This book was finished recently, and transcribed recently. I've decided to cover this next because a.) its a nigh impossible to find book, so I dont worry about spoiling it for many b.) Chronologically it seems to come after Inquisitor in many respects (story wise at least) and c.) cuz I want to.
Of all of Ian Watson's 40K books, I think I like this one the most. Its odd in some ways (and I will be sharing some of the oddness with you, like the Imperial Fist preoccupation with defecation and pain - sometimes at once) but largely an enjoyable book. Ian Watson as a writer leaves me with rather mixed feelings. His good points largely are that he writes some very engaging characters, and that over the books (particularily Lexandro, and the Squat Grimm, both my favorites) develop well over the four novels of his I read. He also writes settings rahter well, and diverse, and interesting. His writing is very detail/sense oriented, and it shows in his books.
There are two flaws I have with his writing. One is minor, one is quite major. The minor one is his style of writing - its very.. poetic in a way. That in and of itself is not bad, but it can be kind of jarring considering the 40K galaxy is (especially when it descends into grrimdark.. mainly the Inquisition WAr novels here.) But one thing becomes quite obvious - Ian Watson LOVES alliteration. He infects all his writing with a ton of it. PAges and pages of it. That too is jarring, and tends to get annoyingly repetitive after awhile, but is largely forgivable. The "Big" flaw of his writing is that - to put it bluntly - he sucks at plotting. If he keeps the stories broadly, loosley defined plotwise (the way he did in Spacec Marine, for example) they tend to work. Space Marine had no real big plot other than "the lives of three Imperial Fist recruits" - it was a story about characters. So was Draco. There were traces of this in Harlequin as well, and that made ti passable. But taking Inquisition War as a whole.. there is no real plot. No coherent plot at any rate. It seems like the series forgets what its about halfway through then turns abruptly into "Jaq Draco's wild ride into madness." - which frankly is bloody disappointing because the first book (and the first half of the second novel) hinted at the potential of what could be a decent plot (if they'd kept up with the Hydra/Illuminati thing)
Overall, alot of his stories tend to read more like "a guide to the 40K galaxy", especially "Inquisitor" and "spacec Marine" but even the second one too - they're basically showing various facets/aspects of the 40K and in that regard they tend to excel. In other respects (as a broad, ,overall storyline - eg the "Inquisition War") they fail. If you read them, enjoy them as the largely self-contained stories as they are, but don't hope for any long-term coherency, because there really isn't much.
Of course, I don't write these things as literary critiques, but rather technical analysis, and in this regard at least Ian Watson rarely fails. So, onto the analysis.
Anyhow, my rant is done.
Pre-book stuff (collective, un-numbered)
Some novels/fluff have speculated as to whether Navigators arose spontaneously or were engineered. This (and earlier) fluff specified that they were engineered. Which frankly is the solution I prefer."The development of the Navigator gene allows human pilots to make longer and faster 'jumps' through warp space than was previously thought possible.
This also implies that its possible to navigate the warp without Navigators, its just less precise, ,slower, and shorter ranged (all of which we knew.)
The astronomnican is useful, but not crucial, as a tool to FTL travel (it increases speed and range and ease o fuse).His physical life maintained by artificial means, and his psychic by human sacrifice, the Emperor begins the long task of reconquering human space. With the creation by the Emperor of the psychic beacon known as the AStronomican, the foundations are laid for the building of the Imperium, as it to be known in the 41st millenium. Fuelled by the dying spirits of those psykers who would otherwise fall prey to the demons of the warp, and directed by the Emperor's indomitable will, the Astronomican soon becomes an invaluable aid to Navigators throughout the galaxy. Interstellar travel becomes even easier and quicker..
This may be retconned, considering the source, but I would submit that this all does make sense in the larger context. We know navigators can navigate without the astronomican (its just far more reliable with than without) and we know ships can navigate (one way or another) without Navigators. Presumably having one or the other (we know psykers other than Navigators can 'see' the astronomican, so they arguably could benefit from it, and Navigators can navigate by other means, such as astropathic signals and such) can speed things up compared to travel without either (Inter-sector traffic/trade, or computer assisted)
The "best" travel, the one we probably see the most often (and using the fstest form of travelling) liekly uses both. This also means that the vast majority of travel in the Imperium will be both more variable but also vastly more slower.
Ah, Necromunda. My favorite Hive World (if I can be said to have one.. at least they don't glory in eating dead people much.) Implications of the size, scale and number of hives (multi km tall, multi km in diameter, etc.)In the hive cities which stud that deathly world as warts crust the facec of a plague corpse...
..the Imperial Fists Space Marines, who maintain a fortreess monastary in the Palatine hive on Necromunda.
Approach closer, and those same pimples become huge termite mounds. Closer yet, and the clustered spires of each hive soar form the wastes of ash to pierce the highest clouds. Now many are almost too vast to comprehend as mere cities built by human hands. It seems as though habitable mountains have grown up precipitously and cancerously from out of the ravaged landscape in deifane of gravity the leveller. Unto its myriad inhabitants each of these hives is a separate, vertical world.
We dont know how many Hives for sure, but even assuming 1 per 1000 square km. ASsuming roughly earthlike, there's going to be 5e8, which will come out to hundreds of thousands of cities easily. SAying that Necromunda (and likely all the "old" Hive Worlds) have thousands of hives total is not unreasonable - its substantiated by the Necromunda game stuff as well.
The Fists also have a fortress monastery on Necromunda, (one of their recruiting grounds) though we dont know hwo many folk are there.
Extending through the crust suggests tens or huundreds of km in length (Depth), and being kilometers thick (with "hundreds of meters" thick" walls.) Its quite possible the walls of the Hive are equally thick (to within an Orde rof Magnitude)In the heart of Traizor, as in every other hive on Necromunda, a vast tube of plasteel plunged all the way down through the crust of the planet. Kilometeres wide, with a wall hundreds of metres thick, this conduit for the world's inner heat fed the various power stations that were built within that wall from the factory levels upwards: heat into energy. This enormous hollow thermal spike also served as anchor and root for the hive.
To slide or tumble or simply fall free, down, down, tens of kilometres down into the inferno.
A rather nice cross-section of the kinds of weaponry available on Necromunda, yet again. And again these are "not particularily wealthy" gangers.The scumniks, who had been lying in wait for prey, used stubguns, grenades - then at close quarters, a chainsword and knives. At first the techs had retaliated with bolt guns and heavy stub weapons. Arches and debrris intercepted manyy explosive bolts and bullets; and ammunition was soon exhausted on both sides. Pressed closer, the techs resorted to their own blades, some chill steel, others humming with hot power.
Into this lethal melee flew the Lordly Phantasms, flourishing their laspistols and power stilettos...
Tonight they didn't wish to kill; they intended to capture. So they used their superior laser beams mostly to sting and scorch and put surplus scumniks and techs to flight.
Note rather interestingly that lasguns are cited as being "superior" to stub weaponry and bolt weapons. They also indicate variable output, since they simply use their beams to "sting and scorch"
low powered beam "burnt" the hand. We dont know how low powered or how badly burnt (but later conjecture that its pretty bad) "sorching" implies searing (or that it blackens/cauterizes) which implies a fairly energetic output, even if just superficial. A male human hand (say 15 cm long from wrist to tip, 10 cm across, 2-3 cm average thickness) would mass around 300-350 grams, and if we assume roughly 1/10th of that was burnt (just a couple millimeters) would be 10-15 kilojoules to "sear" one side - 20-30 KJ for both. - which works as a rough order of magnitude.He swivelled and fired his laspistol towards the tattoed boy in case that one thought to exploit the distraction, burning his target's hand so that the scum kid dropped his trophy.
We dont know duration but it would have to be pretty quick given the small size of a hand and the hectic nature of a close-in combat (single shots really, probably fraction of a second) Higher outputs would be at least an order of magnitude grgeater (logically)
Oh, and "searing" is going to be larggely similar to cauterization (you're boiling off the water content in the tissue so you can burn the flesh noticably, so the energy outputs are going to be roughly approximate. I went to a more conservative just a bit past boiling point, for this calc.. say 150 C - 400 kj per kg. Using higher figures could easily double the calc.)
- Traizor hive is a fusion of 3 smaller hives into one, and each has its own garrison of "Planetary Defence Force." used for policing and maintaining order. This is all pretty bog standard early-edition 40K (and Necromunda) fluff though. But it does indicate that there are a myraid of PDFS on the planet (thousands?)
Note this also multiplies the possible number of "hives" that exist as above, although in reality that's not going to mak emuch difference since in practice a large conglomeration of "hives" could make up one super-hive and count as that.
The Defence Forces/Guard are seen to have better weaponry than what the Underhive of Necromunda faces (which says alot considering all the gear they can get ahold of.) and "real food". (still no eating people). This will really tell you something about the quality of Necromundan forces.Now their commander must dragoon several tech or merchant gangs from the Oberon spire into the ranks [Of the PDF].
Which might prove to be no bad fortune for those recruits...
By such a route they might escape frmo the niches of their birth, and gain access to something better- to better weapons, possibly to some real food different from synthcake and synthgruel.
Yet the Defence Force offered a chance - admittedly small - of subsequently entering the Imperial Guard and leaving the claustrophobic hives of Necromunda entirely for other worlds.
Its also notable that "gangs" don't neccesarily mean what we think they do. "gang" seems largely to refer to any grgoup of people who share some sort of collective identity and band together for mutual self protection and self interest. As we see in the Necromunda stuff, some gangs are actually quite sophisticated. (And some aren't).
- prospective gangers being inducted into the PDF are stripped of their weapons. Probably a good idea to prevent fighting and maintain discipline, ,but it may also suggest that the stuff they carry is usually regarded as total shit.
Stun guns. Don't want to injure the prospective cannon fodder.Wary troopers directed stun guns at the medley of bodies in case of disorder...
Prior to cybernetics becoming all the rage in 40K (I bet he would have gotten an augmetic nose nowadays) - but it probably could suggest plastic surgery (or pseudo-organic equivalents we find about later) aren't all that uncommon.A Sergeant with a crudely reconstructed pink blob of a nose - obviously bitten off at some stage of his professional or previous career - sat at a damascened bronze data-desk stained green with cupreous patina.
Machine used in the recruitment/screening process. Suitably gothic looking, of course.A high-backed iron chair caged with copper filigree and equipped with adjustable iron helmet, as if crushing the occupant's skull, stood vacant. A tech murmured incantations as he stroked the wires running from this to a bone-framed screen where runes and formulae flicekred;
[/quote]"Well, pretty boy, Trazior's a little hive, as hives go. Three million, four. The pop of all Necromunda's hives is uncountable. We don't need any spare high-hab boys, not even as bait for nomads in the wastes."
"uncountable" numbers, presumably far above the hundreds of billions known for other hives. OR else all hive numbers are just "Best guess" estimates. The latter seems likely given the nature of all hives, its only likely that the smallest hives or the hives of "new" worlds can actualyl claim anything like a reasonably accurate census.
estimates derived frrom the necromunda material suggested hundreds/thbousands of Hives averaging billions for the largge hives. The numbers would go into the trillions, at LEAST.