QUICK REVIEW: Signal to Noise – CZ Dunn

First published in 2012’s Black Library Weekender Anthology 2, CZ Dunn’s Signal to Noise is the third short story (so far) featuring Sister Agentha of the Order of the Fractured Cipher to receive a standalone ebook release, albeit the first of the shorts chronologically. An unwelcome guest on a Black Templars strike cruiser, Sister Diologus Agentha finds herself a helpless bystander in the midst of an attack by eldar raiders. As the Templars defend themselves, Agentha works to understand the meaning of an ancient vox signal that might just challenge the preconceptions and prejudices of her Space Marine hosts.

As with the other Agentha shorts, the focus is on (essentially) a non-combatant in the context of a battlefield, although here the battlefield is the cold of space and the action all ship-based. It’s the shortest of the three so far, but still manages to cram in a good amount of detail of Agentha’s character and how she’s treated by others, even if her Black Templar companions are only drawn in broad strokes – the Chaplain filled with righteous anger and the more measured, calm Castellant. It’s a story that doesn’t do much narratively – doesn’t need to do much – but satisfies nonetheless.

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