Starship Troopers

Watched Starship Troopers for the Nth time. Then spent too long detailing why I believe Buenos Aires was an inside job on a 4 year old Reddit post.

Way too much ink spilled on a Watsonian rationale for a likely Doylist oversight:

Klendathu is way too far away from Earth for it to be an intentional asteroid strike from the Bugs.

Here’s a picture from the Federation broadcast showing their relative positions:


The Milky Way galaxy has a diameter of about 100,000 light years. Those two points are separately by at least 2/3 of that distance, or 66,666 light years. Even at the speed of light, Klendathu would have had to launch their strike before the end of the last ice age. On top of that, at the latest time Klendathu could have launched their strike, the light they’d be seeing from Earth would also be an additional 66,666 years old, placing the Earth they chose to attack appearing as it did 133,333 years ago. Modern Homo Sapiens didn’t even exist until 200,000 years ago and most anthropologists agree that the full capacity for modern language didn’t develop until about 50,000 years ago. You can’t even justify the attack as paranoid genocide, because the asteroid is barely sufficient to wipe out the Buenos Aires region, let alone reset life on the planet.

Some argue that FTL exists in this universe, so maybe the bugs sent the asteroid at FTL speeds. Ignoring the fact that no capacity for FTL travel is shown from the bugs throughout the film, there is clear evidence the asteroid is traveling at sub light velocities. When the ship encounters the asteroid, they are traveling at less than c. If they were traveling even close to c, the light from the stars seen through the cockpit windows in this scene would redshift into the x-ray part of the spectrum, which is invisible to the human eye, turning the sky black. The asteroid is obviously traveling at a somewhat similar speed, which is why Carmen is able to evade at all. That means the asteroid is traveling at a significant fraction under the speed of light.

Assuming that the asteroid allegedly received all of it’s initial acceleration upon leaving the Klendathu system, which seems reasonable, we see no signs of the rock having means of self-propulsion, it left Klendathu at least 100,000 years prior to the start of the film (that’s assuming a much higher fraction of c than is demonstrated in that scene). This seems highly coincidental and unlikely that an asteroid would leave one planet, travel 100,000+ years, and then strike another planet precisely at a moment of rising tension between those two specific worlds. It is the literal definition of astronomical odds.

This is, of course, even assuming the news reports that claim the source of the asteroid are accurate. Much more likely that the asteroid never came from Klendathu. I find it highly suspect that they tracked the source of the asteroid within a literal 2-3 minute time period from impact, with explanatory graphics already prepared. If you recall, Rico literally has the transmission with his parents cut off by the impact, walks out to washout, and then sees everyone running due to the news of the declaration of war. This news comes with prepared graphics and the fact that not only has the council deliberated, but they have already voted unanimously to go to war. Seriously, rewatch this scene. The timing of this whole thing makes everything suspect. The only way it works is if the Federation already had their response prepared and played their hand perhaps a bit too quickly.

Next, with highly advanced computers, why was Carmen’s ship taking a non-optimal path in the first place? Unless her instructor simply took the first route proposed by the computer, but why would the computer be wrong? Unless it wasn’t because the Federation was quietly rerouting traffic away from the incoming asteroid. It took Carmen optimizing their flight path without orders for the ship to encounter the asteroid at all.

Final point, you have a highly advanced interstellar humanity, with colonies and FTL. There are already natural hazards in our own solar system, asteroids, space junk, long period comets, even extrasolar objects like Oumuamua. Watching for and deflecting wayward asteroids and comets would be one of the first priorities (as we see with NASA’s NEO tracking and their recent DART deflection project) of any fully spacefaring society. The systems meant to watch and deflect more local hazards would work just as well on the Buenos Aires asteroid. The chances that an asteroid could just mosey on in with such a technologically advanced Earth is honestly not plausible.

There are a host of clues in the film that suggest a false flag operation. Verhoeven has already shown a bent against the Federation (understandably given his history) and a keen eye towards composition and timing. These scenes and details weren’t a mistake. The Federation was running into difficulties trying to expand into Bug Space, as the bugs defended their territory. They needed a rationale to fully mobilize against the bugs. So they snagged a relatively local rock, nudged it with the correct boost to give it a collision course with Earth, and then added a hidden directive to their fleets’ navigation computers to calculate courses that avoid this asteroid. Then they quietly switched off the planetary defenses to allow the asteroid to finally strike Buenos Aires.

Alternatively, Carmen caused the the Buenos Aires strike and all of the death and carnage of the resulting war. Assume for a second that the asteroid truly was an innocent astronomical chance event. In that case, she impacts a piece of her ship on the asteroid, surely slightly changing the vector of the asteroid. Even slight changes at those distances would result in completely different intercepts. If Carmen hadn’t changed the flightpath against orders, the ship wouldn’t have hit the asteroid. That means the asteroid likely would have never hit Earth otherwise. If you total in all the casualties in the sequels, this makes Carmen responsible for more deaths than any other individual Human in history.

Whether it was a Federation false flag or a chance event caused by a show-off cadet, it certainly wasn’t an intentional strike from the Bugs on Klendathu.

As a complete aside, Rico probably killed Dizzy Flores. She suffers a large puncture wound from an arachnid, but the claw is shot off, leaving it lodged within her. Seconds later, Rico then tugs this large object from her torso, leaving a large gaping wound. Dizzy then dies shortly after, likely from internal bleeding. She might have died anyway, but the clawtip should have been left in place until they got her to medical professionals. EMTs would never remove an object causing a puncture wound, like a knife. Given the advanced medical care available to the Federation, she might have lived otherwise.


Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I hate to be that person, but I’m 99% certain that the asteroid they encounter exits a hyperspace of some kind.

Right before impact, the ship scanners detect an increasing spacetime distortion that resembles a wormhole, and then the asteroid suddenly gets dumped into normal space right in front of them, where it then travels at a more normal velocity for the rest of its path.

EDIT: Also happened to watch the film recently, and this scene stuck out to me lol.

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Here’s the scene in question:

During an intimate moment between Zander and Carmen, Carmen’s coffee starts to visibly tilt in its conveniently clear mug and she says, “There’s a gravity field out there.”

Zander says “Run a scan. Sensors on.”

Then Carmen says, “There! Gravity at two-two-five, and rising.” as the scan results show on the screen show a “gravitic distortion.”

The captain then appears on the overhead screen, saying “Report!”

Zander says, “Captain, we’re in the path of an unidentified object moving at us at high speed.”

Carmen then says, “Profile suggests an asteroid, Ma’am.”

Then, through the cockpit window, an asteroid emerges from the darkness and Zander says “Impact in 6 seconds!”

From that point the scene proceeds as expected.

I see the cadet noticing gravity acting on the vessel and then activating a scan which reveals a gravity source consistent with a large asteroid. No where does anyone mention a spacetime distortion nor does anyone mention an asteroid appearing out of hyperspace. The effects of the gravity of a large body like that would be rising as one approached it.

I will grant the film makers are drumming up the drama with the on-screen animation that is suspect and then basically jump-scaring the audience with the asteroid, which could be interpreted as imitating a wormhole opening and ejecting the asteroid. It’s potentially ambiguous and I can see where you’d come to that conclusion. There are a few problems with the latter interpretation though.

One, there is no supporting evidence anywhere else in the film that the bugs are capable of FTL or powered spaceflight other than firing flares and spores on ballistic trajectories into space. Two, if the bugs had somehow FTL’d the asteroid there anyway, their aim is off, which seems unlikely for a species allegely capable of FTL travel. Surely shearing off the top chunk of the spaceship changed the asteroids vector. Since this changed vector results in a collision with Earth, this means that without Carmen’s unpredictable and unexpected change in flightpath, the asteroid would have missed Earth altogether. And three, if it was a false flag, the Federation would have no need to send an asteroid (many many times the size and mass of it’s largest FTL capable ships shown on-screen) from Klendathu via FTL travel when untold billions of closer objects already exist closer to Earth along that heading. And the problem with inaccurate original trajectory still applies here as well.

That’s it. We’re going to need to track down Paul Verhoeven in the Netherlands to get to the bottom of this, and we probably shouldn’t dilly dally, as he’s 84. @Lancelot are you in the Netherlands? I seem to recall you saying as much in passing, but I could be wrong. You wouldn’t happen to be casual friends with any famous Dutch filmmakers? It’s a matter of dire urgency! :grin:

Yeah, if I remember, the animation looks like a really extreme gravity well, but nobody really interprets it for the audience.

Yeah, this is just a me problem, lol. I think the bugs in the original novel used FTL jumping to launch asteroids and land on other planets, but of course that’s not confirmed for the universe of the movie. My brain just carried that when I was watching the movie, and filled in the assumption.

Also, while I was trying to find book lore, Reddit threads kept coming up which started in book lore and slid into movie lore. Hilariously enough, they are replicating the exact conversation we are having now, with the same points being brought up in five different threads, ahahaha! Something-something-convergent-evolution!

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You need to be careful with reading into the book. Paul Verhoeven famously hated the book and thought it glamorized fascism and refused to finish reading it when preparing for the film. If anything, he works to subvert the main themes of the book in his movie and is not at all concerned with creating a faithful adaptation of Heinlein’s novel. Having consumed both versions, I’m heavily inclined to agree with Verhoeven.

In the novel, for example, the bugs actually have spaceships and Rico’s father later joins the infantry, inspired by his son’s example. The two barely share a premise and I would caution against drawing any conclusions from the book.

ETA: I will add that, if you’re including all the bits of lore in the book that aren’t directly contradicted in the film, then I’d be forced to grudgingly agree with you, as the bugs are never explicitly said to not have ships. I would point out that the “hypothetical brain bug” debate on their TV programs makes absolutely no sense if Bug spaceships were common knowledge, but I could lean Doylist and chalk that up to bad writing.

Same. I read it because someone suggested it to my partner and I, and I was going on so many rants after finishing each chapter. Something like “You should read a book that you wouldn’t agree with”, and I was like “Sure, okay, but expect me to absolutely tear it apart during and after”.

Yeah, there was an animated series or something that was a fusion of the book and the movies in a really weird way, and I had actually watched that as a kid (which was my introduction to the story), so my map of the lore is a hilarious mess, lol.


This has been a Pinkunz & Jess Nerd-out Production.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled off-topic discussion.


@inventor200& @pinkunz of Pinkunz&Jess Nerd-out Production:

I have been pleasantly and thoroughly entertained. Thank you. Keep bouncing that nerd-ball.


Ope! I guess the network liked the pilot so much, they gave us our own show!


There is this whole meta level where the movie we are watching is supposedly a propaganda movie made by humans to justify their war of extermination against the insectoids, so we as viewers can’t trust anything we are shown on-screen. At the same time we are invited to guess what actually happened, and given lots of clues.


Being too young to see a rated “R” movie, my friends and I snuck into this movie using the tickets we bought for The Lion King. My young brain was corrupted by this experience.


I remember reading this book at like age 15 because it was listed as an inspiration for the now-forgotten Looking Glass shooter/sim Terra Nova, being prepared for a fun military SF romp and being somewhat surprised by all the fascism.

Anyway sticking with the Watsonian discussion, maybe the issue is that as the Federation “journalists” were scrambling to pull together their report on a breaking-news situation, the media intern fluffed up the map graphic and actually Klendathu is right next door to Earth?

(Nah, I think your Reichstag-fire interpretation is a better one!)


From the Terra Nova Wikipedia page you shared:

Over two hundred years before the beginning of the game, Earth is subsumed by a world government called the Hegemony, whose “Publicanism” philosophy PC Zone summarized as “communism without the economic restrictions”

Tell me you don’t understand communism without saying you don’t understand communism. As far as I’m aware, communism can’t be extricated from it’s economic considerations. :confused:


Oh hey wait, I actually have a copy of Terra Nova I bought for like three bucks from GOG a while ago, and as I recall there’s a library function with a lot of the game’s backstory you can access from the off! Let’s see whether this summary has flubbed things, or if Looking Glass didn’t know their petit bourgeoisie from their lumpenproleteriat:


… OK this part goes on for a while longer on the details of testing, terms of service, geographic requirements (apparently citizens rotate through different postings every four years, to prevent the development of “an attachment to the land that might lead to nationalistic sentiment.”)

So far this is kind of like the “service means citizenship” approach of the Federation in Starship Troopers (note that Earth are the bad guys in this game), but here’s the communism part:



As to the right to housing:


Some entertaining shade being thrown there.

Deviants, huh?


(They may be pro-family but there’s a two-child policy)


Ron DeSantis would be right at home!

On to economics, our notional starting point for this dive into the lore of a near-30-year-old game:


I’m beginning to think those PC Zone chaps haven’t read much Marx…


Huh, almost like a form of fascist syndicalism, then?

One last bit on how economic affairs are ordered:


So the workers don’t exactly control the means of production!


So there are Five Year Plans, too.

The last interesting bit is that Publican class – these are basically a cohort of non-enfranchised career civil servants who took over the commanding heights of the government and use their agenda-setting power (and their policy of stealing gifted kids from their parents to be assimilated into the class) to maintain their rule. They get an economic preference, access to special Publican-only tech, their own dedicated court system, broader educational instruction, a right to bear arms, and so on. Turns out some animals are more equal than others!

…there’s a whole lot here, and this is just one article on the mostly-irrelevant backstory to a goodies vs. baddies shooter. Points to Looking Glass, it’s all pretty well done and interesting, grafting Heinlan’s right-fascist prototype onto some more familiar aspects of communist totalitarian regimes the come up with something novel.

(Not sure I’m replaying the game anytime soon, though).


@pinkunz On the original topics – I hadn’t thought of the meteor being a setup by humans, and you make it sound plausible. But overall, it raises too many complications that seem unlikely or just fight the basic trajectory of the movie. (My cred – watched Starship Troopers three times in the cinema on its initial run, and maybe four-ish times since.)

The hero characters start as naiifs, and then are all bloodied in their own ways as they rise through the power structures to lead a fascistic war on the bugs.

I don’t know who summed up the film with the quote ‘War makes fascists of us all,’ – I think it was in a review I’ve read, and not a contemporary review – but that is perhaps a perfect summary. It also aligns with what Verhoeven says about the film.

There can’t be a journey of naivety to naive fascism if the original characters aren’t naive. I could never believe that the Carmen of the film (especially as played by Denise Richards :laughing: ) would be involved in anything as cunning as assisting an asteroid strike.

I’ve also watched the film with Verhoeven’s commentary, and I reckoon he’d have mentioned it if he intended to sneak through the possibility of the asteroid being human-launched. I don’t remember him talking about anything as sus or covert as that.

So while I do think it’s a possible reading, I don’t think Verhoeven was trying to raise it, and for me I’d be fighting the tenor of the film too much to read it that way.



My main memory of Starship Troopers was They’re all showering together? They’re all showering together.

I remember it being very ironic and tongue in cheek, obviously satire, and Neil Patrick Harris at the end “IT’S SCARED” which was absurdly terrifying.

I’m not sure if the source material took the same tone.


Not really - the book and movie both present a militarized dystopia, but instead of Verhoeven’s slightly-understated satire, the tone of the book is more I-swear-I’m-just-raising-questions endorsement.


Of the “just because the previous fascists were bad, does that categorically mean we can’t have good fascism?” sort. I threw the book at least twice while reading it.


Yeah, so @HanonO:

Imagine an entire book where the author tries to explain to the reader how systemic issues like poverty, hunger, crime, racism, and sexism can all be solved if the world would just commit constant violence against children, and force the poors into the exploitations that they’re supposedly subconsciously begging to be in.

The core moral of the story that is constantly being referenced and reinforced is the delusion of “We are all just infant animals on the inside, so the only way we can truly learn anything is through unyielding and universal violence; we are all beasts begging for—and deserving of—the whip”.

But it’s all being explained like the author is completely serious.

Because he actually is, somehow. It’s a manifesto attempting to masquerade as a science fiction story.

So yeah, the tone of the book is completely unhinged, and the movie’s goal is to absolutely drag it through the streets for as long as possible, lol.


I’m not sure how I would define that, but if the workers do not control the means of production, it is not communism. I’d suspect you’re right with some odd form of fascist syndicalism.

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