Saturday, October 09, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 60

This is an ongoing series looking at books that have influenced me as an author.

by John Steakley

In 1984 I was a young teen. I had read a lot of fantasy by that time, but only a handful of science fiction. One day I was walking through a drug store near my house when I saw the awesome cover for the book Armor by John Steakley. The cover image was of a man in futuristic armor swinging a laser gun over his head to bash in the skull of an armored, human-sized insectoid creature. That sold me. I had to have that book.

So I shelled out my few dollars (boy, remember when that's all it cost to get a thick paperback), and was soon carried into a future where humanity was involved in an interstellar war with the insectoid race, called "ants" as a derogatory term by humans.

The plot had two time lines, a past and present one. The post story was about a human soldier and his involvement in the war against the ants. The present story (actually the future, for us readers) involved a space station being attacked by space pirates.

Toward the end of the novel, the two tales become connected, and there's a bit of a twist in that connection.

Armor was a great read, and my first introduction to hardcore military science fiction. I was barely familiar with Heinlein at the time, and I'd yet to read his Starship Troopers. Also, there wasn't a lot of military science fiction back then like there is today (thank you, John Scalzi). So, for a young teen, Armor was simply amazing, and one of my favorite science fiction novels for the longest time.

Being my first militaristic sci-fi reading, Armor set the tone for all future readings in that genre, at least for me. It wouldn't until years later, when I finally got around to Starship Troopers, that I would feel such amazement once more.

However, for those who haven't read Armor, don't expect the ra-ra!, go-military attitude of Starship Troopers. Despite all the action in Armor, it's more of an internal book than is Starship Troopers, skipping the political angles to study the inner thoughts of one particular soldier.

Up next: Red Dragon

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