One of the few things I did pick up at Games Day (no Games Day miniature for me this year) was a few Black Library book, including the “Games Day Exclusive” story compilation from Black Library.
Not unlike the event as a whole, I felt the book was a let down in many ways compared to the 2012 Games Day Anthology from Black Library. Let me explain….
2013 Games Day Anthology – 31 Space Marines “Shorts”
It is always difficult to properly “review” an anthology of several short stories.
Given the nature of the 2013 Games Day Anthology, that’s an even more difficult prospect, given that it includes no less than 31 … yes, 31! … “mini” stories.
To be exact, the book contains 31 of the “mini-stories” that Black Library published before Games Day as a daily serial along with the new Space Marines Codex for (I believe) £0,79 each.
The individual downloads appear to be gone from Black Library, though they offer them as eBook anthology of 28 stories for £25,-.
Getting 31 of them for “only” £20,- at Games Day probably was a “bargain” (*cough*).
Either way, the 2012 Games Day Anthology had 6 short stories in ~130 pages (for 5 quid less). So each of them, aside from not all (!) being about Space Marines, were ~5x the length as those from the 2013 Games Day Anthology. The former is the clearly the better format.
Some of the authors do fun things with a 1000 words. Even the best of them, however, it always feels like a cut-scene, a teaser or an “outline” for a longer story. 1000 words simply isn’t enough to get fully invested into a character or story, no matter how good the writing may be.
Space Marine “Super-Short” Stories I Liked
Ok… with all those caveats out of the way, there were still a couple of good stories in the book. 1000 words isn’t a whole lot, so it’s only more impressive how some authors make it work.
Here are a few (in no particular order) that I enjoyed:
- The Tithe by Ben Counter – Arguably the best example of a (potential) longer story “super-condensed” to its absolute bare minimum, still telling a “full” story of rivalry between Traitors (Iron Warriors) and Loyalists (Imperial Fist) in only ~1000 words.
- Death Speakers by Andy Smillie – I love Andy Smillie’s grisly style – as seen in his Flesh Tearers books - and he does it again here. Gothic, dark and bloody. Reminds me that I need to read more Andy Smillie.
- Setting the Stage by C L Werner – A (very short) story about Space Marines Scouts done right. Done near-perfectly, truth be told.
- Iron Soul by Phil Kelly – Great little story with a fun twist that puts some ambiguity on Loyalist Space Marines – Iron Hands in this case. Space Marines tends to be much more interesting if it isn’t simply Loyalists vs. Traitors/Xenos, and this short a good example.
- Vigil by James Swallow – I have a love-hate relationship with James Swallow’s work, but he nails it in this one. Makes me want to start a Doom Eagles army… yes, you read that right!
- The Judges, In Their Hunger by David Annandale – I admit I am a hopeless David Annandale fanboy! And now he is writing stories about
Space SharksCarcharodons? OMG! Please tell me there’s a full novel coming…!
- Obsidian by Graham McNeill – How do you write a story that closes an anthology of 30 stories? Like Graham McNeill does it with Obsidian! A perfect ending to this book.
People say the writings are on the wall for “traditional” book publishing. That alone, in my opinion, makes (in my opinion) Black Library one of the most interesting publishers in the world, not just in gaming. Their willingness to experiment with different and new formats is commendable.
That said, they seem to occasionally forget the actual reader in their efforts to test (and push) “new ways” of reading their fiction. Ultimately, I am not sold on the 1000-word super-short format. I haven’t tried them as ebooks before. Having read 31 of them now, I am happy I didn’t.
Have you read a Black Library “Super-Short”?
Have you ever read one of Black Library’s 1000-word super-short-stories? In this anthology? From Black Library’s homepage?
Is it a format you like? Would be interested in? Do you prefer more “old-fashioned” short-stories (not to mention full novels)?
Let me know what you think and leave a comment below!