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"I've come across more and more people who've actually tried reading science fiction and can't make it make sense."
- Samuel R. Delany

Exoskeleton  
  Fighting suit  

The exoskeleton fighting suit is, of course, a popular item of technovelgy. I think the first reference I can find is in Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein (see powered suit).

The Lieutenant Colonel was extremely dead. He'd come down from the heavens in his full NAFTA military power-armor, a leaping, brick-busting, lightning-spewing exoskeleton, all acronyms and input jacks. It was powerful, elaborate gear, of an entirely different order than the gooey and fibrous street tech of the two urban intrusion freaks.

But the high-impact crash had not been kind to the armored suit. It had been crueler still to the bone, blood, and tendon housed inside.

From A Good Old-Fashioned Future, by Bruce Sterling.
Published by Random House in 1999
Additional resources -

Of course, an exoskeleton can only do so much. Exoskeleton just means that the skeleton, the bony support for the soft parts of the body, is on the outside, where it can do double duty as armor (as well as support).

See the longer discussion for polycarbon exo, from Mona Lisa Overdrive, by William Gibson.

Take a look at this very nicely done anime treatment of exoskeletons. Be warned - you'll want to go fire up your exo right after watching it.

Thanks to Chris Johnston for finding this video.

See also this Sarcos XOS exoskeleton video for a look at a real-life exoskeleton under development.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from A Good Old-Fashioned Future
  More Ideas and Technology by Bruce Sterling
  Tech news articles related to A Good Old-Fashioned Future
  Tech news articles related to works by Bruce Sterling

Exoskeleton-related news articles:
  - Muscle Suit Tokyo Exoskeleton Power Workout

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Bionic Body Armor Makes You Dodge Bullets

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