|First published||October 2005|
|Era||Civil War era|
Berserkerbanden ("Berserker gangs", often listed as "BattleTech Berserkerbanden") is an unauthorized German BattleTech novel written by Lars Jirmann. It was published as a softcover book in October 2005 by Machtwortverlag, a small German publishing house that was set up in December 2001 "to publish new, aspiring authors" in what apparently amounts to self-publishing.
Presumably because of its infringement on other intellectual property the book was pulled from the market within a few days (or possibly weeks) of release, and only a few hundred items at most are thought to have been sold.
From the back cover (translated from German)
|“|| Lars Jirmann was born on 11.07.1987 in Leipzig and has been an avid hobby author since his fourteenth birthday. He attends the Werner Heisenberg high school in Leipzig and aims to study journalism. In his spare time, he likes to party with his community, or to sit at his computer and write. His motto is, "The whole thing, I think it's sick!"
Colonel Caine Redclaw's Berserkerbande consists of as-yet inexperienced, but highly skilled MechWarriors. It costs him much energy and effort to forge them together into a coherent unit. They master their first trial-by-fire splendidly, though.
Berserkerbanden is entirely non-canonical and effectively amounts to mere fan fiction. Neither the author nor the publisher obtained the legal rights to publish BattleTech material. Although conceived as a commercial product, the book's content does not even qualify as apocryphal for lack of any official sanction.
The novel was not checked for compliance with established BattleTech Canon and continuity. As a result, it does not fit into the BattleTech universe very well. Known issues include:
- The story is set on the worlds of Claktoris IV, Kardinal and Turas, none of which canonically exists in the BattleTech universe; neither do Kortis II, Kardis V, Huffman, Gordis II and Lotus which are mentioned, but not actually featured, in the book.
- Redclaw is not a bloodname, yet Caine Redclaw is adressed by that name even among the Clans in flashback scenes.
- Field modifications and upgrades to 'Mechs and weapon systems that are impossible under existing rules (such as an improved Gauss Rifle).
- Short travel times between worlds that are only theoretically possible when using a pre-established chain of JumpShips, which is highly unlikely though not technically impossible.
- Violation of established BattleTech universe aesthetics (arguably) through the Berserker Dragon superfauna.
The Berserkerbande as such stands out as well. It is a very top-heavy unit with significant amounts of Clan technology (OmniMechs and various weapon upgrades) and numerous faction-specific 'Mechs (such as the Raven) that seem out-of-place.
Claymores Gladiators, a renowned elite mercenary unit, includes ex-Clan personnel and a large amount of Clan equipment such as front-line OmniMechs, and is organized in the Clan fashion. In the employ of House Steiner during the FedCom Civil War, they are deployed against House Davion troops on the moon Claktoris IV ("a small, unimportant forest moon on the edge of explored space"). After the Davion troops have surrendered on 20 February 3063, Trinary commander Caine Redclaw, a Clan Steel Viper expatriate, is given a new command by Colonel Claymore: He is to train a Trinary of new recruits (the eponymous Berserkerbande) into a coherent strike force.
To this end, and to provide his unit with real combat experience, Redclaw provokes the local Steiner militia into agreeing to a live-fire duel vaguely resembling a Clan trial. In his hurt pride, the Steiner commander decides to overrun the "untrustworthy" mercenaries in a nightly surprise raid, spearheaded by a battlearmor commando squad with orders to breach the gates of the mercenaries' fort. However, a Gladiator agent among the commando team kills all other team members. This upsets the Steiner battle plan and the militia is vanquished in a 'Mech battle, killing many of their number before they surrender.
Shortly afterwards, the Berserkerbande is detached to the planet Kardinal where the local militia has risen against House Steiner in support of Victor Steiner-Davion. By the time the Berserkerbande arrives on the hostile desert world on 7 June 3063, the loyal (Steiner) forces are down to four 'Mechs in poor condition and some infantry, while the Davion troops have received reinforcements in the form of a sub-unit from Wolf's Dragoons. Caine Redclaw immediately assumes command from the inexperienced local Kommandant and leads a successful attack against the capital city that results in the capitulation of the enemy forces after heavy fighting. The Berserkerbande subsequently returns to Outreach for repairs, rest and refit.
House Steiner quickly re-hires them and sends them to the backwater jungle world of Turas to investigate why contact was lost. Available information suggests that no spacecraft entered or left the system in months, and the last HPG transmission indicates some sort of attack overwhelmed the defenders. After repairing the massive damage suffered on Kardinal, the Berserkerbande sets out. On Turas, they find a devastated genetic research laboratory, corpses and wrecked 'Mechs on the planet. It turns out that House Steiner bred dangerous BattleMech-sized lizards here. Called "Berserkerdrachen" (Berserker Dragons), they can (and do) engage 'Mechs in combat, breed very quickly and reach maturity within a week. As the Berserkerbande tries to leave the planet their DropShip is damaged by a Berserker Dragon attack, and they take losses including Caine Redclaw whose 'Mech is carried off. They have two days to recover spare parts from an outlying depot to repair their DropShip, or the JumpShip will assume them missing in action, and leave the system. The 'Mechs prepare a stand to distract the Dragons while the Terra Nova battlearmor troops race to the depot and obtain the parts. Although they take losses including the death of five MechWarriors and several troopers, the Berserkerbande eventually manages to escape; during the battle Caine Redclaw rejoins them, having miraculously survived his 'Mechs abduction earlier through sheer luck.
The various BattleMech types featured in the book are named partly by their original (English) names, partly by the established German translation for their name and in at least one case, both names are used. 'Mechs of Clan origin are similarly called by the Clan name in some cases and by their Inner Sphere designation in others. There is no apparent pattern to the naming scheme.
- Battle Hawk (as Kampffalke, its German name)
- Black Knight (as Schwarzer Ritter, its German name)
- Catapult (as Katapult, its German name)
- Cobra (as Königskobra, its German name)
- Commando (as Kommando, its German name)
- Cossack (as Kosak, its German name)
- Flashman (as Feuerteufel, its German name)
- Grasshopper (as Grashüpfer, its German name)
- Hatchetman (as Tomahawk, its German name)
- Hellhound (as Höllenhund, its German name)
- Hollander (as Holländer, its German name)
- Hunchback (also as Quasimodo, its German name, in a later scene and referring to another 'Mech)
- Incubus (Vixen) (under both names)
- JagerMech (as JägerMech, its German name)
- King Crab (as Königskrabbe, its German name); modified command 'Mech with Command Console
- Men Shen
- Mist Lynx
- Nova Cat
- Penetrator (as Lichtbringer, its German name)
- Sha Yu
- Shadow Cat (as Schattenkatze, its German name)
- Spartan (as Spartaner, its German name)
- Timber Wolf
- Viper (Dragonfly)
- Warhammer (80 tons, apparently a Warhammer IIC)
- Behemoth (as Behemot)
- Legion (unknown tank, armed with LRMs; possibly referring to the apocryphal Lyran supertank from the MechCommander 2 computer game)
- Quadpanzer (unknown tank, armed with four turret-mounted medium pulse lasers; described as a relatively light design)
- SturmFeur (as SturmFeuer, its German name)
- Von Luckner
- The author was 18 years old at the time of publication.
- The sole existing review of the book was rather scathing, giving one star (out of five) only "because it is not possible to give zero". The reviewer complains about a weak story and very bad writing combined with many orthographical and grammatical errors, concluding that the novel is an immature piece of fan fiction and surmising that the publisher probably did not bother to proofread the manuscript.
- In this review on the German Amazon website (amazon.de)
- Besides the German Amazon review, there is this site (by the same author) dedicated to describing the book, and reviewing it in some more detail, complete with plot summary