Monday, 31 August 2015

August SE Book Club - Round 2.

So, hey, look at that - the month rolled on, and I never made another post.


What did everyone think of Starship Troopers? (Hopefully everyone got and finished it at this point. =P )

I was always deeply ambivalent about this book. The image of armored space marines was, for me and lots of other nerds, foundational. But, the society he describes is kinda grim. It's great at mobilizing people to be soldiers, but isn't there more than that? Anyway, what about you guys?
[SFW] [SE Book Club] [+5 Good]
[by lrdcthulu@7:04pmGMT]


ooo[......7 said @ 7:23pm GMT on 31st Aug [Score:2]
i always wanted to hear more about the space dogs
lilmookieesquire said @ 8:31am GMT on 1st Sep
"They talk. You simply have to train your ear to their accent. Their mouths can't shape 'b', 'm', 'p', or 'v' and you have to get used to their equivalents...their speech is as clear as any human speech. But a neodog is not a talking dog; he is not a dog at all, he is an artificially mutated symbiote derived from dog stock. A about six times as bright as a dog, say about as intelligent as a human moron..."

The bond in a K-9 team is so close, if the human is killed, the Neodog is euthanized. However, if the Neodog is killed, the human would have to hospitalized and rehabilitated. This may be the earliest reference to Bond Creatures, in which humans have a close relationship with an alien lifeform. Such examples can be seen in Honor Harrington (Treecats), Humanx Commonwealth (Flinx and Pip), the anime Digimon, and Dragonriders of Pern series.


you might like this news article:
biblebeltdrunk said @ 12:49pm GMT on 1st Sep [Score:1 Insightful]
"I remember the doctor sayng something along the lines of "it would be better if we could euthanize the soldier as well."

this was one of my favoret parts of the book that wasn't explored much, both the idea of bonds with creatures, particularly ai, and genetheripy and other genetic manipulation could of be interesting when combined with the suits.

Kinda hard to mix mutations with the volunteer army theme though.
papango said @ 11:48pm GMT on 6th Sep [Score:2]
This book is bilge water. Bilge water on the bounce. Just terrible. The mech suits were cool, but the rest was action-less action scenes and mind-meltingly stupid political lectures from a string interchangeable mouth pieces. Worst thing I've ever read? Certainly in the top ten.
b said @ 7:50pm GMT on 31st Aug [Score:1 Underrated]
I half opted out, half forgot to read the book. No great loss for me.

What's next? If we're doing nominations, maybe City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennet. I just so happen to have started it this weekend.
lrdcthulu said @ 9:11pm GMT on 31st Aug [Score:1 Good]
I figure we'll do nominations on another post later this week, so we can save this for discussion. =P
mechavolt said @ 9:50pm GMT on 31st Aug [Score:1 Funsightful]
Man, I completely suck at this book club thing. I had just gotten Ancillary Justice when the book club started, so I read that instead. And then I read Ancillary Sword. And now I'm reading Left Hand of Darkness. Whomp whomp.
b said @ 10:25pm GMT on 31st Aug
I think you made the right choices.
midden said @ 11:38pm GMT on 31st Aug
I've tried Left Hand of Darkness a few times, but could never get into it. Maybe I was too young; I was less thsn 12, I'm pretty sure, and had devoured the Earthsea trilogy, then was disappointed at how LHD seemed to drag. Please let us know what you think of it.
mechavolt said @ 12:37am GMT on 1st Sep [Score:1 Informative]
I've read the first 5 or 6 chapters so far. It's slow. Really slow. But I like that. One of the things I liked about Ancillary Justice was that it spend 2 or 3 chapters entirely on negotiating the purchase of a gun. If you need plot events to drive the story, you might not like it. But I think the slow burn really makes you learn who the characters are, which makes later plot developments more meaningful.
midden said @ 1:48am GMT on 1st Sep
I did love Ancillary Justice, and honestly don't remember thinking any of it was slow. Perhaps it's time to give LHD another shot. I'm sure my tastes have matured somewhat in the last 35 years.
b said @ 10:31pm GMT on 31st Aug [Score:1 Interesting]
Can I make a suggestion for the next book, whatever we choose? Let's have some discussion questions ready to go. They could run the gamut from "did you like this book and why?" To stuff a little more in depth. Not suggesting 20 or anything crazy, maybe just five to spur some chatter.
lrdcthulu said @ 2:06pm GMT on 1st Sep
This s a pretty good idea. When we vote on the next book, I'll make a post to brainstorm some questions for that discussion.
lilmookieesquire said @ 8:12am GMT on 6th Sep [Score:1 Good]
lilmookieesquire said @ 8:13am GMT on 6th Sep
Thought you guys might appreciate that.
spaceloaf said[1] @ 8:37pm GMT on 31st Aug
Maybe I'm an idiot, but to be honest I'm not sure I got the point.

I mean yes, on one hand it does sort of romanticize the whole "esprit de corps" thing. But as you say it also shows a very sparse existence. Rico basically lost his home, almost all of his family, and so many of his friends. He also has no real interests, hobbies, or aspirations outside of the military. In fact, by the end whatever kind of person have may have been seems to have been completely assimilated into the military culture.

If the goal is to advertise some quasi Fascist philosophy, this does a pretty poor job of it. It's like making a communist propaganda film waxing poetic about how all of society is unified while spending lots of shots showing the long lines for food and people in absolute poverty. The footage doesn't support the rhetoric.
lrdcthulu said @ 9:11pm GMT on 31st Aug
I think that's why this novel has such staying power as a controversial work. When it came out in 1959, people assumed it was glorifying fascism - an obviously controversial thing to do anytime, let alone 1959. But, I think you're right - a lot of the scenes where he describes the government are kinda grim. I think maybe he's pointing out that all this had to happen, because democracy as the 20th century knew it failed at some point before the story, and maybe Starship Troopers is a cautionary tale?

And you right, too. Rico found purpose and meaning in life with the Mobile Infantry, but at a pretty terrible cost.
spaceloaf said @ 2:57am GMT on 1st Sep [Score:1 Underrated]
I don't know, it seems like Heinlein might have been unintentionally sloppy. According to Wikipedia, he originally wrote it as a way to explain why he was "pro nuclear testing." That seems to indicate that all his pro-military rhetoric is sincere.

But then, he seems to completely miss the irony when he creates the antagonists as a race of bugs. He describes repeatedly about how the Workers and Warriors are completely expendable, as only the ruling class "brains" are important. He makes a big deal of how no human soldier would ever leave another soldier behind, and that loyalty is one of the key features of humanity, and why we are better than the bugs.

Yet if you look at the human military, what are the infantry but completely expendable? Just like the bugs, their human commanders are so far up the chain that they must follow their orders completely without context. They are mere chess pieces for the human "brains" to push around (there is even a literal battlefield divided like a chessboard). Even the "Skinnies" are reduced to mere pawns. First they are enemies, then they are allies; there's no discussion about how profound it is that we can communicate with another race, or any value placed on their lives.

It's like Heinlein unwittingly defeated his own argument as he was making it.
Kama-Kiri said @ 5:06am GMT on 1st Sep [Score:1 Good]
That pretty much matches my assessment. The story is about military action and specifically "esprit de corps", but written with no interest in personalities or emotions or morals and certainly displaying no experience with, or insight in, armed conflict. A "Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew" version of war if you will.

I liked the movie much better. While it kept the basic plot points and emphasis on soldiery it heaped on a full bucket-load of irony. Yes, war IS fun, if you have the right "can do" attitude... and ignore the fact that the enemy is as smart as you are, and acting in self defense.

Ah, Starship Troopers. My favorite film in fact. I can quote at length, but this line from Carl seems appropriate:

"You disapprove? Well, too bad! We're in this war for the species, boys and girls..."
Bruceski said @ 6:38am GMT on 1st Sep
My favorite line from the movie is actually from the Rifftrax.

"For anyone who STILL doesn't get the hint, the rest of Neil Patrick Harris's lines will be in german."
lilmookieesquire said @ 3:20am GMT on 1st Sep
For context- that time was around the Korean War when people actively wanted to go after China with nukes.
lilmookieesquire said @ 10:12pm GMT on 31st Aug
I think it was mostly for depicting the hardware. Isn't this the book that made space-drops famous? It certainly influenced battle-mech/battle-tech stuff.

The society at large is kind of one that depends on war and I think that's the weak point of the book in so much as that's mostly what the movie was about/making fun of. But that was kind of required to have the hardware and mindset make any sense. (Otherwise why invest so much into weapons/armor/mobile-infantry etc)

knumbknutz said @ 4:32am GMT on 1st Sep [Score:1 Underrated]
The Powered Armor Suits were the best thing in the book. Half-billion-dollar marvels that provided the toughness of an M-1 Abrams tank, mobility of a world-class gymnast, speed of a turbocharged Kawasaki, and the firepower of a doomsday survivalist's basement. Hell - I don't think half of the anime coming out of Japan would have been possible without S.T.
Kama-Kiri said @ 5:15am GMT on 1st Sep [Score:1 Interesting]
It was the first, or at least the most prescient, depiction of anime "mecha", most clearly seen in the Gundam series. (but also Patlabor, Dougram, Macross, Eva, etc and etc.) Though what the actual influence was I don't know, since Gundam is also rooted in older "big robot" anime like Mazinger Z and Tetsujin 28go which are less obviously based on ST.
knumbknutz said @ 4:48am GMT on 1st Sep
S.T is essentially a showcase for Heinlein's politics. In this era, only those who have completed a term of military service get to have a "Citizenship Franchise", which gives them the right to vote.

Heinlein's theory is that military people have learned how to work together as a team, and so will vote for things that benefit the populous as a whole and not just themselves.

In the real world of course - Anyone who's been in the military, and seen first hand the blatant back-stabbing that goes on among military officers in line for a promotion ought to know better.

He also believes in corporal punishment, in the form of flogging. I think He was just expressing his suppressed urge to engage in S&M practices, much as some of his other books expressed his homophobia. In any case, the book actually does a very good job of capturing Heinlein's politics and the whole attitude he presents in the book (at least before they start fighting the Bugs).
Jodan said @ 3:27pm GMT on 1st Sep [Score:1 Informative]
Heinlein and sexual supression dont go into the same sentance. Having read alot of his other work, especially his later work, that becomes greatly evident.
snagUber said @ 4:28pm GMT on 1st Sep
saving this for later as I did not find time to buy the book :/
lilmookieesquire said @ 5:29pm GMT on 1st Sep

$6.50 for paperback, $7.00 kindle, although, ideally, buy local.
snagUber said @ 6:34pm GMT on 2nd Sep
I went to a book store and bought it.
lilmookieesquire said @ 5:29pm GMT on 1st Sep
Hey can someone post the free ebook site that was on here before?
moriati said @ 8:57pm GMT on 1st Sep
I would like to know more.
yogi said @ 5:59am GMT on 6th Sep
Daemon and Freedom, by Daniel Suarez. I think you'll all love them.

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