Keith Laumer Wiki

Author Karen Wehrstein
Published 1994
Appears in: Bolos Book II: The Unconquerable


Captain Benazir Ali has been given good news and bad: she's been promoted to Major... and she's been given the job of finding out why thirty-seven Bolos have unprecedentedly shut down in mid-battle, leaving a human colony to be slaughtered by the Djann.

(This is one of the most important stories in "Bolo-dom" in that it features "Max".)

Bolo Mk XXX Unit MXM - 823 (Nicknamed "Max" by Benazir) of the preliminary simulations that all new Bolos were put through. The verdict on his report: "Behavior erratic, inexplicable—replace psychotronic unit." Having his brain tossed into a fusion pot should have been the end of his story. But Benzi had noticed what no one else had: there was only one possible explanation for the pattern of his actions and reports during the tests. It helped that she'd recently read a short story, written in the days before intelligent machines, by the first great master to speculate on them (Isaac Asimov?) . . . MXM-823 was empathic. Somehow his psychotronic circuits were sensitive to human emotion. It was the distraction - the contradictions - caused by this which had kept him from responding appropriately to the test scenarios.