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4.12  ·  Rating details ·  16,185 ratings  ·  835 reviews
Alternate cover edition can be found here.

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
Mass Market Paperback, Daw #605, 426 pages
Published December 4th 1984 by DAW (first published December 1984)
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Stingray Originally Felix was send on one mission after the other simply due to computer glitch as nobody thought it necessary to erase a destroyed unit from…moreOriginally Felix was send on one mission after the other simply due to computer glitch as nobody thought it necessary to erase a destroyed unit from the system and the system recalled this unit's only surviving member to service time and again. That was not intentional. Why of all people the medical crew realizing this, decided to cover it up is beyond me, as they were clearly not responsible. This is also a major plot hole in the story as he received new crew mates after avery drop, was integrated into an assault force for every drop and went over lone-survivor-debriefings from intelligence several times. It is ridiculous to assume all this happened without anybody noticing he was a soldier without a unit and needed reassignement. Thus up to his last drop nobody wanted him dead because nobody was actually aware of him and his record.
During his last drop the supreme ruler of a foreign and important planet died and he again came back the lone survivor. This would definitely have meant trouble. Apparently Kent either realized this or lost his nerve completely. During the last memories from the suit, Kent, in full armor, leads Felix from the transition area into a different part of the ship and decks a security guard. Apparently Felix takes the ship, the Masao brought for him and Kent hindered people on the Terra from blocking or prusuing him. He might have been killed by the security guards for going berserk with a battle armor inside the ship. Whether anybody actually would have wanted to kill Felix is unclear.(less)

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Nov 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, favorites
As I finished Armor by John Steakley this morning, I laughed from the depths of me.

Part 1

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

He’s on a military starship orbiting a hostile planet called Banshee and about to be dropped into combat along with 10,000 fellow warriors. The invasion is similar to Normandy on D-Day, and we get our first glimpse of Felix in the mess hall the morning of the drop. He’s a little like this:

As I finished Armor by John Steakley this morning, I laughed from the depths of me.

Part 1

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

He’s on a military starship orbiting a hostile planet called Banshee and about to be dropped into combat along with 10,000 fellow warriors. The invasion is similar to Normandy on D-Day, and we get our first glimpse of Felix in the mess hall the morning of the drop. He’s a little like this:

A woman vomits at the breakfast-line right in front of Felix, whose attitude’s one of and-no-fucks-were-given-that-day.

He climbs into his armor. And it begins.

The next 80 pages are fast. “Mazes,” “bunkers,” and “beacons” are about the most complex scenery beyond the scorching sand dunes. Bleak imagery and nightmare mark the killing ground of massive, ugly bugs that outnumber the warriors a thousand to one, and nearly everyone dies.

By the end of the book, the symbolic hostility of the planet Banshee weaves a recurring theme.

“Remember where you are,” Felix will say. “This is Banshee.”

He is the sole survivor, and you get more insight into his character, as it’s slowly revealed that far from a one-dimensional badass, Felix is a broken soul, his desire to die barely matched by his stubborn, masochistic refusal to do so.

More on this later.

Part 2 begins the parallel story of Jack Crow, right in the midst of a messy prison escape. The shift is abrupt, and perspective changes to first-person.

Jack Crow is a Galaxy-famous pirate and anti-hero,

equal parts


A self-centered asshole with the morals of a cockroach, Crow mistakenly believes he’s the toughest man alive. And, being in a lot of trouble, he strikes a deal with a ruthless Captain mutineer (the main antagonist besides Banshee itself) to charmingly infiltrate and subvert a research colony in exchange for a ship and lots and lots of money.

It's an ugly deal for the colony, and Crow begins to have second thoughts.

Suffice it to say that before the finale, Jack Crow becomes:


Part 3, melding of the stories.

Against all odds, Felix has survived 20 drops.

Banshee wants him dead, the gigantic aliens they fight begin to recognize him, and he is forced to watch as those around him are destroyed one by one.

And yet, like some grotesque cosmic joke, Felix lives… for a while.

That’s all I can say, except that I love Felix. They don’t make heroes like that anymore. He is indestructible but frail. Maybe I like him because he's what every hero should be: you, but better, and with thousands of dead aliens at his feet.


Holy shit the ending.

I will say nothing about it.

Final Thoughts

1) Short
2) Surreal action
3) Ample badassery
4) Somewhat heartrending

1) Short
2) Too short
3) Steakley could have written a sequel.
4) Why was there no sequel?
5) Fuck.

John Steakley died last year. So it goes. Rest in peace. I'm sorry you never got to finish the second book. (Short excerpt of what he was working on.)

Characters similar to Felix from different genres:

The Witcher from The Last Wish
Arlen from The Warded Man
Takeshi Kovacs from Altered Carbon

The Last Wish (The Witcher, #1) by Andrzej Sapkowski The Desert Spear (Demon Cycle, #2) by Peter V. Brett Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs, #1) by Richard K. Morgan

As a whole, The Vorkosigan Saga is still my favorite sci-fi series, followed closely by The Hitchhiker's Guide. (How not?)


That more sci-fi isn’t like Armor shows a colossal failing in literature.
Dan Schwent
Dec 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011, christmas-2010, sf
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
Dirk Grobbelaar
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 momentum generated
Sep 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
April 2018: This was one of the books I added to my shelves when I first joined GR back in 2007. I'm not sure when I last read it, but probably a few years before that. It finally won a group read in the Sci-fi and Heroic Fantasy group, so...

Wow! The book is written in parts. The first part is about Felix, an armored soldier who is dumped into a battle & blows all his fear breakers, so The Engine takes over. It's beautiful the way Steakley wrote this. I wonder if he did time in Vietnam. He's
Oct 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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 gramma
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I don't remember how long GR had been recommended this book to me based on my reading list. And some of my friends gave solid 5 star for this book. How can I not try to read this book?

It is a very good novel with great start and the last quarter of the novel. There are many psychological aspects in the story to make it not just a dumb action story. But I won't discuss the psy factor much, that's one of main reading pleasure for this book.

The character of main protagonist
Nov 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
From an author named ‘Steakley’ you’d expect a two fisted, macho-sized t-bone of a story, and that is exactly what Armor delivers.

This is a story of one man's desperate attempts to survive as he is dropped on a strange alien world over and over again to fight endless waves of huge ant-like aliens intent on tearing him to pieces.

Like all good stories of this nature, however, there is more to Armor than marines frying 'bugs', yelling 'HOO-rah!' and engaging in homoerotic bonding ritu
May 23, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  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 never recovers the na ...more
Kat  Hooper
Jul 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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 bla
Michael Burnam-Fink
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2019
The two best books about powered armor are Starship Troopers and The Forever War. Armor makes a solid third in the trinity. Of course, it's not a perfect book, and I'm not sure that the unusual structure helps it.

The first bit is conventional enough. Felix is a scout, The Scout, a lethal instrument alienated from his fellow man, part of a beachhead on the planet Banshee, a frozen and wind-scoured wasteland inhabited by 8 feet tall "Ants". The mission is simple reconnaissance in force, but there are so many
Jan 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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, in
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.
Mar 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi, war, aliens
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 gen
Johnny Atomic
Jul 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 characte
Roll together Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War, Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and Arnold’s Terminator, and you get the influences on Armor. It must have been part of the zeitgeist of the mid-1980s, as Card’s Ender’s Game was published right around the same time. The suit of armor is its own character, which binds the two bits of the story together. At first, we follow the exploits of semi-superman Felix, as he battles the Ants, an insect-like interstellar enemy of Earth (very like the Buggers of Ender’s Game). Eventually, we ...more
Jason Fischer
Dec 29, 2010 rated it did not like it
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 partiall
César Bustíos
What a ride! It's truly a military science fiction jewel. If you liked Starship Troopers your're gonna love this one, Steakley was obviously inspired by Heinlein's work (ugly giant insect-like enemies, battle armors).

Somehow, I think this book hasn't had the attention it deserves. Can we please make a movie out of it? Or, better yet, a TV series? Please listen to me, Netflix!

It is now one of my all-time favorites. Highly recommended.

Concept art by Adam Lucas

What a ride! It's truly a military science fiction jewel. If you liked Starship Troopers your're gonna love this one, Steakley was obviously inspired by Heinlein's work (ugly giant insect-like enemies, battle armors).

Somehow, I think this book hasn't had the attention it deserves. Can we please make a movie out of it? Or, better yet, a TV series? Please listen to me, Netflix!

It is now one of my all-time favorites. Highly recommended.

Concept art by Adam Lucas

According to Wikipedia, a sequel was in the works at the time of Steakley's death:
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
Jun 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 citiz
Jan 31, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
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 th
Solid military scifi focusing on a single young Scout who manages to be sole survivor from his unit in more than one attack. Bug-like aliens and powersuits suggest instant comparison to Heinlein's Starship Troopers, but this version is more PTSD than gung-ho. Divides into sections, with the seemingly abrupt change of protagonist (and date) from Felix to Jack Crow taking awhile to re-connect with Felix's story.
Alain DeWitt
May 28, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2011
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
Apr 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This often-overlooked military Sci-Fi novel has some of the best pulse-pounding, page-turning SF shoot-em-up action you will ever read. Regrettably, the entire book doesn't hold up to the quality of those scenes. Dialogue gets a bit trite at times, especially the internal monologue of Felix who revels in melodrama, female characters exist mostly to hop into bed with the closest male characters, and the pace is clunky with two storylines that could have been more skillfully interwoven. But overal ...more
Miloș Dumbraci
Jan 01, 2019 rated it liked it
The novel is actually composed of 2 very different storylines, extremely loosely connected:
1. A combat military sci-fi about a scout named Felix. This is extremely good and I enjoyed it immensely for its rhythm, grit and realism regarding the stupidity of the brass. The intense battles are reminiscent of the ww1 carnage (unlike Starship Troopers' obvious ww2 inspiration). 5/5 is barely enough for this part.
2. Another storyline about some wiseguy Han Solo type crook and... space pirat
Dec 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 story is provi ...more
Oct 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to Mike by:
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 scound
Mar 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 scie/>

Mar 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 r
Daniel Roy
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, military
Perhaps it's the comparisons to Starship Troopers and The Forever War that ruined this book for me. I went in expecting a thoughtful military SF novel dealing with war and trauma, and although there was some of that, overall the story left me dissatisfied.

A big part of the problem is that the story does a sharp narrative turn about a third into the book. We go from a gritty, straightforward military SF story following Felix, to the first person narration of Jack Crow, a dashing pirate who attem
Oct 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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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What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Sci-fi book similar to Robert Heinlein style. [s] 4 22 Nov 17, 2018 05:44PM  
Sci-fi and Heroic...: Armor by John Steakley 35 56 Aug 13, 2018 06:32AM  
reading similar 11 73 Jun 10, 2018 07:50PM  
Sci-Fi Group Book...: Armor 4 14 May 30, 2018 11:39PM  
John Steakley (1951-2010) Armor 2 excerpt and short story pdf 1 10 Apr 04, 2018 11:31AM  

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John Steakley, born 1951 in Cleburne, Texas was best known for his science fiction writing. He wrote two major novels, Armor (1984) and Vampire$ (1991), the latter of which became the basis for John Carpenter's Vampires movie. He also wrote 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 spells in South America and ...more
“You are
What you do
When it counts"
- The Masao”
“Because it was the right thing?"
"Oh shit, I hope not."
"Afraid of becoming noble?" he asked, his eyes twinkling.
"That too. But basically, that's the worst reason I can think of for killing. 'That its the right thing to do'. You kill out of outrage or fury or to keep from dying or something like it, that's fine. Hell, kill them rather than bother with them - or be bothered by them. But if you're killing them because 'its the right thing to do', its only the right thing because you've done so many wrong things up until then to make that spot. It's not the right thing to do. It's the best of the last of your choices."
"That's the longest I've ever heard you talk at one time."
"That's because you never ask me about my hair.”
More quotes…