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Warhammer Crime


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#126
Knockagh

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Just about to start Wraight's novel with the anthology next in line. I'm a bit worried by some of the above comments that BL haven't taken the backgrounding deep enough when they created the Varangantua setting.
I was hoping they would take a similar approach to the Dawn of Fire series and create a 'bible' for the authors. Basic stuff covering the planet, its topography and government levels so that they aren't creating the wheel in every story.

This needs done. If crime ever gets turned into a game (which I imagine is highly likely) I can see this being done through rule books.
Ive finished two shorts of the anthology, really enjoyed both of them. The second story by Darius Hinks was great. I’ve realised I have never read anything by Hinks in 40k, this certainly gave me an appetite for more

Edited by Knockagh, 17 September 2020 - 07:02 AM.


#127
Taliesin

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Just about to start Wraight's novel with the anthology next in line. I'm a bit worried by some of the above comments that BL haven't taken the backgrounding deep enough when they created the Varangantua setting.
I was hoping they would take a similar approach to the Dawn of Fire series and create a 'bible' for the authors. Basic stuff covering the planet, its topography and government levels so that they aren't creating the wheel in every story.

 

The Chris Wraight interview from this week at Track of Words actually does state that they put in quite a bit of work on creating this background setting.


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#128
Felix Antipodes

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Will track down that interview. Thanks for that.

#129
byrd9999

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Bloodlines - Chris Wraight

No Good Men - anthology

 

Scattered thoughts:

 

Crime as a genre has a set of conventions that have been handed down through the generations, and Varangantua is squarely in the noir setting.

 

Writing a good crime story makes the reader feel like they are the detective. The reader gathers the clues as the detective picks them up, follows the thought-processes, sorts out the red herrings and uncovers the mystery. This means the writer also has to be the detective, laying out the clues, enough so that the reader can follow them without being so obvious as to give the game away, setting the traps, and the traps-within-traps. The best crime authors are great at being literary detectives.

 

This kind of genre story takes time: scenes need to be visited and revisited, clues need to be re-analysed in the light of new information. Witnesses disappear or die. People return from the dead.

 

Chris Wraight's novel is superb, 10/10 no problem. He gets the tropes and conventions and gives them a suitably 40k grimdark flavour. It seems obvious that either he loves detective fiction, or he has done some serious homework. Or both.

 

The reason that people return to the well-worn genre is not only for the detective process, but for the characters. The crime format becomes merely the backdrop for the character interactions. This is also the reason that the best selling crime books are series, where the characters grow and develop between books.

 

This also means that the short story format, by its very brevity, lacks the space needed for the clues to develop, to discover the herrings are red, for witnesses to die and reappear, and for character development. Short stories are not a good format for crime.

 

Unsurprisingly, the best story in No Good Men is Chris Wraight's Aberrant. Not only is it well-written but the familiarity of the character established in Bloodlines means that the author can add a bit more flesh to Agusto Zidarov.

 

Guy Haley's story will probably improve with a reading of his forthcoming novel.

 

Graham McNeill's writing is not suited for crime because his plots tend to follow the A leads to B leads to C and we're done format. It breaks the conventions of the genre, and not in a good way. There were no real clues, no red herrings, no set up no pay off, just a linear path to a conclusion. It also doesn't help that the characterisation, motivation and dialogue was weak. It was a struggle to finish.

 

Nick Kyme also is a writer that didn't do well following the genre's conventions. As an author, he would literally spell out what was coming next, instead of letting the characters get on with it, breaking the agreement of letting the reader follow along as the detective. I got frustrated and gave up 2/3s of the way through.

 

Of the others, Darius Hinks, Gareth Hanrahan and Marc Collins did well given the limitations of the format.

 

Another problem with every story in this collection is that they all follow very similar paths. All feature (as pointed out also by Track of Words) white male detectives, and often with substance addictions (drugs, alcohol, caffeine). The world-building was good, and consistent with Bloodlines. You get a good sense of the corrupt society.

 

But it would have been good to read something from a criminal's point of view, having to stay one step ahead of the lex, while bribing others to turn a blind eye, or from a female's p-o-v, or possibly xenos.

 

Just something to break up the monotony.

 

Bloodlines - 10/10

No Good Men - 5/10


Edited by byrd9999, 17 September 2020 - 04:24 PM.

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#130
DukeLeto69

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Having read Track of Words review and also what Fraters are saying I have decided not to read the stories in No Good Men back-to-back but to dip in from time-to-time.

Real shame not to have different POVs
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#131
aa.logan

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I’m not shifting from my pro- No Good Men stance, but the points about the perspectives it contains has gotten me thinking.

I concede the lack of gender balance; for all I talk of genre archetypes, crime fiction has typically featured plenty of women- long-running and genre-defining characters such as Marple and VI Warhawski as as much part of the fabric of the genre as Marlowe- types; it’s really odd to see only female characters in supporting roles given the efforts many of the same authors go to achieve more of a balance in their mainline fiction.

Perhaps the anthology could have been more explicit in it’s theme/marketing; had it been sold as specifically tales from a law-enforcement perspective, the reception would have been different. Most crime fiction I’ve read focuses on those attempting to ‘solve’ the cases, and maybe another approach would have proved too outlandish for the fledgling range. Dredge Runners has started to give us POV characters from the other side of the legal divide, so clearly the imprint isn’t solely going to focus on those upholding the lex.

I’m not getting political with or without a capital P here, but...Social class on modern earth is a tricky and complex issue; class analysis isn’t universally agreed upon, with some academic stances excluding law-enforcement from the traditional class structure altogether. The Imperium May have world where the social structure exactly mirrors 21st Century Europe, but these books are not set on one of those worlds. We do see different sections of society feature and the ways that they both commit and are affected by crimes- in the space of a single story, we see the way the actions of those towards the top of the society adversely affect those at the very bottom, and the counter-measures taken to redress this. The ramifications of the strict hierarchy of Varanganutua are a constant theme, actually.

Our protagonists vary too; ex-Militarum and struggling to survive, nobility(?) ‘slumming it’ to do what they feel is right and those for who the lex seems just a way to keep a hab roof over their head. I really do feel that the stories are told with distinct voices, and while the protagonists could be swapped in some, thefeel of them would be different as a result.

I’m a lapsed crime reader, and I never really went for anything that challenging or beyond the mainstream. Rebus is an ex-army police detective who struggles to leave his casework behind. So is Harry Bosch. It’s not just the differences between Edinburgh and LA that make these characters different and their stories; I feel the characters in this anthology have the potential to be as divergent if given time and space to develop.

Thematically, the crimes are linked in No Good Men, I won’t give away how, but they are all *different* crimes, the approaches taken to them vary as do the responses. So yes, the book does lean heavily on troubled male characters investigating, but given what they are encountering in their line of work it perhaps isn’t that much of a surprise.
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#132
Knockagh

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I finished this. Anthologies aren’t really my thing. The only one I can really rave about was the Horusian wars one by French. I think anthologies suffer because they are so varied in style and quality when they are by multiple authors so reading through them becomes a bit of a roller coaster. Wraights, Hinks and Haley are winning stories and I’m definitely very keen to read Guys full length novel on the character. Hopefully Hinks could do one with his creepy assassin for hire. Some background on this fella would certainly be nice.
I’m not calling like many are for the inclusion of criminal perspective stories, I think we have necromunda for that, these should be largely detective stories. But if a badass criminal emerges I won’t stand in protest, I’m sure it would be great.
The world building continues in Varangantua and it’s brilliant. It’s nice to have a clean world the authors can make their own and do it in the sort of depth that we don’t often get.
Enjoyed it but would still rather have a single author writing any book, anthology or novel.
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#133
Chaeron

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Just a couple of stories into NGM so far, but definitely enjoying it as much as hoped!

*Edit - Flesh and Steel by Haley on pre-order next week, so that’ll be on the want list.

Edited by Chaeron, 20 September 2020 - 06:03 PM.

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#134
byrd9999

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Without wishing to drag on a discussion just for the sake of it, I will say that the all-male focus in NGM isn't necessarily due to societal hierarchies in Varangantua. There are women in higher positions of power than the detectives we encounter (Bloodlines, Aberrant), and there are other female investigators, we just don't get their point of view. A lack of editorial planning.

 

But as a counterpoint, however minor, there is a new Crime micro short in the new issue of White Dwarf (466) written by Chris Wraight that features a female protagonist. Haven't read it yet though.


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#135
DarkChaplain

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Is there even a point in pointing out that they're supposedly all "white male detectives"? Is their skin tone ever really brought up in most of those stories, or in any way, shape or form relevant when Varangantua has already featured all types in Bloodlines alone, including female crime lords, female higher ups in law enforcement, a femme fatale, a seemingly overeager female officer etc? Or how about Dredge Runners, where we see an almost Sisters of Battle-like enforcer, another female crime lord, and the male leads are ex-guard Ratling AND Ogryn who likes to ramble about philosophy and the weariness of life in the gutter?

 

The "lack" of female point of view is simply incidental, and probably down to how limited the number of stories in No Good Men actually is. It's SEVEN stories, as compared to the usual 10-12 for Warhammer Horror anthologies - in exchange, those 7 stories also appear with higher word counts than the Horror stories, which sometimes could've greatly benefitted from additional space.

On top of that, at least two of the stories are already tied to (planned) ongoing series, with others likely to appear again down the line in other novels or short stories yet to be revealed. There's not much PoV switcheroo'ing going to happen in those cases, as the stories are either supplementary or introductory in nature.

 

Varangantua and the first Crime anthology may have issues here and there (like the extra syllable or formulaic story pattern), but a lack of diversity ain't one.


Edited by DarkChaplain, 21 September 2020 - 12:46 AM.

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#136
Beren

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It might feel more incidental if I could actually tell the difference between all these beaten down detectives and their 'want to do good but have to get around a broken system' outlook on morality. Instead we're looking at a trope that has been painfully overused in stories which aren't big enough to properly distinguish between these characters and are played back to back. Given that you've helpfully provided a list of all the different characters in the stories which aren't male, and then two male characters that are different, then why the heck am I stuck reading about these seven different but not really characters in this anthology when the writers clearly have the capacity and the scope to have something done something different?


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#137
Scribe

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Because it's what they wanted to write?

Because it's probably (maybe) the first of these kinds of stories they have written, and they wanted the safe bet?

Not every piece of content needs to run down the diversity checklist and to make issue of that instead of the stories being told is TIRESOME.
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#138
Knockagh

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Is there even a point in pointing out that they're supposedly all "white male detectives"? Is their skin tone ever really brought up in most of those stories, or in any way, shape or form relevant when Varangantua has already featured all types in Bloodlines alone, including female crime lords, female higher ups in law enforcement, a femme fatale, a seemingly overeager female officer etc? Or how about Dredge Runners, where we see an almost Sisters of Battle-like enforcer, another female crime lord, and the male leads are ex-guard Ratling AND Ogryn who likes to ramble about philosophy and the weariness of life in the gutter?

The "lack" of female point of view is simply incidental, and probably down to how limited the number of stories in No Good Men actually is. It's SEVEN stories, as compared to the usual 10-12 for Warhammer Horror anthologies - in exchange, those 7 stories also appear with higher word counts than the Horror stories, which sometimes could've greatly benefitted from additional space.
On top of that, at least two of the stories are already tied to (planned) ongoing series, with others likely to appear again down the line in other novels or short stories yet to be revealed. There's not much PoV switcheroo'ing going to happen in those cases, as the stories are either supplementary or introductory in nature.

Varangantua and the first Crime anthology may have issues here and there (like the extra syllable or formulaic story pattern), but a lack of diversity ain't one.


You said it. I was going to say this yesterday but didn’t, glad you did DC. I was stunned at the ‘white male’ tag. How do we even know what colour they are? Does it say? Are there pictures in someone else’s book that aren’t in mine? I’m completely confused........, if I didn’t know what’s going on!
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#139
byrd9999

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Because it's what they wanted to write?

Because it's probably (maybe) the first of these kinds of stories they have written, and they wanted the safe bet?

Not every piece of content needs to run down the diversity checklist and to make issue of that instead of the stories being told is TIRESOME.

 

I take your points, but, in 2020, having a female protagonist shouldn't be considered part of a diversity checklist. If women make up 50% of Varangantuan society, why do we not get more of their point of view?

 

If the Crime series was planned, with editorial and authorial oversight, then these stories didn't just happen randomly, or, they did, it was bad planning. The similarity with each protagonist is striking to the point that I am surprised someone didn't step in at some point and suggest doing something different.

 

Picking up on DC's point that female povs were excluded because the anthology had 7 stories instead of 12 is not a good rationale. Females shouldn't be reserved for spots 8-12 in an anthology. The lead Horror book, The Wicked and the Damned, managed to do it.

 

Including a different p-o-v might have provided a bit more variety to what is essentially a dull and repetitive collection of similar stories.


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#140
Petitioner's City

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Has anyone written to BL or mentioned this on twitter to Guy, Chris or other authors & editors - I'm sure they'll admit this was a mistake.

Edited by Petitioner's City, 21 September 2020 - 01:36 PM.

Cinema itself is a trick of time — still pictures passed through a focused beam of light at 24 frames per second. We are reminded of that in La Jetée...

#141
Knockagh

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Has anyone written to BL or mentioned this on twitter to Guy, Chris or other authors & editors - I'm sure they'll admit this was a mistake.


I hope they don’t. Sometimes I think you folk are joking and it’s all some weird windup.
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#142
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Because it's what they wanted to write?

Because it's probably (maybe) the first of these kinds of stories they have written, and they wanted the safe bet?

Not every piece of content needs to run down the diversity checklist and to make issue of that instead of the stories being told is TIRESOME.


I take your points, but, in 2020, having a female protagonist shouldn't be considered part of a diversity checklist. If women make up 50% of Varangantuan society, why do we not get more of their point of view?

If the Crime series was planned, with editorial and authorial oversight, then these stories didn't just happen randomly, or, they did, it was bad planning. The similarity with each protagonist is striking to the point that I am surprised someone didn't step in at some point and suggest doing something different.

Picking up on DC's point that female povs were excluded because the anthology had 7 stories instead of 12 is not a good rationale. Females shouldn't be reserved for spots 8-12 in an anthology. The lead Horror book, The Wicked and the Damned, managed to do it.

Including a different p-o-v might have provided a bit more variety to what is essentially a dull and repetitive collection of similar stories.

Honestly, it is a checklist.

How far in do you get before you are told the protagonist in Spears is a woman?

That's ADB being his excellent self.

How many female characters are in Bloodlines? It may actually be 50/50. I rate it as one of BLs best books, easy.

Oh but a collection of shorts by different authors doesn't have a female main character and that's an issue?

It's absolutely checklist diversity complaining.
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#143
theSpirea

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I don't think the complaints are necessary about the gender of the main protagonists. It's more about them being all very similar to each other.

 

Wraight's short story from the latest WD is a decent one and I wouldn't mind reading more about Sanctioner Onorova. 


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#144
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Them being similar is a different issue.

If the complaint was 'these all hold to the predominant trope of the down trodden detective.' Then that's a fine, but different thing to complain about.
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#145
byrd9999

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Because it's what they wanted to write?

Because it's probably (maybe) the first of these kinds of stories they have written, and they wanted the safe bet?

Not every piece of content needs to run down the diversity checklist and to make issue of that instead of the stories being told is TIRESOME.


I take your points, but, in 2020, having a female protagonist shouldn't be considered part of a diversity checklist. If women make up 50% of Varangantuan society, why do we not get more of their point of view?

If the Crime series was planned, with editorial and authorial oversight, then these stories didn't just happen randomly, or, they did, it was bad planning. The similarity with each protagonist is striking to the point that I am surprised someone didn't step in at some point and suggest doing something different.

Picking up on DC's point that female povs were excluded because the anthology had 7 stories instead of 12 is not a good rationale. Females shouldn't be reserved for spots 8-12 in an anthology. The lead Horror book, The Wicked and the Damned, managed to do it.

Including a different p-o-v might have provided a bit more variety to what is essentially a dull and repetitive collection of similar stories.

Honestly, it is a checklist.

How far in do you get before you are told the protagonist in Spears is a woman?

That's ADB being his excellent self.

How many female characters are in Bloodlines? It may actually be 50/50. I rate it as one of BLs best books, easy.

Oh but a collection of shorts by different authors doesn't have a female main character and that's an issue?

It's absolutely checklist diversity complaining.

 

 

It shouldn't be the default setting to have a male protagonist and including anything other than a male is just a box-ticking exercise. That is 50% of the population who don't get represented, without seeming to be treated with special gloves.

 

We'll have to agree to disagree on this one smile.png

 

edit: although the lack of diversity of Varagantuan points of view wouldn't have been so stark if they weren't all so similar.


Edited by byrd9999, 21 September 2020 - 02:36 PM.

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#146
Beren

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I've got part way through it, but to be honest have found all the protagonists painfully similar.

 

It might feel more incidental if I could actually tell the difference between all these beaten down detectives and their 'want to do good but have to get around a broken system' outlook on morality. Instead we're looking at a trope that has been painfully overused in stories which aren't big enough to properly distinguish between these characters and are played back to back. Given that you've helpfully provided a list of all the different characters in the stories which aren't male, and then two male characters that are different, then why the heck am I stuck reading about these seven different but not really characters in this anthology when the writers clearly have the capacity and the scope to have something done something different?

 

Funnily enough, I have been complaining about a trope. It's also something that the matter of gender certainly does not alleviate, because it adds to the sensation that all these people are the same. You might even say that their genders are very... similar.

 

I agree with byrd on the matter of 'box-ticking', but that's quite aside from the fact that it can't exactly be said that we haven't mentioned tropes, similarity or simply repetition as part of the conversation.


Edited by Beren, 21 September 2020 - 02:53 PM.

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#147
cheywood

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I have yet to read No Good Men, but as a reader I don’t care about a single book having entirely male POVs any more than I would about a single book having entirely female POVs. It’s a little odd given BL’s push for diversity in recent years, but nothing to get outraged over. I’m much more concerned with BL continuing to acquire talented people with diverse viewpoints and life experiences than I am with ensuring that every book meets a quota. Without diversity of authors in-universe diversity is just inauthentic window dressing.

On the other hand the homogeneity of the stories does sound like a bummer. I was hoping for some crime stories to get a more well rounded feel of the imprint’s potential and what life is like in Varangantua.
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#148
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No problem, complain about the trope all you like. Heck, complain about whatever you want, it's part of why we are here!
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#149
Preliminary Bombardment

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I don't think anyone is outraged over the protagonists all being white and male, but I definitely get the impression that the authors went out and independently and imagined the same or similar hard bitten detective, as others have pointed out it's an overused trope and get's a bit samey. Given them time though I'm sure they will compare notes and find other spins on their characters, maybe turn one of them into a prosecutor or defence lawyer (guess which TV show I've been watching!). Or make more characters who are themselves criminals or criminal adjacent like in Sin City. Heck, why not even a gentleman detective like Poirot? How would he get on in 40k?!

 

Maybe they just all had to get this out of their systems, but there were a couple of points where I half expected the detective to develop a Boston accent and say "she was the kinda dame who had legs that went up all the way"


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#150
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I don't think anyone is outraged over the protagonists all being white and male,


????? What. I must be stupid. I’m thinking of signing up to a night class to identify book characters by race. Which one did you go to?

On an even more serious note....... I mentioned this thread to my good wife the other night. She laughed and pointed out that the book is called ‘no good men’ which she thinks is a terribly sexist troupe given that there are plenty of good men. The authors should be ashamed if not outright sacked by BL. Also by calling it ‘no good men’ they excluded women by title alone. This shameful book should be burned on a pire outside Nottingham




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