Starship Troopers : book club discussion questions

Starship troopers book coverDiscussion questions necessarily contain spoilers.  Beware!

What are the current limits on voter franchise in Australia?  Do you think they should be looser, tighter, or that they are correct as they are?

To what extent is the society described in Starship troopers fascistic? Do the veterans form a privileged elite?

To what extent is continual or intermittent war necessary to the Terran Federation’s  perpetuation?

Terran society advocates corporal punishment of parents for the crimes of their children. To what extent should parents be held responsible for what their children do, and how does this responsibility terminate?

Johnnie Rico is revealed to be a Filipino, and therefore probably not white, toward the conclusion of the novel. Did you have a firm vision of Jonny’s racial characteristics before the reveal?  Did the reveal change how he appeared in your imagination?

Starship Troopers is over fifty years old. How does its predictions concerning future technologies stack up, outside of the fantasy warfare elements?

Johnnie’s boot camp graduation is, in a sense, his entry into adulthood.  What rituals of entry into adulthood does our culture offer? How do they reflect the value we place on citizenship?

Johnnie’s father is, in the social framework of the book, a bad father, who in a sense grows up under the guidance of his son’s example. To what extent are the authority figures in Johnny’s life father figures? What separates a father figure from an authority figure in this society?

In this novel, questions are used as hooks for the characters in authority to tell other characters that they are wrong, and to give them a big serve of ideology. To what extent do you think these are authorial mouthpieces?

Some readers suggest that the target audience for this book is teenaged boys. On hearing this, does it affect how you feel about the book?  Does a book’s status as “teen” make its themes more trivial, or more significant?

Is the novel, in some sense, utopian?  How do humans in the book need to differ from real humans to allow the described society to remain stable?

The book uses quotations for real-life works to highlight themes in each chapter. Do any of these quotes strongly inform you concerning the author’s intended reading of his novel?

The role of women in the book’s society is complex. It’s not “equal” in that front-line infantry service is not permitted, but for a book published in the late 1950s, it has a great deal of inclusiveness. What are the barriers to women in this society? What rights do they practice that they lacked in the America of the 1950s, or lack now?

How does the book compare to other, less pro-military sci-fi?  For example The Forever War by Joe Haldeman has combat-suited infantry and focuses on the psychology of an individual trooper, but is strongly anti-military. What techniques does each author use to support his character’s viewpoint?