I always forget that Rogue Bolo, by Keith Laumer, is actually two novellas. The first is by far my favorite, featuring Bolo Mark XXX CSR, codenamed Caesar. Part of my enjoyment is the way the story is structured. In 200 sections of varying lengths we see excerpts, transcripts, and recordings discussing the Bolo, from the proposal to build it all the way through to the climactic battle. Very few of the passages are actually told as a third person story, and the Bolo’s thoughts are in first person.
Not to mention how highly entertaining it is that the government built this powerful war machine to protect the planet and now it won’t listen to them, though the reader knows Caesar is still doing his duty. (I say “his” because Caesar as a name has male connotations, though some characters refer to the machine as a “she”. In some of the stories in this series, the Bolos have relevant gender. This isn’t one of those.) There’s several notes in the ruling class along the lines of “I have no idea what it’s doing, but I think it’s going to help?”
The second story is part of the Deng War. Humans have expanded beyond our own solar system, colonized planets, and at some point met up with the “spiders”. Or “spodders” in this particular planet’s accent. They’re not friendly to humans and are seen in several tales throughout the books. This one is not as interesting to me as the first, but it’s still a good story. I should note that in this series, only Bolo: Annals of the Dinochrome Brigade, Rogue Bolo, and The Stars Must Wait are by Keith Laumer, the creator of the Bolos. Everything else is by other authors, and there’s a wide range of those. Linda Evans, William H. Keith Jr., Mercedes Lackey, S.M. Stirling and David Weber…to name just a few. There are six full anthologies plus a few spinoff novels.
It was an anthology that got me to start reading Bolos, but not one of the six. The anthology was titled Werehunter, and it was a collection of some of Mercedes Lackey’s short stories. This, of course, included Operation Desert Fox, her contribution to the series, found in Bolos Book 1: Honor of the Regiment. This is as good a time as any to talk about how I consider Mercedes Lackey to be a “gateway” author, that through her I have found so many worthwhile authors and series. As prolific as she is in both short and long fiction, it’s hardly surprising. Most notably, I picked up Bolos, Alliance-Union, Barbara Hambly, and David Weber because of her. More on Lackey another day, because boy oh boy, do I have Lackey.
Sadly, I won’t be doing more rereading of Bolos at this time. I had a hold to pick up at the library, and found a couple other books while browsing. So, since those have a time limit, they’re next. Well, the hold is. I want to get that over and done with since I already know I won’t be investing in my own copy…