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Enough of Istvaan

4539 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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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?
If this is the case (I truly hope it isn't) it seems a bit counter-intuitive. You get all your big authors on board for a huge and expansive series that makes the New York Best Sellers and transcends the 40k hobby and its fans, and get readers seriously invested by producing quality work like First Heretic, Know No Fear, Legion, and A Thousand Sons.

Then when the A Listers get bored you hand it off to the B List writers, and produce poor, pointless shorts covering ground already well covered, or not worth covering in the first place, and drive away your hard established fan base. From a purely business angle that seems pretty dumb.
Hence why I've long advocated the idea that the "Only a few people are ever able to become Space Marines" bit really comes down to many Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes having lost a lot of the Space Marine creation how-to (something that is actually stated outright in the original Index Astartes articles) and/or them making it artificially difficult on themselves.
I'd buy that if it was something they did only periodically. But they are recruiting constantly, so I can't see how they would lose the tech or knowledge regarding the transformation process. We"re talking about beings with enhanced eidetic memories and the most advanced tech the Imperium possesses. It's not like they'd just forget it all. And if something broke they would move mountains to fix/replace it.

It's worth remembering just how old those IA articles are, and how far the fluff has advanced since then.
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