Bolo! (2005) is the second work in the Fourth Bolo Series, following The Road to Damascus. It is a collection of four stories about unusual Bolos. Of course, *all* the Bolo stories are about unusual actions by these machines; a sufficiently advanced artificial intelligence will necessarily have its own quirks and interpretations.
"Miles to Go" was initially published within Triumphant, Book 3 of the Second Bolo Series. This story relates the tale of XXIII/B-0075-NKE. Nike is a Bolo prototype stranded on Santa Cruz during the Quern Hegemony Wars. Major Marina Stravrakas, Nike's commander, was also Project Chief of the experimental psychotronics upgrade for Nike and spent the remainder of her life tweaking the Bolo's brainbox.
After Sector Command on Ursula rediscovers the deployment of Nike to Santa Cruz, Captain Paul Merrit is sent there as the Bolo's commander. He is amazed at the degree to which Major Stravrakas has enhanced the Bolo's capabilities. Then GalCorp sends a mercenary brigade to savage the residents of Santa Cruz so that they will sell their property to the company.
"The Traitor" was initially published within Last Stand, Book 4 of the Second Bolo Series. This story relates the tale of XXV/D-0098-ART in his pursuit of his crazed creche mate XXV/D-0103-LNC, who fled the Enemy in Morville and even fired on another Bolo. Lance was terribly wounded by the Enemy and is now fleeing toward the mountains, with Arthur in close pursuit. Of course, Lance has a reason for his flight.
"With Your Shield" is an original story, published for the first time in this volume. This story relates the tale of Lieutenant Maneka Trevor, freshly graduated from the Academy, on her first field assignment to the Thirty-Ninth Battalion on Santa Cruz. To her amazement, she is immediately assigned as the commander of the Bolo XXVIII/G-862-BNJ. Of course, Benjy is obsolescent and used only to train new commanders, but Maneka is awed by his combat record. Then the battalion is shipped to Chartres to oppose an Enemy invasion.
"A Time to Kill" was initially published within Last Stand. This story relates the tale of XXXIII/D-1097-SHV on Ishark. Shiva had been part of the XLIII Corps in the last battle of the Final War. He and his mates had killed every Melconian on the planet, every male, female or child, whether service or civilian. With the last shot, Shiva had died.
Now humans have settled on Ishark, calling it Ararat. They settle near the last battle site where the human transports landed, hoping that any active war machine will be human. Jackson Deveraux is out exploring the site when Shiva reactivates after almost seventy years of extensive repairs by its maintenance nanites. Shiva has reverted back to the creche state and is imprinted by Jackson as his commander upon first hearing his voice.
Shiva has been reactivated prematurely because Melconian battle comms have been detected in the system. A Melconian fleet has arrived in sorry condition; they cannot leave the planet. When humans are detected on the planet, the surface is scanned for power sources. Only a single fusion power plant is discovered; the Bolo operating on reserve power is overlooked. The Melconian commander sends his assault pods to destroy the human settlements.
The Epilog "A Brief Technical History of the Bolo" was initially published within The Triumphant. It contains "Bolo Marks and Year of Introduction", "A Brief Design History of the Bolo", and "Bolo Armament". This epilog is an excellent resource for future authors of Bolo stories.
This volume brings together prior Bolo stories by Weber in a hardback format. Moreover, the original story is a precursor for Old Soldiers, the third novel in the Fourth Series. Who could resist reading this book and maybe even buying a personal copy?
Highly recommended for Laumer, Weber and Bolo fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of high adventure and machines with moral character.
-Arthur W. Jordin