Federal Services Communiqué

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Live video in Starship Troopers works a little bit differently than video messages. When he wants to call his parents in Buenos Aires, he somehow sets up the call (it’s offscreen, so we really don’t know how he does it). When the call goes through, a soldier comes in to the barracks to tell Rico that it’s going through, and then tells him to take it. You know, three feet away. At the end of the barracks. That they’re currently in. In a giant wall display. So…short improvement #1: Maybe just let it ring with Rico’s name on it rather than require a communication officer to wander around the barracks just telling soldiers to take five steps in a certain direction.

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He approaches a semi-public wall-mounted screen on the wall of the barracks and presses one of the seven metal buttons. The CGA, 16-color screen tells him it is “CONNECTING YOUR CALL…” as a dashed, yellow progress bar zips across the bottom. Second aside: The private video call screen only had five buttons. This is the same except for the two extra silver pushbuttons. What are the extra two here for?

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When the call is connected, he sees a full-screen image of his mother. Though no camera mechanism is visible, he is able to look and talk directly at her eyes. When she realizes it’’s Johnny calling, she calls out to her husband, and the screen automatically splits in two so that both can talk to him at once. Unfortunately we don’t see how this happens from the Dad’s point of view, because it’s instantaneous and seamless. We don’t see him moving a hand back from an interface or anything. Did he just happen to be in front of the video intercom? Or are there lots of screens everywhere around their house? Or can any surface act as a camera/screen? How did the mom signal that she wanted to share the call rather than pass it along?

It happens so seamlessly that I can’t help but think it’s automatic or possibly…agentive. But it has to be conjecture, because it all happens out of sight.

The call is cut off and after a moment of static, a screen tells him that the transmission was terminated in all-caps text that blinks between black and yellow. A female voice confirms by saying ““Your transmission has been terminated due to atmospheric interference. Please try your call again later.”” Then the screen returns to its idle status with a Federal logo.

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Third aside: Any system error should explain its status unambiguously. This implies that the system is still working, but there was a problem with something on the far end. We know that’s not the case. It wouldn’t suit the narrative, but this should read something more like “SYSTEM DOWN.”

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