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Enough of Istvaan

4563 Views 38 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  forkmaster
Last week I was sitting in a meeting* of all the Horus Heresy authors as they discussed the over arching storyline for HH and what new stories they could give us.

Christian Dunn, Laurie Goulding, Nick Kyme and Lindsey Priestley were sitting in their thrones at the head of the table. The rest of the authors sat along both sides of the table.

Laurie Goulding was the first to speak.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I am glad we could all get together, in spite of our busy schedules, to discuss the future of the Horus Heresy series. We have some exciting ideas to discuss with you all. We would like start by congratulating Nick Kyme for his stellar new novel, Scorched Earth.

This is the blurb we're putting on the website, 'Nearly a quarter of a million loyal Space Marines lost their lives on Isstvan V – the Dropsite Massacre lasted only a few hours, and yet the Iron Hands, Raven Guard and Salamanders were slaughtered by those they had once called kin.'

I think you'll all agree, this is exciting stuff and exactly what we need to be making more of"

Nick smiles and moves in closer to the table with his hands clasped together.
"Laurie is right", he said, looking into the eyes of the surrounding authors, "And now I have the unpleasant task of reprimanding several of you. David Annandale, Graham McNeill, Dan Abnett, you are all great writers, but you have failed us. You have failed us greatly and it is at this meeting that we will discuss how to move ahead in our new direction".

The room became thick with hesitation and confusion. Dan, with a look of total vexation, was the first to speak, "I don't understand. How have we failed? Our stories were loved by our readers, they sold well and we think we did a great job progressing the story line".

Nick Kyme bit hard on his lip, glaring at Dan with a murderous rage. It was at that moment that Laurie put his hand on Nick's shoulder in order to calm him.

"Progressing the story line? Hah. You speak as though you are doing something noble and yet it is right here that you have failed." mocked Laurie. "You all failed because your novels failed to include Istvaan in any way. You let your childish desires move the plot on too far. For whom do you work? This is Games Workshop, we do not progress plot lines. Why do you think the 40k series is perpetually stuck in M41.999? We do many things, but progressing a story arch is NOT ONE OF THEM!"

Stunned, Dan fell back into his chair.

Nick looked around and drank from a mug of tea before continuing, "We have already covered Istvaan from the perspective of the Emperors Children, the Raven Guard, the Salamanders, the Iron Hands and also in multiple short novellas. We have dozens of stories telling the exact same story from different perspectives and we have no desire to stop now, not when there are so many more opportunities open to us.

We may have covered most of the legions, but what about their support staff? We could have dozens of stories featuring members of the human support staff. Imagine a story about a chef in one of the nameless companies and how he views the battle. We could even take things in an abstract way and show the battle from the perspective of a rock or a bullet. Imagine how exciting that would be! We already published a story about the history of a knife. How about a story talking about a bullets journey through Istvaan and all that it saw. We certainly haven't discussed the death of Ferras Manus enough. We could publish at least 5 or 6 more stories about Ferrus dying but from a multitude of angles.

The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, we plan to set the next 35 Horus Heresy stories in and around the events of Istvaan. Lets face it, we don't have much material to work with. We have Istvaan, Calth and then it's straight on to the siege of Terra."

It was at that point that Graham McNeill stood up, and with a slight waiver in his voice pleaded, "We are authors. Creative writers. We will make up the material. We will create the stories which fill the gaps between Istvaan, Calth and Terra. I don't understand why we have to make endless stories about a battle which has been written about to the point of tedium. Do any of our readers want to read about Istvaan any more? Surely the events which took place there have been described in enough detail."

Graham fell back suddenly from the force of Nick's violent kick to the head.

"NO! You wretched scribe. You putrid scrivener of prose. NO! The readers are not tired of Istvaan. They call out for more. They don't want to see the story progress to Terra because they are scared. They are scared that the stories will reach a climax and they will no longer be able to shower us with their money as they buy our overpriced hardback novels. Do you want them to cry? DO YOU?!

And once we've finished with Istvaan, we have such sights to show you in Calth. Imagine, hundred of short stories about the tunnel warfare on that radioactive planet! With Istvaan and Calth alone we could keep the series going for another 34 years. It will be beautiful."

Christian Dunn slowly stood to his feet, glanced around the room with a smile and said, "So, do we all understand? We are not to progress the story in any way and are to release endless stories about how depressed the legions feel about Istvaan. Dan, Graham, David, I hope to see some more appropriate stories from you all. Perhaps a story from the perspective of a Iron Warriors soldier watching that battle from the walls. That will be exciting, wont it?"

The meeting adjourned and the writers left in a stunned silence.

*Note: I have never sat in a meeting of the Horus Heresy authors.

TLDR: Jesus Christ am I bored of them retelling the story of Istvaan from every possible angle. If they're not retelling it directly, they are constantly referencing it and describing it in small flashbacks. Am I alone in this or would anyone else like to see the story arch progress a little further?
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These epic war machines which supposedly take decades to manufacture are being thrown around and destroyed in a single battle. In my mind they lose their stature when they are discarded in such a nonchalant way.

In some of the space battles we see multitudes of battlecruisers explode. These are ships which have crews in the tens of thousands and take generations (I would assume 50+ years) to construct.
This is partly due to the differences between the 30k and 40k Imperium. During the time of the great crusade the Imperium had access to greater resources and were less technophobic than they are in 41st millenium. In the present, your right in that it does take a very long time to produce things like titans and starships, but thats because they no longer have access to the manufacturing capabilities they did prior to the Heresy (when the majority of that infrastructure was destroyed.)

I no longer feel connected or concerned about the battles won and lost by the legions when I know that in the next novel they will have magically acquired battleships, tanks, titans and soldiers from nowhere to easily replace their losses and throw back into the maelstrom.
Remember that:
1. The galaxy is a very big place
2. We have not necessarily seen all of certain legions gathered together in one fleet during the Age of Darkness

I'd just like to see them push the story forwards a little and address the issue of military attrition the Rebels must be facing. We hear a lot about the shattered Loyalist forces and how they're struggling to fight on effectively, but since we've seen numerous Rebel defeats, we've not even seen a hint that it may be affecting them. It would be nice to see them address the issue of dwindling manpower.
Thats just it though, are they really dwindling in strength? Or, perhaps, are they allowing the weaker elements of their legions to be killed while other maters are attended to? (Like Horus gaining power like that of the Emperor, or Fulgrim ascending to a greater power, or Lorgar creating the ruinstorm and transforming Angron, or Mortarion trying to turn the Khan.)

I know it's very easy to say, "Just don't read them", but I, like many of you, have become very invested in the characters and the story.
So have I, but it hasn't stopped me from not picking up Vulkan Lives or The Damnation of Pythos.

Look at 2013! Betrayer, Vulkan Lives, Scars, Unremembered Empire and the anthologies of Imperial Truth and Mark of Calth. I really enjoyed all of those books.

Now look at 2014. Vengeful Spirit and Damnation of Pythos being the only full novels. I've already given my opinion of those. Sedition's Gate, Legacies of Betrayal Death and Defiance...well, there were a few short stories I liked from each, but anthologies just don't compare with a nice meaty novel. It's like going to a restaurant and only being able to order canapés when all you really want is a nice big steak.
Could this possibly be due to a change in focus from longer novels to shorter stories while the authors work on other things than just the Heresy series?
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Keep in mind that some of the figures the books give are casualties rather than outright losses. Then remember the technology available for the time, where the legions are capable of rapid acceleration in recruitment with significantly greater resources. (Remember that Luther had gotten the process down to a few years and that was only with the resources of Caliban.)
Sure, lets say that the heretics go to a few planets and take the entire population and turn them into space marines in the space of 2 or 3 years. Now they all have marines coming out of their ass. They have a billion marines per legion.
Not really, as you'll later go on to mention the process may be better at this time period but that does not mean they can take just anyone.

Then lets say that they can build battle cruisers in the space of 2 months. Sure, they used to take decades to build, but now they have magic stuff and can poop them out without a thought.
No one is really saying that though, remember that the Imperium of the Great Crusade is larger and more powerful than the current Imperium and they have been on a constant war footing to expand outward for the last two hundred years. To believe they are constantly working on the construction of new ships, or perish the thought of them rebuilding/repairing lost ones, is not a terrible stretch of the imagination.

All those tanks they lost? No problem! They'll go to Tanks'R'Us and pick up some new ones.
As I said a moment ago in regards to starships..

The logistics of moving that many tanks and men through the warp? Not a problem, the Heretics control the warp.
This is something the Crusade era Imperium has been dealing with for centuries now you know.

You want 20 new Titans to replace the ones lost on Molech? Give me 5 minutes and I'll have you back to full strength.
You do understand that both the Heresy and the Scouring (the seven years of fighting following the end of the Heresy) are the events which destroy significant portions of resources like titans or starships or planetary infrastructures. Yes the traitors can replenish their losses of titans fairly quickly following the fighting of Molech, thats because there are more titan legions whose strength, until this point, has really just been growing.

Lets not also forget that although the Dark Angels have training and implantation down to 2 years, it doesn't mean that they can accept any kid. As far as I'm aware (unless I missed it in the novels) the percentage of people who can become an Astartes is still quite small.
Thats very correct, the number of people capable of even being made space marines (even during this era) is small. Your candidate age range is 13-17 and males only.

In the US, there are roughly 321,590,000 people of which 3.37% of the population are males ages 13-17. Lets assume a civilized world consists of 10 billion people and follows the same population ratio, that gives you a candidate potential of 33.7 million. Now lets say that only a tenth of that meets the physical, genetic, and mental standards required to survive implantation; you now have 3.4 million. Cut that number down to a third to increase focus on individuals and speed up the process: 1.1 million

Now you cant have barely trained transhumans running around with only a few years training. So lets say the training is grueling, and implanted information takes its toll and half of our starting number is lost: .55 million.

Even with all that, even if you factor in losses in candidate pool when obtaining or other losses due to how different legions operate, you still wind up with enough potential replacements to completely rebuild the Ultramarines legion. Considering that the other legions did not number as many as them, recouping losses isn't as hard to imagine.

And that was all from one world of 10 billion. Now imagine a single hive world.

My entire point was that this lowers the stakes. If every death suffered can easily be replaced by 20 new marines, who cares? Why would I care about the battles when they are utterly meaningless because death has no real impact (except for the loyalists)?
Because a third of the loyalists have put themselves in this position. Guilliman is considering the possibility of Terra already being lost, Dorn has consigned himself to fighting the traitors on Terra, the shattered legions are pinpricks while Sanguinius tries to return to Terra.

The traitors have near free run of the galaxy, to take and use what resources they please while the loyalists seemingly sit on their own hands.

Oh, the Word Bearers just lost 90,000 troops. Ahhh no worries, they'll have them all back next week.
Given the pacts Lorgar has made with the gods himself and his legions use of warp-craft, would this really surprise you?

Hard to replace those soldiers. Eventually you're going to have a shortage of people to recruit from.
People are a near limitless resource for the Imperium though, look at my above for replacing losses. That was one world of 10 billion. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of these worlds in the Imperium. The traitors can realistically rebuild their forces.

Imagine a HH battle! Millions are dying in the space of weeks. Yes, there are Hive worlds, but how many?
Hundreds if not more, the Imperium spans from one end of the known galaxy to the other after all.
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