I've had to buy this book nearly six times as I've never gotten them back from friends! I'm enjoying listening to this on audio book and Tom Weiner does a good job. It's a shame Steakley hasn't written much else. That's his prerogative and I'm just thankful he wrote this.
Even before I finished Armor by John Steakley this morning, I began to laugh. It was maniacal laughter from the very depths of me that lasted a long time. And it was good.
Not a typical reaction, but this just became my hands-down favorite sci-fi novel of all time. It’s utterly modern and classical simultaneously, and, by contrast, it scoots all other science fiction into the same category as “books about kittens.”
Since it may not be your cup of tea, let me explain what makes this book unique.
The prose has a serenity about it. Steakley wrote his heart out in his chosen genre, knowing it wasn't one that overlaps literary fiction, and he certainly didn't have to. He wrote the way he wanted, no pretense, no expectations.
It reads like an oil painting with deep characters in detailed action at the center of a blurry canvas, where chaos is a smear of black paint, and speed a rake of colors.
The story's divided into pieces and begins with Felix.
He’s on a military starship orbiting a hostile planet called Banshee, 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.
Tension and cold sweat. A woman vomits at the breakfast-line right in front of Felix, whose attitude’s one of and-no-f***s-were-given-that-day.
He has breakfast. He climbs into his armor. And it begins.
The next 80 pages are hard to read. “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.”
This is a great book, in telling a story it explorers some on the human emotions that reside so deep, and shows how we deal with these fellings.
I really liked John Steakley's writing style, and Tom Weiner's narration interpreted that style perfectly. If a sequel is ever written, I won't hesitate to read it. I will definitely read his other novel Vampire$. I hope he writes more novels. I'm a fan after just one book.
A very good friend of mine has been telling me about this book for years, so when I joined audible and received the first book free I decided to try my luck, I could not have been happier. This book is simply amazing. John Steakley's understanding of how the human mind can react to danger and in a survival situation is uncanny. Felix's transformation from reluctant, melancholy, fatalist to hardened, depressed, fighter and soldier is compelling. I was hooked after the first 5 minutes of listening.
I never thought I would enjoy a si-fi, combat book, but I really, really did! I'm sure Stakely never meant Felix to be so sexy, but in my opinion, he is! I can't wait to download Vampire$. The reviews are very good.
When this book sticks to what the cover promises -- armored troopers fighting giant ants -- "Armor" is pretty good military sci-fi. But I sense that Steakley was going for something a little deeper in this homage to Heinlein's "Starship Troopers," and in that, I believe he fell short. There are some messages about the cost of war, and the way men and women are forced to turn off their humanity in order to become soldiers, and at times the war against the ants seems like a pretty obvious far future reprise of Vietnam. Soldiers are sent on suicide missions without a clue what their strategy is (and indeed, frequently the war seems to be fought without any strategy beyond "kill Ants"), even to the point of having to sally out from their bunkered FOBs just to rack up a higher body count.
Unfortunately, the middle of the book is completely bogged down by the second main character, who is only mildly interesting and whose scheme to betray the fleet and steal a power source becomes an endless series of interactions between equally unlikeable and boring people.
If you like military SF and don't mind all the characters being morally ambiguous and mostly bastards, this is worth a read, but I didn't find it to be the new SF classic a lot of Steakley's fans seem to think it is.
I'd like to rate this higher, but I found my mind drifting too often as I listened to the audiobook because the story just wasn't holding my attention, so while it probably deserves a 3.5, I'm rounding down rather than up as I usually do.
A good story. Slow to start but the ending makes up for it. I am always worried about burning a credit and the book to stink. This book don't stink lol.