Tuesday 28 March 2023

Blue Period - WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY??!!??

 I watched this anime and I had a little spastic meltdown, which I will now inflict on you.

I will start by describing it

So it starts with this protagonist guy Yatora Yaguchi who has socially faked his way though school and high school, superficially, he is reasonably popular and successful; totally empty inside. High social capacity, not really, genuinely interested in anything. Careful, a climber, in low-level despair. Right on course for a functional degree and a job as a competent salaryman.

Out of nowhere, or maybe after a chance encounter, he takes an interest in art. Supported by some small initial success and a perceptive art teacher, over a short period of time he goes from being not that interested at all, to being in the art club, to rapidly gaining skill and interest, to deciding that he is going to go for an art degree.

The big university has a well regarded fine-arts course. The only way he can afford it is to get one of the handful of free spots and the only way to do that is to ace the entry exam, (which almost everyone fails, some people take it two or three times).

From there it’s a race against the clock as Yaguchi focuses on learning skills and discovering art. He sees himself as not being that talented, can relentless hard work and pure desire make up for a lack of talent? Can he learn everything about art and ace the big test and become a real artist?


It was the awakening of an actual, human soul inside someone who was otherwise living in a performance of their own life like an actor inhabiting a role, and maybe the first time this man/boy who had never done anything that wasn't careful and planned did anything purely non-optimal and risky for its own sake.

I like the art teacher and I like the cast of oddballs and weirdoes who make up the various art classes.

I like the procedural stuff about training and technique, common to anime but I would have been happy with more of it.

I like the slow development of the protagonist into a somewhat less  empty, and therefore somewhat more usefully-empathic and morally present individual.

I like that his close drinking buddies all knew he was shallow as fuck but didn't really mind, and that one of them is inspired to go to cooking school by seeing Yaguchi follow his dream and grow as a person.

I *think* I liked the somewhat odd cross-dressing/trans(?) best friend plot?

Its an interesting look inside the processes of art school and an art education, but oh my god did I find myself unexpectedly fucking DESPISING parts of this by the end.


Regarding the styles and types of art engaged in by the protagonist and their class, the in-fiction art, I didn't actually like much of it myself, it did not move my heart, and I was fine with this as I expect that from any mainstream entertainment.

I was ok with characters going "Oh, so inspiring" and "your art has really improved etc etc" when I wasn't a big fan of the art being looked at in question. I could still care about the story in which the art was embedded, so my complaints below are, I think, separate to that.


Its complex as all of these things combined and interwove at some point, but to try it one-by-one.

The Japanese testing system

Hey! Lets test children to the point of destruction! And lets valorise their personal self-annihilation!

 'Academic Art'

"Oh you won't have to make academic art on this course" says the teacher on the exam-prep course.

(Yes you will and that is all you will learn).

'Academic Art' is apparently a thing where they train examinees in particular.. patterns? I don't know how precisely to define it, but each university has its own particular obsessions, tendencies and fashions in its preferences so they train the Examinees specifically for the University they are applying for, like it was a written test. Perhaps they don't do this 'as-such', but I think they are still doing it in-essence.


This absolutely disgusts me on every conceivable level. If I had to pick one thing in particular that crawled up my arse and screamed its this.

The looping of the language of criticism (flawed and shit anyway) with the production of art turns emotion into a performance of emotion (IN A SAVAGE TESTING ENVIRONMENT). I FUCKING HATE THIS.

'What are you trying to say, from an examiner, in a test with 200 people where only three are going to get in. Genuinely just shoot me.

Educational systems are primarily agreeability and obedience machines, and secondly analysis of skill and drive, so this definition of a visual static art, where this desperate and very young teenager is meant to have 'something to say', in an utterly silent medium, in which 20 kids in a room paint virtually the same thing, it’s a degradation of thought and emotion guaranteed to produce self-deluding drones who when they come to make art in the future, will ask themselves "what am I trying to say" from the examiner in their head. So everything becomes exam art.

(no relation to MFA culture at all there)

(was it all really the same thing I am complaining about?)

Total separation of 'genre' and 'Fine Art'

So clearly, drawing a dragon or something or something from your imagination or even something interwoven with your imagination, is not going to cut it. This is a silent rule, another one these young exam takers are being inducted into, a very familiar one to me.

'we want to see the products of your heart"

'ok, here they are, they are gauche, atavistic, genre and imaginary'

'well in fact we didn’t mean that at all, and understanding *that* we didn't mean that was part of the test. 

What we *meant* was 'we want to see the product of an utterly neutral heart, with a fair amount of skill and drive but almost no real creative imagination, and we want to see that they have 'something to say' (as we would understand it, and about the vanishingly small number of things a teenager might have something to say about that would be coherent to a middle aged drone), and we want that expressed entirely though a still, silent visual medium, and we want it expressed with maybe a dab of 'cleverness'.

What you are creating here is modernism and total emptiness. The painting as 'text' where the quality and "depth" (as if even one of these people would understand anything of actual emotional depth) is decided by how 'cleverly' the teenager can command, ape, combine and recombine the known forms of modernism to produce something of not-too-much emotional content, not too much creativity, but it has 'something to say'.

Do I fucking despise art school and absolutely everything about higher fine art education and the kind of art and culture it produces?

I don't know but I fucking HATED this anime version of it!!!

We have to destroy (Anime) art school!!!

Sunday 19 March 2023

Post-Singularity Hardcopy Concepts

Chatbot evolution, deepfakes. conspiracy and counter-conspiracy and counter-counter conspiracy. re-editing of children's books (is your copy of 'The Twits' pre or post-purge?), all of this and more leads me to think about The Record, and its fragility.

So I come to imagine forms of post-reality hardcopy, for when you absolutely postitively MUST calm ever motherfucking in the room.

It needs to be readable to the *naked eye*, (the statements of trusted witnesses that they have seen the hardcopy, reporting directly and in the flesh to others, will be the only real form of proof most will recieve). This is a human thing and is about proving things from one human to another in a world where any digital or transmitted inormation, even through a single screen, like that of an electron microscpe, could be suspected.

It can be the creation of machines but better if it is purely hand made, must be reasonably robust, not decay, at least not if cared for, hard, preferably impossible, to alter and amend


Close-weaved calligraphy - using a scribe to write fancy letters that mesh with each others negative space, both fore and aft but also with each line above and below. I think this was used in rennaisance/early modern counrtly letters, or at least special and expansive designs were placed to fill pages specifically to prevent any additions or amendments to whatever the king etc may or may not have said


Ceramic - could literally be a fine china cup with the contract/text interweaved through it under the sheen

Cut into Gems - you would have to examine these with a spyglass at least. Combining gemcutting with close-weaved calligraphy would make a record easy to transport, worth preserving and hard to alter.

Glass - if a record could be etched in so much the better, if some substance relevent to the nature of the record was included in the glassblowing even more so. Maybe a rare radioactive isotope that decayed at a set rate? That could give you a date? Or combine glass and organic so a leaf or something is part of the artefact.

I feel most metals are out, too easy to melt and reconfigure.. Maybe etched right on the edge of a high-grade blade?


Bone or ivory is another material that could be treated roughly as a 'brittle synthetic' with scrimshawed or etched intra-calligraphy.

Shell? Could writing somehow be introduced to the natural growth patterns of a shell?

Grown-over wood - carving things into wood sounds good as the interaction between the grain and carved text might make it hard to alter, maybe there could be some way to use the fact that wood can be grown over and around things to 'seal' a ceramic document?

Skin - tattooing might work, combining the fidelity of a named person and their reputation with the record written into their living skin

DNA alteration to make a bunch of apples or whatever produce certain words - sounds a bit overdone and not that useful but could be a handy way of mass-replicating a single record. (Apples etc have the name of god or whatever in them all the time, it shouldn't be too hard to get a single tree to produce a name or symbol).


What else can be created and 'read' by humans, but is very hard to alter once it has 'been' created?

I want to say; very high grade silk weaving - but the fact that it is 'woven' means it can be 'un-weaved' and re-made.   Is there a form of weaving which is *fundamentally* un-un-weavable - that it simply cannot be taken apart and re-assembled once made, even by super-tactile robot hands?

Urban Planning? - you could pay to have the streets of a suburban or urban development effectively 'written' as a cypher of your agreement or record. This would have a natural loss over time but it would take quite a long time and a supreme degree of effort to erode the symbology. The systems of build environments have a tendency to replicate themselves. 

How about chemical processes that remain meta-stable but degrade if they are disrupted or interrupted?

Super-clockwork that remains stable so long as it runs very, very slowly, but degrades rapidly if it is sped up slowed down or stopped  in any way?

There must be some systems or methods in engineering that are useless or low-utility because they are coherent so long as you don't fuck with them, making them too sensitive or finickity for building r engineering but maybe quite good for this purpose?

Sunday 12 March 2023

The False Machine Adventure System Compatibility Infographic - V 2.1

Here is V2!

Click the image for a link to the file which should allow you to see it larger.

Feedback in the comments, on twitter at https://twitter.com/pjamesstuart, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pjamesstuart or via email if you can find it.

Saturday 11 March 2023

The False Machine Adventure System Compatibility Infographic - Version ONE

Since answering the question; "What system is this for" is becoming increasingly difficult. (The BX commons? Any Old-School product???) I came up with the no-doubt terrible idea of creating a simple one-page infographic that I could post online and also include in False Machine books and mailings.

With this One Simple Trick I would elucidate the simplest rulesets to use, their relative closeness to each other and any difficulties and challenges of playing False Machine adventures using them.

Of course this is going to be a fucking disaster, if anyone even reads it, but that is why I am classifying this as VERSION ONE. A proto-type infographic designed specifically for your commentary, feedback, analysis and surely-productive-criticism.

Have at ye, click the image for a link to the file which should allow you to see it larger.

Feedback in the comments, on twitter at https://twitter.com/pjamesstuart, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pjamesstuart or via email if you can find it.

Saturday 4 March 2023

Trailing Corposant #17 WRAIGHT-ON


Somewhere in the darkness Chris Wraight steeples his fingers and smiles an icy smile. Of course he had already predicted this post and the third and fourth-hand effects it would have.. of course he knew I was having macaroni cheese for dinner! All I have done is walk right into his schemes! He slowly closes both hands together, cupping the infinite darkness and slowly, carefully, explains the actual plot up until this point… 



Chris Wraight! He won the Horus Hearsay and BECAME the 30,000th Warhammer. You did it son, now get on your sparkling white motorcycle and ride off into the caverns of the earth. 

Probably no other writer has gained so much from the Horus Heresy series. A handful have crashed and burned, several have chugged along like little tugboats, some have surfed the wave, with varying excellence, but in general, a writers reputation coming out of the Heresy is the same as their reputation going in. 

ADB is probably the closest to Wraight, his name  burnished by Betrayer, The First Heretic, Master of Mankind and Echoes of Eternity. But ADB went in from the already much-loved Night Lords series so he was on a clear upward trajectory and essentially pulled off escape velocity. 

Dan Abnett went in with a very heavy rep, a lot of very good books under his belt, and under those books, a whole stack of rather average books, and under those book some rather bad books. He was the architect of the Heresy in novel form, probably more than anyone else, gave it much of its quality and many of its flaws and safeguarded both of those through a solid start, a dithering mid-range and a good-but-flawed (so far) ending. Reputation = PRESERVED. 


Who The Fuck Is Chris Wraight? 

But who the fuck was Chris Wraight before 'Scars' (2014)? He started with Black Library in the Old World with 'Masters of Magic' in 2008 and from then till 2015 ya boi wrote a FUCKTONNE of Warhammer Fantasy Books; 

  • Masters of Magic - 2008
  • Iron Company - 2009
  • Sword of Justice - 2010
  • Dragonmage - 2011
  • Sword of Vengeance - 2011
  • Luthor Huss - 2012
  • Master of Dragons - 2013
  • The Fall of Altdorf - 2015
  • Then a leap into Age of Sigmar with The Gates of Azyr - 2015 

Also during this period he wrote a Stargate Atlantis tie-in book Stargate Atlantis: Dead End. 

Much like Joss Reynolds, Wraight was one of the architects of the fall of the Old World with ‘The Siege of Altdorf’ and like Reynolds he was in at the beginning of Age of Sigmar with ‘The Gates of Azyr’, which I have read and which I seem to remember being pretty good. 

But unlike Reynolds, Wraight never returned to the Age of Sigmar, by the time of ‘Altdorf’ he had already written ‘Scars’ and was now ‘the white scars guy’. He had a big future waiting, in the.. big future. 

His 40k work starts with 'Battle of the Fang' in 2011, through 'Blood of Asaheim' in 2013 to 'Stormcaller'  in 2014, he did a bunch of books about Space Wolves. He only lately came back to complete his trilogy with ‘The Hellwinter Gate’. 

'Battle of the Fang', if I can remember it at all, it wasn't great. ‘Hellwinter Gate’ was good (but fuck those guys) and I definitely haven't read any of his Old World stuff. 

So, a MYSTERIOUS VOID, there is an early strand of Wraightism of which I know little to nothing.. just like the Khan, I know nothing of him, and he knows everything of me! 



So what happened with the White Scars? 

The White Scars were one of the original twenty Space Marine Legions and, in the pseudohistory at least, played a huge part in the Horus Heresy. They made it back to Terra and were one of only three Legions to get there and actually stick around to defend the Emperors Palace. Jahaghatai Khan lead an important counter-attack on the Lions Gate spaceport during the siege aaaaaand, that’s about it. 

Very few people cared very much about the White Scars for most of 40k history. Future Mongols riding motorbikes. Come from Space-Mongolia. Not that well supported with lore or models. 

UNTIL in 2012 Wright comes up with ‘Brotherhood of the Storm which fills in the background and details of the Heresy-Era Scars, and then with ‘Scars’ in 2014 he does their first full-length novel and pretty much everyone loves it. So far as I know, no Warhammer fan dislikes these books, In fact the White Scars strand of the Heresy is one of the most reliably highly rated of all its many threads. 

From that strand spirals out a range of books which spread over connected characters, and do deep dives into the Custodes, TWO series bracketing 'modern' 40k, the best book on the Death Guard and the creation of Varangantua, which had and instrumental generative effect on the Warhammer 40k 'Crime' subgenre. 

There is a little Wraight-verse woven up in there, not closely geographically focused like the Sabbat Worlds but connections of theme, personality, viewpoint, characters and style. 

THAT’S Chris Wraight, in six years he went from nervous anime protagonist to not even taking Dan Abnetts calls* (which he predicted in advance). 

*This is a lie. 

To discover how it happened and ‘why the Scars’ we will need to dive into the Bibliography; 


The Warhammer Fantasy Books 

Like I said above, I know almost nothing about these (I think nine books) and additional various short stories. Drop something in the comments if you have it! 


The Scars 

(Really ‘Brootherhood’ and ‘Scars’ are essentially part of the same story one setting up and adding flesh to the other.) 

2012 - Brotherhood of the Storm 

We meet Jaghatai Khan and the White Scars! What makes them special? This one simple trick; not being retards. 

So what has changed between the White Scars being boring space Mongols and being interesting space mongols – in the absolute sense, very little. I mean there are no STUNNING REVERSALS  here where the white scars subvert your expectations by not being Mongols or not being in space. 

Truth is, you probably had few to no expectations to begin with, instead they fulfil and massively overdeliver on your probably quite-minimal expectations, adding complexity, character and depth. 

If there is a TLDR for Chris Wraight its; “I did roughly what you expected, much better than you expected.” 

The big metatextual addition Wraight makes is that the White Scars largely escaped the notice of the Imperium and Heresy at large, because they were designed to escape notice. Not in a super-stealthy Corax way or a super-sneaky Alpharius way, but more in a faded uncle way in that you know they are there, somewhere far away, doing something, and you just don’t think about them that much. The Scars, or Jhagatai, were made to be in some sense, outsiders, outriders, or just an outside perspective on the whole Primarch project. 

We meet the Scars in the period after Ullanor hanging about in the  Chondax chasing Orks. After the Imperium broke the larges Ork empire in the galaxy, the Scars were sent in to do what cavalry do; chase the defeated and cut them down, which they are fulfilling on  stellar scale. 

Key Things – 

The Khan is chill and likes being out of the way. He grew up on planet-Mongola, was adopted by a horse tribe, defeated the worlds major empire and took over the planet before the Emperor turned up to ‘recruit’ him. His tribe were the ‘Ordu of Jaghatai’ and had the facial scar thing, now his Legion is the ‘Ordu of Jaghatai’. Its not clear if, like the real Tenmunjin, the Khans armies left piles of dead and raped civilians behind them or that the rivers ran red with blood and black with ink. 

Despite being based on perhaps the most insanely genocidally murderous of all the IRL people that made Primarch templates, the Khan is chill, likes to keep himself to himself, observes everything and thinks about it. Core value; he values life as it is lived, not as a tool or function to get somewhere else. He also doesn’t like forts, cities or empires. 

Illyria Ravelion – An Imperial Army General and expert in Logistics. The White Scars are terrible at logistics (gotta go fast!) and are aware of it. Part of the story involved Ravelion being drawn into and tested by the Scars, and she provides a more-likeable ‘mainstream imperial’ point of view both for us and for the Khan. 

Yesugai the Storm Seer – Jaghatais bff and key advisor. A super-powerful space marine Psyker raised in the Chogorian tradition as a kind of sky-shaman. Important as he provides a key element for the Primarch; a bff who is almost as powerful as he is, and just as wise, and an important view on the White Scars view of Psykers and the Warp. Typically sensible they see it as ‘drinking poison’, where you have to drink a little but that’s no reason to drink a lot. This is a point of view shared by literally no-one else. 

Torgun Khan – A marine recruited on Terra who wanted to be a Luna Wolf but ended up being sent to the White Scars, where he excels but is continually the ‘cultural other’. He is trying hard but the Chogorians are insular wierdoes and also he doesn’t fully want to be there. Also maybe the only way in which the Scars are not Sensible-Marines is their obsession with a war of mavouvre and pseudo-cavalry stuff all the time, every fucking time

Breakaway – Nonsensical cultural divide. The ethnocutural divide in the White Scars between ‘Terrans’ (assumed to be sort-of-white) and ‘Chogorians’ (assumed to be sort of Asian), makes literally zero sense if considered as a real part of a real universe. Terra should be full of Asiatics, there was a whole ‘Ynodesian Bloc’ at least, the languages and cultures should have all changed a LOT, the gene-lines should have changed a LOT, Astartes are literally programmed with knowledge and no other Legion has an audible accent difference between culture groups. HOWEVER, it does work well from a story perspective. So I will just assume that the Heresy writers are translating a hyper-complex future culture difference into something we can understand. 

The Alfafa Legion are UP TO SOMETHING??? 

In fact Horus has deliberately isolated the Scars in Chondax to keep them out of the way while he does his Heresy, he is pals with Jaghatai and has hopes of bringing him on-side (at the right time).  Jaghatai was part of the doomed Librarius project and has always been an outsider ambivalent about the Imperium. Horus has send the Alphas to secretly prolong the war and keep the Scars bottled up until he is ready for them. 


2014 - Scars 

Jaghatai and the Scars are chilling in the backwaters, cheerfully killing orcs when suddenly - WHOOPS, A HERESY IS HAPPENING!  RUSS DID WHAT? HE BURNED PROSPERO??? WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON? 

(We learn from some Alpha Legion stories (see that entry), that the Alphas themselves are at war within themselves and a rogue faction deliberately broke the isolation of the Scars and allowed Rogal Dorns call for help to get through before Horus would have wished it). 

Who will the Scars side with? Horus, who Jaghatai likes and gets along with? Magnus who he also liked? Or his city-building lying crazed authoritarian dad who he does not really like? The stage is set for the Scars to go flying about to try to find out what the fuck is going on. (And also ignoring Russ’s desperate call for help – hilarious). 

Meanwhile the Terran and Chogorian factions are forming up, the Terrans are all very pro-Horus and the Chogorians are whatever-Jaghatai-says. 

Story culminates in Jags visiting the ruins of Prospero, chatting to one of Magnus’ splinter ghost things and meeting with Morty. I was going to say maybe the worst possible person to send to persuade anyone of anything, but looking at the Traitors ranks, they are not exactly stacked with charisma. 

At about the same time the Lodge members in the Scars try to stage a coup to make sure they go the ‘right’ way.  

Jaghatai is surprisingly well informed about the Warp and it looks like Horus has demons all over him so he goes with Dad and awaaaaay we go! 


2016 - The Path of Heaven 

A 'Primarch Ping Pong' book that manages to make something interesting out of 'get Jagatai to Terra'. 

How to do? - use SECRET WEBWAY PORTAL. Yes the Emperor had one hidden far away in the darkness. To protec from aliens – NO protec from Imperium! 

Emperor’s big plan involves a Human Webway Project. bad news Navigators - scanners really do live in vain, off to the garbage yard with you you useless freaks. 

Meanwhile the Death Guard and some of the Emperors Children awkwardly give chase. 

There are some nice looks at the death guard and EC trying to get along, and a foreshadowing scene everyone remembers - someone gotta hold the webway portal open! someone has to BURN THEIR SOUL on a magic TORTURE CHAIR. But WHO? 



2018 – Jaghatai Khan: Warhawk of Chogoris 

A ‘prequel’ look back at Jaghatai after he has been find and during his integration into the Great Crusade and first missions. Jags knows about the warp and thinks lying about it is dumb. His first mission seems to be a deliberate ploy by Malcador. The Scars are sent to ‘liberate’ a world which has been taken over by psychic super-aliens who the human population believe are gods. The Xenos keep the humans juiced up on a sense of the numinous and transcendent, even once the aliens are killed the humans still hunger for them so.. it looks like the human population is ultimately sent to ‘live on a farm’. Malcador making a point I guess. 

I think this is the book where its revealed that Jags can, if he wants to, move at SOOPA SPEED, like the Flash. But generally just chooses not to? This power is never brought up again. 


2021 – Warhawk! 

Its the siege of Terra baby! Its been pretty mixed so far and kinda boring overall! Lets hit the gas! Wriaght is going WIDESCREEN for this one. 

Morty is sitting in the Lions Gate spaceport, harshing the Imperial buzz with NURGLE MAGIC and bringing down heavy armour, and (more prosaically but more importantly probably) supplies and materiel right into the palace area. 

Everything seem bollocked but Jaghatai have plan - re-take the Lions Gate spaceport, cripple enemy armour & supplies, hold spaceport for (surely inevitable) return of Robute and victory in the siege, oh and kill Mortarion, now a SUPER DEMAON! 


Good book. Odd final fight. 

Head scratching re-write of previous morty stuff in a classic Heresy 'well actually' chapter in which a handy demon pop out & explains to an NPC how actually the previous bad writing of Morty was actually well well this and that you know (this isn't a Wraightism, I don't think he does it before or again). 

But what about The Imperial Cult? RELIGION - COULD IT BE BAD SOMEHOW?? 

Sigismund is back baby, and seriously traumatised, less by the violence than by the collapse of the Emperors dream, which, was the only thing that really justified the very evil things he and daddy Dorn had done up to this point. I mean geocoding a few planets isn't great but if it’s for long-term species survival, and if the species has already nearly died out once, then maybe its TOUGH MEDICINE. Except now the Emperor looks more and more flawed. Also he lied and demons are real. 

On the other hand, demons are real so lets go fight them. Siggy goes full 'I AM THE GRIMDANK FUTURE - CANDLES AND SKULLS FOREVER, NO PINK!"" and takes up his super-black sword to go crump Kharn in an anime battle during which the sacred stupid words are said by Kharn; 

"Bro do you think you are more fucked in the head than me?" (paraphrased) 

To which the answer is; "Not really, you are a lobotomised berserker trying to soul-rape humanity for ever and I am trying to stop that, I can be pretty bad but still not as bad as you. I can, for instance, go to the toilet, knit, (skulls), and spend (grim) social time with peers, you by comparison are literally fucking LOBOTOMISED BY A BLOOD GOD. 

its a dumb point of view! But more on this later. 

At about the same time, Keeler, the Imperial Saint, has gone mental in the ruins. she is no longer being written by Dan Abnett and like a lot of people who are no longer being written by Dan Abnett, she has gone from being a flawed but sympathetic semi-paragon dealing with a dark reality perhaps not quite realistically, but ENGAGINGLY, and turned in to a MEGA CUNT, in the turn of a page. (Not the first Dan Abnett character this has happened to, many such cases.) Now Keeler has gone full Al Qaeda - suicide legions, doom, skull fetish (came out of nowhere your honour) and trying to take down Asartes in the ruins (takes roughly 100 guys to kill one) THIS IS THE FUTURE NERDS. 

(Having read ‘The End and the Death – Part One’, by Dan Abnett, she goes right back to normal again in that.) 


The Other Heresy Books 

2017 - Leman Russ: The Great Wolf (fuck this guy!) 

Its 'Leman and Lionel!' The Space Wolves and Dark Angels are both told to go smash a hard-to-find star empire and totally fail to work together because the Lion is massively autistic and Leman is dumb. 

Russ stumbles into the main battle, acts out, gets a bunch of Dark Angels killed then is a pissy little boy about it, then starts dickwaving, making oaths about being the first guy to kill the enemy leader

except he fucks that up aaaaaas.. guess what - the space wolves have a tendency to RANDOMLY MUTATE INTO MONSTERS! (just like the Thousand Sons, Blood Angels, possibly the two missing legions), yes the guy who boasts about being the 'Emperors Executioner' and counts killing family members and being mind wiped afterwards as a gold star achievement, has an unstable gene-seed, fucking great. 

The Lion finally loses his autistic shit and they have a big fight and finally cold-cocks Russ (I'M GLAD SOMEONE DID!). 


2020 - Valdor: Birth of the Imperium 

A story about Valdor smashing heads? NO 

A story about the disease of authoritarianism, hypocrisy, an Empire built on lies IT WAS SHODDY FROM THE START I TELL YOU!, and about the quiet tragedy of the existence of Constantin Valdor, a man who cannot say no. Basically the Emperors Smithers in a weird way. 

This is 'lefty warhammer' where the main problem with the Imperium of Man, even pre-heresy, is the Imperium of Man and the Emperor is a twat, but its basically the grown-up version of that compared to the ADB "Dad you suck!" version. 

There was never really any law except the Emperors word, only the illusion of law 

WRAIGHTISM - The Cerebral Counter-Puncher 

Wraights Custodes, (and many of his characters) are silent observers who are already several moves ahead, and, if they are being empathic, try to communicate this OBLEQUELY. They have a good idea what will happen, are waiting for it to happen, and have a plan ready for what to do then. (they are COLUMBO'S!) 

This is largely unknown to whomever the main character is. In this one the cop lady interviews Valdor about "Where were you mister Valdor on the day the Thunder Warriors left on a midnight train to go "live on a farm far away"??? 

Valdor responds with gnomic tales and stories of Imperial history, which MAY be a form of code, a deniable secret message saying 'hey don't do what I know you are going to do girl' 

End bit - Cop girl stages an INSURECTION! Tries to arrest Valdor. Bad news, he predicted it, he and the Emperor knew everything, (did the Emperor deliberately absent himself so this could take place, maybe) and they have a plan prepared, unleash the ASTARTES! (if we didn't before!) (probably this was the 1st Legion and very possibly Mier Astelan, a main charcter in Gav Thorpes Dark Angels books, was in this scene, maybe). 

End result, Cop Lady and some of the last Thunder Warriors get crumped. Valdor almost has an OK time fighting the lord of the Thunder Warriors. Thunder guy at least gets to be a fighter and die, Valdor is basically a chess piece in charge of other chess pieces in a game which is not a game. He is having a rough life is old Valdor. 


2022- Sanguinius: The Great Angel 

A story about Sangy being cool? NOT REALLY! Still pretty good though! 

Another bad-from-the-beginning Imperium story, this time IN DISGUISE. 

Its Waights swan song for the Heresy and, while the 'on top' story is about an edgy remembrancer investigating the Blood Angels and having a horror-movie experience as he slowly works out that the Imperium’s super pretty boy good guys are actually... SPACE VAMPIRES! (who are fighting the curse). 

The 'underneath' story, (which for us is actually the real story as we already knew the space vampire stuff, is about the conflict between different versions of the truth. Remembrancer guy has a lady boss, at first we think she is just a massive Sanguinius simp and mindless super-loyalist, she keeps telling him 'just paint the idea, fuck the reality'. 

But at the end we find out that actually, she also knew about the Space Vampire stuff and she is more of a Sanguinius Yandere than a Sangy simp. She actually doesn't give a fuck about Sanguinius or the Blood Angels as anything more than useful tools and is quietly looking forward to .. something .. their 'removal'?? and replacement with the Symbol of them, rather than the reality as the symbol is a useful tool to aid in mass population 'guidance' and control . 

She seems to be part of a nascent-inquisition faction (Malcadorists?) 

Then we cut to after the Siege, Sangy is dead, bad lady has ordered the writer assassinated, she personally burns the last copy of his book (the complicated truth) and oversees the installation of her giant Mural in one of the first 'Sanguinala's' (the useful truth) -  by this point she is clearly part of the proto-Inquisition and, in tone, setting and mentality, links well to the later 'Vauts of Terra' and 'Bannana Guard' books 


WRAIGHTISMS - Human/Transhuman Conflict, Information Control 

When the main character joins the crusade he very clearly knows less about it than we, who have been reading about it for ages, do, so we get perhaps a better picture of what the 'average' Imperial citizen (if there is such a thing) thinks about it. 

He seems to assume that the Crusade is mainly Xenos-oriented, largely about taking worlds away from aliens and is fine with this as he shares a heavy anti-xenos prejudice with the baseline of humanity. He talks about a large proportion of human worlds being brought in by diplomacy, the majority probably? though we don't get exact numbers. 

He wrote a book about how the World Eaters, Space Wolves and Night Lords were nutters, based on first hand accounts. It’s not clear if the book itself was censored, but he does say that the censors hurt him less than the general reputational damage from the public, who were not fond of anti-Astartes stuff (and he's still alive) 

He very clearly has an 'actual' and partial point of view of his immediate world which conflicts in some sense with that of the reader, and this meshes with the later Vaults of Terra series in which even the main inquisitors doesn't know fully about the Primarchs or the events of the heresy. 

This is a degree of implicit information control rare in most 40k writers, its also about ‘information control’ in the setting, Chris is being Meta again/ 


The 'Modern' 40k Books 

Vaults Of Terra 

The Inquisition do SPOOKY BUISNESS on Terra just before the Great Rift 

(2017) - Vaults of Terra: The Carrion Throne 

(2019)- Vaults of Terra: The Hollow Mountain (Novel) 

(2022) - Vaults of Terra: The Dark City (Novel) 

Main Inquisition guy Crowl and friends investigate spooky business which happens to interrelate to key elements of the Imperial Machine, this is set before the 'Gathering Storm' so everyone is absolutely bricking it thinking reality is ending, (it is). 

SPOLIERS - the Golden Throne is breaking down, "breaking down, breaking down" and various arms of the Imperium are searching for flex tape – at ANY COST I TELL YOU. 

This involves a conspiracy that goes RIGHT TO THE TOP BABY because ITS CHINATOWN JAKE and which Crowl  & crew stumble into. If you wanna fix that frone you gotta do a dark deal with the dark eldar. 

In sequence the team stop a dark eldar from getting into the palace, investigate Trouble at the Astronmicon just before it BLOWS UP, and go to the MOON, and thence to Comorragh where they spike the arranged agreement. 

Good news - the Dark Eldar were up to a creep plan which would have been really bad, they wanted to CLONE the EMPEROR (?!) and use him as flex tape on their own webway collapse. 

Bad news - the Golden Throne is still falling apart. 



If you want Peak Piranesi, here you go! welcome to Terra, its FUCKING HORRIBLE, literally THE WORST. 

'Vaults' lets Wraight go very deep on just what an unrelenting barely survivable totally insane shithole Terra is for almost everyone on it. The inquisition literally have their own raised highway system because you just can't get anywhere on the ground. Don't forget your facemask, protein ration and stay away from gangs of pilgrims who have hived off the multi-decade queues for the religious sites, here we do crowd control with flamethrowers, oh you have a job above ground, very fancy, my cousin actually leaves the arcolgy for work you know.. 

Wraight does it again in ‘Lords of Silence’ where we get a look at what an Agri-World looks like; a ‘pleasant day out’? No – an unpleasant day in a world sized toxic nightmare plantation hell place. 


Watchers Of The Throne 

The Banana Guard on Terra post great-rift. What does it TRULY MEAN to be a Banana Guard??? (mainly see 'Cerebral Counter-Puncher' above). You better not be messing with that throne son! 


Watchers of the Throne: The Emperors Legion 

Watchers of the Throne: The Regents Shadow 

Watchers of the Throne: Third One – yet to exist but probably will?


Beginning soon after the 'Vaults of Terra' series ends, and I think incomplete at the time of writing, this follows the resurrection or re-energising of two of the Imperiums up-till then quiescent or moribund model lines organisations - the Adeptus Custodes and Sisters of Silence. 

The Custodes have been depressed for 10,000 years as their boss is a vegetable. The Sisters of Silence have fallen from being near the Emperors throne  into being nearly nothing, some long term scheming, super sketchiness or just general hatred of blanks has lead to their citadel on the MOON being abandoned and the sisterhood scattered all over the galaxy to slowly rot. 

The third point of view is from the actual High Lords. The Chancellor of the High Lords (technically a super-secretary but not really) is having a meltdown and wants to kick things into gear. 

We see these stories through the eyes of main custode guy Valerian and Aleya the Silent Sister, who are no-cooties chaste work-married and who team up in various ways to fight chaos and just as often the structures of the Imperium itself. They even get a model set! thats love! 

The first book is largely about Guilliman pulling these two organisations back into a shape he likes more, along with our pair discovering a super-secret chaos plot to give access to Terra.  Guilliman is back baby! And he quietly or loudly encourages the Custodes to go forth and custode, not just on Terra but all over the place. 

The second is Chris Wraight being upset about brexit no sorry its about the Hexarchy crisis in which, many of the mortal arms of the Imperium, the Administratum, the Ecclesiarchy and the Assassanorium, with elements of the Navy and Guard, decide they do not want a damned tranhuman monster running things and changing everything and stage a full insurrection on Terra. Chaos stuff and doom is everywhere, no-one knows what is going on.. except lord of the Custodes Trajan Valoris when at the end we discover.... that he and Bobby G had predicted everything in advance, planned ahead and actually intended this rebellion to happen specifically just so they could draw out the conspirators and put it down, oh and also the Assassins were not actually on your side. 



THE SPACE WOLVES - (fuck these guys!) 

2011 - Battle of the Fang

2013 - Blood of Asaheim

2014 - Stormcaller

2022 - The Hellwinter Gate - (think this one ends up on Cadia around Abaddon smashing it) 

I have not read these except for 'Hellwinter Gate' which was ok? Its space wolves, who cares? Chris Wright does I suppose. 

There was an eight year gap in this series so it might be interesting to read though purely to think about changes in writing style. 




CRIME! - Varnagantua! 

A Crime is doing! Solution? More and better crime! 

2020 – Bloodlines 

2022 - The Vorbis Conspiracy 

In bloodlines Wriaght writes what I think is the first in 40ks Crime series, all set in Varangantua, a Hive City but not a 'Hive City' if you get me 

Here we follow a mid level police guy who is horribly morally compromised but trying to do the right thing in a system in which everyone is horribly morally compromised and sometimes trying to do the right thing. 

The B-plot or background is the main character slowly being drawn into a genestealer cult, which he does  not know or realise is a Genestealer cult - probably he is already infected and his new kid is going to come out looking 'different'. 

Core crime plot is the system doing horrible things to young people to get the materials to make rejuvenat treatments (the rich sure do like their eternal life drugs) - the normal supplies are out and everything is strained because its post great rift and the Imperium is bollocked. 

Notable as well for being the first Varangantua story of many. at least two of the main books, 'Bloodlines' and 'The Wraithbone Phoenix' I have read and enjoyed. 

In ‘The Vorbis Conspiracy’ a bunch of writers do short stories set in and around Varangantua during and after a giant disaster. The different stories follow the various threads and causes of the catastrophe and all the secrets and lies around it. 



2018 - Lords of Silence 

An oddity! A Death Guard book! Man we all wish 'The Buried Dagger' had been this good. 

Turns out they are just some swell guys. You would think it would be a challenge to make the literal plague marines sympathetic, and probably it was, but Wraight manages it and produces probably the best Death Guard book ever. 

Not much to say about this except that its very good? 



The Cerebral Counter-Puncher 

SO MANY of Wraights primary characters are in some sense ‘ahead of the game’, having thought faster than both the other characters and the readers, and are planning several moves ahead while giving nothing away. Both Valdor and Valoris of the Custodes are very typical of this. As is the Khan. 

In a way it makes his books sightly harder to read/listen to, since their progress really isn’t much like an adventure story. They are often more like detective stories or mysteries, even when they seemingly aren’t. Often a huge amount about character and motivation is implied rather than stated, quite unusual for the pseudo-greek-tragedy of the Heresy. 


The Golden Throne = Murder Toilet 

A curiously commonly repeated trope with Wraight is that the Golden Throne is a deliberate pain-engine, or based around one at least. This comes up in ‘The Path of Heaven’ when Yesugi sits on the lesser throne, and again in the Vaults of Terra series with its throne-based overplot. 


Information Control 

Both limited information known to characters in the Dark Millenium, and also the deliberate redaction and alteration of history, wars and conflicts over history and its meaning. 

In Vaults of Terra, Crowl doesn’t know there were more than nine Primarchs and this guy is an Inquisitors. In the work of other writers this stuff gets dropped more readily and more easily. 

Valdors conversation with copy lady in ‘Birth of the Imperium’, the overplot of the Vorbis Conspiracy (though that may not have been Wraight), lots of ‘Bloodlines’ and of course, ‘The Great Angel’. Also spread throughout his other works. Everyone is arguing about who should be allowed to know what when, despite knowing little themselves. 


Human/Transhuman Conflict 

The idea of a germinating conflict between Humans and Transhumans is riddled through a lot of Wraights stuff, with elements of the Inquisition, Admanistratum, Ecclesiarchy, Assassanorium and perhaps, Custodes really really not liking Imperial dependence on mutants, psykers, blanks, navigators and especially FUCKING ASTARTES, (pus the fucking PRIMARCH). There are regular low-level conflicts around the ‘Transhuman Question’. 

After all, it’s the ‘Imperium of Man’ and the Emperor apparently (based in the most recent siege book) built the whole thing to preserve a core of humanity. But humanity can only survive through employing its transhuman ‘limbs’, whether those be psychic, mutated, gene-altered, cybernetic or anything else. We can think of the Imperium as a kind of janky transhuman containment and exploitation system, designed to maximise the utility from each of these transhuman arms without any of them totally taking over and ‘eating’ the baseline population. 

Malcador and the nascent inquisition seem to be a big part of this even as early as the Crusade. Purges and wars to stop the Primarchs and Astartes from getting too powerful. It probably seemed like a good idea at some point, armies in decay are highly dangerous to civilisation, so why not allow them to turn on one another, bring the numbers down and confirm or reveal the more-loyal ones? 


He Walks the Margins! 

A lot of Wraights successes have been when he has come in at the margins of larger stories, which themselves often weren't being handled 'perfectly' and has fucking aced it, being not only good, but good by comparison, and getting lots of hugs from fans relieved that he has helped prop up the main thing they went in for 

In a few cases character literally walk into and out of the scene after or before the big 'main characters' have left or arrived, and do their own sneaky business in the margins and its actually a better story. 

In Vaults of Terra, the Chancellor figure arrives just in time to see Guilliman fighting demons on the palace steps and is utterly and totally mindfucked and both inspired but also traumatised. Observing the great events of an epic history from the margins allows Wraight to have his cake (or at least take a sneaky peek at it) and enjoy the HUGE THINGS HAPPENING but also to exploit the power differential between the observers and the HUGE THINGS. 

Wraights began like this with ‘Scars’, and with 'Vaults of Terra' and 'Watchers of the Throne' he has told paired stories before and after the 'Main Event' of the Great Rift and Guillimans return. That has its own books describing events directly, but Wraights are better. 


He did a Feminism! 

Wraight might be the best 40k writer at weaving women into his stories in strong roles in ways that don't necessarily TRIGGER me. 

Counting down we have Logistics Ojo-Sama Illyria Ravelion in the White Scars series, Crows assistant Inquisitor bonk-stick lady in in Vaults of Terra, (who becomes the main character after Crowl goes fully mental), Cop Lady in ‘Valdor’, creepy Sanguinius Yandere in ‘The Great Angel’, Aleya in ‘Watchers. 

All ‘strong’ i.e. interesting characters with highly differentiated worldviews and behaviours neatly woven into the story in actually-useful ways that 'feel' less woke than ADB (though Wraight is probably exactly as woke). No crushing ‘hello boys’ or ‘marvel tech-girl’ moments. 

Of course there is something to say for yet another Abnett-Paragon, and even more to say for yet another ADB EDGE-LADY. I doubt Wraight would ever have the BALLS to have a super-cool Dark Eldar girlfriend with WINGS who HATES YOU but is also INTO YOU and also you have a MAGICAL GOTH WOLF pet but you HATE WOLVES but this one is OK I GUESS. 

Is Chris Wraight the MOST Feminist Warhammer writer? I dunno but he may be the BEST Feminist Warhammer writer because you don’t see him doing it 



Could authority corrupt somehow? It’s a bold stance. 

Wraight has said (roughly) that he views chaos as more a deepening and corroding of personality flaws and internal issues that are already present in us all. 

This is a pretty solid, even a very good take to assume, for storytelling. Peter Fehervari in his ‘Dark Coil’ has specialised in chaos-as-personal-madness, with an imperceptible flow between slow personality failures, madness and reality decay so that it becomes impossible to tell exactly when things went too far. 

It will always be in conflict with elements of Warhammer, as it is with any genre-cosmos where utterly evil supernatural forces are a verified real thing. The call is not coming from inside the house, there are massive rape demons out there and we didn’t make them, pervy aliens did.. 

So in this universe, spooky scary otherness can’t  be a pure reflection of internal angst and, for the most part, Wraight manages the impossible interface well. There are only two times where he has gone full-libtard, once in the Sigismund/Kharn fight, where Kharn goes; 

“Aren’t you more fucked up than me tho really bro?” 

Despite being a literally-lobotomised mess. 

And in ‘The Regents Shadow’ where the rebellious Hexarchy are SECRETLY BREXITEERS. 

But other than that, its not too bad. 



‘Little Lords’ - I think Wraight creates this term in 'Lords of Silence' 

And in probably the most well-known scene in Warhawk, Typhus aims to remain in contact with his co-conspirators by handing him one of a pair of NURGLINGS and using them as walkie talkies. 

Typhus retrieved two objects from the fly-swirled depths of his armour. Or maybe they retrieved themselves, for they were creatures of some kind, fat little things, pocked with sores and boils, with mouths that took up almost all their bulk. They were noisy when they moved. It sounded like they were giggling, or whispering to one another, or just spitting and slobbering. They wobbled up to Typhus' outstretched palms, one on each, and gurned at each other. 

Crosius found himself instantly captivated. They smelled strongly, and were as hideously ugly as any dream-goblin of his imagination, but he had to fight not to take them both up into his arms, to pet them, to stroke their spiny backs and fondle their horned scalps. 

'What are these?' he asked. 

'Fragments of the god himself, it appears,' said Typhus, sounding uncharacteristically affectionate himself. 'The tiniest reflections, but they are appealing, no?' 

One of them was almost black, its skin shining dully. The other was almost white, as matt as chalk. They cooed and smirked beneath his gaze, rocking back and forth. 

'Fascinating,' said Crosius. 'Utterly fascinating.' 

Thats it! Top Tier on that alone baby!