Thursday, November 7, 2013

Bolos Book Four: Last Stand

I've decided to return to one of my favorite series to review this week, the great and mighty Bolos. Like pretty much all the other books in the Bolo series this is actually a collection of short stories in an anthology which comes from a wider range of authors, however old hands like David Weber and Linda Evans return to continue contributing to the series. Overall I think this is a very good book with some really good stories, but like most of the Bolo stories it has a very bittersweet element as you watch these somehow relateable war machines sacrifice themselves for the people they protect. 

I think one of the biggest things that I liked in this book was the introduction of an overall history of the Bolo series as understood from human civilization well after a cataclysmic event known as the Final War. I'll spare you much of the spoiler-y details about this War, but the end result is that all civilization beyond the planetary level was wiped out leaving a handful of remote enclaves. As a result the history of the Bolos before the Final War exists in fragmented records that are often contradictory. I like this a lot because since the Bolo series is written by a many different authors with their own takes on the series, it provides an in-universe explanation for all of the contradictions within the works. I do hope that in later books they manage to smooth out the contradictions and make the series far more cohesive. 

This book is an interesting contrast to some of the other earlier books because in most of the stories the Bolos actually manage to survive their missions. And I do like seeing the Bolos succeed and survive after completing their missions. Somehow, despite the fact that these are giant, thousand ton war machines built for simply one purpose, I still want them to survive in a peace that they've fought for as well. Even if they were never built for that peace. I was definitely interested in the last story when a Bolo decides that it's tired of killing and wants to spend the rest of its days in peace. There's definitely a very human element to the Bolos that makes them something more than just giant metal machines designed for war that really comes to the fore in quite a few of these stories. 

I also really like this book because it further fleshes out the universe in addition to the Final War I discussed above. More alien races and conflicts are introduced, more Bolo models are developed, and the history of the Crazy Years is also developed as well. I like authors both old and new can come to this series and help develop the series and keep it alive with new ideas and innovation. It definitely leaves me hopeful that the later books of this series will also be enjoyable.  Definitely a good read for fans of the Bolo series and I'd recommend it for fans of pulp sci-fi. 

- Kalpar

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