Armor by John Steakley

By John Steakley

The planet is termed Banshee. The air is unbreathable, the water toxic. it's the domestic of the main implacable enemies that humanity, in all its interstellar enlargement, has ever encountered. physique armor has been devised for the commando forces which are to be dropped on Banshee - the fruits of 10000 years of the armorers' craft. A trooper during this armor is a one-man, atomic powered conflict fort - yet he'll need to struggle a virtually unending horde of berserk, hard-shelled monsters - the scuffling with arm of a species which makes use of organic know-how to layout excellent, senseless, struggle minions. Felix is a scout in A-team . hugely useful, he's the only survivor of challenge after project. but he's a guy ate up via worry and hatred. And he's safe, not just through his custom-fitted physique armor, yet by way of a strange being which turns out to reside inside him, a chilly killing desktop he calls "The Engine". this can be Felix's tale - a narrative of the horror, the braveness, and the aftermath of wrestle, and the tale, too, of ways power of spirit will be the best armor of all.

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As early as 1946, he was prophesying a new age of exploration, and in 1962 speculated on the possible revival, if not of epic, then at least of something approaching it: ‘surely the discoveries and adventures, the triumphs and inevitable tragedies that must accompany man’s drive toward the stars will one day inspire a new heroic literature’. Clarke consistently stressed science fiction’s unique capacity to evoke wonder and to inspire readers with large visions. Thus when spaceships appear over the world’s cities in Childhood’s End (1953), the story sounds like the script of a B-movie from that decade – until contact begins with the aliens.

One of the most recurrent themes in science fiction is its examination of humanity’s relation to its own material constructions, sometimes to celebrate progress, sometimes in a more negative spirit of what Isaac Asimov has repeatedly described as technophobia, through fictions articulating fears of human displacement. As we shall see later in this chapter, the city becomes a key embodiment of futuristic technology and, as the German sociologist Walter Benjamin showed, a labyrinthine, fragmented space, which encouraged characteristically urban processes of cognition on its inhabitants.

One of the most famous novels to use this pattern was A. E. Van Vogt’s The Voyage of Space Beagle (1950, a ‘fix-up’ from previous short stories), whose title echoes Charles Darwin’s naturalist journal of his travels round the world, The Voyage of Beagle (1839). The purpose of Van Vogt’s voyage is scientific exploration for the Nexial Foundation, and he applies a Darwinian presumption that contact with other species will produce conflict. The Space Beagle undergoes four encounters, of decreasing materiality: first with a cat-like creature, then with telepathic birds, and a creature living in space wanting to implant eggs in a human host, finally with a consciousness at large in space.

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