Monday, July 6, 2009

NEWS AND RUMOURS: The Khorne Identity

I don't have anything to report on regarding 40k given that Planetstrike was launched at the weekend, so I guess it'll be a week or two until the next batch of rumours surface. I bought the Planetstrike expansion on Saturday and read most of it on Sunday. I'll finish it off shortly and then start making my nefarious plans. Bwa ha ha!


I have heard a few things about Black Library books, though.

I'm most excited about Blood Pact by Dan Abnett. The good news is that after some delay he has finished writing the book. According to his blog it is a more character driven, espionage type novel than Only in Death and he has jokingly subtitled it The Khorne Identity. The book is expected to be ready by late September for Games Day UK.

Dan also talks at length about his forthcoming Space Wolf book Prospero Burns which is a tie in with Graham McNeill's A Thousand Sons. I'll simply quote him here rather than paraphrase his words:

So, now, as the temperature pushes into the thirties, the cats are flaked out like discarded draught-excluders wishing their fur coats were un-zippable, and Roddick and Federer fight it out to the bitter end, I’m girding my loins for the next big project. Yes, folks, it’s Prospero Burns (Mongomery’s less-well known brother).

Stop me if you’ve heard this, but, originally, I was going to tackle the Thousand Sons side of the deal, and Graham was going to handle the Space Wolves. The reason for this - and I really do understand that the following revelation is such a heretical statement that Eisenhorn might have to come and shoot me through the lungs - is that I don’t really like Space Wolves.

All right. Stop yelling. Stop it. Stop. I KNOW, okay? I know. Let me explain. I think the Space Wolves are great. They are a great, vivid, visceral element of 40K, great to play, great to collect. But for use in fiction they are, to me, too on the nose. They too obviously resemble the source of their inspiration. Think of it this way: I could write a novel about a chapter of space marines, who originated on a tough, unforgiving world of high plains and grassy savannahs. The chief way of life was as drovers, driving the million-animal herds of gigantic, and often very dangerous, grox across continents. This work bred men who were tough, weather-beaten and wily, relentless, dogmatic, reflective, but mercurially fast. They evolved quick wits and cunning, and quick reflexes, but they could also sit in the saddle for days, biding their time. They were almost empathically connected to their loyal steeds. They knew how to chase, hunt, defend the herd, bring down a big bull. And the very toughest and most promising of these drovers were selected by the mysterious warriors, who lived in their isolated fort on the isolated mountain, to be inducted into their ancient order of space marines.

Sounds pretty reasonable, doesn’t it? Sounds like a decent basis for a chapter, right?

Now what if I said the chapter was called the Six Shooters? And that their armour design included chaps, a bandana and a ten gallon hat? Oh, and spurs? And they were famous for their trademark ‘two-bolt-gun’ holsters?

You see what I mean?

The inspiration is fine. The Thousand Sons are Aztecs. The Blood Angels are goth vampires. The Imperial Fists are Romans. The White Scars are a mongol horde. The Iron Hands are robots. The Ultramarines (and, hell yeah, the Iron Snakes) are Greeks. The fact is that all of them have taken the point of inspiration and run with it. They’ve put the background idea through some kind of creative filter to make it both richer and less obvious. But the Space Wolves are exactly what they appear to be, with no filter and no remove, which makes them giant fun on the gaming table, and a giant pain in the arse in a novel.

So anyway... I finally suggested to Graham that I should take the Space Wolves, because it would force me to find a way into them. I’ve already seen the work he’s doing on the Sons, and, oh my god, it’s mouth-watering. His book, which will be called A Thousands Sons (one of those instances where the legion name is so good, you don’t need to invent a better book title), is going to be packed with great ideas. We’re knocking stuff back and forth, and a momentum is building. For my part, I’m filling my workspace with all things Norse and Viking, and Icelandic and barbarian. You wouldn’t believe the sources I’m going to. I want the Space Wolves to be ABSOLUTELY the Space Wolves all of you out there love, AND YET something you’re not expecting; something that’s gone through a filter; something that makes you all go “Christ in a longboat! I have never thought of them like that!”

Another snippet of news from the Black Library is that Steve Parker has handed in the first draft of his Crimson Fists book Rynn's World. According to the Black Library the book will be released in February 2010.

I also spotted some advance orders in the painting and modelling tools section of the Games Workshop website. They are the water pot, which looks like it has spaces to hold brushes upright in the water, and a mixing palette. I'm not sure I'm sold on either of these items but at least they come cheap at £2.95 each.

That's all for now - I'm off to pick a planet to invade!
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