Books Like Starship Troopers
Along with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein was seen as one of the most prolific science fiction writers of his time. He wrote numerous books in his lifetime, but it was Starship Troopers that has gone on to mold the archetype of the "space marine" that has become such a popular trope in books, movies and video games. This military science fiction novel features the first person narrative of a grunt named Johnny Rico during a conflict between humans and an arachnid alien species. Although the book was a bestseller, it was not without controversy either as many critics thought that it glorified the military. The 1997 movie adaptation also upset fans of the book as it was the work of a director who did not even finish reading the novel. However, with a film on the horizon that promises to be faithful to the source material there has been renewed interest in the book. If you have already read the novel and can't wait for the movie, then check out the following books like Starship Troopers.
by John Steakley
Armor by John Steakley features all of the elements that fans love about Starship Troopers. It features space marines who are clad in body armor that turns them into atomic powered battle fortresses and they are locked in battle with a nearly endless horde of alien creatures that look like monsters. The protagonist of Armor is a scout named Felix, who ends up as the sole survivor mission after mission. Just like Starship Troopers, this is also a novel that isn't afraid to point out the brutality of war along with the hypocrisy that is often involved.
by Joe Haldeman
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman is another military science fiction novel with plenty of similarities to Starship Troopers. The protagonist is William Mandella, who joins an elite task force sent out for reconnaissance and revenge against an alien species that attacked human colonists' ships. What makes this novel really interesting is that to wage war against the aliens, the recruits have to cover thousands of light-years, which results in time dilation. This means that decades pass as they travel to and from battle, alienating the soldiers from the people on earth and giving their enemies time to develop more advanced weaponry.
by John Scalzi
Although Old Man's War by John Scalzi incorporates a lot of the same themes as Starship Troopers, it also adds plenty of its own unique twists. The protagonist is John Perry, who unlike Johnny Rico from Starship Troopers, is not a young man eager to prove himself in battle. Instead, he is a 75 year old man who joins the Colonial Defense Force in order to defend Earth and fight aliens on other planets. The CDF only accepts recruits who have reached retirement age because they want troops who have knowledge and skills. However, just like Rico, nothing can prepare Perry for what he has to face once he leaves Earth.
by Gordon R. Dickson
Much like Starship Troopers, Dorsai! started out in serialized form for a science fiction magazine before it was turned into a novel. However, while Starship Troopers focused on the role of a trooper who is part of a much larger conflict, Dorsai! instead explores the role of a commander. The protagonist of the book is an extraordinary warrior, named Donal Graeme, who is an elite soldier working as a mercenary. The story follows his career as he builds a reputation for himself in a ruthless manner. Dorsai! has another interesting tie to Starship Troopers as both books were nominated for a Hugo Award in 1960, which the Heinlein novel went on to win.
by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
This list would not be complete without The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Heinlein himself advised the authors after reading a draft and described the book as one of the greatest science fiction novels that he has ever read. The enemy that humans face during their first contact with an alien species is a bit more complex than the bugs in Starship Troopers, but just like the Heinlein novel, there is also a lot of politics involved. The book also features a similar military structure, but where the rights of a full citizen were earned through Federal Service in Starship Troopers, it is aristocracy that can be earned in this novel.
by David Drake
David Drake was a member of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Vietnam as well as Cambodia, so he knows a thing or two about mechanized warfare. He used this knowledge and experience to create Hammer's Slammers, which is a collection of military themed science fiction short stories. Hammer's Slammers is a mercenary tank regiment and the stories tend to follow the exploits of the various members of the team. David Drake has gone on to become one of the biggest names in military science fiction and the Hammer's Slammers stories are perfect examples of his craft.