Felix is a scout in A-team Two. Highly competent, he is the sole survivor of mission after mission. Yet he is a man consumed by fear and hatred. And he is protected not only by his custom-fitted body armor, the culmination of 10,000 years of the armorers' craft, but also by an odd being which seems to live with him, a cold killing machine he calls "the Engine."
©1984 John Steakley; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Gripping, forceful, and compelling....A tour de force." (Kliatt)
There are really two stories here, that eventually come together, and they are somewhat different. The Felix narrative tracks the experience of an individual soldier in an interstellar war. Steakley expends little time on the tech details and essentially none on the politics, the war is apparently completely pointless, but focuses instead on the actual experience that Felix endures. The writing is distinctive, with a chopped flow and bursts of intensity that mirror the fighting, and Weiner's narration captures this. It's very fast paced, and I found it even a bit emotionally draining. Felix has a rough ride.
The Jack Crow character provides the comic release and I found that storyline a welcome break from the intensity of the Felix chapters. Again, Weiner brings out the fun in that part of the story.
Ultimately Armor is a psychological fable, more than simple military SF, examining how people think, act and feel under extreme situations, the nature of heroism, the many ways people are motivated... some people look tough but aren't, some are brave and don't know why, some know how to lead but don't want to... lot's of unexpected little character dimensions.
Be prepared for large parts of this story to make little sense or be complete mysteries. Why the war? How do the warring technologies match up? Where does this fight fit into the larger war? How could their intel be so completely wrong? I didn't mind this; the story is not about the war, it's about these people, and this is a much more realistic way that such events are actually experienced. Only in novels do we get the "God view" that gives us knowledge of everything. Not in this novel, however. This one's all about the characters and they repeatedly say that they don't have any idea what's going on, and since they don't, neither do we.
Like the others who have just posted reviews this is one of those books that I have been keeping an eye out for since I joined Audible. Like the Hyperion cantos this is book is more than science fiction, it is real literature that is a pleasure to read. At its heart this is a story about two very different psychopaths, One a bitter semi suicidal man who is driven by an inner demon that forces him to survive at all costs, and the other, A passionate maniac with a cunning vicious streak that he uses to accomplish his goals despite the guilt he occasionally feels.
This is not a David Weber or John Ringo style military novel. The technology is painted in broad strokes and in most places lacks any real detail. The energy weapons are simple called "Blazers", thrown weapons are "Blaze Bombs" the artillery are "Laser Cannon" Normally I hate this generic kind of sci-fi but in this book the characters are so well written that you feel the battle more than see it. This author is not a world builder or an armchair general but someone who can write the soul of a real killer, something that many so called military fiction writers fail at. Many people may not "get" this book but for those of us that have felt the touch of the "Engine" this is book is a striking experience.
Normally I don't rate the narrator, caring more about the story instead but in this case I will say that he does an excellent job. You can always tell who's speaking just by the voice of the character and the voices fit perfectly with what I imagined when I first read this book.
Can't recommend enough. Still feels fresh and relevant. Get this book. Felix personifies the soldiers dilemma with humanity and sense of self.
I have read 1000's and 1000's of genre books. When I hand out a sci-fi to friends as a recommendation, I often give them this one.
This book has two halves. The first one, think Starship Troopers the movie. I think the movie took more from this book than from Heinlein's story. Only this book has a soul, whereas the movie was all campy fun.
The second half starts off so quietly, its disconcerting. But if you give it a shot, it will reward you.
All together, this is one of my favorite genre books. I am saddened that the author died before writing anything other than one more book. If he had done more I think he would have been remembered as one of the giants of the field.
Sure, this is really good SciFi - but the technology aspects take a back seat to a really gripping story. It is the kind of science fiction that will never seem out of date. Felix is a take-no-prisoners soldier running away from his past, kinda like going into the French Foreign Legion. Crowe is an irreverant space pirate who breaks out of prison and is talked into being a saboteur. Their lives ultimately intersect in a way I never saw coming. I found myself listening to this every chance I could, every place I could get away with it. And, of course, there are the Ants - the last time I was so fascinated by an alien threat was the movie Aliens (a long time ago). From beginning to end, you won't regret it. Also, Weiner's narration is as good as it gets!
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
After nearly quitting Armor because of its lack of emotion, I was surprised to eventually find myself stressed out and sobbing. You won???t believe it at the beginning, but Armor becomes intensely emotional, especially for what???s considered a ???military SF??? novel. This is not merely ???military SF??? ??? it???s a novel about suffering, compassion, love, and the human survival instinct. It just takes a while to get there, which makes it even more gratifying when it finally shows itself.
I listened to Blackstone Audio???s version of Armor, narrated by Tom Weiner. His deep voice was perfect for a story with a bunch of rough men in it, but he did a great job with the female characters, too. I unhesitatingly recommend the audio version.
Armor isn???t the perfect novel ??? it???s hard to believe in the Antwar because we never understand why humans want to be on this toxic planet, it???s hard to believe in a computer glitch that can???t be fixed, and there???s some psychobabble that doesn???t hold up to 21st century psychology (Armor was published in 1984), yet this is a powerful, character-focused, deeply emotional novel about human suffering and the will to survive.
The ending of Armor is both devastatingly glorious and agonizingly inconclusive. John Steakley was writing a sequel when he died in November 2010. An excerpt of the sequel, which I believe was not finished, can be found at this fan website. But I don???t need a sequel ??? I like the way Armor ended.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
I like military sci-fi. And I like thoughtful sci-fi. And I don't mind explorations of psychology in my fiction. So I figured, based on most of the reviews, that I would like the the secondary story of Jack Crowe that everyone said "interrupts" the main military story.
I did not... Felix's story which starts the book (just over half the book) is an interesting butt-kicking military sci-fi battle... then we get about 1/3 of the book wasted on some stupid barely-related "moral-fest" starring Jack Crowe.
Fortunately, the story does get back on track before the end, and it is wrapped up okay, but I wish the author hadn't wasted so much time going on and on and on about Jack Crowe's "badness and redemption" theme.
The narration is very good though.
I can see how some people reviewed the book badly. I almost stopped listening after the first crossover between Felix and Jack's perspectives. But it was oddly engaging in language and especially the Felix story line. I have listened to it several times and it accesses a sense of fatalism and futility that is a core element of the modern experience. I think it is a great work - certainly more appealing if you like whatever genre you feel Starship Troopers is in, but having more reach and depth than that book.
I had never heard of this book or the author when I bought the download. While I had some doubts initially, I am happy with the purchase. The narration is excellent and the story is pretty well constructed.
A midget standing on the shoulders of a giant (RAH, in this case) can sometimes see further than the giant himself. Two story lines and two central characters that seemingly couldn't be more unlike each other slowly intertwine for a pretty darned good yarn. I have to say that the antihero, Jack, starts out as almost too flawed a character to live with. It is painful to be living inside the head of such a cad. I found myself turning the story off just to give myself a break from the shame that rubbed off on me. To jump to the world of decimating ants on Banshee with the likes of Felix - a hero's hero -seemed a great relief. After all, what's there not to like about wandering around in body armor slaying bad guys?
I have pretty much exhausted Audible's selections of the tried-and-true science fiction authors I grew up with. I am happy to say that this book, in the end, delivered what I look for in sci fi.
Not sure why I like this I just do. Well written and entertaining, I re read this when I run out of other good things to read.
Better starship troopers
Steakley conveys the emotions and concepts of both war and the resulting loss incredibly. His machine concept will be familiar to many.
The final scenes are good - summarising really what the book is about and the themes that run through it.
Man, machine, war.
"Classic story telling."
An interesting read with some likeable characters. A few too many loose ends for me at the end but still thoroughly enjoyed the book.
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