• Armor

  • By: John Steakley
  • Narrated by: Tom Weiner
  • Length: 13 hrs and 38 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (5,468 ratings)

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Armor  By  cover art

Armor

By: John Steakley
Narrated by: Tom Weiner
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Publisher's Summary

The planet is called Banshee. The air is unbreathable, the water poisonous. It is the home of the most implacable enemies that humanity, in all its interstellar expansion, has ever encountered.

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.

Critic Reviews

"Gripping, forceful, and compelling....A tour de force." ( Kliatt)

What listeners say about Armor

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    3,379
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

An intense and unusual work, wonderfully performed

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.

79 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Not just a story this is literature

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.




49 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Hella Good - Not a simple military sci-fi story

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.

44 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

What a great story! Non-stop suspense!

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!

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Are you there Felix? Are you there?

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.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Psychology vs Ants - Ants win

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.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Cool Beans

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.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Barrett

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.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • LV
  • 12-21-09

Outstanding

Outstanding story along the lines of Starship Troopers, but with greater detail to the horrors of war and loss of identity in mass combat. The way the story intertwines between the past and present is masterfully done and the ending begs for a sequel though I can't seem to find one. A great story, well narrated, and worth every penny and moment it took to listen to it both the first, and second times.

10 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A weird addiction

After my initial reading of this book, guess how many times I've listened to this audiobook? Go ahead guess. The answer is, I can't tell you how many times I've listened to this audiobook!
Do I love it? Yes. And the narrator? Absolutely great. He has to be one of the top three best narrators I've ever listened to. I can't believe that he's doing all the voices.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-07-14

Mechanised reality

If you could sum up Armor in three words, what would they be?

Better starship troopers

What was one of the most memorable moments of Armor?

Steakley conveys the emotions and concepts of both war and the resulting loss incredibly. His machine concept will be familiar to many.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The final scenes are good - summarising really what the book is about and the themes that run through it.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Man, machine, war.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Stephen Arnott
  • 06-29-19

A wretched experience

By the time you get through this garbage you'll feel as beat up as the protagonist. The story starts out interesting, sort of, but then changes time and location and goes right downhill. I would have given up then, but this tale has some good reviews so I made myself stick it out till the bitter end.

I think the main issue is the author's laziness. Nothing seems thought about or planned and every time we come to a difficult scene that might call for some effort the writer just sidesteps it with a quick bit of narration that sketches in what happened. It's not even that he doesn't follow the 'show don't tell' rule, most of the time he only 'suggests'. One line goes 'I said something provocative.' I mean, he couldn't even be bothered to think of a line. He probably felt pretty clever doing this when he wrote it, but it's just a continual series of slaps in the reader's face. On the flip-side, when we get to something the author does feel like writing about, we don't hear the end of it. It just keeps going and going and going. This book's title ought to be 'Tedium.'

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 01-20-22

Liked it

Really enjoyed this story and please write the next as I’ll be eager to listen. Performance and voice was spot on. Great work 😁

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-28-21

Amazing

Fantastic story and setting. Absolutely recommend it to anyone that want to hear something a little different then generic sci-fi solder book 6782. ^^

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • MR LEWIS-GEORGE NASH
  • 06-29-20

Great idea could have been better

Wasn't a big fan of the performance. I had wanted to listen to this story for some time as I heard the battle scenes were meant to be very good. They were and the main character in his battle suit is an unfeeling robot like killer who is legendary in his ability to overcome. I really liked this. Then the story takes a turn and we meet another character and follow him. This is where I began to get bored it did pick up again at the end when the soldier comes back but in between I found uninteresting.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • In car listener
  • 04-30-19

Couldn't get into it. Too jumpy and fractured

I couldn't get into this book. The plot was too fractured, and jumped around, expecting the reader to either already know what was going on, or be prepared to listen to swathed of conversation and plot before things were explained in passing.

It was saved by an excellent reading by Tom Weiner, but ultimately I found it a bit frustrating, and couldn't finish it.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr. Mark Lewis
  • 07-17-18

Great sci fi epic

Really enjoyed this kept wondering what's happened and yes I guessed the end twist but loved it.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • mark
  • 05-23-15

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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  • Conrad
  • 01-06-22

well worth

Great book with an excellent perfomance as well. Went in expecting some old school gritty / schlocky sci fi about space marines, but got a really engaging and thought provoking tale with some great themes that still doesnt skimp on the action.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-17-22

Great Military SciFi covering the horrors of war

How have I never come across this book before? It is one of the greats and also has a fantastic narrator.

The first chapter is amazing and vividly captures the horrors of war, not only the physicality of it but the psychological impacts as well.

The parts that don't directly cover the war have a swashbuckling feel but contain gratuitous violence such that some scenes that felt out of place. I hope it was a way of comparing the horrors of life to the horrors of war rather than some fantasy or experience of the author.

The narrator is now one of my favourites. A powerful voice who can handle accents and provide individual voices to characters. I'll be looking to see what else he has done.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-26-22

An excellent story and a pleasure to listen to

I was taken by surprise by the quality of the writing. It was among the best I have encountered so far. The presentation was also excellent! I found myself immediately looking for other titles from this author once I was done.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ryan
  • 04-29-22

7/7 wide brim hats

Absolute crispiness. Great read, lots of action, aliens and hecking space pirates. What more do you want!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Gorse
  • 03-10-22

Great listen

Really enjoyed listening to it, I feel like the book has left an impact on me

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Thomas Hilleary
  • 02-11-22

a true scifi classic

couldn't get enough. the twists and turns are phenomenal. the character development and reveals are incredible

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • nicholas.inglis
  • 01-12-22

just as good as reading it

I always loved this book, and was worried that an audio version would never match it. I was wrong. it was enthralling.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-26-21

I struggled to finish this book, very sad story.

I struggled to finish this book, very sad story with not enough plot explanation or character background information. Please note that there is some animal neglect mentioned.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • matt wood
  • 11-17-21

Grim actuon story, a real classic

Grim action story, really original. you can see where stories like this inspire starship troopers. Worth reading giid action.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-17-21

Underrated

Great thought provoking book. It's an exploration of the nature of heroism, violence and excellence. When you come face-to-face with true excellence, do you meet it with admiration, envy, jealousy, or resentment?
The narrator is excellent as well.