Let’s Talk About Giant Robots: Tim Akers on BOLO and BattleTech

Let’s Talk About Giant Robots: Tim Akers on BOLO and BattleTech

BOLO by Keith Laumer (Berkley Medallion, July 1977), BattleTech board game
(FASA, 1985), and Lonely Power Armor by Tim Akers (Citizen Crow Press,
May 17, 2022). Covers by Vincent Di Fate, Alan Gutierrez, unknown

Why do so few writers write anguished poetry or create art to honor the fertile and elusive muse of modern sci-fi? I’m speaking, of course, of that ever-sexy icon of the future, the GIANT ROBOT.

Tim Akers takes a small step to rectify this injustice in his May newsletter Heretigram, writing:

The image that defined my early creative life [was] the original cover of BattleTech, the game of armored combat, released by FASA in 1984… and lasting through dozens of revisions and reboots. It’s seeing a bit of a resurgence in gaming, and I couldn’t be happier. BattleTech was the game that moved me from Avalon Hill cardboard chit and hex map strategy games, and into the wider world of miniatures gaming. And I’ve never looked back.

Tim also salutes the fiction of Keith Laumer and Fred Saberhagan and, just to prove his heart truly is in the right place, offers a tasty excerpt from his own giant-robot inspired fiction, his new novella Lonely Power Armor.

Here’s Tim again.

I was already an avid reader, consuming everything my local B. Dalton had on offer. Among my favorites were the Bolo series by Keith Laumer, and the Berserker saga, courtesy of Fred Saberhagen. There was something about these autonomous war machines and their interactions with the warriors that fought against and beside them that sparked my imagination.

Laumer and Saberhagen explored this dynamic in creative and interesting ways. They told war stories, but also stories about civilizations on the verge of collapse, people on the edge of reason, and communities of the frontiers of the future. All through the medium of GIANT ROBOTS…

My novella, Lonely Power Armor, is about a mecha suit who is stuck in a patrol subroutine when his operator inexplicably dies and he loses contact with HQ. When he finally snaps out of that command loop, quite a bit of time has elapsed. Nearly one thousand years, in fact, and the world he finds when he emerges from the null zone is much different than the world he left behind.

Read Tim’s complete May newsletter here, and an excerpt from Lonely Power Armor here.

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Joe H.

I still have that original Battletech boxed set! Plus Aerotech and Citytech! (And at one point I used to have a whole bunch of the Revell Robotech model kits whose designs FASA, um … appropriated for so many of those early Battlemechs. Which I have to admit, for my money were much better than the designs FASA came up with when, I assume, the nice lawyers representing Robotech told them to knock it off.)

Joe H.

Ha! I’m not sure if I’d heard about BattleDroids, but would be entirely unsurprised if that were true.

Joe H.

Fascinating! I had no idea; as with so many things back then, I think I heard about it from a Dragon Magazine review, and that review must’ve been for BattleTech proper.

Tony Den

I loved the idea of battlements, even owned the 2nd edition game and Mechwarrior 1st ed. But for some reason all my dreams of cool gaming never came to be. Sure we had some fun but sporadic. Think at the time the BT games just took too long, although we erhaps didn’t apply the rules correctly. My brother did better, had technical readouts, mechwarrior 2, got some good gaming in.

But when I think giant Robots I always get that Megas XLR song in my mind. Prob not PC these days but it was a tongue in cheek show. If I remember right:
“I like giant Robots,
You like giant Robots,
Chicks dig giant robots.”

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