Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bolo Book 1: Honor of the Regiment, with David Drake, S.M. Stirling, Christopher Stasheff, & Mercedes Lackey

To the utter lack of surprise of my readers, I have decided to continue with the epic awesomeness of the Bolo series with the next book, Honor of the Regiment, also known as "Book One" of the series. This is by far my favorite book of the series so far, exceeding the tank goodness of The Compleat Bolo and The Stars Must Wait. This book seriously has everything I was hoping for with the series and sets the bar pretty high for later installments of this series. 

This book is formatted into several short stories written by a number of science fiction authors who draw upon Kieth Laumer's original ideas, but truth be told I only recognized Mercedes Lackey. However, I'm glad that they managed to bring several new authors who all seemed to agree on the direction of the universe and, perhaps more critically, agreed on the defining characteristic of the Bolo tanks: their undying loyalty to their human leaders. Perhaps more importantly for me, all but one of these stories had fully sentient Bolos with their own unique personalities. Some of these stories even went as far as to question if Bolos should have the same rights as humans since they are, as far as we can tell, sentient and if it's right for humans to keep the Bolos as a warrior race. None of the stories really explore that issue to a great extent but I hope future stories will.

I think what I really loved about this book was the unshakeable and almost naive optimism it has in humanity and the future. I will readily admit that these stories are really nothing more than cheap sci-fi pulp written for cheap schmucks like me who love a good war story. Except, and this is I think an important difference, it is fun and never devoid of hope. I don't know about everyone else but paraphrasing the lovely Sofie Liv Pendersen of The Agony Booth, too many works right now take themselves incredibly seriously and are trying to be gritty and realistic and end up losing sight of the fun that drew most people into the genre in the first place. Granted, she was talking about the superhero genre with Linkara at the time, but I feel that the statement is equally accurate when it comes to science-fiction. I know that may seem like a paradox when you consider that I am also a huge fan of the notoriously grim-dark Warhammer 40,000 series, but sometimes I just want to have fun with science-fiction and see some ridiculously awesome shit go down, like a tank that calls itself Sir Kendrick Evilslayer defend a colony called Camelot from space pirates. Seriously, what is to not like about that? 

Overall I found this to be a fun read of some kickass pulp stories with tanks big as, or bigger than, houses doing awesome things for the sake of honor and duty. I do wish there was a more well-defined timeline and more information on some of the enemies that humanity is facing in this distant future, but I am hoping that future books will further develop those ideas. A must-read for any fans of tanks and fun pulp action. 

- Kalpar 

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