Letters

Certainly, there are authoritarian themes in the book. Rico is in the army--for God's sake, what do you expect? The underlying society described in the book, however, is based on self-sacrifice. Only those people who have demonstrated a willingness to give their "all" are allowed to vote. Military service was not the only way; in fact, it tried to discourage you from joining up. You could volunteer for medical experiments, help colonize other planets or do other dirty, nasty jobs.

There is a famous quote that says, "Democracies will only last until the people realize they can vote themselves cake and circuses." I believe this is what is happening to our society. This is the problem that Heinlein's society avoided.

The punishments used in Heinlein's story seem harsh to our society, but perhaps a public flogging would do more to straighten out our career criminals than a stay in jail. The death penalty should not be seen as a punishment or a deterrent--though if it were used more often it would certainly become a deterrent. It should be seen as permanently removing from society those who are dangerous to other people. This strikes me as much more "civilized" than our current practice.

Unfortunately, movies are too often driven by "visuals," not ideas. I urge everyone to read the works of Robert Heinlein and other science-fiction writers. You may not agree with them, you may be shocked, but you might think!

Scott L. Smith
Phoenix

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