Dan Schwent's Reviews > Armor

Armor by John Steakley
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Dec 26, 2010

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bookshelves: christmas-2010, sf, 2011
Read from January 06 to 10, 2011

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 expanded it into a novel, but Armor is so much more than that.

Armor is the story about what war does to a person's psyche. Felix deals with war by retreating and letting The Engine take control, becoming a veteran and survivor of twenty combat drops. Felix is used to show the absurdity of war. As he becomes a veteran, the people around him, including the ones giving the orders, grow less and less experienced. The contrast between Kent and Felix was well done; one the public face of the war against the Ants and the other the one doing the actual dirty work.

Armor has two distinct plot lines; one featuring Felix and the other featuring a space pirate named Jack Crow, who finds Felix's armor years after the events of Felix's storyline. Felix's story is told in the third person while Crow's is told in the first. I'll be honest, Crow really slowed things down for me and gave me second thoughts about the entire book. At first anyway. Then he found Felix's armor. I loved the way Crow and the others pieced together Felix's fate as the colony slowly collapsed.

The Ants were great enemies in a survival horror type of way. Ten foot tall ant-like aliens are something to be feared, especially when they attack en mass.

I will not give away the ending except to say that it was awesome.

For fans of military sf like Starship Troopers and Old Man's War should give Armor a try. You won't be disappointed.
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Michael I've got this one my TBR pile.


message 8: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Michael wrote: "I've got this one my TBR pile."

You liked Starship Troopers and Old Man's War so this will probably be right up your alley.


Michael I've heard that, yes. I need to move it up the TBR pile, I think.


message 6: by Jeffrey (last edited Feb 28, 2011 09:27AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jeffrey Actually I think the book that you connect the most to Armor is not Starship Troopers but instead The Forever War by Haldeman. I think if you read them in conjunction, you will find that they both tell a story about what is the affect of war on people. Starship Troopers is more about fighting bugs as a duty for the state and how the military and the people who perform services should be elevated to a higher level. Armor and The Forever War are more about the individual cost of war on humans.

In any event Armor is a terrific book -- one of the best military science fiction books out there.


message 5: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Jeffrey wrote: "Actually I think the book that you connect the most to Armor is not Starship Troopers but instead The Forever War by Haldeman. I think if you read them in conjunction, you will find that they both..."

I've been waiting for Forever War to come up used at my local bookstore.


Jeffrey If you like miliary sf, I suggest you also look at Death Head by David Gunn. Its a great fast military sf story.


James Izurieta Just curious, but why did you give it three stars if you enjoyed it so much?


message 2: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent James wrote: "Just curious, but why did you give it three stars if you enjoyed it so much?"

It was four years ago so I have no idea.


Jeffrey armor has two parts. Dan alluded in the review above that one part slowed the story down for him. That is probably why he gave it 3 stars.


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