by Robert A. Heinlein
Plot of Starship Troopers
As a book that is far more focused on philosophy than plot this becomes a bit more difficult. The basic plot is simply the life of Johnny Rico. It covers the time from his decision until after he has become an officer in the mobile infantry and his learning along the way. It also has flashbacks to his high-school class on History and Moral Philosophy. The war itself is also part of the plot. The humans are at peace at the beginning of the story and the war begins, escalates and effectively ends by the end of the book.
Characters of Starship Troopers
Juan (Johnny) Rico
The viewpoint character of the story and the most fleshed out. He is the only real main character as other character move in and out of the story regularly. He is shown to join the military, against the will of his father, for shallow purposes planning to spend only two year in the service. As the story advances he slowly learns what being in the mobile infantry actually means, including have to learn why it is important.
One of the interesting parts of this character is one that Heinlein choose to leave out until nearly the end of the story. (If you have not read this story it is a spoiler of sorts) which is that Johnny Rico is Filipino. This is not all that important to the story but it is certainly important to the time and place that Starship Troopers was written. Even now though the impact can be surprising.
The second most major character in this book is Sergeant Zim. In many ways you know far less about this soldier than you do about any of the character because most of the time he is teaching and because he is teaching he is very different. What you do learn is that he is one of the best of the soldiers in the mobile infantry.
At the beginning of this story he appears to be the very traditional Sergeant you see in any number of movies and TV shows about the military. He yells at the recruits, belittles them, expects perfection and even throws them on the ground hurting them on occasion, but never intentionally injuring them more than nessisary.
Partway through this book you learn something far more interesting about this character. That comes during the time when Johnny overhears him and their commanding officer talking. The major point of this comes after he has been hit by one of the recruits. This is a very serious offense which under the right circumstances could result in death. What you learn here is that he actually likes them. All of the pushing them because it will keep them alive.
Later in the book there is a surprise based around this character. It is similar to the one in the movie, one of the few things that really is similar. In the case of the book though he is working directly with Johnny Rico when they are trying to capture a brain bug. He sees an opportunity to capture one and takes it nearly getting himself killed in the process. What is fun about this is that you don't learn the identity of this character until after he has done this.
Three movies have been made which are loosly based on Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein. These take many of the science fiction elements of the book but largely ignore or subvert the social ideas which are the core of this book. This makes for a reasonable action movie but not much else.
There are many armored soldier stories which can all be linked back to Starship Troopers in some way. One of the most famous is naturally Halo which takes ideas not only from Starship Troopers but Ringworld and other Science Fiction stories as well. In fact the Master Chief is in many ways the closest character to the troopers in this story though far more people have the power army in it.
Most if not all military science fiction has also had been influanced in some way by this book, including books like Ender's Game and The Forever War.
The movie Aliens uses a few phrases which seem to be drawn directly from this book as well such as Bug Hunt though the aliens in aliens seem far less like bugs than those in Starship Troopers.
A far better exploration of the ideas of this book than I could write is here.
Little or nothing to do with the book by Beinlein Far more like Starship troopers by Robert Heinlein