Sunday 6 November 2011

Citizens - Keith Laumer

MOn a recent trip to Forbidden Planet, I stocked up on Sci-fi Action paperbacks.  The first I cracked open is Citizens, a collection of military science-fiction short stories edited by John Ringo and Brian M. Thomsen.  It caught my eye with its impressive, if strange, cover.  The more I look at the cover, the more it just doesn’t look right. Certainly the guy’s bayonet isn't right – it only projects about an inch past the barrel of his gun!
Last night I read the first story in the collection, ‘Field Test’ by Keith Laumer.  The story features the very first self-aware Bolo (a giant cybernetic tank which would spawn several collections of short stories and a couple of novels by Laumer and others). It’s interesting that a book entitled Citizens would open with a story about a robot tank. That said, Bolo stories often show the tanks as having more honourable human traits than the human’s themselves.  Written as a series of 43 short monologues, it’s a bit tough to read, but worth it, especially for the last line...
If the majority of the stories in the collection are of this quality, I’ll be pleased. There are a lot of really big names in the table of contents, so I’m hopeful.

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