So I finally got a small amount of freetime before bed and so read Robert Heinlein: Starship Troopers. The first thing that strikes me is the light-reading aspect of it - most books I'm so engrossed in that I don't notice the world around me, and can be very annoyed when it does intrude mid-chapter. With Starship Troopers, I could read and happily chat to my girlfriend because the book was so generally uninvolving. It's not really a story - it's a general first person ramble with story elements but no classic plot in terms of having a situation that the protagonist has to face and resolve - he goes places, does stuff, talks about life in the military a lot. Oh - and then after half-way there's mention of a war. In terms of construction is reminds myself very much of Brave New World, in that the primary purpose is not to tell a story as much as relate philsophical concepts at the expense of the story. Luckily, Heinlein keeps things more traditional in terms of using the novel format, but it still failed to engross in that regard. With all that in mind, in hindsight, I have to be completely heretical to other Heinlein readers and say that the film seems to have done the book justice to a large degree, not least by protraying something of the world that Heinlein was trying to communicate, in a way that a film would need to. There's really so little story and substance to the novel itself that any film production would necessarily have to create its own sense of identity with the book as a platform from which to work. There are a couple of chapters assigned to social philosophy which I was pleased to see - one arguing the benefits of corporal punishment, and the other arguing an alternative political system. However, while the issue that only military-served personal could have elective rights was interesting, he never really explored the potential challenges to it - maybe it is indeed important to instill social responsibility in people, but my impression is that military personel are trained to take orders rather than use free initiative at every step, so what you have is an electorate with different vulnerabilities. Also, surely such an electoral basis would be as subject to partisan political problems as any other political system? In other words, the problems he raised with political systems was not due to the fallible nature of the electorate as much as due to the limitations of the political system itself - so changing the basis for acceptance into that electorate cannot address the limitations of existing partisan democracies, because the fundamentals of self-interest above the interest of the electorate will surely remain an issue? Anyway, Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein, if anyone's up for discussion.