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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

This is our discussion of the classic science fiction novel

Armor by John Steakley Armor by John Steakley
(1984)


message 2: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2227 comments I'll start it as soon as I finish the paperback I'm reading now. Might be a week or so, though.


Brendan (mistershine) | 743 comments I'm enjoying the light, comedic tone and the great banter between Felix and the "Armor" character. A fun romp!


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Brendan wrote: "I'm enjoying the light, comedic tone and the great banter between Felix and the "Armor" character. A fun romp!"

You're reading it wrong.


message 5: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 02, 2018 10:45AM) (new)

I'm re-reading for the first time in a long time.

Felix 2077

The first 100 pages or so of Armor is an intense combat encounter on the planet Banshee.
It's an ugly planet. A bug planet. A planet hostile to life.
Why is it always bugs? Heinlein's Starship Troopers, then Steakley, and then Card's Ender's Game. It creates the swarm attack, one in which individual enemy life is cheap, and there's always a target rich environment.

Felix is a specialized warrior, a Scout, wearing a power suit; he's also a rookie.. The attack on Banshee is the first incursion onto an "Ant" world. There are veteran units as well, though it's not clear whether their previous combat experiences against Ants or in one of the other conflicts that was tangentially mentioned.

The background of the AntWar is left pretty vague. Did the Ants attack humanity someplace? Do we just want their supply of formic acid? What's it all about?

Felix has a schizophrenic personality, the main one depressed and looking to die someplace. The other, which Felix thinks of as "the Engine," is a dispassionate killing machine that seems to take over whenever he's in danger. He kills them with a beam weapon known as a Blazer, or club, or his plasteel-covered power-augmented hands.

Felix meets another unit with a Scout, Foster, who is every bit as good as he is at killing, if not better. They find that because they're so good, they get all the tough assignments. "The reward for a job well done is another job."

During one lull in the combat, some veterans helpfully go over the actuarial tables. As a rookie, Felix is already high-risk; as a scout, Felix is also high-risk. As a rookie scout, he's a 1. Good pep talk.

Anyway, the first 100 pages is definitely high on combat action.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

I liked the conclusion fo the first section, Felix, when he thinks he's getting medical care:
Later, when he realized that the envelope was designed to enable him to wear his suit despite his injuries, he was too numb to speak, too wobbly to stand.



Brendan (mistershine) | 743 comments Maybe the book should be called "Plot Armor"


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) I'm about a third of the way through. After the first (3rd person) "Armor" section is a 1st person section that seems to pick up a totally different plot line. The narrator of this section is a space pirate named "Jack Crow." Wait a minute...where have I heard a pirate named "Jack" with a bird-like surname....


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Randy wrote: " 'Jack Crow.' Wait a minute...where have I heard a pirate named "Jack" with a bird-like surname.... ..."

Armor was written before Depp made his first movie.

The "2nd story", which takes place a decade after the first, eventually connects back to Felix's adventures on Banshee. In fact, it's kind of a clever way to tell another Felix story in retrospect.


Brendan (mistershine) | 743 comments G33z3r wrote: "Randy wrote: " 'Jack Crow.' Wait a minute...where have I heard a pirate named "Jack" with a bird-like surname.... ..."

Armor was written before Depp made his first movie.

The "2nd story", which t..."


I'm at this second section right now and was just thinking that this new character seems just like Felix with a different name.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Brendan wrote: "I'm at this second section right now and was just thinking that this new character seems just like Felix with a different name. ..."

I thought they were quite different. Felix is depressed, straightforward if taciturn. Jack is a fast-talking con man, excessively confident, and almost a parody of a lady's man (with a blunt & crude approach to picking up women.) They are both cynical, but in different ways: Felix has a cynicism about the war and military command, Jack is cynical about everything & everyone from deserters to scientists. And for the most part, Jack is looking out for #1.


Brendan (mistershine) | 743 comments They were both cynical, extremely violent and self-interested (though Felix's interests didn't have time yet to extend past self-preservation). I guess I haven't gotten far enough in part two to where he's a fast-talking con man, i've not finished it yet.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) G33z3r wrote: "Armor was written before Depp made his first movie."

Yes, I am aware of that. I am still amused at the coincidence. Who knows, maybe a PotC writer was a fan of this book? I am imagining Depp in the role while I read it.

Brendan wrote: "I'm at this second section right now and was just thinking that this new character seems just like Felix with a different name. "

Like G33z3r I don't find them much alike either. But I wonder if Lewis is actually Felix? I have the feeling there's going to be some overlap in characters at some point.


message 14: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2227 comments I started this today. What a great start! Dumped right into it so hard that his breakers blew. Steakley really got that part right. I wonder what happened to him that made him able to describe that so well. It takes a really hairy situation that lasts a while for Felix's sort of detachment to take hold. He was the right age for Vietnam, but nothing about it in his bio on Wikipedia.


Brendan (mistershine) | 743 comments Now that I'm further into the second section and Jack has spoken more, I agree they are less similar.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) Jim wrote: "I started this today. What a great start! Dumped right into it so hard that his breakers blew. Steakley really got that part right. I wonder what happened to him that made him able to describe that..."

The first part was great - lots of action and Steakley does a great job making it fast-paced and confusing. The Jack Crow part is really bogging down though. I'm ready for more action!


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Randy wrote: "The first part was great - lots of action and Steakley does a great job making it fast-paced and confusing. ..."

The confusing part – fog of war, plus the bad intel (or lying command) about both whether there were ants in the drop are or what the Knuckle really was, the repeated overconfidence of command in their plans and weapon capabilities, gave it a real verisimilitude. Like Jim, when I re-read the first combat sequence I looked up Steakley's Wikipedia bio, because it seemed he should have had some military combat experience in his background.

Oh, and keep reading, there's more Felix action in coming up (a variation of a flashback.)


message 18: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2227 comments I love the way Steakley introduces characters & hints at their backgrounds while showing their personalities through action. Just who is Felix? There's a flash of his memory of the ceremony & his complete ignorance of Kent. Weird. Everyone knows Kent. Then there is how he was dumped in compared to the rest. Something isn't right.

Jack Crow... I don't know how you can think his part is dragging, Randy. I'm reading every word looking for clues as to what it is that makes him so special. How is it that he's so strong & able to break bones in a fight? Why is he so well known? We get one clue about stealing a drive. Did all the rest stem from that? He's such an opportunistic jerk (actually, far worse words apply) but he's also quite likeable & obviously a con man of epic proportions.

Then there are the hints about the ant war that we're getting from Jack's companions. Starship Troopers & The Forever War are both concerned directly with the troops in the war, just like the first part which is Felix's story, but Jack's part is showing another dimension. The authorities don't seem to be telling the public the truth about Banshee, but what is the truth?

Who is Lewis? He's an odd character. I just finished the part where Jack meets him. He seems to be as nimble as Jack, but better natured, perhaps a bit sodden.


message 19: by Phil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Phil Jensen | 329 comments Jim wrote: "Jack Crow... I don't know how you can think his part is dragging, Randy."

The first 100 pages are incredible. The Jack Crow section is just okay. After the adrenaline rush of the Felix story, the Jack Crow stakes just don't seem very high. He will probably find a way to give the pirates what they want. He seems like he's in charge of the situation. There's not as much tension there. I would probably be more intrigued by the mysteries you mention if I wasn't so keen to get back to Felix.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) Jim wrote: "Jack Crow... I don't know how you can think his part is dragging, Randy. I'm reading every word looking for clues as to what it is that makes him so special. How is it that he's so strong & able to break bones in a fight? Why is he so well known? We get one clue about stealing a drive. Did all the rest stem from that? He's such an opportunistic jerk (actually, far worse words apply) but he's also quite likeable & obviously a con man of epic proportions.

Then there are the hints about the ant war that we're getting from Jack's companions. Starship Troopers & The Forever War are both concerned directly with the troops in the war, just like the first part which is Felix's story, but Jack's part is showing another dimension. The authorities don't seem to be telling the public the truth about Banshee, but what is the truth?

Who is Lewis? He's an odd character. I just finished the part where Jack meets him. He seems to be as nimble as Jack, but better natured, perhaps a bit sodden."


I think you may be getting a little more out of the Jack Crow section since you are re-reading and you have a perspective on where the story is going that I lack. I agree with all your questions about the plot and the character but after the action section the Jack Crow story feels slow in comparison. I still like it though. I just finished the first Jack Crow section and I'm onto the next Jack Crow section, then I think we get the Felix section that G33z3r mentioned then another Jack Crow section wraps it all up (yeah, I peeked ahead).

Phil wrote: "The first 100 pages are incredible. The Jack Crow section is just okay. After the adrenaline rush of the Felix story, the Jack Crow stakes just don't seem very high."

My thoughts exactly.


message 21: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2227 comments You're probably right, Randy. I am getting more out of it because I know what to look for. I agree with you & Phil, the first section was incredible & being jerked away from it doesn't seem fair. Keep an eye out, though. Trust that Steakley is doing this for a reason. He is & it will make sense eventually in the third section. I'm through the third section now which picked up tremendously.


message 22: by Janny (new) - added it

Janny (jannywurts) | 6 comments Jim wrote: "You're probably right, Randy. I am getting more out of it because I know what to look for. I agree with you & Phil, the first section was incredible & being jerked away from it doesn't seem fair. K..."

You are all tempting me to pull my terribly old, terribly beat up copy of this back off the shelf for a re-read.


message 23: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2227 comments Janny wrote: "You are all tempting me to pull my terribly old, terribly beat up copy of this back off the shelf for a re-read. "

Misery loves company. I'm handling mine delicately & stuffing pages back in occasionally.
;)


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

Jim wrote: "Janny wrote: "You are all tempting me to pull my terribly old, terribly beat up copy of this back off the shelf for a re-read. "
Misery loves company. I'm handling mine delicately & stuffing pages..."


I just went ahead and sprung for a new ebook. (I love that new book smell. :)


message 25: by Janny (new) - added it

Janny (jannywurts) | 6 comments G33z3r wrote: "Jim wrote: "Janny wrote: "You are all tempting me to pull my terribly old, terribly beat up copy of this back off the shelf for a re-read. "
Misery loves company. I'm handling mine delicately & stu..."


My Kindle rolled up and died - found I didn't miss it much.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) Jim wrote: "You're probably right, Randy. I am getting more out of it because I know what to look for. I agree with you & Phil, the first section was incredible & being jerked away from it doesn't seem fair. K..."

Yeah, I got the feeling the Crow section was important. I still picture him as an angry Johnny Depp with too much eyeliner though...

Janny wrote: "My Kindle rolled up and died - found I didn't miss it much."

I'm with you Janny. I love paper books. By all means dig up your copy and jump in!


message 27: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2227 comments LOL! Great image, Randy. I'm into another Felix section. Wow! Don't rush through the Crow section, though.


message 28: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2227 comments I finished Armor last night. I wound up curled in my chair glaring over the book at anything that disturbed me like a starving dog guarding a bone. Luckily my wife does the same thing occasionally so no fall out there. It was fantastic. I liked it even better this time, I think. I gave it a 5 star review here:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

A couple of random points:

• I thought it was interesting that the Fleet research station on Sanction, run by Dr. Hollis "Holly" Ware, is doing exactly the kind of studies that kept backfiring on Felix on Banshee (including the research bunker we'll learn about later.) Every Fleet deduction about the Ants seems to be wrong, from the nature of the Knuckle (not a supply depot) to the "impregnability" of the Bunker.

• Even as we get to the end of the novel, we still don't know what's happened, or is still happening, on Banshee. Borglyn (mutineer/deserter/pirate) suggests the news reports (whatever they are) are bogus and something – presumably fighting – is still ongoing. That's on a par with the fact that we've never been told how the war started, either.


message 30: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2227 comments The lack of military intelligence was definitely a theme that Steakley pointed out in various ways. Ditto for their dishonesty. The tragic cost in human terms actually softened Borglyn & his men a little, briefly, for all their faults. All in all, it was a pretty horrific novel, but so well done!

I liked the lose ends & am kind of glad he didn't do a sequel, although he worked on one for years. Part of it was posted on his web site at one time. That's giving me a 403 forbidden error now, but I still found part of it posted elsewhere. The link is in my review, but I don't recommend reading it. I'm not sure it really was written by him. Reads more like fanfic to me & doesn't add a lick to the original.


Brendan (mistershine) | 743 comments I thought the final third of the book was really excellent. Probably bumped it up a full star for me. I do think we spent a bit too long being uninformed. I was asking multiple times "Why should I care about these characters?" We were eventually given good reasons to care but they were a long time coming.


message 32: by Phil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Phil Jensen | 329 comments I think I will be disappointed if (view spoiler) But maybe Steakley can make me buy it.


message 33: by Phil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Phil Jensen | 329 comments I finished earlier this week. Looking back, I think the Felix POV was so good that everything else paled in comparison.

My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) I finished it and gave it 3 stars.

What I liked:
- the battle sequences were amazing
- good ideas involving the battle suits and also the way they made fortresses from sand later in the book
- some interesting characters

What I thought could have been better:
- dialogue (internal and external) was corny and cheesy at times, with a lot of melodramatic hand-wringing especially in the internal monologues
- the pacing was awkward, and the Jack and Felix storylines should probably have been interwoven on a chapter-by-chapter basis


Roger Phil wrote: "Jim wrote: "Jack Crow... I don't know how you can think his part is dragging, Randy."

The first 100 pages are incredible. The Jack Crow section is just okay. After the adrenaline rush of the Felix..."


I just got around to this book and feel the same way, I loved the beginning section with Felix and then the rest kind of fizzles for me. about 300 pages in I thought about DNFing it but figured I was too far into give up now. I did finish and wasn't at all surprised who Lewis was, but the ending was okay. I'd love to get more background on the war and the Golden and the universe in general.


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