In the Bloody, Grimdark, Future, There is Only Testosterone
Posted by Corelin
To be a man in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. It is to live in the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable. These are the tales of those times. Forget the power of technology and science, for so much has been forgotten, never to be relearned. Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim dark future there is only war. There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of thirsting gods.
-Rogue Trader and damn near every main rulebook ever.
So writing any fiction in the Warhammer 40k universe has some issues for me. It’s a stretch. I like writing about diverse characters, men and women, strong and weak, outgoing and introspective, noble and degenerate. You really don’t get that a lot in the grimdark. The heroes are intolerant, “noble” in the harshest of senses, the villains are far more interesting running the gamut from the truly and bestially depraved to, well, heretics like you and me. No, I’m not kidding. We’re heretics to them. PURGE YOURSELF!
The tech of the grimdark is very interesting, especially when you deal with the arcane mysticism that has swum up around it. It’s amazing, highly powered, high tech stuff, and no one has really any idea how it works, it’s all the machine spirit. There’s some interesting writing to be done there.
Even the battles are problematic. Marines are organized into chapters of 1000 marines. The Battle company I listed has a little over 120 marines. Let’s say I throw them into a huge battle and get tabled. That’s 1/8th of the Dark Angels! It’s really over 1/4 of their active strength as 4 companies are reserves, 1 is a scout company, and the Deathwing/Ravenwing are mixed with the Battle Companies to such an extent that they really just build out the 3 Battle Companies and stretch them a bit to 4 or 5 deployable forces. So how do I write these battles up? I mean I can have a lot of lightly wounded and good treatment, and Marines are quite hardy, but it’s going to take some creativity to keep them from dying in job lots to the kinds of weapons you run into routinely in the 41st millenium, and it takes 8-10 years to get a replacement ready and up to speed. Years. Even the British Regulars didn’t take that long and I can lose 25% of their deployable force in a long, awful Sunday.
I am looking forward to meeting these challenges. It’s an interesting universe to write in and having such one-dimensional characters to begin with make writing them in a more nuanced fashion a challenge. Too much nuance and I’m far out of canon. Too little and it’s just testosterone filled blood and guts. Should be interesting to walk the line.