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.