Powered armor rocks our world, whether it's the ultra-realistic exoskeletons of the near future or the super-enhanced mecha of thousands of years from now. So we're excited to see anthology-editor extraordinaire John Joseph Adams doing a book of power-armor stories.
Adams, editor of Lightspeed and Fantasy Magazine as well as such anthologies as The Living Dead and The Way Of The Wizard, just sold Armored, a book of stories about power armor, to Baen Books. Here's the book's blurb:
From Starship Troopers and Iron Man to Halo and Mechwarrior, readers and gamers have long been fascinated by the idea of going to battle in suits of personal, powered combat armor or giant mechs. This anthology will explore the range of what can be done with the trope, from the near-future powered exoskelton technologies we might be seeing just a few years from now, to the combat armors of Starship Troopers and Halo, to the giant bipedal mechs of Mechwarrior.
As Adams says, this concept has been very popular across a wide variety of media, but there's never been an original SF anthology focusing on the topic. He told us some of the power-armor stories that were influential on his decision to do the book:
* Books: Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers and John Steakley's Armor
* Movies: Avatar, District 9, Iron Man, and Aliens
* Anime: Robotech Bubblegum Crisis, and Gundam
* Comics: Iron Man (including ally War Machine and enemies Doctor Doom, Crimson Dynamo, and Mach-V)
* Video games: Halo, Fallout, Half-Life, and Metroid
* Role-playing games: Warhammer 40K, Rifts, and Battletech/Mechwarrior
I'd also point out that the book I mentioned above, Armor by John Steakley, is perhaps the most important influence to me, in that it was hugely influential to me as a young reader and was one of the early SF books I read that helped foster my interest in the genre. I was very sad to hear of John Steakley's death recently—oddly, it happened right around the time we were finalizing this deal.
And he says it'll be all original stories, apart from maybe one or two classic reprints. As for whether it'll be mostly stories set in the near future or far future, he says:
I expect most of the stories will be more on the far-future end of the spectrum, but at least one author expressed an interest in doing a steampunky treatment (like Scott Westerfeld's Clankers from Leviathan, or Wild Wild West type stuff) and I expect there will be some near-future stuff—I certainly encouraged the writers to consider both of those aspects when brainstorming their ideas for the anthology.
Adams says the main appeal of these sorts of stories is the fact that they're the closest we could ever really come to doing superheroic things. "For me at least, that was always one of the great appeals of the Iron Man character: in a world where people have all these crazy super powers, he's just a regular guy who used science an ingenuity to create a piece of technology that allows him to go toe-to -toe with these supermen. A lot of the appeal also comes from a crossover with our fascination with robots and GIANT robots, I think, because what's cooler than controlling a robot? BEING the robot. And of course, powered armor/mech fiction does tend to be about kicking lots of ass, and who doesn't love that?"
Adams says that this is a bit of a departure from most of the anthologies he's done before, although he expects it'll be pretty similar to his anthology Federations. And of course, something about powered armor or mech wouldn't be too out of place in Lightspeed. Still, Armored will be more militaristic, in addition to being very focused on the armor/mech side of things.
I think the exciting thing about it is not so much that it's so different than what I've worked on before, but that I'll be likely reaching a new audience with this book that probably hasn't encountered my work before.
But really, this is a book I've been waiting my whole career to do! My career kind of started with power armor, you could say—the first tentative steps into the realm of writing was a story about a power armored bounty hunter. I say story, because that's what I started it as, but it ended up being a novel. It's terrible. But in college, I took a screewriting class and adapted it into a screenplay, which later actually got optioned. The screenplay was terrible too, alas.(And the option thing was a disaster, but that's another story.)