Just picked up a thread on Bolter & Chainsword regarding my announcement that I’ll be working on Fall of Damnos as my next novel after Firedrake. Have to say, I’m not usually much for forums – I tend to find them a little damaging and full of personal agenda, so they don’t interest me at all but B&C is one of the better ones.
It’s interesting to read how territorial fans are about ‘their’ Chapter. For the uninitiated, I’m talking Space Marines here – specifically, the Ultramarines.
I know what you mean, though. I get all buttock-clenchy whenever someone mentions they want to do something with the Salamanders. There’s a false sense of ownership, I think, that comes with devoting yourself to something. ‘Cause, let’s face it folks – it is devotion we’re talking about here.
Phrases like ‘our boys in blue’ and ‘our Chapter’ – it’s not only individuals you’re under the microscope of but a whole collective, a whole frigging community even!
I like it. I’m glad you care and want these books, the stories about your favourite characters to be good and surprising and everything you ever wanted and didn’t knew you wanted but when you read about it you did – phew!
That’s cool by me. I won’t be dictated to by fan pressure – that way lies madness. You’re going to have to trust me, but at the end of the day I’ll tell the story I want to tell in the way I want to tell it – that’s authors prerogative, right?
I am looking forward to this challenge, though. The Ultramarines are completely different beasts to the Salamanders – even though they are both loyalist Space Marine Chapters. There’s a little more freedom (oddly) with the UMs than the Sallies. I have less invested in them as a Chapter. The Salamanders feel like mine, even though that’s nuts; they’re not mine, they belong to GW, I’m just the guy that gts to write about them and maybe contributes something to the everlasting canon – that’d be nice.
I see Graham McNeill as Mr Ultramarines. Oh, and I know a lot of folks want to see Macragge first, well that’ll likely be that New York Times best-selling fella I just mentioned, and not little old me. I want to return to the characters I established in Assault on Black Reach. I enjoyed that book. I really did. But I always felt that 30,000 words just wasn’t enough to do what I wanted to with the characters. It was a challenge, too – how do I make the Ultramarines come across as cool and not the ‘vanilla’ Chapter most people think they are? What makes these boys in blue tick? Graham has done an awesome job of establishing Uriel Ventris in his part of the Ultramarines mythology. Jeez, just wait until you read The Chapter’s Due – it is phenomenal. Seriously, the book fookin’ rocks.
Backslapping aside, though, my challenge with AoBR was how to make my Ultras stand out. What was it that singled out 2nd Company from the rest. Part of the answer to that lies with its captain – Sicarius (who might be a twat, Xhalax…) can’t be ignored. He’s awesome. He’s a poster boy. Yes, he’s also a bit of an arrogant nob. But he’s damn cool too. Who else has the balls to do the things he can do? Sicarius is the 2nd Company and everything it stands for. These guys think they are more special than the veterans for Guilliman’s sake!
In stepped challenge number two then… I wanted to tell the story from a PoV other than Sicarius’s. He was too big, too much. I wanted to play with him, but at arms length – someone else’s arm in fact. So, I invented three sergeants: Scipio, Iulus and Praxor. These would be my eyes and ears on Black Reach, so too will it be the case for Damnos.
I’m going to introduce some new elements to this story too. I want to give the humans, the native Damnosians (or whatever), a face, a voice. This will also allow me to explore the relationship between the human and Space Marine characters. The synopsis for the story is already in – I kinda know what challenges my heroes will face, the tough moral decisions they’re going to have to make, just how much ass they will kick through the course of the story.
It’s exciting. I can’t get too excited, though. Firedrake is still not finished. I’m a Salamander until that’s done. I’m against the anvil as we speak, being tempered in Vulkan’s forge.
So, yea, isn’t it funny how territorial we get over the things we love. It might not be Macragge, but it’s Ultramarines. I’ve been waiting to return to the ranks of the 2nd Company for a while. I may not feel like I have the ‘ownership’ of this Chapter in the same way I do for the Salamanders but, man, am I stoked that I’m getting an opportunity to revisit the three characters I created. Over a hundred years have passed since Black Reach, some things have changed, but one thing remains true: the Ultramarines still kick a whole lot of ass.