I read this book some time ago - the hero is asked to carry out some task on a hostile planet and used a suit that is like a self contained spaceship. The suit supposedly is proof against all hazards but the planet manages to wreck all its mechanisms so the hero must manage without it.


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This sounds a lot like Alan Dean Foster's Sentenced to Prism (1985).

Cover of "Sentenced to Prism" depicting Evan Orgill in a toppled MHW suit against a background of crystal growths

Evan Orgill is a troubleshooter (where "shooter" is not inappropriate) sent to the planet Prism where a research team has disappeared. He's from a planet called Samstead where everyone has to wear hostile environment suits, and he drops in wearing their finest suit.

The Mobile Hostile World suit, of which his was the latest and by far the most advanced model (or so the engineers who were showing it to him boasted) was designed to provide an explorer on a dangerous world with complete life support and protection. It was solid and stiff instead of flexible like the day work suit he was wearing.

They put him in the MHW, let him get comfortable, and then ran him through a complete checkout of suit systems. Even that little instruction and preparation was unnecessary, since the suit could instruct its wearer on how best to utilize it. He had no trouble with the instrumentation, and the majority of controls were operated verbally. The suit was a true marvel of modern engineering, an extension of his own body. Its operator would be well protected on the surface of Prism or any other world.

But he blasts through a formation of crystals and is hit by a defensive energy pulse channeled along them, which fries his suit.

He was going to die because his suit was broken.

It shouldn't be. It was a very special suit, even by the unique standards of Samstead. It had been built especially for this visit. The engineers and designers had constructed it to protect him from every imaginable danger, every conceivable threat a world like Prism could pose.

He then must try to survive outside his suit, which he mostly barely manages until he meets Azure ("A Surface of Fine Azure-Tinted Reflection With Pyroxin Dendritic Inclusions"), a friendly native.

Azure belongs to a cooperative of diverse beings that call themselves an Associative. Azure is a scout; there are thinkers and healers, soldiers, far-talkers, light-collectors (flects) and even individuals specialized as walls. When Evan is critically wounded, they rebuild most of his internal organs (heart, lungs and digestive system).

Evan is trying to track down a potential survivor of the research base, Martine Ophemert, by following her beacon, when he stumbles into his misadventure by assuming his suit is superior to anything he might encounter on the planet. After being rescued by Azure, and with the help of the Associative, he does eventually find her; she also needed to be rescued by an Associative (a different one) and the entire right side of her body has been rebuilt from a blue crystalline substance.


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