Books: “Armor” by John Steakley

After Christmas I used some of the money I recieved to purchase books. It says something about how busy my life is at the moment that I (who sometimes read 15 books a month during high school) still haven’t finished the 8 books I bought in late December/early January.

According to the book cover, Armor is a “military science fiction classic.” I can’t say whether or not that’s true as a I don’t generally seek out military science fiction or military fiction in general. It’s not that I have something against it, it’s just that I don’t make any special effort to look for it.

Armor follows two stories. First the story of Felix, a new recruit to hopeless, desperate war. Second, the story of Jack Crow, a person with a certain moral flexibility who is trying to leave the backwater colony he’s stuck on.

Initially, you don’t realize that there’s more than one story being told. It starts with a limited third person perspective from Felix’ point of view. That goes on for the first 100+ pages or so. When it changes to Jack’s first person narration, you might find yourself wondering if it’s the same book.

It is.

Though I’m not going to go into details, the two stories interlock. The book could have just stuck to Felix, making the entire novel about his personal experience of the war. It would have been a good novel because the author does a great job creating the experience of fear and the personal distance you’d have to have from your experience to come out of combat reasonably sane. Not to mention his ability to make the descriptions of combat thrilling to read without glorifying it. The characters feel solid to me–human, flawed and sometimes heroic. In short, the book could have been Starship Troopers complete with powered armor and insect opponents, but with a more negative slant to war.

It’s a smarter book than that.

The second story in the book is set later in the war, after Felix’ part of the story. Jack Crow’s story involves finding out what happened to Felix as well as opening up the colony he’s on to a pirate /deserter named Borglyn.

The author does a great job of depicting the relationships of the characters as well as creating a plot that moves the story along. Along the way, the story also asks questions about the morality of fighting and a person’s duty to others.

I recommend the book. I enjoy books in which the characters aren’t perfect people, doing things that they will later regret, and experiencing the results of those actions. I enjoy books in which the characters experience more than they can handle.

This is one of them. Take that as you will.

4 thoughts on “Books: “Armor” by John Steakley”

  1. Funny… I’ve read Steakley’s “Vampire$” (on which the John Carpenter/James Woods movie was based).

    Two of the characters in that are named “Jack Crow” and “Felix.” Never read “Armor,” though. I guess I’ll have to just to see if the characters are essentially the same people in a different milieu.

  2. I’ve never noticed any other books that Steakley’s done. Amusing that he’d use the same character names. Now I’ll have to look for that…

    If you do read “Armor,” I’ll be interested to hear what you thought.

  3. I first read Armor and then read Vampire$ and the Felix and Jack characters are very much the same people just in vastly different surroundings. The sad part with the movie version of Vampire$ is that it bears only a passing resemblance to the book partly because one of the main characters (Felix) is missing entirely.

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