If you've seen the movie and liked it a lot, do not read this book. Go watch Aliens or some other silly "HUH-HUH BLOW 'EM UP WHOO" movie. Not Alien, that was good, but Aliens. Regardless, this book is not mindless entertainment for those who enjoy such pointless things.

I'm a huge fan of Heinlein in general, but this book is on the top of my list of favorites. Yes, it's got the standard elements of sci-fi with aliens and advanced technology and everything, but that isn't the point of this book. It's a deep socio-political commentary, on a similar level as 1984.

It's not a book for the weak-minded. Some of the commentary is overt, but much of it is hidden within the text. An overt example is that of some of the lecturing of Mr. Dubois, a teacher of protagonist Juan Rico.

In one such lecture he describes why there were so many criminals in the past, our now. He discusses juvenile delinquency using an allegory about raising pups. When one messes on the carpet, you scold it, rub its nose in it and spank it immediately. The scolding lets him know he's in trouble, rubbing his nose in it lets him know what he did that was the trouble, and the paddling is to insure he does not do it again. Our juvenile court system does not follow these principles due to considering such punishment inhumane.

He also discusses why punishment must be cruel and unusual. If it is not cruel, it is not a deterrent and serves no purpose. If it is not unusual, it loses its meaning. If a citizen is thrown in jail for no reason every seven weeks, he will possibly go mad, but any jail time for a crime will have no meaning.

My apologies, I've rambled. Good book, I highly recommend you read it. Even if you don't agree with some of the things said here, read it. He provides compelling arguments, and it's all couched in a decent story. It's not an amazing story, but it suits.

It may be a bit militaristic, glorifying the army, and many critics have said so. However, Heinlein was overtly against the draft and any form of conscription and that view is plainly shown.

This isn't one you should read and immediately make up your mind about. Read it slowly, re-read parts of it, then let it settle in for a while. Then sit down and think about it. You may be surprised at how much sense some of it makes.

Review by- Cap'n Commie


 


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