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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-27-13, 05:37 AM
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Is it too late to jump onto the Monty bandwagon? I agree that on a death world, kids would grow up fast. Not long ago I was watching a program about survival which cited tests that showed a child's ability to adapt for survival. They tend to adapt in a way that makes them lean more towards being savage, not so civil and mature as we see in Descent. In point of fact... I kept thinking the kids were a lot older, that somehow I was missing a time lapse somewhere.
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-27-13, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by aerogems View Post
It's easy to sit back and take pot shots after the fact, but for an adult to accurately write a child character is not as easy as it sounds.
Of course not. It's hardly impossible, though. And besides, that doesn't mean someone can't raise their hand and point out that they didn't go a good job in that case, though. That's the right of anyone who spent money on something and was legitimately dissatisfied with it.

And besides, this is a forum specifically for discussing fiction. What's the point of it if you can't offer opinion?

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Or you could just, I don't know, let it go and enjoy the story for what it is instead of picking over every single little minor detail. It's fiction for crying out loud. You're able to suspend belief ...
That's just the thing: the number one job of a fiction writer is to enable that suspension of disbelief.

Now, while I'm on this tangent, allow me to retract one of my criticisms against Mr. Scanlon. I said he did a poor job of depicting Caliban as a death world, but at the end of the day the most defining aspect of that planet was its population of Chaos-warped beasts. Zahariel and Nemiel join up at around the half-way point of the Crusade to destroy these monsters, and it's fair to say that, by this point, the Order should have done a proper job of securing the areas around their headquarters. Ergo, it's quite plausible that he never really had to worry about describing the effect Caliban's eco-system would have had on people.

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... that people migrated to this planet thousands of years ago, that the birth of what is essentially an extra-dimensional god from an alien species' indulgence in excesses is why this planet was isolated for thousands of years.
Because that's the setting, that's why. If the author starts off his novel with something like, "1985 was the hottest summer on record for New York City," you have no reason to dispute what the author is telling you. You're accepting certain premises with any sort of fiction. Suspension of disbelief is ruined when the author disregards the concepts and themes that drive the fiction.

In some cases, that can be something blatant. For instance, a lot of people dislike C.S. Goto's 40k fiction because it features Terminators who can do back-flips. This ruins suspension of disbelief for them, because Terminators have always been described as juggernauts who sacrifice speed and agility in favor of amazing protection. In this case, it's something more nuanced: nine years who don't act like nine year-olds.

Don't get me wrong, I do think that anyone is entitled to dispute Monty's opinion and make their case that the author does effectively describe them as appropriate nine year-olds given Caliban's setting. I don't think Monty or anyone else is out of line for bringing that up as an issue, though.

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You don't seem to have any real problems accepting that The Lion managed to survive out in the Caliban forests as an infant.
Why should I? One of the central premises of this setting is that the Primarchs are superhuman beings with genius intellects and an innate understanding of how certain things work. They grow at an astonishing rate, and even as infants can be deadly.

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Genetically engineered super-human or not, where did he find food, water, clothing, shelter?
"Normal" Space Marines can survive on normally inedible material, can go long stretches without food or hydration, and are able to easily survive through exposure and temperature extremes. Why wouldn't a Primarch?

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How did he not get eaten by predators while he slept?
"Normal" Space Marines don't need to sleep for weeks at a time thanks to their Catalepsean Node. I doubt Primarchs are any weaker.

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You don't have any problems accepting that The Emperor can basically psychically manipulate his own cellular structure to make himself effectively immortal and having lived for tens of thousands of years even by the time these stories are taking place. You're able to accept all kinds of other completely improbable things by today's standards, but you draw the line at kids sounding too adult? Really?!
Of course I don't have a problem with it. Virtually everything you mentioned above falls within things that are a given within 40k. If we used your mindset, then no fantasy or science fiction is plausible, since all of it fundamentally defies what we know to be real. It comes down to the parameters of the setting.

I have the obligation to accept certain themes and concepts of the fantasy I'm reading. For instance, Superman has amazing powers that are fueled by our sun. Achilles was made nearly invulnerable by being dipped in the River Styx. In this case, the 40k universe is a dystopia defined by god-like creatures that rule a parallel existence that is a psychic reflection of our own material universe; their chief opponent was a superhuman psyker who used advanced technology and (probably) sorcerous powers to create twenty other super-beings who were in turn used to create an army of super-soldiers. Again, if I refuse to accept these things, there's no point to any of this. Everything from 'The Iliad' to 'Star Wars' becomes a colossal waste of time.

For his part, the author has an obligation to stay operate within those defined parameters. Dismissing them (Superman is not affected by kryptonite; Achilles is stabbed in the gut) ruins suspension of disbelief.

In this case, Monty's complaint has to do with something that has to do with the normal human experience rather than a specific theme in 40k. He feels nine year-olds should behave like nine year-olds unless the author convincingly qualifies why they shouldn't. Is this a valid complaint? Why not? 'Star Wars' isn't a story just about the powers Jedi enjoy. The central conflict involved a generation story about ambition, fall, and redemption. If Luke Skywalker doesn't feel at all conflicted when he discovers that his father is the right hand man of a tyrant who is willing to kill billions to have his way, is a watcher not entitled to complain? Why is it different when characters don't potentially act either as kids that grew up within living memory of horrific conditions or even as normal children? And again, if you feel like those kids should be acting the way they do, that's fair - offer your counterpoints. I just don't think it's valid to tell someone to basically "shut up and color".

I mean, If a person can't expect his pleasure or disapproval over a piece of fiction on a forum designed for just that, then what's the point of said forum?

Cheers,
P.

Last edited by Phoebus; 06-27-13 at 03:00 PM.
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-27-13, 08:08 PM
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I wasn't bothered by the age of Zahariel and Nemiel because I figured that time is probably measured differently on Caliban than let's say on Terra. So their age could be as well 14 years Terran standard but on Caliban they are 9 years old. Do I make sense?

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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-27-13, 09:55 PM
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The problem with that is, if they been older than their stated number of years by the time the Imperium showed up, they would have been too old to become Space Marines.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-28-13, 03:51 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord of the Night View Post
*SNIP*
You see, I think a good authour should be able to distinguish among 1) a child brought up in comfortable environment, 2) a chile brought up in a harsh environment, and 3) fully mature adults.

An upbringing on a deathworld is not an excuse for writing a child completely as an adult. I think a skilled authour (Abnett, ADB or Wraight) would at least attempted to portray a deathworld child as a deathworld child.

A deathworld child should be a mix of precocious maturity with some childlike qualities. A 9 year old boy's brain isn't fully developed yet. Emotionally and intellectually, he should still be far from fully mature. He should be a tough and resourceful child, not a tough and resourceful adult.

I think a deathworld child should be a very interesting and memorable character. Instead Zahariel and Nemiel just read like typical adults.

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Originally Posted by cheeto View Post
They tend to adapt in a way that makes them lean more towards being savage, not so civil and mature as we see in Descent
Yes like Lord of the Flies. Zahariel and Nemiel sound like adult (or at least teenage) knights.

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Originally Posted by Thyr View Post
I wasn't bothered by the age of Zahariel and Nemiel because I figured that time is probably measured differently on Caliban than let's say on Terra. So their age could be as well 14 years Terran standard but on Caliban they are 9 years old. Do I make sense?
I wish that were the case...something like Fenrisian Great Years, but Phoebus raises why that probably isn't the case

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Originally Posted by Phoebus View Post
I'm with you, Monty. Fact of the matter is, you can't excuse an author for a lack of appropriate depiction of characters on the basis of them living on a Death World... when the same author does a poor job of conveying the fact they're on a Death World to begin with. Brass tacks, the Beasts play a rather minimal role in terms of defining the setting and the tone of 'Descent of Angels'. They definitely don't convey the idea that Caliban is a place inimical to human life. The depiction of Caliban in 'Descent' doesn't even approach the dangers and hardships that existed in real-life environments. That takes away from the concept that these kids are serious and mature on account of their super-deadly environment.
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Originally Posted by Angel of Blood View Post
I'm with Monty as well. Aside from the glaringly obvious lack of danger that Phoebus has already pointed out, I'm still in agreement with Monty that some effort should have been made to show their age. Yes I can understand children having to grow up fast in harsh worlds, but there would still be signs they are children and very young. Where as the Zachariel and Nemiel are as Monty said, written exactly like adults, if you were never told they were nine at the start, you would never know.
I'm glad I'm not alone in my opinion. I felt that the authour didn't bother to write these characters as precocious children. Rather he gave us adults who speak in quite a stilted civil manner.
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post #16 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-28-13, 05:45 PM
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Noticed this aswell. These dont behave like 9y olds, bad living conditions or not. But i rank Fallen Angels also to bottom three on all Heresy books, think Descent was better.
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post #17 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-28-13, 07:33 PM
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I'm with Monty, P, Angel and others.

Obviously, children growing up on "death worlds" would have a different mindset and perspective to those who didn't. But it is a two-fold fault of the author: firstly by failing to portray Caliban actually as a "death world", and secondly by failing to portray Z and N as young children (albeit young children living on a "death world".)



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post #18 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-30-13, 05:38 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Child-of-the-Emperor View Post
and secondly by failing to portray Z and N as young children (albeit young children living on a "death world".)
Yes, I don't think and adult is a substitute for a 9 year old raised on a death world. I would've liked it if the authour tried to write a more nuanced portrayal.

For instance, ADB's Hyperion is a Grey Knight, but ADB doesn't just give us a fanatic killing machine. Hyperion actually displays some child-like innocence because he's recently inducted and also because he's been transformed at such a young age. It rather makes sense that novice space marines should be rather immature in some ways.

In Fallen Angels, we get people who act and sound completely like adults at the age of 9...and the deathworld doesn't even come across as that dangerous
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post #19 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-30-13, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by hailene View Post
I haven't read it since it came out buuuut...

I'd assume that's what happens when you live on a death world. You either mature (both physically and mentally) very quickly or die. Actually make that and/or die.

You have to start cultivating some very strong logic and reasoning skills early on.
Child development and psychology does not work that way. I understand how an adult may assume that is how it would work, but in fact, it is the complete opposite.

I'm based in Canada so I only know from reading reports on refugee children in our education system (and a few school visits) but I'm sure you can find similar reports in your countries. These are children who grow up in war torn countries and are forced to abandon their homes to move to another country. Some of them have been forced to work at a young age. That's going to be as close as you can get to the situations of the people in that book.

Many of these children come with psychological problems that require special assistance in order for them to acclimate to Canadian society. Stunted social-emotional development is a common characteristic for these children. Their ability to reason and perform critical thinking (cognitive development) could also be affected by their experiences. Anxiety is the number one outward sign of these students. Being calm and rational would be... well, it would be irrational.

No, I don't do this for fun. It's part of my job. I never thought I would talk about anything related to my job on a WH40K forum!

For the record, I never finished Fallen Angels so I can't comment too much on how they're portrayed. The portrayal of the children wasn't the reason I stopped though; it's a WH40K novel so I'm used to suspending my belief about...well, everything. It just wasn't a book I could get into.

Read some more of the posts:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord of the Night View Post
I disagree, when you consider what it'd be like to grow up on a Death World it'd be impossible for a child to be immature for a second longer than they can afford to be. A nine year old is old enough to work, that was true in our world only a century or two ago, but on a world where monsters are the ones who actually rule it's a necessity that children would become productive as early as possible, and that would mature them damn quickly.

LotN
I believe you're equating physical development to psychological(encompassing social, emotional, and cognitive) development. A 9 year old child is, of course, able to perform some jobs and that is sadly the case in many African and South Asian countries. However, being in those situations does not 'mature' a child any faster. In fact, extreme situations such as those would hamper psychological development.

PS - I highly recommend the book http://www.amazon.com/The-Boy-Raised-Psychiatrists-Notebook-What/dp/0465056539. It's not a book written for academics; it's written for the general public. It's a book with stories about real children that grew up in unimaginable situations. I assume these are the type of children Nemiel and Zahariel would have been similar to... It definitely would have made for a very different book.

Last edited by sadLor; 06-30-13 at 08:08 PM.
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post #20 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-01-13, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Roninman View Post
Noticed this aswell. These dont behave like 9y olds, bad living conditions or not. But i rank Fallen Angels also to bottom three on all Heresy books, think Descent was better.
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Originally Posted by MontytheMighty View Post
In Fallen Angels, we get people who act and sound completely like adults at the age of 9...and the deathworld doesn't even come across as that dangerous
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Originally Posted by sadLor View Post
For the record, I never finished Fallen Angels so I can't comment too much on how they're portrayed.
Uhm, 'Descent' was about the nine year-olds. 'Fallen' was set fifty-ish years later.

Here's my take on what children from Caliban would be like - for what it's worth.

Caliban would require every child to undergo something like the Agoge of Sparta, though with less focus on loyalty to the state. Any child expected to make it would have to be trained to endure hardship. Exposure to combat and weapon proficiency via increasingly brutal lessons would be a given. Lack of resources would mean recurring hunger. Nonetheless, children and young adults would need to engage in rigorous physical activity to keep as fit as possible.

Thus, physically speaking, children of Caliban would be like forest Fremen (see 'Dune'): shorter than average and probably blade-thin, but with wiry musculatures and not a pound wasted on them.

Psychologically speaking, I think it would be a hard task to overestimate the amount of psychological trauma that would be exhibited by these children. Unlike the Fremen of 'Dune', there doesn't appear to be any conditioning vis-a-vis religious doctrine that provides a reason for the brutality and privation of the Calibanites' existence. Virtually every child from Caliban will have seen family, friends, and neighbors die horribly throughout their young lives. Lack of trust wouldn't be so much of an issue, since everyone would have to be a survivor by definition. Rare would be the occasion when a child-survivor would open up outside his immediate family, since the casualty rate among those they care about would be so high. Conversely, when they did summon the courage to develop a bond with another, their death would send them into an even worse spiral. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-like conditions and thousand-yard stares would be almost ubiquitous.

Is that unrealistic?

Caliban is a Death World whose danger to human life was informed, first and foremost, by Chaos-tainted Beasts. We don't have many details beyond that, but I like AD-B's musings (posted on one forum or another, I can't remember which) on what other dangers that planet might pose. Some of these are from his post, others are from my brain:

Flora on Caliban would have been routinely unusable as fuel or construction material. It would have posed a threat in more ways than one; some species would be carnivorous, others would have poisonous sap, etc. Fauna, especially insects, could spread disease very quickly. Merely securing "real estate" and keeping it clear for agriculture would have been a difficult proposition for Calibanites. Hunting/gathering, which would have required going into Beast-dominated wilderness, would have been highly dangerous.

Technology would have been lower than standard because the environment was so hostile that the descendants of the colonists regressed. Like the comic 'Xenozoic Tales' (don't laugh, Wiki it), technology probably remained the province of a select few wise souls, who were entrusted with ever fewer remaining machines - chainswords, pistols, primitive power armour, etc. Certain knowledge would thus have been retained, but humanity on Caliban would have been unable to actually maintain or generate real industry. Imagine Mad Max on Endor, if the forest moon was made of poison and disease, and full of predators that were 50% daemon, 50% nature's chainsaw, and lived only to eviscerate you.

Permanent military forces (knightly orders) existed because there were constant threats, and they were greater than what amateur militia forces could handle. They would have served a larger purpose, though, I think. Besides being defenders against the Beasts, I think the orders would also have protected the Calibanites from themselves in a way... Meaning, the hardships of Caliban would have inevitably pushed its people to barbarity. It would be inevitable. Best case scenario, they go the Fenrisian route and fight each other ruthlessly for resources. Worst case scenario, they end up like the typical inhabitants of Feral Worlds - hunting for heads and marauding as they like. By taking up a chivalric model, the knightly orders weren't just defenders - they were also an ideal of behavior.

Last edited by Phoebus; 07-01-13 at 12:23 PM.
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