BOLO! Hardcover – Jan 1 2005
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Honor Harrington's creator is gaining new honors by taking a leading role in continuing the late Keith Laumer's best-known creation, a saga about the sentient tanks known as Bolos. In "Miles to Go," one of this book's four stories, a long-obsolete Bolo repels a mercenary invasion of a harmless agricultural colony. "The Traitor" is a Bolo who dies defending some refugee children, though they urge their protector to save himself. "A Time to Kill" is straightforward, high-intensity combat sf set on a planet of the alien Melchorians; it's undoubtedly the hardest piece to get into and the most exhausting to finish. In "With Your Shield," the Bolos have evolved to the point that they can mediate peace between humans and Melchorians, then set up on their own. Weber may not be the best sf hand at action, characterization, or hardware, but he is well to the forefront in combining those three elements into a seamless, highly readable fabric. Roland Green
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"a consistent producer of highly entertaining and intelligent action tales" Booklist "Great stuff compelling combat combined with engaging characters for a great space opera adventure" Locus" --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Bolos are kin to self-aware, indestructible, giant tanks. Human creators granted them the initiative of a rock and a literal-mindedness which, coupled with multiple layers of override programming, had made them totally dependent upon humans for directions. A rogue Bolo is, of course, worse than any possible nightmare. The Dinochrome Brigade had spent decades hunting down abandoned and obsolescent Bolos from the Mark XX to Mark XXIII series and burning out their command centers to prevent rogue (faulty) possibilities.
Captain Paul Merrit had once, on Sandlot, forgotten that a Bolo is a machine. But now he has a second chance. Merrit is sent to the planet called Santa Crus, "out in the middle of nowhere." Ursula Central has finally noticed a "sleeping" Bolo there. Merrit's duty is to locate the Bolo, inspect it, and assume command if it is still operational. The Bolo has been in Stand-By mode for close to eighty years. Central never realized that there has not been any real Navy personnel on the planet's base in all that time either.
However, Merrit locates the Bolo (nicknamed "Nike"). Nike is special in that he is more self-aware than any other Bolo. Nike is an experimental prototype that has emotions and keeps her high alertness even when not in battle mode.
The GalCorp company is run by Madam Osterwelt. She sends her only son, Gerald, to Santa Cruz to buy up land ... ALL land ... the entire planet. Yet to do so, Gerald must get rid of the three things that stand in the way: civilians, Merrit, and Nike. But Nike is having none of it!
Story 2: The Traitor
This is a short story. One Bolo is tracking down another Bolo that seems to have deserted during battle - something Bolos are supposed to be unable to do.
Story 3: With Your Shield
Lieutenant Maneka Trevor is sent to Fort Merrit on Santa Cruz for her first command (ever) of a Bolo, "Benjy". As Trevor learns from her team about strategy, she learns even more about her own human race from Benjy.
Story 4: A Time To Kill
The Final War saw the Concordiat of Man and the Melconian Empire end in fire and death. Humans and Melconians had finally wiped each other out. A hand full of survivors are all that is left of each race. The Humans settle on the planet where the last mission, Operation Ragnarok (the massacre of ALL Melconians on the planet) took place. Only the ruins of cities from decades ago and the husks of a few Bolos remain.
One Bolo, "Shiva", is slowly coming back on line. The timing could not have been better either. The last remaining Melconians, in dying ships, have no choice but to land and try to survive. Which race will win the right to live?
Story 5: A Brief Technical History Of The Bolo - From Bolos In Their Own Words
This is exactly what it sounds like. This section tells about each Bolo created. However, it is supposedly compiled AFTER "Story 4". The Bolos put together this section based upon the data it could piece together. Much information was lost after the "Longest Night".
**** The first story consumes half the novel space. It is also the best story in the collection. Though the Bolo series was created by author Keith Laumer, David Weber did an exemplarily job with this off-shoot. If you have never read any of the Bolo novels, you may find yourself rushing out to purchase them. This is very well done indeed. ****
Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.
This is a collection of Weber's earlier Bolo fiction with a new short-story added. There are a total of four stories in the collection, plus a "Technical Essay" which is worth the price of admission all by itself. I'd call two of the stories -- "Miles to Go" and "A Time to Kill" -- novellas or short novels. The other two -- "The Traitor" and "With Your Shield" (the new piece) are short stories. Of the lot, my favorite is "The Traitor," followed by "Miles to Go," but all of them are EXCELLENT.
The essence of the Bolo stories has always been the bolo as the perfect knight. The creation of humanity whose courage and gallantry exceeds that of (almost) any human. In Weber's stories, that strand comes through perfectly, but he has also emphasized another aspect of Laumer's writing: the code of the individual, capable, gallant HUMAN. In my opinion, "The Traitor" best follows the pattern of the supremely gallant Bolo, while "With Your Shield" best sums up the relationship between Bolos and their human commanders.
I would unreservedly recommend any of these stories to any reader who has previously enjoyed Bolo fiction -- and perhaps even more especially to anyone who has not yet sampled Bolodom. The "Technical Essay" is also a treasure, since it does the one thing Laumer never did: codify the Bolos and establish a logical progression from model to model.
If you haven't read the older stories, you should definitely buy in hardcover. If you have the older ones, you might hold off until it comes out in paper (hey, you can borrow someone else's copy in the meantime!), unless you're one of those people like me who just like to have their favorite authors' books in hardcover.
"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
On the otherhand I will give David Weber a big hand for the first story in the book about the Bolo Nike. It was a wonderful tail.
On the whole i was rather disappointed with this book and the amazing disreguard for the reader.
I bought this book, knowing that Laumers name on the jacket was a mere selling point and he had nothing to do with the stories beyond the original idea - Unless David Weber has the services of a good spiritual Medium, that is....
Somehow or other [and perhaps I am looking far back in time through a rosey tinted visiplate] I don't recall such a requirement of heavy suspension of belief from Laumers tales. I don't recall battletanks of the size and weight of a medium size sea-going freighter trundling across landscapes. From an engineering perspective it is ridiculous - I don't care how big the running gear, such a behemoth would be a total disaster - a target forever sinking into any ground that isn't solid granite and one that cannot be missed from orbit or elsewhere. But wait! Perhaps decimal points have been overlooked in the proofreading and these things don't weigh thousands or tens of thousand tons, but merely hundreds?
If you can get past niggles like this, they are not Laumer, but these stories that are good, and readable in their own right.
I am actually pleased that due credit is given and Mr Weber has not merely filed the serial numbers off and stolen the concept.
I will therefore be reading more of these.