The story is set in a future society ruled by a human interstellar government dominated by a military elite, referred to as the Terran Federation. The first-person narrative follows Juan "Johnny" Rico through his military service in the Mobile Infantry. Rico progresses from recruit to officer against the backdrop of an interstellar war between humans and an alien species known as "Arachnids" or "Bugs". Interspersed with the primary plot are classroom scenes in which Rico and others discuss philosophical and moral issues, including aspects of suffrage, civic virtue, juvenile delinquency, and war; these discussions have been described as expounding Heinlein's own political views. Starship Troopers has been identified with a tradition of militarism in US science fiction, and draws parallels between the conflict between humans and the Bugs, and the Cold War. A coming-of-age novel, Starship Troopers also critiques US society of the 1950s, arguing that a lack of discipline had led to a moral decline, and advocates corporal and capital punishment.
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