I've been trying to determine if there is any canon or other definitive source that indicates the approximate size of the worker and warrior-caste of "Bugs", in the novel Starship Troopers.

There is a brief description of a captured "brain bug" in the arachnid tunnels beneath the surface of planet Shiloh during Operation Royalty. I believe that arachnid was small enough that a lone trooper was able to carry it. I do not recall any descriptions of the size of worker and warrior arachnids in the novel, however. I've seen various depictions of them in cover art of the novel, including one version I recall where the arachnids were depicted as enormous creatures several stories tall. But I have yet to find anything concrete/definitive on the size.

Are there any canon references that might determine there size (including any passages in the novel I may not be recalling)?

  • 1
    They made it into a novel? – Valorum Mar 13 '18 at 19:46
  • 2
    @Valorum: it was originally a novel, quite a bit different in plot to the movie, made many years before – Michael Stachowsky Mar 13 '18 at 19:48
  • 4
    @Valorum if sarcasm could make you fly, you would have to be fed using a slingshot. – Yasskier Mar 13 '18 at 20:51
  • 7
    @Valorum I find it very common with novice authors, who don't understand pacing and flow, to have their books drag tediously and need a good director/editor to come along and fix them, such as Mr. Verhoeven or Mr. Jackson. – KutuluMike Mar 13 '18 at 21:40
  • 2
    Some of us can appreciate philosophical morality tales with world-building based on ethical system. Some just need a poor action movie with lots of "piu-piu" and some explosions. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Mar 14 '18 at 2:49
  1. Workers and warriors are same size (because they can't be easily told apart, if they weren't it would be easy)

    But we were learning. Technical instructions and tactical doctrine orders resulted from every brush with them, spread through the Fleet. We learned to tell the workers from the warriors—if you had time, you could tell from the shape of the carapace, but the quick rule of thumb was: If he comes at you, he’s a warrior; if he runs, you can turn your back on him. (Chapter 11)

  2. We have a cap estimate of their height - they are no taller than a trooper in armor based on tunnel size (which means likely under 7 feet):

    I had Cunha leave two men at the hole to cover our rear, one on the floor of the tunnel, one at surface level. Then I led them down the tunnel the second section had followed, moving as fast as possible—which wasn’t fast as the roof of the tunnel was right over our heads. (Chapter 13)

  3. The body size is under five feet wide but based on the phrasing probably more than four feet wide.

    I thought with annoyance that each man already had to patrol fourteen square miles; spreading the butter so thin meant seventeen square miles per man - and a Bug can come out of a hole less that five feet wide (Chapter 13)

    There were no other descriptions of bug size - I searched etext for "big", "small", "tall", "short", "squat" (for proportions), "feet", "meter" and "size".

  4. We don't know the size of the Brain bugs, but as Sergeant Zim used one's "bloated" body as a shield, we can assume it's bigger than a human.

    He had captured a brain Bug and was using its bloated body as a shield. He could not get out, but they could not attack him without (quite literally) committing suicide by hitting their own brain. (Chapter 13)

  5. For bonus points, we know far more about Skinnies:

    These geezers are humanoid, eight or nine feet tall, much skinnier than we are and with a higher body temperature (Chapter 1)

| improve this answer | |

I seem to recall a passage where the worker is described as being the size of a cow. This is when Rico falls into the lair and is briefly surprised about why he isn't dead until he realizes that it's just the workers that he's surrounded by.

| improve this answer | |
  • 3
    Searching for "cow" in the book doesn't net any results. I recall them being 2-3 meters but "meters" is also only in the book a few times. – Ross Mar 13 '18 at 20:31
  • 1
    The only mention of a cow in the book is "Maybe someday they’ll get everything nice and tidy and we’ll have that thing we sing about, when “we ain’t a-gonna study war no more.” Maybe. Maybe the same day the leopard will take off his spots and get a job as a Jersey cow, too." . None of "meters" mentioned was a bug size. All feet mentioned are in my answer. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Mar 14 '18 at 2:51
  • The breakout passage is: 'I didn’t know what had happened to me. I wasn’t hurt; it was a bit like falling into the branches of a tree—but these branches were alive and kept jostling me while my gyros complained and tried to keep me upright. I fell ten or fifteen feet, deep enough to be out of the daylight.' ... – DVK-on-Ahch-To Mar 14 '18 at 2:53
  • ... ' Then a surge of living monsters carried me back up into the light— and training paid off; I landed on my feet, talking and fighting: “Breakthrough at Easter Ten -- no, Easter Eleven, where I am now. Big hole and they’re pouring up. Hundreds. More than that.” I had a hand flamer in each hand and was burning them down as I reported.'' – DVK-on-Ahch-To Mar 14 '18 at 2:53
  • "Checked the jump in time, stopped flaming, and really looked—for I suddenly realized that I ought to be dead. “Correction,” I said, looking and hardly believing. “Breakthrough at Easter Eleven is a feint. No warriors.” ...“Easter Eleven, Black One. Breakthrough here is entirely by workers so far. No warriors. I am surrounded by Bugs and they are still pouring out, but not a one of them is armed and those nearest me all have typical worker features. I have not been attacked.” I added, “Captain, do you think this could be just a diversion? With their real breakthrough to come somewhere else?” – DVK-on-Ahch-To Mar 14 '18 at 2:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.