklin rightly points out in his 1980 book Robert A. Heinlein: America as Science Fiction, the writer's "right-wing" militarism actually reflects the liberal ideology of John F. Kennedy, who was elected president a year after the novel was published. The armed force in Starship Troopers anticipates the creation of the elite Green Berets; Kennedy's signature "Ask not what your country can do for you" speech also seems to come straight out of the novel. Written as Heinlein's 13th in a juvenile series for Scribner's (a series celebrating the conquest of space whose first filmic incarnation was the 1950 Destination Moon, adapted from Rocket Ship Galileo), the book was rejected for its extreme and unapologetic militarism, then published as an adult novel by Putnam. It's another indication of how much we've changed in 38 years that adults in 1959 had the quaint notion of shielding teenage boys from this sort of thing--though the novel lacked most of the movie's graphic gore (which is now aimed at them).
Franklin also points out that Starship Troopers--which is as steeped in cold war ideology as Heinlein's 1951 The Puppet Masters, and thus in striking contrast to his neo-hippie and neo-communist Stranger in a Strange Land (1961)--suggests that the alien bugs represent Chinese communists and that another humanoid race (the "Skinnies," omitted in the movie) reflects Russian communists. In fact the novel is crammed with pompous lectures about the communist menace and the errors of Karl Marx, most of them linked to the bugs' "hive" mentality--which makes it all the more ironic that the classless military utopia Heinlein proffers as an ideal alternative is no less socialist and totalitarian. The movie actually intensifies this paradox by showing how impossible it is for Johnny to speak to his girlfriend or his parents on the videophone without all his bunk mates being present.
Neither that or Stranger In a Strange Land are really great books but knowing that they were written by the same guy at the same time makes them both more interesting. If memory serves he interrupted Stranger to write Troopers after being alarmed by the U.S. signing a treaty restricting nuclear weapon testing.
Hey you know what other sci-fi novel I've never read? 1984. I keep meaning to (and I have copy of it) but it always feels like it's going to end up being something I needed to have read 20 years ago to really fall in love with. I'm sure lots of the other books I read are actually much worse, but at least I'm curious about those in a way that it's hard to be about something as over-referenced as 1984. Honestly there are a few golden age L. Ron Hubbard novels that feel like a higher priority. *dodges a shower of rotten vegetables* No way am I reading his later billion-page-monstrosities though.
This one was his biggest contemporary hit
These two, which were reprinted together numerous times, have reputations good enough to have survived the general realization that they their author ended up turning into a real life supervillian.
Fear, in particular, got praise from normal-people-authors
It looks like this cover is trying to confuse us with the huge "Stephen King" and no mention of the actual author.