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Home Stretch

And I am now in the home stretch phase.

The pitch is complete – 1,000 word sample, single paragraph summary and a 600+ synopsis of the short story. I am rather proud of the effort and the result both. As I mentioned in my earlier post, this has been a great learning experience. The critiques on the sample helped me perfect the technicalities of the background. Not to mention the immense help in perfecting the sample as a whole so it doesn’t come across as a juvenile effort.

I still have my first attempt at the BL submissions window from 2 or 3 years back saved on the laptop. It was a Guard against Chaos Marines story. Wrote about six (edit: six hundred) words. Dreadful attempt because I had no idea what the heck I was doing or how to go about it even. The files makes me cringe every time I read it. It has been slightly amusing over the years though.

It is all set to roll on forwards with the actual submissions process itself. BL will start accepting people’s pitches for consideration from the 1st of May till the 31st of July. Ample time for a lot of people, especially some really prolific boltholers, to finish their mountains of pitches 🙂

Once I got this pitch out of the way, it has become a really slow day. I am actually rather bored at the moment, undecided on what to do. I’ve got the Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood soundtrack playing in the background and the effects are as interesting and varied as a ride on a roller-coaster.

Contemplating whether or not to start a second pitch. I have the beginnings of a couple of ideas, one of which has been inspired by the just-passed RiaR competition over at the Bolthole. Then I am considering how best to move forwards with the Hesperon Crusade group story I’ve been working on as well. We finally have the beginnings of some superb Inquisitorial involvement featuring the Ordo Xenos and the Deathwatch and its going to be amazing I have no doubt.

Another thing is that I have finally decided what the new chapter name will be for the Sons of Corax. I am sad to let go of this highly imaginative title but alas, sacrifices must be made so that my short story can reach that faint light at the end of the tunnel. 12 Word-doc pages of backstory. A small manuscript book half filled with more technical backstory. 7-8 months of work which was often mind-numbing. Two months of some really dedicated work.

On another note, I have started a competition thread on the Bolthole, ‘In all of Creation!’ Looking forward to an interesting time with this.


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.

Fresh Shenanigans

So I have been absent off the blog for a while. My apologies.

It has been a busy couple of weeks. Quite busy. You see, I have been having a blast with the Bolthole forums. The community there is just tremendously great. And the amount of sheer talent over there is unbelievable. Not to mention that there are forums dedicated to asking some of the authors almost any questions relating to their work with BL or their experiences as writers. Even some of the BL staff hang out there sometimes! It is fabulous to say the least.

And most of all, a learning experience as I mentioned in my previous post. My success in getting the short story done and submitted (and hopefully accepted!) will be due to all these amazing people for the most part.

The other thing I have been busy with is particular to the Bolthole. A bunch of the forumites have gotten together to work out a campaign history for an Imperial crusade. Proud to say that I have done my share in contributing to the thread. And elated. Its been another learning experience. This time with the Tau.

And I have come to hate the Tau a little. Just a little, but enough.

You see, its their naming conventions. They are utter ridiculous to say the list and completely bonkers in my opinion. Take a look here. Nevertheless I persevered and came up with fairly simple eleven names for the campaign. Then the matter of fleet assets arose and I volunteered to do the Tau section. Here it gets even better. The convention for naming ships, according to Battlefleet Gothic, is thus: [Sept where vessel is built] [Vessel’s class name] [Personal name of first commander] [Personal name of current commander]. Hardly makes sense to me. Needless to say, the vessels I have come up with seem to be hardly any different from each other. They have no personality I guess. Compared to the names of Imperial vessels. Like the Vinco Redemptor of the Dark Angels, or Tycho of the Blood Angels, or the Lord Solar Macharius and the Guardian of Aquinas of the Imperial Navy. These names have a personality, they represent something. I just don’t see the same with the Tau.

Other than that though, it has been awesome. The Sable Swords strike force was fun to design with a minor discussion involving the use of a battle-barge versus a plain old strike cruiser. But thankfully, with effort, everything is justifiable. The Sororitas are proving to be a little daunting, given the severe lack of background on them really or how a lot of their units actually work on the battlefield. System designing was fun and intense – matching proper (and random) planets together is no easy task. Especially when you are working to a set idea. Its all moving along quite nicely and I am definitely excited with this.

Feel free to check out the thread here.


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.