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Rites of Passage


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#1
aa.logan

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I’m a little surprised that no-one (ie me) has started a thread for one of the (my) most hotly anticipated BL books of the year before now, but having just finished it, I figured that I might as well.

I really enjoyed it, and not (just) because it is the first BL book to my knowledge to feature the word ‘testicle’.

If you’ve read any of Mike Brooks’ Keiko books, you’ll be familiar with his authorial voice, it certainly is by the same writer- but those books feel to me like they could quite easily slot into the 40k universe, so it’s no bad thing. He writes dialogue well, and it’s nicely paced and plotted. The characters are well-rounded with plausible motivations, and the lead is likeable without actually being that nice. It does perhaps get a little silly towards the end- to be honest I’d have been more than happy if the book had just focused on the inter-house machinations, but I can see why the narrative went the way that it did.

The book really builds well on ‘A Common Ground’, though reading that isn’t strictly necessary first, it’s such a good little story, you’d be a fool not to.

The books gives great insights into the Navigatior Houses and their slightly removed relationship with the other branches of the Imperium. Some Of Chetta’s actions may at first seem implausible in the setting of 40k, riding roughshod over tradition and interfering with powerful organisations, but if you take into consideration her high status as the effective head of a Navigator House you appreciate the additional leeway and freedom she has. Being set post-rift gives the story a little more freedom to play with certain aspects of the warp and chaos too. Anyone familiar with some of the more hoary 40k tropes might see a few plot developments from a mile off, but the book is a throughly enjoyable read in addition to being so rich in lore.

One of the reasons I was looking forward so much to this book is the fact it was Mike Brooks- from his first BL story featuring a member of the Astra Militarum with no specified gender (which I’ve not yet gotten round to reading) to the queer Escher of Wanted: Dead, he has explicitly set out to diversify the cast of characters in the 41st Millennium. He’d trailed this as featuring a man married to a man as well as disabilities being central to the plot. I’m personally overjoyed at the eventual inclusion of a (presumably) gay man in 40k, and the protagonist’s physical shortcomings are really well portrayed. Several characters use gender neutral pronouns, and this only adds to the richness of the society the book portrays- if it matters, they all make complete sense in-universe being either of impossibly high social standing from a pretty non-conforming Imperial society or heavily modified members of the Ad Mech.
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#2
b1soul

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I'll say this, nothing wrong with an explicitly gay man in 40K...I'm not sure whether inclusion for the sake of inclusion is something I'd strongly cheer for, but a diversified cast of characters who fit organically into the setting and spice it upsounds, I can get on board with that.
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#3
SkimaskMohawk

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I'll say this, nothing wrong with an explicitly gay man in 40K...I'm not sure whether inclusion for the sake of inclusion is something I'd strongly cheer for, but a diversified cast of characters who fit organically into the setting and spice it upsounds, I can get on board with that.

This.

Concerns about sexual orientation and gender identity shouldn't be a topical thing in a meta-sense. The imperium just shouldn't care as a whole, at all, about individuality. That's my take on it at least, and I tend to like books like Carrion Throne so much because it showcases the imperium at its most...40k.

If there are characters who are attracted to the same sex, they shouldn't be defined by that, just like straight characters. The way the op presented it, makes me unsure if the author is trying to add diversity for its own sake, or to service the narrative.

Edited by SkimaskMohawk, 10 September 2019 - 01:43 AM.

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#4
aa.logan

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I'll say this, nothing wrong with an explicitly gay man in 40K...I'm not sure whether inclusion for the sake of inclusion is something I'd strongly cheer for, but a diversified cast of characters who fit organically into the setting and spice it upsounds, I can get on board with that.


I’m old enough and ugly enough to say that ‘inclusion’ shouldn’t matte to me, but it really *really* does. Ridiculously, it wasn’t really until Wanted: Dead that I realised a 40k book ought to be able to prominently feature non-straight characters. Until this point, I’d kept my mental tally of incidental ones- barely a handful, all female. The author mentioned to me on Twitter that this book features a man with a husband and I was overjoyed.

The Imperium of Man is a horrendous place to live by any standard, but it is one that I devote an awful lot of headspace to. The fact that canonically there are now *people like me* there is disproportionately wonderful. In all honesty if I’d read this book as a youth it may well have been my favourite 40k book ever, just for the three or four mentions in passing to someone having a husband.

Diversity should be added for its own sake. Diversity services the narrative. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.
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#5
mc warhammer

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its interesting that the response has been towards the character’s sexuality and not his disability

here’s the thing; if creatives don’t make a concentrated effort on some level to branch out (whether that be racial, gender, able bodied or sexuality) the tendency is to fall back to the default. we’re so used to the default that it seems “organic” and whenever someone dares to consciously move away from it...we call that “forced” rather than “interesting”

the vast majority of 40k will still be white passing, straight passing males for a while yet. one or two gay imperials won’t upset the grimdark apple cart
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#6
caladancid

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Disability is nothing particularly new in the 40k universe.

Ravenor’s physical disabilities makes Stephen Hawking look like Usain Bolt.
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#7
mc warhammer

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apparently sexuality isn’t new either or is a non issue

so the idea of a book that concentrates or at least highlights one or the other shouldn’t be raise any eyebrows
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#8
caladancid

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apparently sexuality isn’t new either or is a non issue

so the idea of a book that concentrates or at least highlights one or the other shouldn’t be raise any eyebrows


I think I am failing on some level to understand your point so I apologize for that. I also don’t know what “White passing” means.

But if I understand some of it, I don’t think anyone here is saying that the inclusion of x raises eyebrows. I think the point is that a book that includes a variety of x can be one part of great book. A book that says it’s good just because it includes x is not, at least in my opinion. That seems like the fundamental difference, not that it raises eyebrows just because it is in there.
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#9
Lord_Caerolion

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I think he means "white as the default".


"And then Horus landed on the Moon, which looked like the moon. Funny that, isn't it?"


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#10
fire golem

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apparently sexuality isn’t new either or is a non issue

so the idea of a book that concentrates or at least highlights one or the other shouldn’t be raise any eyebrows

I think I am failing on some level to understand your point so I apologize for that. I also don’t know what “White passing” means.

But if I understand some of it, I don’t think anyone here is saying that the inclusion of x raises eyebrows. I think the point is that a book that includes a variety of x can be one part of great book. A book that says it’s good just because it includes x is not, at least in my opinion. That seems like the fundamental difference, not that it raises eyebrows just because it is in there.

I must have missed the part where the book, the author or even the reviewer said it was a good book just because it has diversity?

Like I get what you’re saying, diversity isn’t all it takes to make a good book. But no one claimed otherwise, and yet people immediately pipe up with ‘forced diversity isn’t good’ despite the review not implying that it is forced, or out of place, or the thing the book is trying to ride on.
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#11
caladancid

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apparently sexuality isn’t new either or is a non issue

so the idea of a book that concentrates or at least highlights one or the other shouldn’t be raise any eyebrows

I think I am failing on some level to understand your point so I apologize for that. I also don’t know what “White passing” means.

But if I understand some of it, I don’t think anyone here is saying that the inclusion of x raises eyebrows. I think the point is that a book that includes a variety of x can be one part of great book. A book that says it’s good just because it includes x is not, at least in my opinion. That seems like the fundamental difference, not that it raises eyebrows just because it is in there.
I must have missed the part where the book, the author or even the reviewer said it was a good book just because it has diversity?

Like I get what you’re saying, diversity isn’t all it takes to make a good book. But no one claimed otherwise, and yet people immediately pipe up with ‘forced diversity isn’t good’ despite the review not implying that it is forced, or out of place, or the thing the book is trying to ride on.

I read the discussion about inclusion for inclusions sake to mean exactly that I guess?

#12
fire golem

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apparently sexuality isn’t new either or is a non issue

so the idea of a book that concentrates or at least highlights one or the other shouldn’t be raise any eyebrows

I think I am failing on some level to understand your point so I apologize for that. I also don’t know what “White passing” means.

But if I understand some of it, I don’t think anyone here is saying that the inclusion of x raises eyebrows. I think the point is that a book that includes a variety of x can be one part of great book. A book that says it’s good just because it includes x is not, at least in my opinion. That seems like the fundamental difference, not that it raises eyebrows just because it is in there.
I must have missed the part where the book, the author or even the reviewer said it was a good book just because it has diversity?

Like I get what you’re saying, diversity isn’t all it takes to make a good book. But no one claimed otherwise, and yet people immediately pipe up with ‘forced diversity isn’t good’ despite the review not implying that it is forced, or out of place, or the thing the book is trying to ride on.
I read the discussion about inclusion for inclusions sake to mean exactly that I guess?
But it’s not needed when nothing has implied that the inclusion in the book is for inclusions sake. Bringing it up just because there’s inclusion in the book makes it seem like you’re against inclusion at all. (Royal you there)

Edited by fire golem, 10 September 2019 - 07:02 AM.

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#13
mc warhammer

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I think he means "white as the default".


yes, to a degree

but it also means when a non-white character/person is portrayed/presented with almost completely white traits to the point where they may as well be white. kinda overlaps with whitewashing

irl it would include people with non white backgrounds whose physical features essentially allow them to pass off as white
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#14
aa.logan

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its interesting that the response has been towards the character’s sexuality and not his disability
here’s the thing; if creatives don’t make a concentrated effort on some level to branch out (whether that be racial, gender, able bodied or sexuality) the tendency is to fall back to the default. we’re so used to the default that it seems “organic” and whenever someone dares to consciously move away from it...we call that “forced” rather than “interesting”
the vast majority of 40k will still be white passing, straight passing males for a while yet. one or two gay imperials won’t upset the grimdark apple cart

I work with young people with disabilities and spent some time as my father’s career; I feel I have a reasonable handle on disability, but not having my own experience of it, my response to it in the book is perhaps less pertinent.

I think the usual response to any physical mishap in 40k is to stick a bionic on the ‘malfunctioning’ part; whilst Ravenor is a) an excellent series and b ] a disabled character the stories don’t really explore the mundane realities of life as ‘the Chair’. Aside from the scene where it is (ahem) disabled, there are technological/psychic work-arounds for his disabilities. Eisenhorn has his leg braces, the sniper in the Ghosts has his augmenting eye/jaw (?) etc (Abnett is a key author here, it seems), but all of these are as a result of injury through combat- which makes sense, since these books are fundamentally about war. Until this book I can’t recall another character who disability is just something that they were born with or as a result of an unexplained incident off-camera. Chetta, for (reasons) resists bionics and the story explores and makes a feature of her limited mobility and general physical fraility rather than waving it away with tech/magic.

In this respect I think the book also breaks new ground in covering disability for BL.

Edited by aa.logan, 10 September 2019 - 07:08 AM.

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#15
caladancid

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apparently sexuality isn’t new either or is a non issue

so the idea of a book that concentrates or at least highlights one or the other shouldn’t be raise any eyebrows

I think I am failing on some level to understand your point so I apologize for that. I also don’t know what “White passing” means.

But if I understand some of it, I don’t think anyone here is saying that the inclusion of x raises eyebrows. I think the point is that a book that includes a variety of x can be one part of great book. A book that says it’s good just because it includes x is not, at least in my opinion. That seems like the fundamental difference, not that it raises eyebrows just because it is in there.
I must have missed the part where the book, the author or even the reviewer said it was a good book just because it has diversity?

Like I get what you’re saying, diversity isn’t all it takes to make a good book. But no one claimed otherwise, and yet people immediately pipe up with ‘forced diversity isn’t good’ despite the review not implying that it is forced, or out of place, or the thing the book is trying to ride on.
I read the discussion about inclusion for inclusions sake to mean exactly that I guess?
But it’s not needed when nothing has implied that the inclusion in the book is for inclusions sake. Bringing it up just because there’s inclusion in the book makes it seem like you’re against inclusion at all. (Royal you there)

I do just want to point out that OP did say in his second post that diversity for its own sake was good. So I don’t read it as out of the blue as you do possibly.

And, while I can definitely see how from aa.logan’s perspective the inclusion is a highlight, I can also see how when any sexuality is pointed out as a reason to read the book (which it was here) that others can be wary. It’s a hot button issue, that deserves to be discussed. Honestly I would rather have it here than many other places as most people on these forums seem to want to get along.
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#16
mc warhammer

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my industry is one where able bodied people have traditionally taken jobs that should have gone to disabled people...so i’m interested to read a book where the disabled character isn’t “fixed” or made as acceptably abled as possible. not only is that fresh; it would be interesting to see within the context of 40k where bionics and so forth are the norm

thanks for the review mate; this is now on my radar.
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#17
fire golem

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apparently sexuality isn’t new either or is a non issue

so the idea of a book that concentrates or at least highlights one or the other shouldn’t be raise any eyebrows

I think I am failing on some level to understand your point so I apologize for that. I also don’t know what “White passing” means.

But if I understand some of it, I don’t think anyone here is saying that the inclusion of x raises eyebrows. I think the point is that a book that includes a variety of x can be one part of great book. A book that says it’s good just because it includes x is not, at least in my opinion. That seems like the fundamental difference, not that it raises eyebrows just because it is in there.
I must have missed the part where the book, the author or even the reviewer said it was a good book just because it has diversity?

Like I get what you’re saying, diversity isn’t all it takes to make a good book. But no one claimed otherwise, and yet people immediately pipe up with ‘forced diversity isn’t good’ despite the review not implying that it is forced, or out of place, or the thing the book is trying to ride on.
I read the discussion about inclusion for inclusions sake to mean exactly that I guess?
But it’s not needed when nothing has implied that the inclusion in the book is for inclusions sake. Bringing it up just because there’s inclusion in the book makes it seem like you’re against inclusion at all. (Royal you there)
I do just want to point out that OP did say in his second post that diversity for its own sake was good. So I don’t read it as out of the blue as you do possibly.

And, while I can definitely see how from aa.logan’s perspective the inclusion is a highlight, I can also see how when any sexuality is pointed out as a reason to read the book (which it was here) that others can be wary. It’s a hot button issue, that deserves to be discussed. Honestly I would rather have it here than many other places as most people on these forums seem to want to get along.

Their second post was after it had already been brought up. If inclusion was the only reason given to read the book, the forced diversity thing would make more sense. But it was one of multiple reasons.
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#18
mc warhammer

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apparently sexuality isn’t new either or is a non issue

so the idea of a book that concentrates or at least highlights one or the other shouldn’t be raise any eyebrows

I think I am failing on some level to understand your point so I apologize for that. I also don’t know what “White passing” means.

But if I understand some of it, I don’t think anyone here is saying that the inclusion of x raises eyebrows. I think the point is that a book that includes a variety of x can be one part of great book. A book that says it’s good just because it includes x is not, at least in my opinion. That seems like the fundamental difference, not that it raises eyebrows just because it is in there.
I must have missed the part where the book, the author or even the reviewer said it was a good book just because it has diversity?

Like I get what you’re saying, diversity isn’t all it takes to make a good book. But no one claimed otherwise, and yet people immediately pipe up with ‘forced diversity isn’t good’ despite the review not implying that it is forced, or out of place, or the thing the book is trying to ride on.
I read the discussion about inclusion for inclusions sake to mean exactly that I guess?
But it’s not needed when nothing has implied that the inclusion in the book is for inclusions sake. Bringing it up just because there’s inclusion in the book makes it seem like you’re against inclusion at all. (Royal you there)
I do just want to point out that OP did say in his second post that diversity for its own sake was good. So I don’t read it as out of the blue as you do possibly.

And, while I can definitely see how from aa.logan’s perspective the inclusion is a highlight, I can also see how when any sexuality is pointed out as a reason to read the book (which it was here) that others can be wary. It’s a hot button issue, that deserves to be discussed. Honestly I would rather have it here than many other places as most people on these forums seem to want to get along.

of course diversity for its own sake matters, in so much as things like equality and equity matter.

not that parity is in 40k’s near future; the majority of the fiction will be mostly what we’re familiar with (though i do applaud wraight and adb for their work with non white and non male characters)

but the OP doesn’t imply the book’s quality rests on this inclusivity. most of their review seems to be about...y’know...the story
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#19
caladancid

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Their second post was after it had already been brought up. If inclusion was the only reason given to read the book, the forced diversity thing would make more sense. But it was one of multiple reasons.


I suppose I just don’t think it’s a crazy thing to bring up after someone writes a review that says the book was “trailered” with a same sex relationship. I thought both follow up posts were reasonable.

#20
mc warhammer

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again, it’s that for what seems to be an over 500 word review, two posts zeroed in with pinpoint accuracy on “the gayness” and...nothing else.
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#21
DukeLeto69

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I am about halfway through and so far this is excellent. As per my “away from the battlefield” thread I am loving this for the way it expands and develops the lore (Navigator Houses).

On the point if the gay character I thought this was handled perfectly. It wasn’t signposted it just was. The mention of his husband almost throwaway. A non issue. Normal.
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#22
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I am about halfway through and so far this is excellent. As per my “away from the battlefield” thread I am loving this for the way it expands and develops the lore (Navigator Houses).

On the point if the gay character I thought this was handled perfectly. It wasn’t signposted it just was. The mention of his husband almost throwaway. A non issue. Normal.


sounds like everyone on this thread should be happy with this book then
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#23
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How the hell is this thread allowed to exist?
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Your opinion is important, and someone posting here probably does care what you think. You should go tell them. Remember that it really hurts to come up with an idea you care about and have no one else care. Go care about something and tell them what you think. Now. Think of what it would have meant to you when you were young.

 

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#24
aa.logan

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Just with regards ‘trailed’; I brought up how much I appreciated non-straight characters in the Necromunda novella, and asked if more might appear and the one in Rites of Passage was mentioned as forthcoming.
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#25
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This sounds like the most "away from the battlefield" 40k book ever, exactly what folks have been clamouring for for years. In the track of words interview, I liked what Brooks jumped to immediately about the characters:

 

 

ToW: What appeals to you about Navigators as characters to write about?

 

MB: They’re not combatants.

 

I don’t mind writing combat: I’d be a poor fit for Black Library otherwise, and I feel that one of my strengths as a writer is action sequences. However, the appeal of Chetta is that she’s quite old and rather frail. She’s not a super-soldier: she’s basically got one chance to take a cheap shot at you, and if that misses then you or I could take her down. So when she’s dealing with the various perils that the 41st Millennium throws her way, she needs to have options other than leaping heroically into combat to save the day single-handedly. I found it really intriguing to write a Black Library story with a main character who has to succeed through intellect, not martial prowess.

 

Having a BL book take a mature look at queerness and disability is the icing on the cake. The extract was good - more books should have caustic old ladies as protagonist! - and I'm pretty jazzed to pick this up.


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