Starship Troopers by Robert A. HeinleinStarship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

Starship Troopers

byRobert A. Heinlein

Paperback

Pricing and Purchase Info

$11.77 online 
$12.50 list price save 5%
Earn 59 plum® points

In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Available in stores

about

In Robert A. Heinlein’s controversial bestseller, a recruit of the future goes through the toughest boot camp in the Universe—and into battle against mankind’s most alarming enemy.

JOIN THE ARMY AND SEE THE UNIVERSE

The historians can’t seem to settle whether to call this one “The Third Space War” (or the fourth), or whether “The First Interstellar War” fits it better. The soldiers just call it “The Bug War.” Everything up to then and still later were “incidents,” “patrols,” or “police actions.”

In the Mobile Infantry, everybody fights. But you're just as dead if you buy the farm in an “incident” as you are if you buy it in a declared war...

“A classic…If you want a great military adventure, this one is for you.”—All SciFi
Robert Anson Heinlein was born in Missouri in 1907, and was raised there. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1929, but was forced by illness to retire from the Navy in 1934. He settled in California and over the next five years held a variety of jobs while doing post-graduate work in mathematics and physics at the University o...
Stranger in a Strange Land
Stranger in a Strange Land

by Robert A. Heinlein

$12.32$13.50

In stock online

Available in stores

I Will Fear No Evil
I Will Fear No Evil

by Robert A. Heinlein

$10.83$11.99

In stock online

Available in stores

The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
The Cat Who Walks Through Walls

by Robert A. Heinlein

$10.37$11.99

In stock online

Available in stores

Shop this author
Title:Starship TroopersFormat:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 7.5 × 4.25 × 0.94 inPublisher:Penguin Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0441783589

ISBN - 13:9780441783588

Appropriate for ages: 18 - 18

Look for similar items by category:

Customer Reviews of Starship Troopers

Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Heinlein There's a lot of great stuff going on in this book, but there's also a lot of boot camp and training which slows down the pace. It's easy to see how Starship Troopers influenced the military-SF that comes in the future. But also, its interesting to see how other military-SF improves on this formula.
Date published: 2016-12-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good story A lot of good elements to this story, especially for something that was written in the 1950s. I remember how much I enjoyed this.
Date published: 2016-12-05
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Sentimental nonsense Account of war with aliens from pov of regular soldier. No character development. No description of alien biology, motivation - they are just 'bugs'. Much unsubtle racism and simplistic social comentary. Truly awful wrting.
Date published: 2015-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant A masterful composition on humanities most possible constitution within a futuristic universe, cultivating xenophobia into all aspects of human class and culture.
Date published: 2015-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great sci-fi written during the cold war but Heinlein wrote it in future text. Giving a look at war in the future on other planets and enemy.
Date published: 2015-01-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Classic The book is not like the movie. Less focused on war and more on the political system and military training on earth at this time. Interesting read and not very long.
Date published: 2014-12-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Reader Awesome book with considerable leadership lessons.
Date published: 2014-06-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Reader This may well be the most misunderstood novel in Heinlein's canon, and that's no mean feat. Unfortunately, the debate over its political system tends to overshadow the basic story of an infantryman at war, which is well worth reading on its own merits. The political system, in which one must spend some time in service to the government before being able to vote, is but one of several ideas Heinlein came up with for taking the franchise out of the hands of those who do not value it enough to use it wisely. Yes, the story does get a bit preachy at times, especially when exploring such philosophical matters. However, the book occupies a unique place between his "juveniles" and his adult books, and I would recommend it to any SF reader.
Date published: 2014-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Reader Critics who call this book "controversial" overlook two fundamental facts: it was written for young readers, teenagers; it is not about the military action or even about the society where it is set. It is about morals, justice and ethics. Heinlein anticipated the debate over individual responsibility and free-will. How would criminal law work without the concept of retribution, replacing it with the painful, individual decision between rehabilitation and death? Decades before the concept of "selectorate," as described by Bruce B. de Mesquita et al. in "The Dictator's Handbook", Heinlein proposes a practical way of determining voting rights in exchange for practical civic duty. The ethics of corporal punishment, especially for children, are discussed not in terms of cruelty and revenge, but in terms of careful, surgically applied learning vocabulary. Teaching is firm and impersonal, good parenting is everything. Starship Troopers does not sell an ultra-conservative world view. Instead, it dismisses collectivist alternatives as unsuitable for free human expression and development. Misguided readers, such as the screen-writers and director of the first film adaptation, do not see this or are not brave enough to propose it to a politically correct audience. It takes some courage to read and understand. This applies to each and every one of the many books written by Robert Anson Heinlein.
Date published: 2014-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Starship Troopers This book makes fascism look attractive and I love it!
Date published: 2013-11-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Classic military sci-fi Well written first person narrative and an interesting look at militarism and fascism.
Date published: 2013-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sci-Fi Masterpiece "Starship Troopers" is a classic of science-fiction literature. Heinlein does a masterful job interweaving the intriguing story of Johnny Rico and sociological and political issues into an informative, interesting tale. For those who have seen the horror show film by the same title, the original book is substantially different in story line, with the characters and basics being primarily the same. A young Johnny Rico decides to join the army to become a Citizen along with his dear friend Carl. Johnny is placed in the Mobile Infantry and sent to the hardest boot camp on earth, where he obtains the abilities to fight man-kinds newest emerging enemy: Bugs. An absolutely fantastic read, i would recommend "Starship Troopers" to and sci-fi fan who isn't just about the alien-shoot-em-up aspects of the genre.
Date published: 2008-12-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A True Masterpiece It's hard to describe this novel, because it does so much. In addition to a good action-packed main story, Heinlein delves into political and moral philosophy, military psychology, the difficulties of adolescence, not to mention futuristic military deployment and strategy. Since you'll probably disagree with some, if not most of the novel's premises, there's plenty to think about and discuss (someone you know is bound to have read it). This is without a doubt one of the ten greatest science fiction novels ever, and arguably the most controversial.
Date published: 2008-02-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great Book... With unneeded filler material This book could have been so much more. You could have taken all the somewhat preachy politics stuff and replaced it with more story, which could have easily been done. The book has many pages that don't forward the plot at all, and are mearly there to display the author's political stance. While the book was good, it lost those two stars based on the unneeded filler material.
Date published: 2006-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bustin' Bugs is tough, raising puppies is tougher I first read Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land in my second year of university but all I remember of that book is the basic plot and that I couldn't put it down. So, when I picked up Starship Troopers I was pretty sure that it was going to be good read. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Despite my expectation of the quality of Heinlein's writing, the movie and it's sequel kind of made me nervous about the actual story. I shouldn't have worried since we all know that the movie rarely lives up to the book (except Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, of course). The book is narrated by John Rico who takes the reader through his life from high-school graduation through his military career and a climactic battle on the bug home planet of Klendathu. The majority of the book covers Rico's training. Heinlein's descriptions of military training and the interpersonal dynamics among the recruits and trainers are all obviously taken from his own military experiences. As exciting as the battle scenes are in this book, the most memorable portions are undoubtedly those of the training. I have read better descriptions of military life only in George Robert Elford's reality based Devil's Guard. But, by far, my absolute favourite part is his six page diatribe on properly raising children and puppies and the public administration of corporal punishment to young offenders and their delinquent parents. Because, as the analogy goes, it's not the puppy's fault it pees on the carpet, it's the owner's fault for not teaching it better. Therefore, it's as much the parents' fault as the child's for the child's criminal behaviour and the punishment should be equally shared. If you have ever been in a store when some brat is going off like some kind of siren on Satan's squad car while mom or dad quietly retreat to their happy place with a vapid look on their face, then you would likely support Heinlein's philosophy on dealing with young offenders.
Date published: 2005-07-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great sci-fi read An excellent book that covers very intersting topics. Many of which inspired from Robert A. Heinlein's time and as you read you can notice hints of text from the cold war. I loved this book and I not only recommend it but encourage you to read it if you love sci-fi.
Date published: 2003-04-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Classic Military SF The movie did not come anywhere near to doing justice to this book. I highly recommend the book; all copies of the movie should be burned, IMHO. Heinlein is one of the 20th centuries leading SF authors, and this is, in my opinion, one of his best books.
Date published: 2002-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sweet book I think I can put all of the reviewers combined reviews into one word that would describe this book very well: COOL
Date published: 2001-12-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An SF must read... This book is the definitive "military Sci-Fi" novel. Heinlein has captured the frustration and futility of a high-tech army fighting a low tech enemy they don't understand. Forget the movie, our "cap" troopers (so named for the capsules that deploy them) are members of the Mobile Infantry, an evolution of the current military structure where the administrative tail has been eliminated "everybody fights...cook, clerk and C.O.". The M.I. deploys in powered armour, making each trooper a veritable one man battleship. Heinleins glimpse into the future once again envisions a "big brother" government, with limited civil liberties where citizenship is restricted to those that have served in the armed forces. Embracing the assumption that without sacrifice the gift of citizenship is not appreciated. Truly this book is a keeper, and is one of the only Sci-Fi books that can stand beside Haldemans "Forever War".
Date published: 2001-05-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heinlein-crazy If you enjoyed the movie then please, for the love of God, read this title, you will thank me for it! I could not put it down for second, a very realistic decription of boot camp, and warfare from an author who actually knows what he is talking about, a former naval engineer. Blood, guts, and evil aliens, what more could you ask for in a Sci-Fi!!!
Date published: 2000-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Realistic SF warfare There are only 2 books that I've read that present any kind of realistic interpretation of an interstallar army (as opposed to navy) - this book and Haldeman's Forever War. (and I've read a lot of SF) If you liked Troopers, I would recommend reading Haldeman's book. Why is this book good? It feels right. Anyone who's watched an episode of Star Trek and thuoght to themselves, "what kind of military would allow this?" will appreciate the fact that these people are indeed soldiers, and they are fighting to protect the Earth from alien invaders. Others have commented on the analogies to the Vietnam war. That's a little before my time, but I can assure you that this is a highly entertaining book in its philosophy as well as its action, irrespective of its status as a parable. Recommended.
Date published: 2000-06-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Highly Recommend A truly great book by a great author, he put his own views into a science-fiction story. Much better than the movie. Movie is a dissappointement after watching the movie. MUST READ!
Date published: 1999-09-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Recreating Saigon It is supposed that this was how Heinlein had figured the Vietnam war should have been. An all volunteer army at a time when boys were conscripted and sent off to a foreign land before they were even old enough to drink. The bugs communed in holes and fought guerilla warfare by stealth. The counter measure was to "nape" the surface from the air, then deploy mudsluggers to clean out the hives. Being a former navy engineer, Heinlein always believed that a boy didn't grow up to be a man until he'd paid his dues in the military. That despite the horrors of war, the honor of serving his patron was earned by the privileged individual who dared put his life on the line for those he loved. Remember that in 1969, a country consumed by left wing sympathy despised the very soldiers who had guarded our gates of freedom against communism. The movie, as is always the case, is a pale representation of the author's memorable characters, fantastic worlds, and cool technology, which only Heinlein, with his wit and vision, could have created.
Date published: 1999-07-12

Read from the Book

Table of ContentsTitle PageCopyright PageAcknowledgements CH:01CH:02CH:03CH:04CH:05CH:06CH:07CH:08CH:09CH:10CH:11CH:12CH:13CH:14 Historical NoteRobert A. Heinlein“Troopers finds SF’s first grand master in excellent command of the language, mixing technical terms, ‘modern’ slang, and plain old words in the unstylish style that is his hallmark. It is a cross between eloquent and workmanlike, and it does not just get the job done, it propels the story. Heinlein brings worlds alive with his prose, whether they are boot camps or bug holes.”—Science Fiction Weekly “The single most influential book that I have ever read. A lot of the ideas and values that Heinlein offers in Starship Troopers have had a profound effect on me and the way that I have molded my life . . . [It] is a story about social ills we are faced with today. Unlike many authors, Heinlein offers ideas and options as to possible reforms.”—SF Site “What makes Starship Troopers such an important book is in its pioneering approach to dramatizing military themes in an SF context. Unless I miss my guess, Troopers was the first SF novel in which military life was depicted in a manner believable to readers who had actually served.“As a fast-paced piece of action storytelling, Starship Troopers mostly races along . . . The humanity Heinlein bestowed upon characters, the gritty realism of their conflicts, in what had largely been Flash Gordon territory up to that point, was a significant step in science fiction maturation.“Love ’em or hate ’em, the novel’s ‘controversial’ politics [are] another feather in its cap. A novel in a genre [once] dedicated to escapist juvenilia challenges adult readers to question their assumptions and consider such ideas as duty, altruism, and patriotism under the harsh light of scrutiny . . . [Troopers ] is doing you an intellectual favor.”—SF Reviews.net “A serious moral tract about the obligations of citizenship and the nobility of the individual willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good . . . Troopers has to be seen as partly a celebration of victory in World War II with its unsung citizen-heroes, partly a reflection of the Cold War and its attendant anxiety, and partly a reaction to growing popular discontent which originated with the inconclusive Korean War and culminated in the anti-war movement of the 1960s.”—SF Crowsnest “[An] incredible classic of science fiction . . . Heinlein grabs the attention of the reader from the very beginning . . . with ‘I always get the shakes before a drop.’ That simple line illustrates the beauty of this work; it’s not just about action, though there is certainly plenty of that. Instead it’s about what goes through the mind of a trooper.“Heinlein not only combines futuristic action with psychological insight here, but also manages to throw in some social commentary as well. Whether or not the reader would agree with Heinlein’s ideas, the concepts are still intriguing . . . It brilliantly blends action and intellect to provide an entertaining, thought-provoking experience for readers of all ages. It’s one of my personal favorite books, and I highly recommend it to everyone. [It] gets better every time one reads it, for one is always discovering some new idea hidden within the pages. I have never even remotely tired of reading it, and I’m sure I never will.”—The 11th HourBooks by Robert A. HeinleinASSIGNMENT IN ETERNITYTHE BEST OF ROBERT HEINLEINBETWEEN PLANETSTHE CAT WHO WALKS THROUGH WALLSCITIZEN OF THE GALAXYTHE DAY AFTER TOMORROWDESTINATION MOONTHE DOOR INTO SUMMERDOUBLE STAREXPANDED UNIVERSE: MORE WORLDS OF ROBERT A. HEINLEINFARMER IN THE SKYFARNHAM’ S FREEHOLDFRIDAYGLORY ROADTHE GREEN HILLS OF EARTHHAVE SPACE SUIT—WILL TRAVELI WILL FEAR NO EVILJOB: A COMEDY OF JUSTICETHE MAN WHO SOLD THE MOONTHE MENACE FROM EARTHMETHUSELAH’ S CHILDRENTHE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESSTHE NOTEBOOKS OF LAZARUS LONGTHE NUMBER OF THE BEASTORPHANS OF THE SKYTHE PAST THROUGH TOMORROW: FUTURE HISTORY STORIESPODKAYNE OF MARSTHE PUPPET MASTERSRED PLANETREVOLT IN 2100ROCKET SHIP GALILEOTHE ROLLING STONESSIXTH COLUMNSPACE CADETTHE STAR BEASTSTARMAN JONESSTARSHIP TROOPERSSTRANGER IN A STRANGE LANDTHREE BY HEINLEINTIME ENOUGH FOR LOVETIME FOR THE STARSTOMORROW THE STARS (Ed .)TO SAIL BEYOND THE SUNSETTRAMP ROYALETUNNEL IN THE SKYTHE UNPLEASANT PROFESSION OF JONATHAN HOAGWALDO & MAGIC, INC.THE WORLDS OF ROBERT A. HEINLEINTHE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP Published by the Penguin Group Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England A much abridged version of this book was published in Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine under the title “Starship Soldier.” This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content. STARSHIP TROOPERS An Ace Book / published by arrangement with The Robert A. & Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust PRINTING HISTORY G. P. Putnam’s Sons edition / 1959 Berkley edition / May 1968 Ace mass-market edition / May 1987 Ace trade paperback edition / July 2006 Ace premium edition / May 2010 Copyright © 1959, 1987 by Robert A. Heinlein, 2003 by The Robert A. & Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust. All rights reserved.No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014. eISBN : 978-1-101-50042-2 ACE Ace Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014. ACE and the “A” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.   AcknowledgmentsThe stanza from “The ’Eathen” by Rudyard Kipling, at the head of Chapter VII, is used by permission of Mr. Kipling’s estate. Quotations from the lyrics of the ballad “Rodger Young” are used by permission of the author, Frank Loesser. TO “SARGE” ARTHUR GEORGE SMITH—SOLDIER, CITIZEN, SCIENTIST—AND TO ALL SERGEANTS ANYWHEN WHO HAVE LABORED TO MAKE MEN OUT OF BOYS. R.A.H.CH:01Come on, you apes! You wanta live forever?—Unknown platoon sergeant, 1918I always get the shakes before a drop. I’ve had the injections, of course, and hypnotic preparation, and it stands to reason that I can’t really be afraid. The ship’s psychiatrist has checked my brain waves and asked me silly questions while I was asleep and he tells me that it isn’t fear, it isn’t anything important—it’s just like the trembling of an eager race horse in the starting gate.I couldn’t say about that; I’ve never been a race horse. But the fact is: I’m scared silly, every time.At D-minus-thirty, after we had mustered in the drop room of the Rodger Young, our platoon leader inspected us. He wasn’t our regular platoon leader, because Lieutenant Rasczak had bought it on our last drop; he was really the platoon sergeant, Career Ship’s Sergeant Jelal. Jelly was a Finno-Turk from Iskander around Proxima—a swarthy little man who looked like a clerk, but I’ve seen him tackle two berserk privates so big he had to reach up to grab them, crack their heads together like coconuts, step back out of the way while they fell.Off duty he wasn’t bad—for a sergeant. You could even call him “Jelly” to his face. Not recruits, of course, but anybody who had made at least one combat drop.But right now he was on duty. We had all each 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 face mean, his eyes missing nothing. He stopped by the man in front of me, pressed the button on his belt that gave readings on his physicals. “Fall out!”“But, Sarge, it’s just a cold. The Surgeon said—”Jelly interrupted. “‘But Sarge!’” he snapped. “The Surgeon ain’t making no drop—and neither are you, with a degree and a half of fever. You think I got time to chat with you, just before a drop? Fall out! ”Jenkins left us, looking sad and mad—and I felt bad, too. Because of the Lieutenant buying it, last drop, and people moving up, I was assistant section leader, second section, this drop, and 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.Jelly didn’t downcheck anybody else. Presently he stepped out in front of us, looked us over and shook his head sadly. “What a gang of apes!” he growled. “Maybe if you’d all buy it this drop, they could start over and build the kind of outfit the Lieutenant expected you to be. But probably not—with the sort of recruits we get these days.” He suddenly straightened up, shouted, “I just want to remind you apes that each and every one of you has cost the gov’ment, counting weapons, armor, ammo, instrumentation, and training, everything, including the way you overeat—has cost, on the hoof, better’n half a million. Add in the thirty cents you are actually worth and that runs to quite a sum.” He glared at us. “So bring it back! We can spare you, but we can’t spare that fancy suit you’re wearing. I don’t want any heroes in this outfit; the Lieutenant wouldn’t like it. You got a job to do, you go down, you do it, you keep your ears open for recall, you show up for retrieval on the bounce and by the numbers. Get me?”He glared again. “You’re supposed to know the plan. But some of you ain’t got any minds to hypnotize so I’ll sketch it out. You’ll be dropped in two skirmish lines, calculated two-thousand-yard intervals. Get your bearing on me as soon as you hit, get your bearing and distance on your squad mates, both sides, while you take cover. You’ve wasted ten seconds already, so you smash-and-destroy whatever’s at hand until the flankers hit dirt.” (He was talking about me—as assistant section leader I was going to be left flanker, with nobody at my elbow. I began to tremble.)“Once they hit—straighten out those lines!—equalize those intervals! Drop what you’re doing and do it! Twelve seconds. Then advance by leapfrog, odd and even, assistant section leaders minding the count and guiding the envelopment.” He looked at me. “If you’ve done this properly—which I doubt—the flanks will make contact as recall sounds . . . at which time, home you go. Any questions?”There weren’t any; there never were. He went on, “One more word—This is just a raid, not a battle. It’s a demonstration of firepower and frightfulness. Our mission is to let the enemy know that we could have destroyed their city—but didn’t—but that they aren’t safe even though we refrain from total bombing. You’ll take no prisoners. You’ll kill only when you can’t help it. But the entire area we hit is to be smashed. I don’t want to see any of you loafers back aboard here with unexpended bombs. Get me?” He glanced at the time. “Rasczak’s Roughnecks have got a reputation to uphold. The Lieutenant told me before he bought it to tell you that he will always have his eye on you every minute . . . and that he expects your names to shine!”Jelly glanced over at Sergeant Migliaccio, first section leader. “Five minutes for the Padre,” he stated. Some of the boys dropped out of ranks, went over and knelt in front of Migliaccio, and not necessarily those of his creed, either—Moslems, Christians, Gnostics, Jews, whoever wanted a word with him before a drop, he was there. 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. Once we went down the tube there wouldn’t be a Roughneck left aboard—except Jenkins, of course, and that not his fault.I didn’t go over. I was always afraid somebody would see me shake if I did, and, anyhow, the Padre could bless me just as handily from where he was. But he came over to me as the last stragglers stood up and pressed his helmet against mine to speak privately. “Johnnie,” he said quietly, “this is your first drop as a non-com.”“Yeah.” I wasn’t really a non-com, any more than Jelly was really an officer.“Just this, Johnnie. Don’t buy a farm. You know your job; do it. Just do it. Don’t try to win a medal.”“Uh, thanks, Padre. I shan’t.”He added something gently in a language I don’t know, patted me on the shoulder, and hurried back to his section. Jelly called out, “Tenn . . . shut!” and we all snapped to.“Platoon!”“Section!” Migliaccio and Johnson echoed.“By sections—port and starboard—prepare for drop!”“Section! Man your capsules! Move! ”“Squad!”—I had to wait while squads four and five manned their capsules and moved on down the firing tube before my capsule showed up on the port track and I could climb into it. I wondered if those old-timers got the shakes as they climbed into the Trojan Horse? Or was it just me? Jelly checked each man as he was sealed in and he sealed me in himself. As he did so, he leaned toward me and said, “Don’t goof off, Johnnie. This is just like a drill.”The top closed on me and I was alone. “Just like a drill,” he says! I began to shake uncontrollably.Then, in my earphones, I heard Jelly from the center-line tube: “Bridge! Rasczak’s Roughnecks . . . ready for drop!”“Seventeen seconds, Lieutenant!” I heard the ship captain’s cheerful contralto replying—and resented her calling Jelly “Lieutenant.” To be sure, our lieutenant was dead and maybe Jelly would get his commission . . . but we were still “Rasczak’s Roughnecks.”She added, “Good luck, boys!”“Thanks, Captain.”“Brace yourselves! Five seconds.”I was strapped all over—belly, forehead, shins. But I shook worse than ever. It’s better after you unload. Until you do, you sit there in total darkness, wrapped like a mummy against the acceleration, barely able to breathe—and knowing that there is just nitrogen around you in the capsule even if you could get your helmet open, which you can’t—and knowing that the capsule is surrounded by the firing tube anyhow and if the ship gets hit before they fire you, you haven’t got a prayer, you’ll just die there, unable to move, helpless. It’s that endless wait in the dark that causes the shakes—thinking that they’ve forgotten you . . . the ship has been hulled and stayed in orbit, dead, and soon you’ll buy it, too, unable to move, choking. Or it’s a crash orbit and you’ll buy it that way, if you don’t roast on the way down.Then the ship’s braking program hit us and I stopped shaking. Eight gees, I would say, or maybe ten. When a female pilot handles a ship there is nothing comfortable about it; you’re going to have bruises every place you’re strapped. Yes, yes, I know they make better pilots than men do; their reactions are faster, and they can tolerate more gee. They can get in faster, get out faster, and thereby improve everybody’s chances, yours as well as theirs. But that still doesn’t make it fun to be slammed against your spine at ten times your proper weight.But I must admit that Captain Deladrier knows her trade. There was no fiddling around once the Rodger Young stopped braking. At once I heard her snap, “Center-line tube ... fire!” and there were two recoil bumps as Jelly and his acting platoon sergeant unloaded—and immediately: “Port and starboard tubes—automatic fire! ” and the rest of us started to unload.Bump! and your capsule jerks ahead one place—bump! and it jerks again, precisely like cartridges feeding into the chamber of an old-style automatic weapon. Well, that’s just what we were . . . only the barrels of the gun were twin launching tubes built into a spaceship troop carrier and each cartridge was a capsule big enough (just barely) to hold an infantryman with all field equipment.Bump!—I was used to number three spot, out early; now I was Tail-End Charlie, last out after three squads. It makes a tedious wait, even with a capsule being fired every second; I tried to count the bumps—bump! (twelve) bump! (thirteen) bump! (fourteen—with an odd sound to it, the empty one Jenkins should have been in) bump!—And clang!—it’s my turn as my capsule slams into the firing chamber—then WHAMBO! the explosion hits with a force that makes the Captain’s braking maneuver feel like a love tap.Then suddenly nothing.Nothing at all. No sound, no pressure, no weight. Floating in darkness . . . free fall, maybe thirty miles up, above the effective atmosphere, falling weightlessly toward the surface of a planet you’ve never seen. But I’m not shaking now; it’s the wait beforehand that wears. Once you unload, you can’t get hurt—because if anything goes wrong it will happen so fast that you’ll buy it without noticing that you’re dead, hardly.Almost at once I felt the capsule twist and sway, then steady down so that my weight was on my back . . . weight that built up quickly until I was at my full weight (0.87 gee, we had been told) for that planet as the capsule reached terminal velocity for the thin upper atmosphere. A pilot who is a real artist (and the Captain was) will approach and brake so that your launching speed as you shoot out of the tube places you just dead in space relative to the rotational speed of the planet at that latitude. The loaded capsules are heavy; they punch through the high, thin winds of the upper atmosphere without being blown too far out of position—but just the same a platoon is bound to disperse on the way down, lose some of the perfect formation in which it unloads. A sloppy pilot can make this still worse, scatter a strike group over so much terrain that it can’t make rendezvous for retrieval, much less carry out its mission. An infantryman can fight only if somebody else delivers him to his zone; in a way I suppose pilots are just as essential as we are.I could tell from the gentle way my capsule entered the atmosphere that the Captain had laid us down with as near zero lateral vector as you could ask for. I felt happy—not only a tight formation when we hit and no time wasted, but also a pilot who puts you down properly is a pilot who is smart and precise on retrieval.The outer shell burned away and sloughed off—unevenly, for I tumbled. Then the rest of it went and I straightened out. The turbulence brakes of the second shell bit in and the ride got rough . . . and still rougher as they burned off one at a time and the second shell began to go to pieces. One of the things that helps a capsule trooper to live long enough to draw a pension is that the skins peeling off his capsule not only slow him down, they also fill the sky over the target area with so much junk that radar picks up reflections from dozens of targets for each man in the drop, any one of which could be a man, or a bomb, or anything. It’s enough to give a ballistic computer nervous breakdowns—and does.To add to the fun your ship lays a series of dummy eggs in the seconds immediately following your drop, dummies that will fall faster because they don’t slough. They get under you, explode, throw out “window,” even operate as transponders, rocket sideways, and do other things to add to the confusion of your reception committee on the ground.In the meantime your ship is locked firmly on the directional beacon of your platoon leader, ignoring the radar “noise” it has created and following you in, computing your impact for future use.

From Our Editors

In one of Robert A. Heinlein's most controversial bestsellers, a recruit of the future goes through the toughest boot camp in the universe--and into battle with the Terran Mobile Infantry against mankind's most frightening enemy. Reissue

Editorial Reviews

“Nothing has come along that can match it.”—Science Fiction Weekly   “A book that continues to resonate and influence to this day, and one whose popularity and luster hasn’t been dimmed despite decades of imitations.”—SF Reviews   “Heinlein’s genius is at its height in this timeless classic that is as meaningful today as when it was written...a fast-paced novel that never gets preachy. This is a definite must-have, must-read book.”—SF Site