Thoughts On ‘Blood Music’ by Greg Bear

About a month ago I lent a spare copy of Greg Bear’s Blood Moon to a mate of mine and he reported back that it was an extremely weird book. I haven’t had the opportunity to read it myself yet, so I was intrigued by Blood Music when it came to reading an SF short story beginning with ‘B’; and yep, it’s pretty weird. Somewhat akin to a Frankenstein’s monster tale, Blood Music is a story of scientific advancement without consideration of the consequences.

For the majority of the story, the narrator is a passive observer as his friend slowly undergoes a metamorphosis thanks to something he has injected himself with. As interesting a concept as this was, I was waiting for everything to go wrong by the end of the tale, which it ultimately did. Those last few paragraphs, after the confrontation in Vergil’s, happen extremely quickly and seem at odds with the patient explanations that came before. This could, however, be a clever way to show how the ‘invaders’ are evolving, becoming quicker at distributing information and achieving their goals.

Ultimately, I can’t decide whether I felt for the narrator of the story. Perhaps it was because I was outside the story, but it was evident that things were going to go wrong. You could say that he was looking out for his friend, but the description he gives of Vergil from the start of the story didn’t suggest to me that they were all that close. In the end, I feel he was just as negligent as Vergil, though it is sad that his wife gets dragged in on the whole thing despite being oblivious to everything that’s been going on.


Thoughts On ‘An Alien Agony’ by Harry Harrison

Also published under the title The Streets of Ashkelon, An Alien Agony is an interesting short story, to say the least. Throughout the prose, it’s abundantly clear that the author, or at least his main character, has no time for organised religion. Our protagonist is a self-confessed atheist who finds himself on a planet of beings (Weskers) who live a fairly literal, logical existence. As a result, the metaphysical is something that is completely foreign to them.

When a missionary by the name of Father Mark arrives on the planet, the natives face a cultural upheaval that causes them to question the existence of God. Unable to reconcile the concept of faith within their literal framework, they endeavour to use the ‘scientific method’ to reach a satisfactory conclusion. Blinded by their newfound knowledge of the Bible, they enact a gruesome finale to the story, resulting in a sad and disheartening final scene between Garth and one of the natives.

When I started An Alien Agony I enjoyed it for what it seemed to be; a standard science-fiction tale about an explorer on a distant planet. As the story continued, new elements piqued my interest but I can’t say that it was really jumping out at me. The ‘philosophical’ discussion between Garth and Father Mark was interesting but didn’t offer anything new to the debate, just rehashing old arguments on a new planet. That last scene, however, was extremely powerful as it causes us to question just how beneficial introducing religion to a seemingly utopian society is.

Happy Orktober!

October is finally here and with it hopefully the new Orks Codex from Games Workshop. Over the last year or so, I’ve gathered together a nice little collection of Ork models that I’m eager to get onto the tabletop. With the new codex looming I’ve been reluctant to play Orks over the last few months so it’ll be great to finally get to use them. Of course, I’ve decided to be a little mad and do a horde Ork army so I’ve still got plenty of models to paint. That said, I have kicked off Orktober by getting some of these models started. I primed twenty-three models earlier today with four now with their flesh-tones finished and a further five with their flesh bases done. I’m not going to stress myself out by setting a goal of models to paint, but I am hoping to break the back of the work that needs to be done by the end of the month. I’ll be trying to reward myself by allowing myself to paint a Killa Kan or Deff Dread every 15-20 infantry models though.


Welcome to the…Dungeon

It’s been five or six years since I properly got into tabletop gaming, and in that time I’ve had the opportunity to both GM and play in a number of roleplay campaigns. Last night, at the invitation of some friends who’d recently started a campaign, I played Dungeons & Dragons for the first time, and it was an interesting experience.

In the interest of balance, they suggested that I immediately skip the few levels they’d earned over their previous few sessions and so I joined in as Tarien Pureriver, 3rd level Elven Druid. Much of the start of the session was taken up trying to explain why Tarien had followed the party into a previously unknown cave, but once that was sorted it was time for action. Or it would have been if my character was any good in a fight. While I was creating Tarien I tried to play toward his backstory as a hermit, so all of his spells are those that might help someone survive alone in the wild; not particularly useful when the gribblies come a knocking. In the end, though, he wasn’t the most useless character, and his gruff responses and general attempts to reintegrate with society made for an entertaining session. On to the next one!

Thoughts on Blood Oath by Phil Kelly

I’ve had the Damocles book from Black Library sitting on my shelf for quite a while; so long in fact that I’d actually forgotten that I’d already bought it, and I’ve finally gotten around to reading it. I hadn’t realised that it wasn’t a full-length novel until I opened it a few days ago, and I was somewhat disappointed by the fact that the White Scars – Tau confrontation that enticed me to pick it up is only the first quarter of the book. While I’ve finished reading that short section though, I do intend to keep going with the book; here though are my initial thoughts on Blood Oath by Phil Kelly.

Overall I enjoyed the story, though there were a few moments that threw me a little and took away from the overall experience. Shadowsun’s sections of the story were enjoyable and gave some nice insight into ho the Tau go to war. The Kor’sarro Khan sections, however, left something to be desired as the Huntmaster of the White Scars came across in a bit of an unfavourable light. Having read Scars by Chris Wraight in the past, I was used to a legion who utilise well thought out tactics even as they plunge headfirst into the enemy, but the legion described in Blood Oath seemed to just attack like a hammer and hope for the best. Indeed, it was only when Khan was separated from Moondraken that he seemed to even consider another way of fighting. Add to this the fact that the slow and measured approach to trapping the Tau was made by committee, and that the White Scars were forced to flee the planet soon after and I feel that the Fifth Legion were handed the short straw in this.

When I first delved into Damocles I was hoping for an epic showdown between the Tau (the first faction that drew my attention when I discovered 40k) and the White Scars (the faction I’ve taken to the table top most often) and in places Blood Oath delivered. However, at the same time, I was left feeling somewhat disappointed by the portrayal of one of the more loyal legions in the arsenal of the Empirium.

Leprecon-ning Myself

Yesterday I made the trip down to Dublin to take part in a small Guild Ball tournament at this year’s Leprecon. It’s the first time in a while that I’ve played Guild Ball despite my insistence that I was going to get more matches in this year. In all I got three games in which was pretty good but yet again I didn’t come away with that illusive win.

The first game was a rather cagey affair with my Fishermen going up against a Masons team. Things were pretty balanced between my opponent and I and he came away with a narrow 8-6 win. I must admit I was disappointed with the result because I really should have won. A rooking error in the final turn left Jac with the ball close to the opposition goal but with no influence assigned to him.

Game two went more like I expected and I was thoroughly outclassed by 12-4 against a Union team. I really didn’t put up much of a challenge in this one and my opponent’s Rage beat his way through my team. However, my opponent was a regular Fishermen player himself so he gave me a few tips on how to use them which I tried to implement in my third game.

Game three then got off to a great start for me as I managed to get an early goal to lead 4-0. However, as the game went on my opponent’s Morticians started to gain more control on the pitch and I eventually succumbed on a 13-9 scoreline. I wasn’t too disappointed with the day though, as I felt that I played some of my best Guild Ball on the day, and my matches are getting a lot closer. Here’s hoping I’ll get a few more games in this year and improve my outcomes.

Waagh!, What is it Good For?

Sometime in the middle of last year I decided to try creating an Ork Kill Team for Shadow War. It was supposed to be something small, and different from just playing more Space Marines. As of this morning however, I have about 30/40 assembled Boyz, along with another box ready for assembling today. I’ve also got six Killa Kans awaiting a base coat, and a box of Lootas ready for assembly along with the rest of the Nobz I left in the box after putting together the Kill Team. A mate also threw me some sprues he wasn’t using and I’ve no idea how many Orks are on them. Somehow, I’m well on my way to having a fieldable Waaagh of my own. Expect more updates as I get these bad boyz (puntacular!) finished.