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"...science fiction is sort of like a sociological genome. It's a huge range of possible futures, most of them useless; some vital. You never really know in advance."
- Peter Watts

Walking Fort  
  A biomimetic fort based on the model of a centipede.  

He wanted Patch to design and construct a walking fort in the semblance of a monster centipede, seventy-six feet long and twelve feet high. The mechanism was to consist of eighteen segments, each equiped with a pair of legs. The fort... must be able to move at a speed of at least forty miles per hour on synchronized, smoothly operating legs. It must be able to spurt liquid fire from its tongue, exude noxious gas, and fire energy beams through ports in its head.
From The Killing Machine, by Jack Vance.
Published by Fantastic Fiction (?) in 1964
Additional resources -

Helpfully, the book also contains this excerpt from the specifications for the walking fort:

The vehicle must, under full load, be able to traverse slopes of up to forty degrees (assuming adequate footing) at a speed not less than ten miles per hour; to negotiate easily and certainly broken ground, such as a field of irregularly shaped rock fragments up to six feet in diameter; to pass across crevasses, gaps or ditches up to twenty feet wide.

Compare to the centipede-machine from Monsters of Mars (1931) by Edmond Hamilton, the robass from The Quest for Saint Aquin (1951) by Anthony Boucher and the centipede from Killing Titan (2015) by Greg Bear.

Thanks to R. Probert for contributing this item.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Killing Machine
  More Ideas and Technology by Jack Vance
  Tech news articles related to The Killing Machine
  Tech news articles related to works by Jack Vance

Walking Fort-related news articles:
  - Walking House Ambles Away From Disaster
  - China's Crab Walker Robot Tank In Firing Mode

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