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Armor

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  9,836 ratings  ·  495 reviews
The military sci-fi classic in a striking new package

Felix is an Earth soldier, encased in special body armor designed to withstand Earth's most implacable enemy-a bioengineered, insectoid alien horde. But Felix is also equipped with internal mechanisms that enable him, and his fellow soldiers, to survive battle situations that would destroy a man's mind.

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Mass Market Paperback, 432 pages
Published December 4th 1984 by DAW (first published December 1984)
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Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardStarship Troopers by Robert A. HeinleinOld Man's War by John ScalziThe Forever War by Joe HaldemanOn Basilisk Station by David Weber
Military Science Fiction
6th out of 544 books — 714 voters
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Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Simeon
Even before I finished Armor by John Steakley this morning, I began to laugh. It was maniacal laughter from the very depths of me. And it felt good.

Armor just became my hands-down favorite sci-fi novel. It’s utterly modern and classical simultaneously.

Armor reads like an oil painting with deep characters at the center of a blurry canvas, where chaos is a smear of black paint, and speed a rake of colors.


Part 1

The story's divided into pieces and begins with Felix.

He’s on a military starship orbi
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Dan Schwent
An armored scout named Felix is dropped on the planet Banshee, a hostile alien world teeming with Ants. When Felix's team is wiped out on their first mission, only The Engine, his second personality, saves him. Can Felix (and the Engine) survive the war against the Ants? And does he want to...?

I read about Armor on John Scalzi's blog and decided to give it a shot. At first glance, Steakley took the parts of Starship Troopers he liked the most, power armor and aliens that resemble insects, and e
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Dirk Grobbelaar
This is a fascinating novel. It is, for the most part, a military science fiction story. Then again, it’s something else entirely. Steakley actually juggles two stories here, both of which read like a novel in their own right. However, it soon becomes apparent that there is only one tale here, even if it takes two to get it told.

The novel opens like a fairly standard MilSF novel, reminiscent of Starship Troopers or The Forever War. This first sequence introduces us to Felix. There is a lot of mo
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Jim
If you liked Heinlein's Starship Troopers & Haldeman's "The Forever War" here is a third to read. On the surface, the similarities are obvious - a future war in space with a young male soldier in powered armor. The similarities stop there, though. Where Heinlein is very pro military & Haldeman just the opposite (understandable considering their ages & military experiences) this book shows a better balanced view of war & its effects - more mature, IMO. The POV changes, unlike the ...more
Mark
Nov 12, 2007 Mark rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: sciencefiction
A lot of people here have criticized this book because of poor grammar. While it is 100% true that this book is definitely not completely grammar accurate, it should be noted that most of the book is told from the perspective of one of the characters. I didn't think one needed to be grammar accurate if telling the story from the point of view of a character, who is not necessarily an educated person.

If you are a grammar Nazi, you'll probably hate this book. I'm certainly not a grammar Nazi and I
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Kat  Hooper
4.5 stars, audio version
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

"...everything you were hiding from was in there with you. That's the trouble with armor. It won't protect you from what you are."

Felix is a loner, a broken man with a mysterious past. When he's dropped with thousands of fellow soldiers on a toxic planet nicknamed "Banshee," he's the only survivor of the battle with the 8-foot tall "Ants" that live there. That's partly because of the special armor he wears -- his black nuclear-power
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Stephen
3.0 stars. Certainly deserves to be listed among a handful of classic "military SF" though I rank it below the likes of Starship Troopers and The Forever War. Focuses on the psychological effects of combat and the effect it has on the soldiers fighting it. That alone makes it worth reading. It does have some weaknesses such as the slowness of the middle sections of the book and the occasional lack of quality writing. That said, I still recommend it for military SF fans.
Johnny Atomic
Jul 20, 2011 Johnny Atomic rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Love. Hate.

Some people love this book more than Halloween, kittens and Disney World combined. They see it as emotionally charged, creative and raw.

Others see it as a schizophrenic mess that could have more than half it's pages removed and, only then, be laudable as a very mediocre novella.

Like many things that have a huge following, both parties are correct. I loved the book and thus overlooked its flaws, which are glaring.

If the secondary character of Crow fell off the earth and was eaten by Gr
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Tom
Armor is a science fiction book from my "top ten list" of favorite Sci-Fi books, maybe in my top ten in any category.

This is probably my third or fourth re-read of this great book.

It's the story of Felix, a foot soldier in a war against an alien ant-like race. It's got your standard hard-core sci-fi plot elements: aliens who are seemingly unstoppable, a hero who might be more than he seems, a crusty space pirate who might really have a heart of gold, beautiful women, space ships, interstellar t
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Nagrom
Jun 22, 2009 Nagrom rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone. Military Personnel. Sci-Fi and Military Sci-Fi fans.
Many have compared this book, often unfavorably, to Starship Troopers. Some going as far as to call it a rip off of Starship Troopers. I take a different perspective...
In an interview Steakley has actually said that he was inspired by Starship Troopers when he wrote Armor, and took many ideas for his book from Heinlein's. Not in an effort to steal, but as a compliment - Borrowing a scenario he loved and using it to explore a different idea.
Starship Troopers is an exploration of citizenship, duty
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Bill
I had this one written down on a little piece of paper I keep in my wallet after reading a gushing review at another website. For months I kept an eye open for it until finally it had been re-issued as a classic.
It was OK but I'd hardly call it a classic. It does have its moments. While battle scenes begin to bore me after 10 pages, I have to admit these ones were pretty intense. And, yeah, the armor was pretty wild.
And, yeah, I did begin to feel for the poor guy. Damn, the more I think about it
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Ric
A military action book with heart and compassion. Who would've thunk! Initially, it seemed like one of those SF ideas that goes thus:

Young boy with nothing to do observes an anthill. Puts a stick through one of the small holes and lo and behold ants stream out. Pokes more holes and soon has the whole hive agitated. Imagines he is fighting a battle with the ants. Ants discover him and start coming up his legs. That night, while scratching the itchy welts on his feet, thinks, "What if I wrote a s

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Mike (the Paladin)
John Steakley was born in 1951, he and I would be almost of an age. He wrote only 2 major novels (the other being VAMPIRE$ which I plan to read as soon as I can shoehorn it into my reading list). You can see the influence of Vietnam in this one. Written in 1984 the book pictures a 2084 universe where humans have spread through space and Earth is involved in its first interstellar war.

I like this book and found it very involving. I did find my interest waning a bit during our first encounter wit
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Terence
May 31, 2012 Terence rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terence by: Roberto
Shelves: sf-fantasy
If Armor comprised pages 7-89 and 261-374 (in my edition, i.e., Felix’s story), John Steakley would have had the “gripping, forceful and compelling…tour de force” the cover blurb promises. Something that really could compare to Starships Troopers or The Forever War. Instead he had to go and break the narrative with Jack Crow’s story. It’s a WTF moment as you’re roughly torn from the claustrophobic, terrifying, soul-crushing milieu of Banshee to…the cafeteria of an alien prison. And Steakley neve ...more
Dan
Mar 07, 2008 Dan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: sci-fi
One of my all-time favorite sci-fi's from an author who has not done anything nearly as well since.

A soldier in a horrific and seemingly unwinnable war loses his identity and self within his armor. Willing to die, he never does. Meanwhile (in the narrative which traverses between the stories), decades after the war, a pirate/crook and a pair of scientists discover a piece of armor floating in an abandoned spaceship. They begin the process of reviewing the armor's files by basically reliving the
...more
Jon
Jul 03, 2013 Jon added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: Jim MacLachlan
Phil
I have given ARMOR ***** stars because it is one of the most realistic and graphically written novels about war, hands-down!

ARMOR is a story of a mysterious guy named Felix who joints the Fleet Navy to escape a painful and terrible past. It's during basic training that he's found to have unique warrior skills; a remarkable adaptability to combat situations and an incredible, almost superhuman will to live. He's made a Scout and given the standard, fully armored battle suit which is complete wit
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Tina
There are parts of this book that are fantastic, and parts that are a little slow, but overall it was a great action sci-fi. It reminded me a little of Consider Phlebas (mainly the character of Jack Crow) as well as The Forever War (though it seems like every sci-fi soldier book I read reminds me of that one). The parts with Felix were just awesome - I couldn't put it down. The parts with Jack though... I kind of wonder what the point was. Clearly, when you get to the end the reason for his stor ...more
Josh
Armor consists of two storylines. One follows Felix, a soldier fighting against alien creatures known as "ants" on a planet known as Banshee, and the other storyline -- which begins abruptly about a quarter of the way through and continues until the final quarter -- follows a criminal named Jack Crow.

Felix's storyline is intense and powerful. Despite Steakley's lack of skill as a writer, he managed to create a character who was interesting, terrifying, and likable. In Felix, we have a genuine sc
...more
Eric Franks
Look, some books just stick with you and this is one of those books for me. This is probably because it was my first experience with well written sci-fi. At least well written in comparison to what i was normally reading. In any case this book tells the story of Felix who leaves through nightmarish experiences in a war on a distant planet. I think what is most compelling about the story is that it captures the brutality and savagery of war despite it being set on a distant planet while fighting ...more
Jerry
Meet Felix: A soldier/scout encased in mechanized body armor.
Meet the enemy: Huge, bioengineered aliens resembling ants.
Felix is dropped time and time again onto a planet where the "ants" dwell, and time and time again he survives. Three to Five successful drops qualifies you for retirement...Felix has not lost count of his drops, but somehow his superiors lost track...

The battles are intense, and when wounded, the armor injects the soldiers with pain killers so they can fight on. Some of the be
...more
Luke
Armor has been marketed as a work of "military" sci-fi. I find this severely lacking and/or deceiving. In my opinion, it is actually a commentary on a human mind stretched to the breaking point. The battles and conflict are just the backdrop, the bleak, dark, fading pedestal that pushes the main character's mind into the light.

For me, the battle scenes, which were fairly few for a military book, weren't all that on their own. You can only read so much about massive ants getting blasted into obli
...more
Rey Mysterioso
This little doozy is a primogenitor to many a sci-fi novel. You can feel its impact in a dozen dozen books, across scores of star systems, if you will.

Mankind and its need to technologically enable itself. And war, the truest of all of mankind's inventions. Yes indeed.

Armor talks about armor. The kind technology can encase around you, and the kind you build inside yourself. Felix is our hero in this book. Felix has built his armor into the Engine. A subset of his own mind that simply. Will. Not.
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Alain Dewitt
There's no easy way to put this: this book was a HUGE disappointment. Several people had recommended it to me in the past. One colleague even went so far as to say it was better than 'Starship Troopers'. As Vincent Vega says in 'Pulp Fiction', 'That's a bold statement.' And as Lee Corso (if he were a junkie stopping by to buy smack from Lance) might have retorted, 'Not so fast, my friend!'

There are so many things wrong with this book. Where to begin?

First, there is almost no character developmen
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Mike
Jan 27, 2013 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: scifi
'Armor' is usually mentioned in the same breath as 'Starship Troopers' and 'The Forever War' and is certainly a fantastic complement to the others, but realistically they have very little in common beyond futuristic wars and powered armor. Where the other two have a message they want to convey based on the author's own experience, 'Armor' is pure entertainment. This is not to say that it doesn't have depth though, I found the story to be both engrossing and three dimensional.

'Armor' develops th
...more
Mike
Oct 20, 2012 Mike rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Mike by: aggie_mike2003@yahoo.com
Oh man, if only the whole book was a good as the last 100 pages, it would get 5 Stars not just 3. Alas, there are two or three great stories here, but none are fully fleshed out. The first story is about Felix, a survior of uncounted "drops" on Banshee, home of the enemy "Ants". Felix is the ultimate soldier in his Armor, wreaking havoc on the hordes of enemy 1,000# "ants" that attack any military landing on the planet.

The second story revolves around Jack Crow, a famous brigand and scoundrel, a
...more
Jason Fischer
I've gotta say, I came into this book with high expectations. It started off brilliantly, with a great Starship Troopers feel....and then not only did the wheels fall off, the whole plot caught on fire and crashed into a kitten orphanage. No-one survived.

The Jack Crow plot-arc was AWFUL, waffling, pointless. GET ON WITH IT. There were points where the editing was abysmal, and I'm not just talking about the occasional typo. I'm talking about bits where paragraphs collided and partially repeated t
...more
Robert
Steakley is great at capturing sheer, adrenaline-pumping terror on the page (see also his novel "Vampire$") and brings it in spades with "Armor," his answer to Heinlein's "Starship Troopers." Forget political theory and sociological commentary, Steakley deals with how a "bug war" would go down on the field and in the traumatized minds of its soldiers. If I were only grading the portions of the novel set on the planet Banshee, I'd easily give the book a solid four stars. As it is, I thought it sl ...more
Spencer Franklin
I only gave this book 5 stars because there wasn't anything higher to rank it.
Jake
Armor is one of those novels that I saw sitting around bookstores for years, and always thought it look vaguely interesting (in the way that I think any book with a picture of a guy in a giant suit of power armor on the cover looks vaguely interesting), but was never necessarily inspired to. Eventually, as time went on, I heard from various sources that it was good, and was finally inspired to pick it up after Poe Ghostal reviewed it on his own site. As with so many books I buy, it took me a whi ...more
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SFBRP Listeners: Armor review 2 38 Sep 05, 2014 10:08AM  
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Armor: School Read 7 56 Apr 20, 2011 02:11AM  
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John Steakley, born 1951 in Cleburne, Texas, is an author, best known for his science fiction writing. He has written two major novels, Armor (1984) and Vampire$ (1991), the latter of which became the basis for John Carpenter's Vampires movie. He has also written several short stories in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. Not a prolific writer, he lived most of his life in Texas, aside from brief spel ...more
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