Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bolos Book III: The Triumphant, by Linda Evans & David Weber

This week I have decided to again return to the Bolo series with "book three", The Triumphant with three short stories by Linda Evans and one longer short story by David Weber. I thought that these stories were very well done and reaffirm my faith in the Bolo series which was established with book one, Honor of the Regiment, with the utter mind-blowing awesomeness of tanks the size of houses fighting for their human creators. However, Triumphant has a great deal in common with Unconquerable as well because while all four Bolos featured in this novel are (as the title suggests) ultimately triumphant, these victories are bittersweet as well. It really attests to Evans's and Weber's writing ability to characterize giant tanks and make them so relateable that I could personally mourn their loss in service to humanity. I was glad to meet Digger, Red, Gawain, and Nike and I was rooting for them until the very end. And as the book says, "Bolos might fail. They might die and be destroyed. But they did not surrender, and they never - ever - quit."

I definitely feel that in the first novel, Honor of the Regiment, it was an exploration of the capabilities of the Bolo universe and the sheer amount of awesome potential with huge tanks. I definitely enjoyed riding along with Sir Kendrick, Das Afrika Korps, and Rommel as they fought alien invaders and the galactic scum that preyed on unsuspecting colonists. Unconquerable, on the other hand, felt more like a deconstruction of the Bolo universe and the sheer amount of carnage these huge war machines are capable of producing, ending with the Final War where humanity and their enemies are driven back to a pre-space existence because of the devastation. Triumphant, in turn, is a further exploration of the human qualities of the mighty Bolos and learning how they can be so much more than just bloodthirsty killers. I will admit that Digger gets the least characterization since his is the shortest story, but he proves that even a decommissioned and retrofitted Bolo is a threat not to be taken lightly.

Perhaps it's because I'm drawn to these honorable and tenacious metal behemoths, but I really enjoyed seeing the different personalities manifest in the different Bolos. I adored Red's motherly love for her crew and dedication to ensuring their safety, and I understood Gawain's frustrations over his perceived failure and state of continued disrepair. And while Nike's self-exploration as a sentient AI trying to understand its place in the world was fairly typical sci-fi fare, the fact that it was in a several thousand ton war machine trying to figure this out satisfied me immensely. I must admit that I'm not entirely sure where the rest of the series will be going beyond this novel, but I'm looking forward to meeting more of the heroic members of the Dinochrome Brigade.

What I really enjoyed the most about this particular book was the bonus material contained in the back of the book, which listed all thirty-three models of Bolos and their tactical capabilities and years of construction. I was just pleased that someone sat down and calculated what weapons, armor, and road speeds each Bolo would be capable of, which probably made it a lot easier for later writers working within this shared universe. Granted, it was a little surprising that a several thousand ton war machine could "sprint" for speeds of roughly five hundred kilometers per hour, but are you going to argue with the sheer awesome? I certainly am not going to. I also really liked the bit slipped in at the end about how humanity and the Bolos end up surviving the Final War, despite its devastation, which gave me a small sense of optimism despite the bleak outlook.

Definitely a must-read if you're a fan of the Bolos already, and probably a good introduction novel for newcomers because of the supplemental material.

- Kalpar

1 comment:

  1. Well done,glad to see there are others who share my tastes in sci-fi books and authors!