A prequel to the novel Mechanicum, available as a standalone ebook after previously being released in both Collected Visions and Shadows of Treachery, Graham McNeill’s The Kaban Project is a tale of loyalty and what it means to be human, even amongst the ranks of the Mechanicum. It features Adept Third Class Pallas Ravachol, a low-ranking tech priest on Mars who accidentally strikes up a friendship of sorts with an artificial construct that he fears has broken the Emperor’s ban on the creation of artificial intelligence.
Taking in influences from world history to classic science fiction, McNeill looks at the Mechanicum in the very beginning of the Heresy via a naive, innocent viewpoint, as Ravachol bumbles through events without understanding quite what he’s getting himself into. We get a glimpse of the strange horror/wonder duality of the Mechanicum through vivid, wildly imaginative descriptions of Mars and its denizens, as well as hints at what’s to come later in this part of the Heresy story. The simple, focused narrative keeps events moving forward, and while the outcome isn’t a massive surprise the story hangs together well as a whole. Equally enjoyable as an introduction or follow up to Mechanicum.