Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Armor / John Steakley

3 out of 5 stars
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 ten thousand 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.”

This best-selling science-fiction classic is a story of the horror, the courage, and the aftermath of combat and also of how strength of spirit can be the greatest armor of all.

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 see space-pirate Jack Crow acquire the suit of armor and explore it’s stored memories with two scientists on a world that he is supposed to be infiltrating.

It was engaging, although I found the Jack Crow sections to be a bit opaque in meaning. Why did the author switch to his point of view? I’m unsure. And I found long unbroken stretches of text, where it was difficult to find a reasonable place to leave a bookmark, pausing places if you will.

All in all, military science fiction isn’t really my thing, although I appreciate the things that it can say about society.

Book 202 of my science fiction & fantasy reading project.

No comments:

Post a Comment