Keith Laumer

John Keith Laumer was born in Syracuse, New York on June 9, 1925. He attended Indiana University, Stockholm University and the University of Illinois, where he received his BA in architecture in 1950. He became a staff member of the University of Illinois where he remained until he served in the United States Air Force during WWII. After his second term with the Air Force, ending in 1965, Laumer turned his attention to writing.

Laumer published his first science fiction story in Amazing Magazine in 1959. Frederik Pohl comments in his blog, The Way The Future Blogs, "The first manuscript by Keith Laumer that I remember seeing was about an interstellar diplomat named Retief, which caused me to stop reading manuscripts that day to write the author a letter, telling him I was buying the story and adding, Please write me more stories, lots more stories, about this guy, because I love him. And Keith did it, too, becoming, I'm pretty sure, one of the three reasons why If, the magazine I published them in, won the Best Prozine Hugo for three years in a row." Pohl goes on to say "The thing about Laumer is, first, that he was great at satirizing people he had had a bellyful of, particularly Americans in the diplomatic service."

Keith is probably best known for his invention of the Bolos, giant robotic fighting machines which achieved not only self-awareness but other human qualities such as courage and loyalty. He published his first Bolo story in 1960, Combat Unit. The 1960s were prolific years for Laumer. He wrote 26 of his 63 novels and collections of stories during this time. In addition to writing original science fiction, he novelized the TV shows The Invaders and The Avengers.

An extremely successful man, and one who was very fit and healthy, it came as a hard blow when he suffered a massive stroke in 1971. He was unable to exercise and gained weight. He tried to overcome and control the stroke and spent enormous time in physical therapy trying to regain full use of his body. Worst of all, he suffered from rages and could no longer write. He was still published and friends of Laumer's comment that publishers were too interested in taking advantage of Keith as he tried desperately to live up to his previous mastery. He remained in ill health until he passed away on January 22, 1993.

Earthblood

"From the first Roan knew he was special - a pure-strain human, a rarity in a galaxy populated largely by aliens and mutants. He dreamed of his destiny - to find fabled Terra, home of humanity, and make it once more the dominant power in the Universe. But others didn't see his high heritage quite so nobly. To interplanetary showman Gom Bulj, Roan's Earthblood made him merely an interesting freak; to Henry Dread, the pirate, it marked him as a pawn in a megalomaniacal scheme of conquest; to the ultracivilized Terrans themselves, it made him a barbaric menace. In the ultimate nightmare of battle and destruction to come, Roan would discover that being truly Human was more than a matter of genes."

Original Publication: Doubleday, August 1966
This Edition: Doubleday, August 1966
Cover Art: Wendy Worth
Format: Hardback

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Collaboration with Rosel George Brown

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The Long Twilight

"Something strange was happening..*A lone, unarmed prisoner smashed out of America's only escape-proof jail. *The government's massive new power facility was leaking energy into nowhere *A super-hurricane was battering the entire coast from Florida to Maine * A warrior from another dimension was hunting his blood enemy *The planet Earth was ticking off its last moments of human existence....and nothing human could stop it!"

Original Publication: G.P. Putnam's Sons, September 1969
This Edition: Berkley Medallion, November 1976
Cover Art: Unknown
Format: Paperback

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Worlds of the Imperium

"Of the vast number of alternate Earths, only three worlds are in contact with one another. Between and around them swirls the zone of horror and desolation called the "Blight" = the remains of the countless Earths that discovered the Maxoni Drive and failed to control it - Earths where life is no longer found, or no longer recognizable...One man holds the key to survival in a universe where life itself is a diminishing probability. His mission: assassinate his alternate self!"

Original Publication: Dennis Dobson, 1967
This Edition: Berkley Medallion, August 1977
Cover Art: Vincent Di Fate
Format: Paperback

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Retief of the CDT

"This time that resourceful officer of the Coprs Diplomatique Terrestrienne must deal with horrors unknown as he hunts the universe for a stolen ballet theater. The courageous Terran must fight the five-eyed Groaci, outwit the ferocious Tsuggs, and reason with the talking flowers he finds in the midst of his dangerous mission. But in spite of all this, in the face of vagaries of alien plots and the wild ambitions of his superiors, Retief remains strong and unshakable - and in peaceful and just control of the galaxy!!"

Original Publication: Doubleday, July 1971
This Edition: Pocket, July 1978
Cover Art: Unknown
Format: Paperback

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Contents: Ballots and Bandits, Mechanical Advantage, Prime Doesn't Cray, Internal Affair and The Piecemakers

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Retief's War

"That resourceful Retief is back! It's Retief the galactic diplomat and on a visit to the planet of Quopp, where Earthmen such as he must tread quietly or not at all. But Ambassador Longspoon has a plan to unite all the hostile tribes of Quopp under one government - to make them more friendly to Earth. Yet Retief has already learned of another plan - the evil, half-human, half-machine Groaci's plan to destroy the whole scheme - and he must act with incredible speed and cunning if he is to avert planetary chaos!"

Original Publication: Doubleday, 1966
This Edition: Timescape/Pocket Books, March 1982
Cover Art: Rowena Morrill
Format: Paperback

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Retief's War

"It's Retief the galactic policeman and Earthman on a visit to the planet of Quopp, where Earthmen must treat quietly or not at all. But Ambassador Longspoon has a plan to unite all the hostile tribes of Quopp under one government - to make them more friendly to Earth. Yet already Retief has learned of another plan - the evil, half-human, half-machine Groaci's plan to destroy the whole scheme - and he must act with incredible speed and cunning if he is to avert impending planetary chaos!"

Original Publication: Doubleday, 1966
This Edition: Pocket, December 1978
Cover Art: Unknown
Format: Paperback

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A Plague of Demons

"Recruits for an Intergalactic war: the only thing you have to lose is your mind. Since World War One, they have been among us; wherever it said "Missing in Action," the truth has been different, and much more startling. Through their captured combatants, they have filtered into our race, donning the figures of humans and the masks of the civilized. But in their pure, naked essence, they are the lowliest of beasts - tailless dogs with human hands and skull-like faces. They live upon the flesh of the brain, impervious to battle, indifferent to pursuit. They can only be threatened by an all-out war fought by power-equipped, invulnerable men...bionic men created to turn back...A Plague of Demons"

Original Publication: Berkley Medallion, May 1965
This Edition: Pocket, December 1979
Cover Art: Carlos Ochagavia
Format: Paperback

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Retief: Emissary to the Stars

"Retief - the most diplomatic diplomat of the 27th century. His mission: to gain control of the most desirable planet in the universe - without triggering intergalactic war. He tries talking but how does anyone - even Retief - negotiate with an uninhabited planet? He tries a dice game...but how does gambling help the solar peace organization prevent the malevolent Barsurans (who've eaten their own planet) from turning to Terra's prize colony for an after-dinner snack? The problems Retief faces are just beginning, but as insurmountable as they seem, the indomitable adventurer prevails - and keeps the state of the universe on an even keel!"

Original Publication: Dell, December 1975
This Edition: Pocket, October 1979
Cover Art: Carlos Ochagavia
Format: Paperback

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Contents: The Hoob Melon Crisis, The Garbage Invasion, An Excerpt from Retief & the Warlords, The Troubleshooter, The Negotiators, Giant Killer, The Forest in the Sky and Trick or Treaty

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Retief Unbound

"The publication of certain accounts of Jame Retief under the title Retief at Large has generated such response that we of Ace books have felt compelled, as a public service, to publish a second venture of the affairs - some would call them adventures - of that redoubtable member of the Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne. Surely in an age such as ours when Terra's Sphere of influence is once again surrounded by Alien Peril in all its sundry guises, it is desirable - nay, vital! - that our people be aware that, contrary to the official records of the Corps, it was not by the questionable efforts of such worthies as Ambassadors Nitworth and Spradley that Mankind held its own in the terrible arena between the stars, but by the courage, skill and daring of such men as Jame Retief!"

Original Publication: Ace, May 1979
This Edition: Ace, May 1979
Cover Art: Bob Adragna
Format: Paperback

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Contents: Protocol, Sealed Orders, Aide Memoire, Policy, Palace Revolution and Retief's Ransom

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The Shape Changer

"DOUBLE UP FOR TROUBLE - When you are Sir Lafayette O'Leary - knighted, rich, happily married, just the least bit bored - it comes as something of a shock to discover that you are commonly considered a coward, a rogue - in general, a louse of doubtful courage, dubious morals, and offensive social habits. But what's even more shocking is to meet the other Lafayette O'Leary, the total stranger with your own face, the man responsible for your sudden downfall - and the man who would like nothing better than to see you conveniently dead..."

Original Publication: G.P. Putnam's Sons, February 1972
This Edition: Ace, May 1981
Cover Art: Rowena Morrill
Format: Paperback

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Star Colony

"This history is based on official Terran archives only recently released to scholars, as well as on letters and diaries of early settlers, supplemented by material from the Oral History Project initiated in honor of independent Colmar's Centennial celebration in CY325 (AD 2437). For the first time, the authentic course of events has been extracted and separated from its overlay of myth and folklore. Perpared by a distinguished board of editors under the leadership of our world's preeminent chronicler, the present history, designed especially for use in the schools through post-doctorate levels, will lay to rest for all time, it is earnestly hoped, the maze of conflicting legendary and mythical accounts of Early Times, which have heretofore clogged scholarly avenues of inquiry into Colmar's settlement, the origin of the curious dichotomy that has existed between our East and North Continents, and the events leading to Unification and, at last to Independence itself. Keith Laumer has long been recognized as one of a handful of truly great writers of speculative fiction. Star Colony, the result of a four-year-effort, promises to be the crowning achievement of a brilliant career. Rich in detail, and thoroughly believable, Star Colony is a novel of epic proportions and deep insight. It is a worthy successor to such science fiction masterpieces as Frederik Pohl's Jem and Isaac Asimov's Foundation. Keith Laumer is one of the best-known science fiction writers in the business. The author of over fifty books, including A Plague of Demons, The Glory Game, and Dinosaur Beach, Laumer is most recently the author of Ultimax Man (St. Martin's 1978), which the Chattanooga Times hailed, saying, "Ultimax Man does what all good science fiction should do: it's readable and leaves the reader with a sense of wonder...""

Original Publication: St. Martin's Press, 1981
This Edition: St. Martin's Press, 1981
Cover Art: Irv Freeman
Format: Hardback

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Worlds of the Imperium

"An American diplomat, trapped in a world he never made at first Byron Baycard was relieved to discover that his kidnappers were very apologetic and very British. Then he learned that they were not from this Earth. Worlds of the Imperium"

Original Publication: Dennis Dobson, 1967
This Edition: Tor, September 1982
Cover Art: Howard Chaykin
Format: Paperback

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Contents: Worlds of the Imperium, The War Against the Yukks and Worldmaster

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Retief: Diplomat at Arms

"Upholding interplanetary law is risky business.even for diplomat extraordinaire Jame Retief, who's off on more hair-raising, galactic adventures.Witness the invincible Retief outwitting the Qornt, a warring tribe which is threatening invasion; the soetti, infiltrators of Terrestrial space; the greedy and exalted Aga Kagans, squatters on tamed and conquered land; and the evil Groaci, whose plans for domination threaten intergalatic peace...But whether it's a little armed diplomacy, or all-out war, the trouble-making troubleshooter and occasionally undiplomatic diplomat is always prepared to save the planet Earth - and foil anyone who stands in his way!"

Original Publication: Timescape/Pocket Books, October 1982
This Edition: Timescape/Pocket Books, October 1982
Cover Art: Rowena Morrill
Format: Paperback

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Once There Was a Giant

"It's not often that a fellow gets paid well to do what he'd like to do for free, and Baird Ulrik does only that. A licensed assassin who only contracts to kill dope runners, con men, and other scum, Baird Ulrik is an assassin with scruples. But one day he's framed for a crime he didn't commit and his only way out is to assassinate a man who has been a hero to him."

Original Publication: Doubleday, September 1971
This Edition: Tor, 1984
Cover Art: Unknown
Format: Paperback

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Star Colony

"Coming in fast and low, the huge ship made planetfall. Three years out from Terra, the colony ship Omega had reached her destination, and the crew began to off-load the cargo and passengers. Then the ship vanished. Against the vast panorama of an unexplored universe, science fiction master Keith Laumer sets this first volume of the history of the world called Colmar - mankind's first venture among the stars."

Original Publication: St. Martin's Press, 1981
This Edition: Ace, September 1985
Cover Art: Attila Hejia
Format: Paperback

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Retief and the Warlords

"Terran diplomats are the epitome of good taste - but do they taste good? That is the question on every alien mandible as the Haterakans invade the human-occupied Goober Cluster in search of new feeding grounds. The Cluster is in deadly danger - but "provocation" of the Haterakans might jeopardize the Corps Diplomatique Terresrienne's new foreign aid program and so is forbidden, no matter what the aliens' choice of hors d'oeuvres. Alas for the chitinous aliens; just when they think they have discovered a wonderful new food supply they run smack up against a diplomat who refuses to act like one. Leave it to Retief to spoil everything."

Original Publication: Doubleday, 1968
This Edition: Baen, June 1986
Cover Art: Wayne D. Barlowe
Format: Paperback

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Retief in the Ruins

"It's a rare day when Terrans meet eye-toeyestalk with the slimy little sticky-fingers - er, that is to say, the noble alien Groaci. This time the races clash on the planet Popu-Ri, once the home of a mighty interstellar power. Popu-Ri has sunk into decline...but its ancient treasures remain. Through not for long, if the Groaci have their way. Groaci also finds Popu-Ri just the place to build a galactic warfleet. Still, for the Coprs Diplematique Terrestrienne to respond would threaten the delivate balance of human/Groaci forces on the cocktail circuit. Therefore the Ambassador must keep the lid on by doing nothing. But how to do nothing without seeming an ineffectual pantywaist? Send an observer? Yep, the Ambassador has it all figured out. But he made one little mistake: he sent Retief..."

Original Publication: Baen, November 1986
This Edition: Baen, November 1986
Cover Art: Wayne Barlowe
Format: Paperback

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Contents: Retief in the Ruins, There is a Tide and The Woomy

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Reward for Retief

"Retief's latest assignment is on Zany-Doo, a wild, undeveloped planet whose residents have a marked dislike for Terrans. The caterpilleroid natives seem to have something to hide, but neither Ambassador Spoilsport nor Retief's boss, Ben Magnan, can figure out what it might be. Then Retief and Magnan stumble into an idyllic enclave unlike anything else they've seen - and realize just how special Zany-Doo is. The planet is at the center of a trans-temporal flux where the very nature of reality can be transformed by a thought. But even in a world where reality is subject to whim, honor, courage and determination will carry the day. After all, Retief is just a state of mind..."

Original Publication: Baen, February 1989
This Edition: Baen, February 1989
Cover Art: Gary Ruddell
Format: Paperback

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The Compleat Bolo

"The classic military dilemma: can you trust those who are your servants not to turn on you? In the years of the Terran Empire the servants protecting humankind are machines endowed with artificial intelligence, and the most powerful of them are all the Bolos. They started out as simple tanks - now, the Mark XXX Bolo controls the galaxy. But is the Bolo mankind's worst enemy - or mankind's only hope? When the implacable alien Deng expand into human space the strategic mastermind-machine that is the Bolo leaps to the offensive. But the Bolo seems to have a war plan all its own, one that doesn't take humanity into account..."

Original Publication: Baen, June 1990
This Edition: Baen, August 1991
Cover Art: Stephen Hickman
Format: Paperback

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Contents: The Night of the Trolls, Courier, Field Test, The Last Command, A Relic of War, Combat Unit, Rogue Bolo, Final Mission and A Short History of the Bolo Fighting Machines all by Keith Laumer

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