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A Year Ends, What Next?

A roller-coaster year is coming to an end. Lots of positives, a few dumb negatives, lots of excitement, lots of cheering and a few disappointments.

To be fair, the year didn’t really start for me until the third week of March. And that’s because it was in the third week of March that I discovered the Bolthole. And once I navigated to this corner of the internet, then everything just spiraled upwards and it has been a hell of a ride.

Finding the Bolthole has been the single-most positive event of the year because it opened me up to a really big world of exciting possibilities and fantastic opportunities. This is around the time I started blogging as well, so that is a huge plus that happened concurrently. The amount of writing I have done this year, at a guesstimate, is somewhere around 200,000 words. That includes blogging, reviewing, various submissions, my Sons of Corax fanfic, Bolthole comps, and my Nano novel among other things.

Jeff Ambrose, over on his blog here, discussed his goals for 2011 and new goals for 2012. His post is, in part, the inspiration and motivation for this post. He mentions his target word-count for the year, which stands at an impressive 400k words and how close he is to accomplishing that.

So it all got me thinking about what I want to do for myself next year. And I have come up with a few tentative things that I would like to accomplish this coming year.

1. I am going to write a full novel submission for Black Library. For the submission itself they want a 6-page chapter breakdown, a 1000-word synopsis and the first 3 chapters clocking in at at least 10k words. My goal is to write the novel in full. Target count is 85,000 words. This will be my Writing Project 1: In The Emperor We Trust. This was originally going to be a Space Marine Battles novel but I have been reliably told that only stories that are mentioned in existing lore qualify for that brand. So ITEWT will be a regular Space Marine novel.

If I can write a 70k novel in 32 days with 2% planning then I can write an 85k novel with 80% planning over the entire year surely!

Total Goal: 85,000 words

2. I am going to write 3 short stories in full for Stories in the Ether. SITE is an anthology of stories set in various different genres that are generally printed online first and later on for digital print and so on. As you can see here, their guidelines are fairly relaxed and very open-ended, which means you can write about anything and everything as long as you conform to their genres: Sci-fi, Fantasy and Steampunk.

What is awesome about Nevermet Press is that the SITE submissions are open throughout the year! Which means that yes, you can submit throughout the year. It is fantastic news. SITE also doesn’t get long-term exclusive rights to your work so you are free to explore other publishers with your work. The details are over on their SITE page.

I already have a short story in the works that is a spin-off prequel story for my Nano novel. Given that SITE short stories need to be no longer than 15k words, that is a lot of wiggle room. My aim for my 3 stories is to clock in at around 10,000 words each.

Total Goal: 115,000 words

3. I currently have 4 chapters to write for my Sons of Corax fanfic for the Bolthole. The goal, given all the things I want to talk about and have planned out in bits and pieces, is to average about 2800 words between the four of them. The fanfic has been ignored for the last month and a half, primarily because first I had Nano to work on and then later in Dec I have just generally been procrastinating.

Lesson to the wise: Procrastinating is bad. Especially when you are watching movies.

But, I plan to shape up this coming year and keep pumping out the stuff for two main reasons. One is that I really, really like doing it. Two, people just plain like what I have been doing. Just the other day someone on Warseer of all places commented to me that they like what I am doing with LL’s 60k setting. That is a major surprise for me since I posted a few initial chapters on the warseer boards a couple months ago and got zero response.

But that’s just the way the cookie crumbles I suppose. More incentive to write something you already like doing is always good.

Total Goal: 126,200 words

4. Black Library submissions. Another year is rolling round and I have a lot of things I have been doodling on and off since June of this year for future stuff. This includes Project: In The Emperor We Trust. I also have plans for a “series” of shorts and novels that are all linked by a very central event. The series is currently 5 short stories and two novels long. I already submitted one of the short stories this year, and since I have yet to hear word of it I am going to go with the assumption that it was rejected.

So that leaves 4 short stories and 2 novels. I am definitely going to focus on the short stories first. And that is purely because short stories can be churned out faster than a novel. With the submission guidelines wanting somewhere in the region of 2500 words an average per short story pitch, that is roughly 10k words to add to my work for the next year. Not too bad. The novels I will see. I want to focus on my current novel project first before I start messing around with another one. But, I would like to get the pitch requirements done with at least which should somewhere be around the 19k mark for each roughly.

Then I have about 3 more short stories I want to submit this year. One of them is a failed short story pitch that I never quite got around to work out. So this coming year I want to rework the whole thing and definitely get that pitch done with.

For now, that is all for the submissions stage of things.

Total Goal: 181,700 words

5. I seriously need to blog more. I don’t get enough blogging done at the moment, mostly because of procrastinating with regards to doing it. And that is when I kind of really do enjoy blogging. Its a good habit to be into, especially if you are a writer, and most of my writing-inclined friends and pretty much most of the authors I know, do blog a fair bit. So that is ample motivation.

Plus, the more you write, the more you learn. So the target is to do 2 blogposts minimum each month. More it kind of depends. I do have a lot on my plate with regards to handling blogs since I am a part of two review sites and I also am the unofficial in-charge for the Bolthole blog as well. I definitely don’t want to over-work, especially since I do want to focus on my writing this year.

Total Goal: 211,700 words

6. The Founding Fields. More book reviews dammit! As we speak, I have a backlog of about 4-5 reviews that need to be done, and that is only increasing as time passes since I just recently finished reading Anthony Reynolds’s third Word Bearers novel, Dark Creed, and I am in the middle of Gav Thorpe’s first HH novel, Deliverance Lost.

Plus, I have now arranged things with Black Library and I am now on their Advance Reviewer’s list. My first package is going to be the March releases which are Horus Heresy: Know No Fear by Dan Abnett, the Iron Warriors Omnibus by Graham McNeill, Path of the Renegade by Andy Chambers and finally Knight of the Blazing Sun by newcomer Josh Reynolds. So that’s going to be a lot of reading.

But that’s not all of course because I am me.

I also signed for Angry Robot‘s Robot Army as an Advance Reviewer and have requested a couple ARCs from them, Empire State by Adam Christopher and Giant Thief by David Tallerman. As per their guidelines, requesting ARC’s guarantees that I need to do reviews, which is totally fine by me. Adam’s novel particularly has been gaining a lot of steam, not in the least because of its frikkin awesome cover. So that’s more work for moi!

First order of business is to clear out my backlog and then get on with all the other reviews I need to do as I finish with the books and short stories. Given that my reviews are like usually in the 1200-1500 range, I’ll just take 1300 as my average for each review and I plan to do 5 reviews at least each month. That should sufficiently keep me on track with my reading and getting through all the BL ARC’s I will be getting throughout the year.

Fun fact: My latest review, which should go up within the next 12 hours, is for Sarah Cawkwell’s first novella, Accursed Eternity, and it clocks in at a perfect 1800 words, making it the biggest one I have done so far.

You can see all my current reviews for TFF here.

Total Goal: 289,700 words

7. 24FPS. Another of my review sites that I am a part of and that gets sort of neglected, again, because of procrastination. I sincerely intend to change that of course. For this also I have a backlog, that is about 4-6 movies big depending on what I really want to do. Just like with my book reviews, I tend to average roughly 1300 words a review and I intend to publish about 2 reviews a month. Movies are a little more difficult to get a hold of obviously, not to mention the time commitment issue but this shouldn’t be too bad. And it should be quite relaxing too if I take a low-key but regimented approach to this.

All my reviews for 24FPS can be found here.

Total Goal: 320,900 words

8. Raven and Blood. Clocking in at 70,219 words this is my first ever completed novel that fits a zero draft description, meaning it is not yet ready for editorial eyes and has a ton of things wrong with it that need to be fixed. But, I am immensely proud that I got this done. But now this youngling needs to be edited to hell and back. Plus I need to draw up a “pitch” for this that approximates what Black Library requires for their submissions. I know that different editors have different requirements and that Black Library is not going to be interested in this but I think the exercise in itself will be quite a challenge.

Of course, I cannot really guesstimate how much work this novel-editing shindig will involve on the writing front because editing in itself is so open-ended, particularly for someone like me who has no real experience with proper editing but I think I can take care of the basics at least. I aim for a final word count of about 95,000 words plus the pitch document which, excluding the chapters themselves, should be about another 4000 words.

Total Goal: 349,900 words

9. Finally, NaNoWriMo. I intend to enter the “competition” again and churn out another novel. Maybe one of those novel submissions I mentioned earlier or something different. I do have an old novel project, my first proper novel project in fact, that was a sci-fi story that is sort of half-finished. It is really amateurish in its current incarnation so I might just end up reworking the whole thing. But still, I aim to at least meet my accomplishment of this year if not better it. So the target is another 70,000-word novel which I hope to then sit down to edit for 2013.

Total Goal: 419,900 words

So umm, yeah, that’s my writing goals for 2012. Its a lot of writing and I am not even sure at the moment if I will actually be able to do all of it. But I know that I could reach all of them if I just focused my efforts and really cut down on procrastinating. That’s like Enemy Number One for me. I am really getting into the groove of writing, I feel, and I just got to work it all so that apathy doesn’t set in. Get all that down and then I can really get some solid writing done.

So what about you folks? What writing goals do you all have for 2012?

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The Outcast Dead by Graham McNeill (Advance Review)

If you learned a secret that could change the course of history, And you knew that the fate of mankind rested in your hands, Whom would you trust?

– The Outcast Dead, a Horus Heresy novel by Graham McNeill.

Note: I would like to point out that this is an advanced review since the novel itself will not be available to the general public until December this year, and was available only to the people who were at Games Day UK a few days ago.

The Horus Heresy, essentially Black Library’s flagship range considering its popularity and the titles that have gone on to become New York Times Bestsellers, is joined in November by The Outcast Dead, written by the author who brought us the Ultramarines and the Iron Warriors, Graham McNeill. The Horus Heresy, the most influential and defining campaign ever conducted in the Warhammer 40,000 setting, is ultimately about the conflict between brothers, warriors, and sons: the Primarchs and the Legiones Astartes. Central to the entire concept they may be, but their are many other stories of these times that are just waiting to be told, and this novel delivers that quite well.

For it is not about the post-human Astartes or their demi-god sires the Primarchs. It is about those who hold the Imperium together in an invisible net. The psykers. And not just any psykers, but the Astropaths, blind psykers who are soul-bonded to the Emperor and are the communication lifeline of the entire Imperium.

As far as I am able to say on the matter, The Outcast Dead is the first novel in the entirety of the Warhammer 40,000 franchise that actually delves deep into what makes the Astropaths tick, even going so far as to give us juicy details of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica and we actually see how the the spider-web of telepathic messages are transmitted on and off Terra.

To be honest, at times the first half of the novel is bogged down with details and background as the author sets up the stage for the inevitable conflict and it makes the novel feel like it is progressing far too slow. There is a wealth of further background information inherent here that is only implied and never explained. Which is fine, otherwise the novel could easily have been half as big again. But, it is not enough to make you put the novel down for Graham’s style just makes you want to keep on reading.

Well except for one of the two pre-prologues. It raises a lot of questions that go largely unanswered and are glossed over. This scene’s placement in the novel is really an odd one, and I believe that had it been omitted from the final manuscript, the novel would have suffered nothing. The scene just doesn’t have any impact on the rest of the novel.

The second half is the explosive half of the novel, wherein the plot goes from strength to strength, introducing to us concepts most people would have never considered or thought about and that make the plot seem like it has a magic of its own.

Kai Zulane is our unwitting hero here, the genius astropath who was once the pride of the Telepathica but is forced to become a hunted man through the depths of Terra. He is joined in this run for his life by a mismatch group of renegade Astartes who have been declared traitor by association with their respective legions.

The Outcast Dead is about betrayal, guilt, truth and sacrifice, not necessarily in that order. And Graham McNeill has handled it all beautifully. The novel is full of esoteric concepts that some people have wanted to know about for years but had no avenue to explore. It also builds up on the concepts introduced in other novels, such as A Thousand Sons and Nemesis while also cross-connecting to the other novels in the series through the main characters reminiscing about characters such as Vespasian, Skraal, Constantin Valdor, Amon Tauromachian, and many others. Not to mention referencing some of the events from other novels and even showing us startling glimpses of these from other perspectives. I will leave off mentioning these because they are just too powerful as spoilers.

The style, as I have said, is something that builds upon those introduced in novels like A Thousand Sons and Mechanicum, and it does seem at times to be somewhat heavy-handed, but the dramatic conclusion of the plot and the journey to that climax easily excuse these hiccups. And that is mostly because the references are not jarring, they are just alien to a degree because we are seeing a side of Terra that has never been explored before, getting only brief screen-time in short stories such as Blood Games.

When a certain galaxy-changing event happens during the course of the novel, one of two as it were, Graham has turned to the madness of Mechanicum to really show us how devastating of an impact this event has on the civilians of Terra, and their guardians.

What is jarring though, is Graham’s naming convention. Actually no. It is not the convention but the names he actually uses. He uses the same name twice in the novel for vastly different characters and also reuses a name that he gave to a sub-faction in his novel Mechanicum. It kind of ruined the fun of the climax for me to see this.

EDIT: After having talked briefly with Graham regarding the names, I take back the statement since his reasoning was totally sound, and this was as intentional on his part. On reflection, I actually like his approach.

Other than that, there really is no fault with the novel. As said before, it really only goes from strength to strength, with the chilling scene when the astropaths receive the most dreaded message from half a galaxy away, a character long-thought dead returning to the stage, the Emperor as we have never seen before, the working of the Astropaths from their City of Sight (how bloody ironic is that name?) and more besides.

Whether you are a Horus Heresy addict, or someone who loves the life of an Astropath and wants to know more about them, or someone who wants to know how Terra was before the inevitable Siege and the death of the Emperor, or just cannot resist the Astartes, this novel is for you. It is not one you should be missing out on any time soon. It is definitely right up there in the top-tier novels of the Horus Heresy. Missing out on this book is like missing out on an experience of a lifetime. This novel is so begging for a sequel.

Rating: 9/10

Return!

Been a while since I last blogged (again) so apologies (again). It’s been quite hectic around here what with real life taking over completely for a while and a trip to India for a festival. That trip incidentally marks a full year where I have attended every single major festival and attended every single major family event after a full TEN years. That’s crazy I tell you.

Anyhow, moving on, let’s catch up with what I’ve been doing since my last post.

Chapter 6 (clicky) of my Warhammer 60,000 piece, Sons of Corax, is now up on the Bolthole, so yay me! Took me only about ages to get it done! Some interesting revelations in it, plus I name-drop an old, old Warhammer 40,000 character that I have actually quite liked reading about recently. With the soup of ideas related to the setting that my mind keeps cooking on an hourly basis, he just might become a major character down the line.

LordLucan continues his epic 60k storyline with some awesome new additions in Age of Dusk. The sheer epicness of these two pieces is beyond words. Mysteries solved, mysteries discovered, great battles, the sheer scope of things!

I am still slowly working my way through Prospero Burns and Fall of Damnos. I just plain don’t have any fascination at all for the way Dan Abnett has portrayed the Space Wolves. Far too sophisticated and ‘mysterious’. Blergh. Can I just get William King to write me some good Space Wolf stuff please, Christian? I can get you some nice cake if you do it! Fall of Damnos seems ok so far, not off-putting it all, just… different from the norm. Big things are yet to happen here.

As of officially this morning, I have finished listening to Garro: Oath of Moment (Horus Heresy) and Fireborn (Warhammer 40,0000: Salamanders) and of the two, I far prefer the former over the latter by a margin the size of the US national debt. Toby Longworth has done the voiceover for both but the ‘quality’ is far greater in GOaM than Fireborn. GOaM has a far better plot, far better believable dialogue, far better sound effects, far better tension, far better everything. Fireborn just falls flat in comparison, which is a shame since I really like Nick Kyme’s Salamander novels. The voices of the five Firedrakes are all just too similar and with the added ‘effects’ of them at times speaking through helmets, sometimes I can barely hear what the heck they are saying. Not to mention the cop-out with no female voice-actors by making the Sororitas featured belonging to an order of mute warrior-maidens, which smacks of Sisters of Silence background.

However, I have the excellent Garro: Legion of One (Horus Heresy) and Raven’s Flight (Horus Heresy) waiting for me. I am really excited about RF since it features my favourite primarch and legion (if that wasn’t really obvious to any of you). I also have Helion Rain (Warhammer 40,000: Raven Guard) waiting, and I am cautiously optimistic about it. We shall see how that one goes. I shall keep you all updated on it.

Did I mention that I am also in the middle of reading A Game of Thrones? I finally was able to pick it up this past weekend when I was coming back from India, got it cheap at the airport. Really excited about this and it has been good so far, nearly as good as the TV show was (yes I know the TV show came second). Its interesting to see the differences between the TV version and the book version of this, and there are quite a few. So far, GRRM has not disappointed.

I mentioned that I play Lord of Ultima a while back, and just to keep my readers who also play that updated, I finally hit King today, and it’s been a rough ride getting here. The main obstacle so far has been getting enough damn gold and I already have two pure gold cities and am raiding almost non-stop with my troops to bring in the dough! I am definitely going to have to make at least one more.

Score: 282,856 Rank: 440 W: 19 Title: King Cities: 45+1

And as regards my work over at 24FPS, the long-promised review for Green Lantern: Emerald Knights is almost done and should be up by tomorrow night at the latest. So keep an eye out for that peeps.

For those are going there this year, I will also be attending Games Day UK 2011 in Birmingham so hope to see lots of people there! It’s gonna be a fun few days meeting a lot of the Bolthole people and others. Not to mention picking up some really juicy BL offerings and hopefully seeing something about FW’s next IA book. I already have a damn long list of books I wanna pick up on the day of and some of those are a real must to get!

Full Gear

It’s been a busy few days since my last post. Heck of a lot of things have happened, not the least is more positive news on the writing front and tons of fun, new information.

#1 Short Story Number 5, not to be confused with this.

Project Oath & Duty is also complete; am just awaiting some more feedback on it. A lot of people have commented that there really isn’t any real action in it but well, the beta-readers are only reading a short sample of the larger piece and its synopsis. It is going to be a dialogue-heavy story and that’s where the action is gonna be. For now, Project OD is marked off in the ready-to-send category pending a couple minor typo-corrections.

#2 Short Story Number 6

Project R&R is now in full swing. The Angels of Retribution are finally back in their second short story! Can’t give any more information on it without spoiling the plot but this is going to be some real fun to write in full. This is a straight-up action-oriented short story with lots of bolter-fire, chainswords-swinging, bam-bam-bam-bam-bam and things blowing up and people getting decapitated. Oh yes, this is going to be lots and lots of fun.

Incidentally this is Project number 6. Coming up on that lucky number, hmmmmm. Wonder if it is alright to go over this and risk my luck?

#3 Some news from Black Library (not really their blog itself per se in some cases but includes stuff from author blogs)

The novella trend continues with Gav Thorpe’s next, featuring Chaplain Cassius, the Ultramarines Master of Sanctity.

More audio dramas, this time continuing with Vulkan’s Shield (Salamanders) by Nick Kyme and Labyrinth of Sorrows (Raven Guard) by George Mann.

Graham McNeill is prepping for a novel duology about the Adeptus Mechanicus, tentatively titled Priests of Mars. I am betting on it being set in Warhammer 40,000 as opposed to the Horus Heresy.

A slew of new artwork by the fantastic artists at BL. I especially prefer the Blood Angel by Clint Langley.

Civilian Reader interviews Jonathan Green, author of the Pax Britannia novels and one of the most consistent BL authors.

#4 The Submissions Window

This is really heating up as you can see here. I count 40 short stories and 5 novels submitted, with a ton more in the works by dozens of people! And not every Boltholer who is submitting is even on the list. One of my friends-who-shall-not-be-named has submitted over a dozen short stories plus a novel already!

The amount of work done and being done is just crazy. So much creative output! And this is just us Boltholers. People from Warseer, Heresy Online, The Great Crusade and other Warhammer forums are undoubtedly churning out a crap-ton of submissions as well.

#5 Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine

If you were on the fence about getting this game when it comes out in September, then shame on you. Absolutely shame on you.

Check out this video preview of the game’s multiplayer mode. And also check out this video of its customizer for Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines. The breadth of options available is just staggering, you can customize everything from your helmet to greaves, to colours to armour designs to weapons to what-the-hell-not!

You fence-y people NEED to get this. Now! Go pre-order it already! THQ has won over thousands of fans with that customizer.

Oh and check this for the available classes for Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines. That Devastator special ability is looking boss.

#6 The Shatner

I admit to the SF geek inside me. I’ve always been a fan of Star Trek, having watched all the shows (the multi-season TV series, the animated series), the films and even read a few books. Needless to say, I am also a Captain James Tiberius Kirk fan. Big fan. Don’t ask.

Anyways, William Shatner’s Shatnerpalooza is going live soon and he is going to be presenting his documentary The Captains in which he talks to all of the famous captains from over the years: Patrick Stewart from The Next Generation, Kate Mulgrew from Voyager, Avery Brooks from Deep Space Nine, Scott Bakula from Enterprise and Chris Pine from Star Trek.

Check out details in this interview series.

#7 Conan

This movie is going live soon and this is one movie this summer you don’t want to miss, trust me. If you are not convinced by the amazing cast which includes Jason Momoa (Stargate Atlantis and Game of Thrones) and Ron Perlman (Hellboy) then perhaps this trailer can convince you?

Obligatory Conan quote:

Mongol General: Hao! Dai ye! We won again! This is good, but what is best in life?
Mongol: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair.
Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?
Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.
Mongol General: That is good! That is good.

#8 Bolthole stuff

Over on the boards, I read the most amazing piece of cross-over fan-fic ever. The concept itself was extremely intriguing but when I read the first few chapters that have been posted, I was blown away.

Across The Void (Warhammer 40,000/Starcraft). Nutstoyoutoo has done an amazing job with the execution here and he managed to include my favourite Terran hero too!!! Hellz yeah!!! I am definitely tuned in for more on this.

That reminds me of all the other fanfic on the board I’ve been meaning to read for a while now.

Colonel Mustard, one my most dependable beta-readers has his 40k/Mass Effect cross-over project Angels of the Storm which is now at 30 chapters and counting!

And there is my fellow mod and another beta-reader Lord Lucan who has his alternate-verse post-40k projects Warhammer 50,000: The Shape of The Nightmare To Come and Warhammer 60,000: Age of Dusk. I’ve read bits and pieces of both and this guy’s imagination is just a wonder. Seriously recommend reading some of this stuff.

#9 24FPS

I’ve been slightly negligent with regards to my reviews here but stay tuned because in the next couple of days, things are gonna heat up for the DCAU Movie Reviews Spotlight! As promised next one up is going to be Green Lantern: Emerald Knights followed by Superman/Batman: Public Enemies.

Drabble(s)

So a Boltholer friend of mine, MisterEd has a fairly regular competition going on for a while now. Called a Drabble. You are given a single prompt word and then you have to write a 100-word piece out of it. Quite a challenge. I have been in it twice.

Here are my entries.

Guardian

 

We live to serve, it is our honour to serve.

We serve the Imperium, we serve the Emperor.

We live to protect, it is our duty to protect.

We protect the people, we protect Terra.

We live to destroy, it is our mandate to destroy.

We destroy the alien, we destroy the heretic.

We do not falter, it is not our right to falter.

We stand firm against the darkness, we stand firm against the witch.

We know no fear, we are secure in our faith.

We guard the forbidden gates, we are the silent guardians.

We are Grey Knights.

Lament

 

‘I wish you had reconsidered. The galaxy is now ours for the taking and nothing can stop us, not even that fool who considers himself a god. A god! He betrayed everything I believed in, everything he taught me!’ he raged. ‘The path I now follow is the true and rightful path and I regret we cannot walk it together, dearest brother. We were always so close.’

‘He is the Emperor, our father. You have forsaken all bonds of brotherhood brother, and doomed our entire species to eternal stagnation,’ whispered Sanguinius, breathing his last as he died in Horus’s arms.

Check out some more entries and previous comps here.

Also, there is a new Read in a Rush competition up. The prompt for June is “Corruption.” I have a really sweet idea for this. Just need to work out a bunch of details and then we are solid!

What’s in a name?

This is a question that has been bothering me for the last week quite a bit. Mostly in relation to what the chapter name Sons of Corax really means. Ages ago on warseer when someone was posting their own DIY chapter they had some sort of similar name for a different legion successor. One of the posters said it was quite presumptuous of the chapter to name itself after the primarch, somehow indicating that the particular chapter was more favored by the primarch.

Is that necessarily true?

We already have the Sons of Guilliman, Sons of Dorn, Hammers of Dorn, Angels Sanguine, Disciples of Caliban, Heralds of Ultramar, Emperor’s XYZ, Imperial ABC, Knights of the Raven, other Sons of PQR etc etc. What are the significances of these names? The Heralds of Ultramar aren’t even based anywhere in Ultramar! The Sons of Orar aren’t even Orar’s sons in the sense that the Sons of Guilliman are literally sons of Guilliman! Did Dorn ever really carry a thunderhammer (how does the Fist of Dorn fit in here when the Imperial Fists are the ones using it)? Or the Emperor’s XYZ (loyalist) chapters who have been created after the Emperor ascended the Golden Throne and isn’t even aware of them? Are the Imperial ABC chapters really favoured by the Imperium?

Where does the favoritism being and where does it end? Is there really a question of these chapters being favored as indicated by the names of these chapters?

Two other aspects of the question are A, what is the power of these names and B, what is the real significance of these names? Let’s take it one by one.

A, The Power of Names – Fiction is quite literally littered with references and cases to/of the idea that names have power. These are reminiscent of some of the oldest religions on our planet. Knowing the name of a daemon gives you power over him is a concept particularly emphasised in both Warhammer worlds and in 40K we have the new background stating that the names of Grey Knights are parts of the true names of daemons! It is all the same as knowing the true identity of a spy, which allows you to exert power over him/her.

Why else do Inquisitors in 40k operate in subterfuge, particular examples being Eisenhorn and Ravenor. They don’t think twice about falsifying identities.

In Frank Herbert’s Dune series, the name Muad’Dib is a name of power, a killing name that the Fremen soldiers can use to literally kill their enemies with the aid of their sonic weapons.

Perhaps the Alpha Legion, at least pre-Heresy, exemplified this best of all. All Alpha Legionnaires are Alpharius when questioned in the book Legion. The identity of the primarch is hidden from anyone not of the Twentieth Legion and there is even a bigger secret being kept here.

What is the power of a name in Warhammer 40,000 in your opinion?

B, The Real Significance of Names – If names have power, then they also have a significance, a deeper meaning perhaps.

What does the name Blood Angels mean for that chapter? The chapter often has angelic names for its battle-brothers. The space marines were/are the Emperor’s Angels of Death. Sanguinius was raised in the Baalite tribe ‘Blood’. Post-heresy the Blood Angels and their successors have been cursed with a vampiric heritage and the Red Thirst.

Ultramarines, is it significant only in that Guilliman’s space marines come from Ultramar, or is the significance related to the colour of their name or is it a clever pun on both?

Space Wolves, are they really wolves in space because they have larger canines than is the norm among other marines, or is it a reference to Leman Russ’ upbringing, or is it related to the Wulfen curse, or is it another clever twist on all of them?

Alpha Legion, the last legion to be formed and yet designated in an old dead (in-universe) language as the first. Alpharius, the last primarch to be found yet his name has one (of course there are multiple meanings) meaning of the first. His twin’s name, Omegon, in that same dead language is the last letter of the alphabet.

Among the Raven Guard, a lot of their captains are named after birds, just as Corax is. And they are plays on similar words. Korvydae of the Tenth, Kayvaan Shrike of the Third, Corvane Valar of the Fifth. Go to wikipedia and do a search for the word Corax and see the results that come up.

Perhaps the most telling and important from an in-universe aspect is Horus, primarch of the most accomplished legion during the Heresy, the Warmaster of the Imperium, the Emperor’s most favored son, foremost among all the primarchs. And the one who plunged the entire galaxy into never-ending war. Horus, in egyptian mythology, is one of the oldest and most significant gods. What came to be known during the Heresy as the Eye of Horus, and was previously the Eye of Terra, is an ancient egyptian symbol for protection, royal power and good health. What Horus the primarch did during the Heresy is known to everyone.

Where does this all end?

All of this is something that I’ve been thinking about in this last week. I was quite surprised when I found out that the Corvus Mellori is a species of the crow/raven family Corvidae about two weeks back. The protagonist of my short story is Valerius Mellor. I had accidentally come up with a name that tied my character to the primarch and legion his chapter is descended from. And yes, it was quite unintentional.

All this comes down to the collective fact that Black Library does not want its writers, particularly ones who are aiming to get published through them the first time (established writers might be getting some leeway), to invent new chapters. I can see where they are coming from because there is such a large number of canon chapters we known nothing about. Some of them exist as nothing but names, they have no livery, heraldry, home or any kind of backstory.

This put me in a real bind because even though Sons of Corax was a stopgap measure to name the Raven Guard successor, I have become quite attached to it. And now I have to change it. Mostly because using my own chapter name is quite a bit of risk and could potentially work against my pitch for the upcoming submissions window. And I really want to not have any negative points against the pitch, especially ones that are easily controllable by me.

So I am now changing the name of the chapter. I have a short list of 4 chapters from Lexicanum’s list of canon chapters. I am very undecided at the moment because each of them represent some aspect of the backstory I have created for the Sons of Corax and I am reluctant to just abandon any of it. I tried to roll for these 4 names (about 50 times mind you to get a nice average) but I was still unhappy.

You see, the name of the chapter matters a lot. It ties it to the primarch, to the original legion. The Sons of Corax have a rich history of having collaborated with the Raven Guard over the years and they have kept some legion practices alive in their original form. They are also quite close to Corax in a spiritual way from what I have envisioned. And the name should reflect the traditions they have inherited from the legion, even though they are Third Founding, and an aspect(s) of the primarch that they think is the most appropriate for the direction they want to go in.

Perhaps all of this is a little too much for just one short story that may not even get picked up. But I think that that is where the difference lies. The difference between a writer who is aiming for quality and one who is just doing it because he/she wants to do it. I am not the best writer out there by any means. And the quality of the fanfic I regularly see on the good old Bolthole reminds me of that everyday and pushes me to perfect my own work that much more.

Its all about the effort you want to put in. And I believe that the more you can show that in the pitch, the better your (and my) chances of getting that foot in the door.

I have had three great critiques on my sample. They all attacked it in very different ways. Some did it from a background perspective. Some based on their own ideas on how things work in-universe. Some based on the technical aspects of the writing process. Some based on just pure logic from their own experiences. Combined, their review has resulted in quite a few changes to the sample in ways I had ignored because I wasn’t aware of the significance. Much thanks to Phalanx, Raziel and Narry for their help on this. Particularly Narry for his help with the names. And all the other Boltholers who helped in the entire process as well.

Awesomeness Can Never Be Denied

It is true. Very true.

First off is this. The trailer that was debuted at E3 2010 for the upcoming Relic/THQ videogame Space Marine. Yes. That one. And here is part of the developer diary for the same.

I can’t even begin to describe how pumped up I am for this game. I have been a long time fan of the Dawn of War series, not to mention that I used to be a maniac for the tabletop version which is the inspiration behind this awesome madness. And this is, once again, Relic and THQ working together to deliver what is no doubt going to be Game of the Year. Can we get a release date already for this? I will give cake to the devs. Did I mention that Dawn of War 2: Retribution was just released recently? And that it features the Inquisition? Oh YES.

Next off is the half-exciting new news from Black Library here. Half exciting because about roughly 5% of the internet already knew what this was going to be out. People had been speculating to the death about this. According to a forumite at the Bolthole, the opening vidshot was shown at Black Library Live a few weeks ago and the book is about the Salamanders versus Eldar Exodites. Sounds great yeah?

Just one small problem.

Promethean Sun is going to be a limited edition hardback novella with only 3,000 copies being printed. As I said to some other people, BL wasn’t just content with making it limited edition, but they had to make it hardback too.

Personally I resent this. The Salamanders and their primarch Vulkan are one of the minority characters in the Horus Heresy and have been for a long time. Their most notable ‘contribution’ being the near annihilation of the legion right at the beginning of the heresy. Now this book deals with the missing 7 years of the event we know next to nothing about, plus apparently some missing history of the legion. People are going to be gobbling this up as soon as it is on the site for orders. I fail to understand the marketing decision.

The Horus Heresy series has been tremendously popular and offering limited editions of part of this epic saga does not make sense to me at all. Perhaps saner heads than mine understand. Ah well. Will just have to rely on a few dedicated forumites at the Bolthole and Warseer for the juicy details.

What makes them tick?

Gene-seed

The Sons of Corax gene-seed is derived from that of the Raven Guard and has similarly mutated over the millennia. Their skin and hair grow paler over time and turn white eventually while their eyes turn completely sea-green. They are also missing the Betcher’s Gland while their Neuroglottis and Lyman’s Ear have become especially sensitive. As such the gene-enhanced senses of the Sons of Corax are superior to their armor’s auto-senses and rival those of even the renowned Space Wolves.

Beliefs

The Sons of Corax hold to the belief that their gene-father Corax will one day return to lead all his sons in a final crusade against the hated Betrayers of Isstvan who nearly destroyed the XIXth Legion at the onset of the Horus Heresy. They are aware that Corax’s experiments failed because he possessed incomplete knowledge about both the cloning process and the gene-seed of the Astartes. Therefore they believe that he disappeared not to seek penance for his failed experiments with the Legion’s gene-seed but to seek knowledge that will perfect the process.

As such they revere their gene-seed all the more and have never sought to tamper with the genetic legacy of their Primarch. Their beliefs are known to none outside the Sons and the Raven Guard and these beliefs have sometimes caused friction between the two noble Chapters.

The Chapter venerates its Primarch Corax and the Lord of Mankind, the Emperor, above all others and like many other Chapters they view the Emperor not as a god but as the greatest and most powerful man to have ever lived. As Corax is descended from the Emperor, the Sons are descended from Corax himself and save the Emperor there is no other man they hold in higher regard. The Chapter has immortalized the Primarch of the XIXth Legiones Astartes by naming itself after him and it is one of the many ways in which they display their affection for him.

Homeworld

The Sons of Corax have earned the right to a homeworld many times over but all the High Commanders over the millennia have never accepted the offer, preferring to continue in the tradition of Taimon Naskius and the first battle-brothers of the Chapter. The warships of the chapter are the only homes that the Sons of Corax acknowledge, returning to the worlds of their birth only during recruiting missions to conduct their search for new warriors.

Fleet Disposition

As a fleet-based Chapter, the Sons of Corax possess a considerable fleet of warships and possess three battle-barges (Montisgarre, Spear of Lycaeus, and Avalerion) as well as six strike cruisers (Crusader, Chevalier, Ravenna, Talon, Raven’s Fury and Wrath of Redemption). Additionally the Chapter possesses the forge-ship Raven Song and several escort squadrons of frigates and destroyers. Each of these warships serve as the home of one of the Companies of the Chapter, which are often referred to as the Fleet Companies.

The Montisgarre serves as the chapter’s fortress-monastery and has done so ever since the first days of its founding. It is a warship that saw service with the expeditionary fleets of the XIXth Legiones Astartes for a hundred and eighty years. However it was retired to Deliverance just before the onset of the Horus Heresy because of severe damage in its last engagement. It was repurposed as a training vessel and formed part of the system fleet. When the Sons of Corax were formed in the Third Founding it was gifted to the new chapter as part of the Raven Guard contribution of war supplies.

With the necessities of their nature as a crusading chapter and their growing numbers, the Sons were quickly able to collect a sizable fleet of warships and escorts. Eventually the Adeptus Mechanicus was able to supply the chapter with a proper fleet that served their purposes and replaced their casualties. The Kiavhari Wisdom, a modified Lunar-class cruiser, was once a part of the chapter fleet and assigned to the Fourth Company. The warship served for fourteen hundred years and had an honour roll including such victories as the Adenari Campaign of 205.M33. Eventually the Kiavhari Wisdom was destroyed in a Word Bearers ambush in mid-M34 during the War of Faith in the Sarosa subsector.

Recruitment

Each Company is responsible for its own recruitment and the training of its recruits who are drawn from all over the Tempestus Segmentum from the worlds visited by the Fleet-Companies of the Chapter. All potential Chaplains, Librarians and Apothecaries are sent to the Montisgarre while those neophytes who display technical aptitude are sent to the forge-ship Raven Song to serve under the Chapter’s Master of the Forge. As some battle-brothers have been known to have displayed psychic potential far past their time as a novice Scout, all battle-brothers of the Chapter are regularly screened by their Company Librarians and those who show such abilities are then sent to the Montisgarre.

Heraldry

The Chapter symbol of the Sons of Corax is a golden raven clutching a black spear and is displayed on the left shoulder pad. The Chapter’s colour scheme is blue armour with orange kneepads, boots, chest eagle and backpack. Veterans are differentiated by their white helmets while officers wear white helmets with gold stripes.

While squad designations are never displayed, company colour is displayed as shoulder pad trims while the Company badge is displayed on the right shoulder pad:

  • 1st Company – Colour: Silver, Badge: Silver Raven/White Spear/Black Background.
  • 2nd Company – Colour: Yellow, Badge: Yellow Raven/Black Spear/White Background.
  • 3rd Company – Colour: Red, Badge: Red Raven/White Spear/Black Background.
  • 4th Company – Colour: Green, Badge: Green Raven/Black Spear/White Background.
  • 5th Company – Colour: Black, Badge: Black Raven/White Spear/Black Background.
  • 6th Company – Colour: Orange, Badge: Orange Raven/Black Spear/White Background.
  • 7th Company – Colour: Purple, Badge: Purple Raven/White Spear/Black Background.
  • 8th Company – Colour: Grey, Badge: Grey Raven/Black Spear/White Background.
  • 9th Company – Colour: Blue, Badge: Blue Raven/White Spear/Black Background.

1st Company Veteran and 2nd Company Captain

History

Chapter records state that the first Astartes to bear the name Sons of Corax once belonged to the Raven Guard Third and Eighth companies that were still struggling to recoup their losses following the Horus Heresy. Captain Taimon Naskius of the Raven Guard Eighth was chosen by his Chapter Master to lead the newly formed Sons of Corax and continue to protect Humanity. In the age of the Imperium’s rebirth from the ashes of its devastating civil war, Space Marine forces were needed more than ever. Several new chapters were sanctioned for the Third Founding and they took part in some of the bloodiest battles in Imperial history. Captain Naskius took the title of High Commander, a former legion rank often bestowed by the Primarch Corax upon the most preeminent fleet captain. The Sons of Corax were gifted with the battle-barge Montisgarre, a warship of the Great Crusade that had served since the Heresy as a training vessel in the Deliverance system.

High Commander Naskius established the Sons as a crusading chapter and chose the Tempestus Segmentum as his eternal warzone. In the early years of their founding the Sons worked frequently alongside their predecessors the Raven Guard and several newly commissioned Imperial Guard regiments. The Sons established cooperative pacts with many of these regiments and cemented their ties to Raven Guard. Over the years the Sons have exchanged many battle honours with their allies and the Vault of Conquest aboard Montisgarre is home to the battle standards commemorating their victories. They have earned recognition across the entirety of the Segmentum for their dedication and loyalty as well as their relentless persecution of all enemies of the Imperium.

Yet for all their nobility and their glorious battle record they have had their moments of ill-repute and campaigns that have failed. During the Frannos Heresy of 119.M37 the Chapter slaughtered hundreds of thousands of civilians of Orlin IV in order to capture the traitorous Cardinal Frannos. The Ordo Hereticus demanded custody of the prisoner but the Sons refused and executed the Cardinal publicly, an act of defiance that earned them bitter enemies amongst the Ordo. This and other incidents have created mutual distrust between the Ordo and the Chapter and the Sons have ever avoided Inquisitorial control. Given the political connections cultivated by the Chapter, the Ordo Hereticus has avoided open confrontations, preferring to work covertly.

In 533.M39 the chapter participated in an Imperial campaign to drive out the forces of Chaos in the Becoun subsector and reclaim it in the name of the Emperor. However, incompetent leadership and political infighting doomed the campaign from the start with initial victories overshadowed by one disastrous defeat after another. The 8th and 9th companies who had taken part in the campaign suffered crippling casualties and were forced to withdraw three years later lest they be wiped out completely. Over a hundred and fifty battle-brothers had been lost and it took the chapter nearly seven decades to bring both companies back to full strength.

Over the millennia, the Sons of Corax have fought a great many different foes but of all of them they prefer most to fight the renegades and traitors of the Chaos Space Marines. The Chapter nurses a particular hatred for the Betrayers of Isstvan, the Traitor Legions of the Iron Warriors, Alpha Legion, Night Lords and the Word Bearers. The Sons have brought many of their enemies’ followers to justice and their fury when dealing with these accursed followers of Chaos is unmatched.