The Coming Year…

Ahh, Merry Christmas everyone. Although I write these words exactly at 12:00 am on December 26th. Well, whatever. So Christmas has come and gone, and the New Year is almost upon us. It’s a good time to talk about the books and games I’m most looking forward to in the coming year.

Gears-Judgement

I had just finished Gears of War 3 for the first time tonight. While it was a damn fine ending to the trilogy, and more than satisfactorily completes Marcus Fenix’s story, I found myself missing some elements that were more prevalent in the first two games. More paths you could choose, the campaign could have been a dash longer either through an additional act, or more portions from Baird and Cole’s point of view, like they did in the first act.

On that note, I’ll certainly be getting more of Cole and Baird soon. Gears of War: Judgment is on its way. That game will probably be second on my most wanted list.

Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm is yet another one worthy of mention. Unlike most die hard Starcraft lovers, I’m just looking forward to the story and campaign. Multiplayer just isn’t my thing for RTS. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2. I’m almost finished playing the first one and I am considering getting the DLC as well. I almost forgot Dead Space 3!

Finally, last and probably best of all, Bioshock: Infinite. I think that needs little explanation. But just in case, take a look at the trailer.

Now, for books I am choosing both previous and to be released books. But on my ‘most looking forward to reading’ list is All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard. That latter was recommended by C.L. Werner.

Other books of mention include Ravenwing by Gav Thorpe, and Headtaker by David Guymer. Guymer I actually met at the Black Library Weekender. Having published a few short stories, Headtaker will be his first Warhammer novel.

Finally, movies. I’m going to be a bit conservative about this, and mention Iron Man 3 and The Great Gatsby. Truth be, there are many good sounding movies, like Oblivion, Thor: The Dark Worlds, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Man of Steel, Ender’s Game and Star Trek: Into Darkness. But truth be told, I haven’t seen most of the trailers nor done any research. I’d rather wait until near release to begin looking into them.

So that’s all for next year’s excitement. Stay tuned for my new years resolution, which I will immediately fail to keep.

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Angels of Darkness

The current cover.

The current cover.

Angels of Darkness, by Gav Thorpe, was my first Warhammer 40k novel.

For a newcomer as I was, it was an extremely rough ride. It is a short book but at the same time, there is a lot going on which related to the background. The Horus Heresy, the splintering of the Dark Angels Space Marine legion. The recruiting trials of neophytes and the correlations of the planetary governments who are hosting the Adeptus Astartes.

It was a smack in the face.

The first thing that startled me were the neophyte trials. The main character, a Dark Angels Chaplain named Boreas, descends with his command squad upon a tribal world. The tribesmen greet the warriors and summon forth several youths who compete for the right to return with the Dark Angels and begin training to become Astartes. After the physically challenging trials, only three are left.

Of these three, one fails. What occurs after was a cultural shock to me. It was a wake up call as to the nature of the society that is the Imperium, and what some feel are the necessities it takes to survive in this war torn future. But like an initiate myself I somehow got over what happened and continued to read, muddled as I was. There were surprises yet in store.

Without giving away any spoilers or surprises, Angels of Darkness was one of two somewhat controversial titles (in an entertaining way), the other being Simon Spurrier’s Lord of the Night. Like Spurrier’s masterpiece, Thorpe’s book revolves around a character who has been alive since the Horus Heresy, and who provides a unique first hand perspective about the events.

The original cover.

The original cover. I actually think this is the better looking of the two.

The historically connect character in this book was a prisoner of the Dark Angels, a man named Astelan. A former lord of a planet and one of the Dark Angels’ coveted fallen, half the book is spent covering the torture and interrogation of Astelan, who insists on his innocence. One of the most powerful character moments in Black Library history occurred when Astelan was offered a choice, and the decision he chooses comes at great personal cost.

Another similarity between Angels of Darkness and Lord of the Night was in the manner it was told. The two books went back and forth between two different perspectives on the chapters. The different was that while Angels of Darkness involved the same characters at different times, Lord of the Night involved two different characters at the same time. Thorpe’s work bounces back and forth between the past and the present. The present offers another, different plot which loosely connects to the past. However, the present story seems pale and of less importance to the revelations that occur during Astelan’s interrogation.

I cannot claim in good conscious that Angels of Darkness is a great novel for fresh fans. People who know and understand enough of the background will find an unforgettable story that rocks what they know to the core. But the newcomer will be lost and confused, like being dropped in white water rapids when they don’t know yet how to swim. But for those of us who consider ourselves Warhammer 40k fans, Angels of Darkness is a must read.

Thorpe? In my Neighborhood?

The dude himself.

The dude himself.

It’s more likely than you think.

So a little birdie on the Black Library Twitter feed mentioned that one Gavin Thorpe will be near Washington D.C. for the NOVA Open. Whether or not this has anything to do with the earthquake we got remains to be seen, but the amazing stories he writes do tend to shake things up. Thorpe is the writer of Shadow King, Path of the Seer and one of my favorites, The Last Chancers.

Here is the flier.

I would love to walk into the convention, find him and over eagerly shove my battered and over-read copy of The Last Chancers omnibus into his hands for him to sign. But sadly (or fortunately if you’re Thorpe), time and finances are a bit tight for me to afford the $35 entry ticket.

But for those of you who can and want to make it, reserve your ticket at the NOVA Open and enjoy the conventions painting and gaming. The convention starts tomorrow and goes all weekend, and is taking place at the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City, just off of the Ronald Reagan National Airport metro stop.

In the Beginning…

Chain swords cure everything.

Chain swords cure everything.

Started a new blog. I considered using Rots Your Brain for my writings as well, but I defined the scope of that as being for movies and television. To change its focus would be undesirable given its focus for mainstream appeal. Warhammer 40k isn’t mainstream, at least not yet… the attention that Space Marine is getting could really begin to change all that. Still, I hope the attention doesn’t go to the creator’s heads. It’s the hardcore fan base who will always be loyal, long after the more fickle fans have gotten over whatever caused the surge in popularity in the first place.

Anyway, I started this blog to keep my writing flowing. Many of the other Boltholers do the same, Pyro, Narry, Shadowhawk. But I need a spot where I can vent to myself the musings of the day, random thoughts and reactions to developing events within and about the 40k universe.

Recently, the submissions window closed after I had pitched three short stories and a novel submission. Of them, I’d say two of the short stories are decent. The last short story was surprisingly intensive, and I honestly have doubts that I could fit the full context of the story in less than 8,000 words. But then again, I think about what The Dark Knight was like or Memento, and recognize that there is a lot of story going on there as well (I am also biased as a huge Christopher Nolan fan). Then again, so did Spider Man 3. Still, I would venture to say that it is better to have too much story than too little, because no one would want to read a snooze fest.

Almost immediately after the contest ended, I went on a reading binge. I read A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, and posted a comparison of it against Gav Thorpe’s The Last Chancers. I completed reading Robinson Crusoe by Daniel DeFoe (not to be confused with William).  I slayed Zombieslayer by Nathan Long and am working my way through Nemesis by James Swallow. I’m trying to mix up my fiction with non-fiction, and also mix some more classic reading on top of that. Part of me is trying to avoid becoming an easily satisfied reader, when simply finishing a book automatically makes it worth reading in my opinion. That’s not always the case. Not every book is amazing, and adding another notch to my book shelf is nothing to be proud of.

My hero.

My hero. ❤

But reading the classics like Robinson Crusoe and A Clockwork Orange has the benefit of allowing me to identify and craft stronger themes into my work. It’s… easy to get lost and simply write what some call “warnography”, when the writing is produced simply to satisfy a person’s craving for action. An excellent story should do that and much more. Still, I suppose as long as the reader is entertained, the job is done.

Who inspires me? In the Black Library crew, my favorite authors are Nathan Long, Gav Thorpe and C.L. Werner. What’s amusing is that these three have veered more towards the Warhammer Fantasy than the 40k universe, but Nathan Long’s plot crafting skills are second to none. CL Werner’s enthusiasm for Robert Howard draws me to him every time. And Gav Thorpe’s story telling… The Last Chancers remains my favorite work in the Black Library despite how old it is. Outside of the Black Library, Christopher Nolan and Darren Aronofsky influence what I want to see. George Orwell, William H. Keith Jr and Robert Howard the other works.

I like to think that reading non-fiction can improve your fiction. When you understand the functions of political-economic structures, I feel you can construct more elaborate worlds within the 40k universe. Dan Abnett does so beautifully when he devises the structure of a hive-city’s political scene. It’s a talent that makes the world more complete, more realistic than the predictable black and white, evil vs good concepts that have little more to offer than the physical struggle against the other half.

Besides, it’s not like there’s any side I would call “good” in the 40k universe. To quote Darth Helmet, “So, Lone Star, now you see that evil will always triumph because good… is dumb. “