Black Library Weekly – W/C 23/10/17

Hello and welcome to another instalment of Black Library Weekly, my regular look at what’s been happening in the world of Black Library. Amongst other things this week has brought us a fantastic new short story from a familiar-but-slightly-different name, a new White Scars novel, and a glimpse of the opening to Dan Abnett’s latest Gaunt’s Ghosts novel. Let’s jump straight in and take a look, shall we?

This week’s Digital Monday short story was Execution by Rachel Harrison, available as usual in ebook only for the princely sum of £2.49. A story of a Commissar forced to execute her platoon’s commanding officer on the eve of a daring assault, it’s one of those stories that could in different hands have been a standard all-action Imperial Guard story like many, many others…but in Rachel Harrison’s hands turned out to be character-led and unexpectedly fascinating. Check out my review here for a bit more information, but I would urge any Black Library fan to buy and read this story – it really is that good.

Also, if Rachel Harrison sounds familiar then you might be thinking of Ray Harrison, author of stories such as Dishonoured and Binding. They are, in fact, the same person – more on which later…

Not a huge amount of news to report for the midweek period really, just a couple of small but interesting tidbits. First, an intriguing little teaser for any Gaunt’s Ghost fan:

Yep, that’s Dan Abnett reading the opening couple of pages of The Warmaster, including a little reference to a name that will be familiar to anyone who’s read Salvation’s Reach. It’s not long now until The Warmaster is released, so kudos to Black Library for finding an unusual (for Black Library) way of getting us that little bit more excited about it.

The only other news I spotted was confirmation that Black Library are going to be reprinting some of the classic Necromunda fiction to support the release of the latest version of the game. Not a lot’s been confirmed yet, other than a reprint of the cool old Kal Jerico graphic novel series – I’m not sure if the Redemptionists are going to be included in the new Necromunda, but I’d rather like to see The Redeemer get a reprint as well!

One final thing which might be of interest is that I’ve recently interviewed Black Library (and many other publishers) author Josh Reynolds, to talk about the wide range of stories he’s written over the years. Part one of that interview went up on the site on Wednesday – click here to take a look if you haven’t checked it out yet. Part two should be up next week, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Onto the weekend, which gave us a brand new 40k novel, a paperback version of a novel from earlier in the year, and another Warhammer Chronicles omnibus. And also an amusing marketing mix-up, which garnered rather a lot of comments online! Let’s take a look at the books first…

The new release was The Last Hunt by Robbie MacNiven, a new White Scars novel set post-Gathering Storm. No audiobook for this one, so it’s available in hardback (£18) and ebook (£9.99) formats – I’m pretty sure it was originally listed as being available for the first time at the Weekender, but I wonder if that was only until Black Library could confirm that the MANY other pre-release titles would all be ready for fans to buy. Either way, it’s cool to see a new White Scars book, as there aren’t so many of those! If you fancy reading a little bit more about the book, here’s the latest of my RAPID FIRE interviews, with author Robbie MacNiven, to whet your appetite.

Next up was Cult of the Warmason by CL Werner, now available in paperback (for £8.99) alongside the existing ebook and hardback formats. Yep, if you’d prefer it in hardback you can still order that from the Black Library website. I read this when it first came out – check out my review here – and while there were some things about it I didn’t like so much, it’s worth taking a look for Sisters of Battle or Genestealer Cults fans. Frustratingly, it’s not currently listed anywhere on the front page of the Black Library website, or even on the New Titles page, which means anyone just casually browsing is unlikely to spot it. Maybe it’ll pop up with a bit more emphasis next week, once it’s actually available to pick up in stores.

The last release was The Rise of Nagash by Mike Lee, the latest in the growing range of Warhammer Chronicles omnibuses. Available in paperback (£15) or ebook (£14.99) formats, it tells the story of Nagash’s early years, collecting together the novels Nagash the Sorcerer, Nagash the Unbroken and Nagash Immortal. £15 is pretty good value for three novels, and it’s really great to see these old Time of Legends books getting a facelift and being made available once again. As of now you can also pick up Graham McNeill’s The Legend of Sigmar in the same format omnibus, with two more confirmed and showing up on the Black Library website – The Von Carstein Trilogy by Steven Saville and The Sundering by Gav Thorpe. If you haven’t read these series, they make good introductions to each race in the old Warhammer World.

Lastly, it looks like pretty much everyone who’s signed up to Black Library’s email list received the German version of the weekly email, on top of the normal English-language one. Looks like Black Library got their email marketing segmentations a little mixed up. Normally I wouldn’t expect that to cause much of a stir, but I saw quite a lot of people online talking about it…so I’d say that the old adage of ‘any publicity is good publicity’ holds true here! Also, I always enjoy the German titles, they’re so satisfying – like Marneus Calgar: Zorn, which essentially translates as Marneus Calgar: Anger as opposed to the original Calgar’s Fury title.

Thoughts on the week
All in all I’d say it’s been more on the quiet side this week (compared to some weeks, certainly), but despite that I think there’s still been plenty of things happening to keep our interest up. For me, probably the most interesting thing that happened was that the Digital Monday short story was published under the full name of Rachel Harrison. Now, I don’t really want to go into a long discussion on gender in science fiction, but there can be no debate over the fact that Black Library is heavily male-oriented in terms of authors. I’ve always found that a bit weird, as some of my favourite science fiction and fantasy authors as I was growing up were female – authors like Ursula Le Guin, Julian May and Anne McCaffrey.

There have been some excellent Black Library stories written by female authors – both Sarah Cawkwell and Nik Vincent, for example – but just not that many, compared to the tranche of male writers. Again, let’s not get into a long debate about this – suffice to say, however, that personally I’m really pleased to see Execution published under Rachel Harrison, and not Ray. Clearly I assumed, when I read Dishonoured or any of the other Ray Harrison short stories, that Ray was a guy…and that’s really bad. I really hope we can reach a point as quickly as possible where assumptions like that don’t happen, and where authors can use their full names freely and happily and nobody minds because IF STORIES ARE GOOD WHO CARES WHAT GENDER THE AUTHOR IS?! Ahem. Sorry about that.

A science fiction masterpiece

Let’s not let the revelation that Ray is actually Rachel – SHOCK HORROR – take away from the fact that Execution is a damn fine story, either!

On a similar note, I received a comment on one of my posts recently from William Burns – thanks William! – to say that Gail Z. Martin has confirmed that she’s writing an Age of Sigmar novel. If you don’t know who that is, Gail is an established fantasy author with dozens of books to her name, so this is great news for several reasons. Like Paul Kearney, and recently Mike Brooks, it’s always interesting to see established authors write for Black Library and bring different sensibilities to their stories. It’s also going to be great to read a new voice in Age of Sigmar, and in fact just to read more Age of Sigmar books in general! Lastly…it’s so nice to see another female author – and an established, experienced, well-respected one at that – wanting to write for Black Library. Long live variety, inclusivity and diversity!

Finally, here’s a quick run-down of my posts this week, in case you’ve missed any of them:

Coming up…
I can’t see any brand new novels listed as being up for release next weekend, so it looks like being another weekend where we’ll either see a surprise release or some form or re-release. I think we’re due paperbacks of Eye of Medusa by David Guymer and Jain Zar: The Storm of Silence by Gav Thorpe, so maybe we’ll see one or both of those. Alternatively, a surprise release would be very welcome! I’m looking forward to finding out…

As always, if you’ve got any thoughts or comments on the week’s news and releases please do get in touch via the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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