Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas with a Tanith accent

I won’t begin this blog entry with predictable apologies for not having blogged much recently, or any excuses about how busy I’ve been, except to say I’m sorry I haven’t blogged much recently, but I’ve been really busy.

Before I forget, can I remind you all to visit the all-new, all-singing, all-dancing Black Library website, where you can enjoy BL’s blog, and catch up with all sorts of inside information. I think the Black Library website will become increasingly interactive and participatory, although you will all need to interact and participate.

May I also, while I remember (and while Clone 16 has got the web address written down) suggest you check out to watch the “War of Kings” trailer. This little piece of marketing is advertising the cosmic event that Andy Lanning and I are orchestrating for Marvel. It spins out of the two (highly acclaimed, if I may say so) books we are writing, “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Nova”, and is going to be an epic clash between the Inhumans, commanding the Kree Empire, and the Shi’ar Imperium. With origins going back to “Secret Invasion”, Marvel’s most recent company-wide event, this is going to be pretty huge. Andy and I are very excited about the way it’s shaping up, and we’re very pleased with the story we’ve managed to put together. The art, principally by Paul Pelletier, is fantastic. Although Andy and I have worked for Marvel and DC for nearly twenty years, this last year or so, working on Marvel’s cosmic books, has been an absolute blast, and this is where everything steps up a gear.

Early in the New Year, I’ll publish a list of the various signings that are coming up in 09, but it’s worth mentioning that they will include a mini signing tour in Paris and another one in Scotland.

I’ve enjoying the wild and varied posting that has been going on since the last blog, and, of course, I’m delighted to see you all on Facebook. The subject of accents is an interesting one that I probably shouldn’t get drawn into, as my personal theory is that it should be up to the readers to decide what works best for them. This is certainly my policy when it comes to pronunciation of names (Nik and I even argue about how certain character names ought to be pronounced, and you wouldn’t believe how many variations there are for Ravenor, for example. My policy is that the correct way to pronounce it is the way you pronounce it). Having said all that, I thought I’d volunteer the following: I have always imagined the Tanith to be, essentially, a Celtic regiment. In my head, that places them more Welsh or Irish, but there’s just as much justification for them being a little Scottish or even Cornish, or something more exotically Celtic. To me, the Verghast have a very strong Russian or Polish vibe going on: Vervunhive was a very Stalingrad city in my mind and there was an awful lot of mining and smelting. Gol Kolea is a great big bear of a miner. The Belladon, I don’t know about. There’s something quite dashing about them in a French way. The Belladon have a very particular personality in my head, but it doesn’t translate ethnically in the way that, say, the Tanith do. I would have to cast an actor in the role of a Belladon, rather than a national type. Wes Maggs, for instance, is Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine. Interestingly, as I’ve just been discussing with Nik, I’ve realised that I have no idea what Baskevyl looks like, or who I would cast in his role. He’s become such an important character and he has an extremely strong personality that comes through whenever I think of him, but I have no idea at all what colour his hair is. I mention this as an oddity because other characters have left indelible visual impressions in my mind: Gaunt, obviously, Rawne, Larkin, Corbec, Tona Criid, Varl, Ban Daur, Hark etc. Several of you were spot on when you suggested that the Roane Deepers are ANZACs, and the Vitrians are, indeed, black. As for the Narmenians, I did rather imagine them to be Russian too, and the Volpone were just very aristocratic and haughty, so they could have been French or German, or English. They had that old regimental tradition thing going on.

The aforementioned Black Library website has indeed announced that my next Horus Heresy novel will be called “Prospero Burns”. As far as I know, to answer the question that many of you have asked on the blog, or by e-mail, I believe I will be handling the Space Wolves side of the action, with Graham focusing on the Thousand Sons in his follow-up companion piece. We are, of course, talking about novels here, and they are big, complicated, unwieldy and sometimes uncooperative animals, so the end result is likely to be less clear-cut than that. All I can promise for definite is that Prospero will burn.

Anyway, let me get to the main purpose of this blog, which is to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and successful New Year. I hope Santa brings you everything you want.
As we say in our house:
“It’s gonna be,
Chrimbly bimbly be!
What’s it gonna be?

I thank you.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Forthcoming Event

So how about that for a cover? Did I ever, in all my born years, expect to write a book that had a posed picture of a member of S Club 7 on the front of it? And like it? I’m pleased with the way the Primeval novel has turned out, so I hope you get a kick out of it too, even if you don’t watch Primeval. There are dinosaurs a-go-go, and when I say dinosaurs, I mean proper dinosaurs in large numbers. There’s also plenty of Russian military hardware, and Cutter, Connor, Abby and the rest. I’m especially proud of the dinosaurs, though. I think I give good therapod. In January, when it’s published to tie into the start of the third season on TV, you can judge for yourselves.

Last weekend, I tripped up to Colchester to attend the 16th birthday celebrations of the Colchester GW store. A very fun time I had, and I would like to thank Bunny and all her crew for making me feel so welcome. Hello to the 4TK guys as well.

Next weekend, the 14th and 15th, I will be attending the ingeniously titled Abertoir, the Aberystwyth Arts Centre Horror Film Festival. I’ll be signing on the Friday evening and then, again, on the Saturday lunchtime. I’m not sure why I’ve been invited to a horror film festival, unless it’s because I wrote a “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” graphic novel. But I’ll be there, willing and able, and if you’re there too, it’ll be fun. Check the Abertoir site for details.

Also just out from the pen of yours truly is “The Forever Trap”, a Doctor Who audio adventure I wrote earlier this year, which has been read on CD by Catherine Tate. She does great voices, and I’m completely chuffed with the end product.

I would also like to alert you to the publication of the trade paperback compilation of my “Kingdom” strip for 2000AD. It collects both of the series that I wrote, drawn by Richard Elson in spectacular fashion. “Kingdom” is nothing like as well known as Nova or Gaunt, say, but the people I’ve given my spare copies to have loved it, and it’s Nik’s favourite comic strip. If you like my novels, you might want to track it down on Amazon, or similar purveyor of published material.

Xhalax - Yes, I do think you have lost your mind to the dark elves. You should know that Shaun has provided Nik with enormous creative fodder. And when it says “Dan Abnett added you as a friend on Facebook” it’s probably referring to the fan Facebook site rather than the real Facebook me. However, if you do join Facebook, I will happily add you as a friend. Does that make you feel less wibbly wobbly?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Forthcoming attractions

I’ll be back to my old blogging self once I’m past the current uber-deadlines, but I did want to make sure I reminded anybody who needed reminding of the following two events that are coming up soon.

On Saturday the 1st of November I will be at Games Workshop, Colchester, between 1 and 3pm for some signing and general badinage. Look forward to seeing you.

On Friday the 14th of November I’ll be making the first of two appearances at the Abertoir Horror Festival at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre. I’ll be doing a signing on the Friday at 5-30, and another one the following lunchtime at 12-30. There may even be time on either occasion for a bit of chat and a Q&A. I speed you in the direction of the Abertoir website for full details of timings and locations.

In the meantime, I’m going to party like it’s my daughter’s eighteenth birthday. Which it is. Happy birthday, Jess!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fantasy Book Critic

Just a quickie to draw your attention to the very excellent Fantasy Book Critic website ( which is well worth a visit at the best of times, but is presently offering the lucky few a chance to win a signed copy of my Titanicus or Graham's The Killing Ground. Thought you'd all like to know. Let's give a big 'hoorah! Well done!' to Robert Thompson of Fantasy Book Critic.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mr Abnett has left the building.

Dan has taken the day off, it being his birthday and all, to play with his all-singing, all-dancing Millennium Falcon (and his family). Regular service will resume after a bit more food and a good sleep.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A brief message from the Late Cretaceous


Let us pause for a moment, and toe the dust with our shoes, and consider the passing of great men. Paul Newman. I’m not, for a moment, pretending we don’t have ‘proper’ film stars these days, but we will not see the like of Paul Newman again. He was almost the last of the old-fashioned movie stars, who combined glamour with looks and an ability to utterly hold the attention. So, let us pause for a moment, and toe the dust with our shoes and consider the passing of great men.

Anyway, I’m sorry I haven’t posted recently. Places to go, people to see, Gaunt novels to write, Primeval novels to finish. Things have been a little busy since before GamesDay. My Primeval novel is now hurtling to a conclusion, and I think it’s rather good, though I say so myself (so do I - Nik). The lovely Primeval people promised me that my novel would be considered canonical, and they encouraged me to let loose with an imagination budget that would make it “Primeval the Movie”. So, I let rip. I think I spent the entire drama budget of ITV and Film 4 in my first three chapters, but what the hell? Cutter, along with Abby and Connor, get whisked away to Siberia in time to watch the Russian Federal Army do battle with Late Cretaceous dinosaurs. I love dinosaurs, me. This is like dinosaur heaven. There are dinosaurs, and there are soldiers and tanks attacking them. Oh, and did I mention, there are dinosaurs? It’s like all the games I played on the carpet when I was a kid with my Airfix soldiers and my anatomically and geologically incorrect plastic monsters.

I went to Tring on Saturday. It’s not often you get to write that sentence. Sitting down and having a lovely chat with a good many fine folk such as Jim Swallow and Juliet Mckenna would have been reason enough to go, in my opinion, but Gamesfest 3 had other things to recommend it. It was well organised and extremely friendly. I hope it happens again next year, and I hope more of you put it in your ‘must attend’ calendars. Gamesfest was a great opportunity to spend the day in a splendid location, to play games and talk with like minded individuals, and properly chat with artists and writers in a relaxed way, without the pressure of queues and timed signings etc. For my part, being invited to draw the raffle tickets and being escorted into the main hall by a squad of Imperial Stormtroopers was worth the 90 minute drive on its own. As it turned out, I wasn’t the droid they were looking for.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Of Iron Snakes and other sundry matters

Pausing only to mention how much I am looking forward to seeing all of you (and when I say 'all', you all know who you are) at the extraordinary suprafabulatory wonderama of awesome sauce that is Games Day UK this coming Sunday (I'll be there all day, try the veal), and to comment in a passing, throw-away fashion how much fun I had in NY, I hereby hand over the controls of this blog entry to John Roberts.

To explain, John emailed me a little while back to ask if there was anything written up on the organisation and structure of the Iron Snakes, and I had to admit that there wasn't as far as I knew, and that I hadn't formalised it myself. I suggested that if he had the time and inclination, he was welcome to take a pass at it, and if he sent the results to me, I'd post it here for all to enjoy. Or, as I suspect, discuss at great length.

Anyway, he emailed me back with the following, and a jolly lovely job he's done IMHO. I've reproduced his entire email for the sake of clarity:

"Hi Dan,

To be honest, I think you have a perfectly good organization as it is given the nature of the chapter. With specialist squads I can imagine the following scene:

Seydon: Petrok, can you double check the chips again? We really need at least 2 assault squads for this undertaking and I only see Squad Alexios in here.....

So, keep them all tactical. As far as vehicles, keep them as you have. Rhinos and Drop pods to get to the fighting, landspeeders for speed, and Dreadnoughts for heavy weapon platforms.

So we have:
99 Tactical squads comprised of: Sgt, apothecary, weapons specialist, 7 brother marines
1 Terminator Squad comprised of: Sgt, Apothecary, weapon specialist, 7 brother marines
Drop Pods

This makes the Iron Snakes extremely nimble as they don't have to wait for much in the way of armor, which is ideal given what seems to be their two most common roles: Chasing down Dark Eldar and Rapid Strikes against Chaos.

So, not very creative on my part. You did all of the heavy lifting and I did a little codification. As soon as I have the latest Space Marine Codex I'll draft an army list. Actually, I'll probably draft 2: one where I try to minimize the homegrown rules to make it more palatable for strangers, and the other where I pretty much give myself free reign. I'd be more than happy to shoot you a copy of each if you'd like. Also, I've included as a postscript a write up I did to help me form up my thoughts of your Iron Snakes. If you like that sort of thing, it's there. If not, stop reading at my signature. I can imagine the type of mail you must get.

Anyway, I also want to mention how much I appreciate the response to my query. I seriously would have been satisfied with a link to a blog article I might have missed or some such.

Thanks again!
John Roberts

The Iron Snakes


The Iron Snakes are a codex divergent Space Marine Chapter. They do maintain a 1000 Marine strong presence broken down to 100 squads of ten marines per squad (referred to overall as the Phratry). 99 of the squads are organized primarily as tactical squads with several variations: 1) The squad members maintain a greater number of close combat weaponry on their person (in the form of a short sword and a throwing/jabbing spear, in addition to a small, round shield). 2) Each squad is accompanied by an apothecary (which creates a rather sizeable apothecarium of about 100+ members, including the unattached apothecaries responsible for the augmentation of new recruits). 3) Each squad maintains only a single weapon specialist, usually equipped either with a flamer, plasma gun or melta gun. There is only one squad that isn’t organized as a tactical squad and it is also the only squad in the entire chapter armored in tactical dreadnought suits.

The squads themselves aren’t organized on any greater level, other than the chapter entire. There aren’t any companies to speak of. All task forces are assembled ad hoc from the available squads with squad leaders designating themselves as ready for the mission, or undertaking, as the chapter refers to it. A squad leader does so by depositing a marker with their squad symbol into a large drinking vessel known as a kylix. Squads are also designated not by the name of their current leader but by the name of the original leader at the founding of the chapter. The current squad leader also maintains some sort of talisman from the original leader, sometimes either utilitarian or symbolic in nature (i.e. a lightning claw, bolter, helmet, etc…). The squads maintain their own history, foster rivalries (although very rarely to the point of violent contention), and ultimately are formed around a core of “Notables,” which would be the rough equivalent of a codex chapter’s elite, comprised of 5 squads (one of which happens to be the terminator unit). The squad membership is for life, unless a member is promoted to become sergeant of a reformed squad or, in the case of an unfortunate apothecary, the rest of the squad is wiped out. Promotion to captain or, if the individual is so inclined, librarian might also free a squad member from inclusion into the squad, but there are captains who have been promoted who stayed with their original squad. The squads replenish losses from a body of petitioners, as they are referred to, who are tested to ensure they would be worthy additions to the Phratry. The petitioners only take to the battlefield once they are full marines; the Iron snakes maintain no scout organization.

The leadership of the Iron Snakes is currently under Chapter Master Seydon. Members of the standing librarium, the chaplainry, and also those captains that are unattached to individual squads assist him in his role. The entire officer corps, which includes the above mentioned and those officers attached to squads (both sergeants and captains), weighs matters of the greatest import. The main purpose of the Chapter Master is to ensure that the chapter as a whole is prepared. He answers requests for aid and decides on the actual number of squads that will be required for the undertaking. He then selects the squads based solely on which squad leaders have consented to the undertaking by indicating their readiness and that of their squads.

Support for the entire organization is limited mainly to rhino or drop pods for transportation, landspeeders for reconnaissance, and dreadnoughts, which act as heavy weapon platforms in addition to tactical advisors. The chapter comports itself on the battlefield as a fluid, mainly infantry army, utilizing it’s fleet assets to redeploy when necessary. The entirety of the Forge is dedicated to these tasks and maintains a large number of chapter serfs to assist with these varied tasks."

I'd like to thank John for all his efforts, and invite (creative and constructive, not toxic) comments from anyone who feels like it. I think, at the very least, a big and hearty 'Go, John!' is required from all of us.

That's it for now, except to say "go and see Tropic Thunder with your chums if you want to laugh like a goon". Sunday beckons (which is odd, because as far as I know, days don't have fingers)...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

New York, New York

Short notice, I know, but due to a script conflab with Marvel, Andy and I will be in NY this coming weekend, and will be putting in an appearance at both Midtown Comics and Jim Hanley's Universe. Jim Hanley's is likely to be the Monday night at around six, but check their website/newsletter. We'll probably hit Midtown on Saturday, mid-afternoon. There's not enough time to arrange proper signing 'events', but we'll sign up their stock, and if you're in the neighbourhood for a chat etc...

Friday, August 22, 2008

It all goes quiet and then suddenly he's bloody everywhere

Postcards from apology city for the delay in bloggage. Busy type business has been taking up my time of late, though I am now much, much better, thanks for asking. Writing my Primeval novel at the mo, and just girding my loins to get into Blood Pact, the next Gaunt. Also, had fun and games up at Black Library HQ yesterday with the BL crowd, and Graham and Jim, as we plotted and brain-stormed what the next serving of Horus would be about. Looks like Graham and I will be dividing one of the big events up between us... and there was a blinding idea too about what Jim might do next.

Gosh, it’s going to be exciting. My next Horus, due after Blood Pact, looks like it’s going to be my biggest Horus yet, in terms of shooty-death-kill per square inch... and I can’t believe I’ve volunteered to write about Space W-

Opps! Did I say too much?

Anyway, back to a quick events round up. Thanks to Nik, you know all about me at the Witney festival on September 3rd (see last post). Can I also draw your attention to the following (it’s a busy fortnight):

I’ll be a guest at Gen Con UK in Reading next Friday (29th of August). See their website for details. I’m booked to be there around 2.00 for a chat, a Q and A and a signing. Was loads of fun last year, so no reason to believe it won’t be again this year.

The following day (Saturday 30th) I will be at Forbidden Planet in London along with Andy Lanning, Ian Edginton and Simon Coleby to sign and promote our various Wildstorm books (Authority, Storm Watch etc), all of which are launching big time this month as part of Wildstorm’s radical ‘World’s End’ post-apocalypse revision of their universe. We’re there from 1 to 2. With all four of us there, expect more lunacy than usual. Actually, with Andy there, expect more lunacy than usual... (BTW - I’m sure copies of Nova, Guardians of the Galaxy, 2000 AD, Black Library novels etc will be cheerfully signed too)

Sunday 14th of September is of, of course, Games Day UK or the ‘big one’ as we call it. NEC Birmingham, all day, all living colour. Me, Graham, Jim, Sandy, Gav, Nathan, Mike (Lee) etc... the whole gang, plus artists like Clint too. Oh, and copies of Titanicus to buy, along with a special Gaunt’s Ghosts story done exclusively for the day. See the BL site for details. It’s going to be the biggest yet.

Satuday the 4th of Octorber, I’ll be dropping into Gamesfest in Tring during the afternoon. See their site for details of where and how.

One way or another, I’ll see you somewhere, right?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Witney Book Festival

Hi all, Nik here. Dan asked me to let you know that he is recovering nicely and will do a proper blog before too long. In the meantime he asked me to let you know about dates for your diary... or one date, at any rate.

Witney Book Festival has invited Dan to speak at the Gallery Room at the Corn Exchange, Witney on September 3rd. Doors will open at 6-30pm and the ticket price is £2-50 with £2- redeemable against purchases.

Dan is more than happy to speak and answer your questions, but here's the thing... 'Titanicus' and the paperback of 'Only in Death' are being released early for this event!

Tickets for the event are available at Waterstones, Witney branch or phone 01993 703525. (Witney, for anyone who is unsure is in Oxfordshire). Don't all rush at once... On second thought, rush... Run as fast as you can... Book early to avoid disappointment!

Other dates are in the pipeline and will be announced as soon as they are confirmed.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Games Day Germany

Expect a regular blog bulletin again soon. I just wanted to send out a swift public apology. With enormous regret, I find I am unable to attend this weekend's Games Day in Germany. I am REALLY sorry to let the German readership down, and I'm also sorry for myself, to be perfectly honest, because this was going to be my first German Games Day, and I was looking forward to meeting the readers there face-to-face, especially regular posters like Packmaster. Pack, I hope you'll be able to forgive me for this last minute disappointment.

Basically, I'm been pretty unpleasantly ill these last few days, and I'm not getting well enough again fast enough. The advice is, don't fly (it's something exotically viral - I'm having tests done). I have already told BL to book me up for Germany next year, and in the meantime I will see if there's anything else that can be done to make up for my spectacular failure to appear. Watch this space.

Once again, I'm sorry, folks. I hope you all have a great Games Day.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Better late than never.

Zing! It’s Tuesday! Sorry about that, but I was distracted on Friday.

I’ve been reviewing my top ten list, and “Raquel Welch in a suede bikini” seems like the most convincing argument for any of the films.

Big - If you’re going to steal first post, kindly zing! That’s what everyone does, even me (see above).

Belfast Rory - It would indeed be awesome to turn the Gaunt’s Ghost series into a graphic novel. I’m not the man to ask. I suggest you pester Black Library.

Hrothgar - The Han/Leia exchange at the climax of “Empire” is, of course, the crowning moment of that film. When I saw it, first, as a teenager in Leicester Square, a kid in the row behind me cried out, “I love you too!” when Carrie Fisher announced her line. It spoilt the whole film for me. “Anchors Aweigh” is an undoubtedly fabulous film, but turn your attention to “Singin’ in the Rain” and you’ll see Gene Kelly at his best, and out-danced by Donald O’Connor, and out-sung by Debbie Reynolds. As Nik reminded me, Ginger Rogers once said, and I paraphrase, “I don’t know what the fuss is about Fred Astaire. I did everything he did, but backwards and in heels!”

Theydrilledholesinmyteeth - I also don’t share the view that a film can be raised to the ranks of the truly great, merely based on their soundtracks. “The Magnificent Seven” is the one exception, in so far as it is a great film, anyway. “Apocalypse Now” is a thumping good movie, but I prefer “Hamburger Hill” or “A Midnight Clear” when it comes to great war films. I take your point on “Batman Begins”... As the name suggests, it is fantastic at the beginning. My main complaint relates to the end of the movie, when the plot gets all fatooshed. It’s the greatest super-hero movie of all time, except for the last third. But the first two-thirds are really good. “The Duellists” is, of course, an absolutely brilliant movie, and “Ghost Dog” is a very fine film indeed.

Rob - “Barry Lyndon” is a pretty good movie, too. I haven’t yet seen “There Will be Blood”, but I intend to. You reference the John Woo, Hong Kong movies, but I don’t think that anything can better “Hard Boiled”.

Everyone - So, they fudged the regeneration and Tenant didn’t leave. I’m actually quite happy about that, because Tenant is my favourite Doctor in ages, but I’m pretty f**ked off about the cheating cliffhanger. There are all sorts of things about the final episode of season IV that were fantastic, but there were also all sorts of niggling and hanging sillynesses that made me shake my fist at the screen. If you enjoyed it, as I must admit, I did, then Hurrah! If you press me over the next few weeks, I might deconstruct the cliffhanger and show you what p**sed me off about it. Whatever, Russell T Davies has done an amazing job in resurrecting Doctor Who and I applaud him for it.

Cor - You may care to enjoy the David Tennant and Catherine Tate audio that I have just written for BBC audio.

Rory - I really like Donna. I really like the fact that Catherine Tate has acted her boots off, and been a proper character, a proper companion. I won’t hear a word said against her.

Xhalax - I applaud your list and it’s very age-appropriate. I would question “The Lion King” in favour of “The Jungle Book”, and I would question “Hot Fuzz” in favour of the entire “Spaced” series, but that’s just me.

Nik - Bernard Cribbins is simply wonderful. I may be wrong, but didn’t he help thwart the Daleks in the ‘60s? With paint on their eyestalks? And Roy Castle was pretty dashing as well, especially with the McWhirter brothers on the Guiness Book of Records show.

Chilon - Welcome. The Monty Python films lurk in my top 30, especially “Holy Grail” and “Now for Something More Interesting”. I also have a very soft spot for “The Meaning of Life”, and, for Ingmar Bergman. I think that a list of the top 10 worst movies of all time would be quite compelling, but it depends upon the criteria. Just totally crap films? Or, films that are quite compelling, yet sh*t? There isn’t going to be a Harlon Nayl trilogy. The third, and final, Inquisitor trilogy is going to be the Bequin trilogy.

Mob - Thank you for saying that I have a great radio voice. It goes with the face. Black Library podcasts would be a great idea.

Big - Thunderchild! Best moment, ever!

Leo - “Onwards, my hawk men!” You just have to shout it.

Tom - Nice top ten, close but no banana.

Big and Who - You know it makes sense.

I’m off to regenerate, but I’ll still be David Tenant.

Vworp! Vworp!

Friday, June 27, 2008

... I'm happy again...

... just singin' and dancin' in the rain!

A comment specifically designed to naff off all the people who are bewildered by my choice of 'Singin' in the Rain' in my top 10.

Let's consider lists for a moment. What good are they? Do we ever learn anything useful from lists? There are, for example, two types of people in the World, those who divide people into two types of people, and those who don't. A list is just a list (a sigh is just a sigh). The fundamental things of life apply in funny ways. A list might be interesting, even if it means nothing. So, I stand by my list, and I repeat it, for those who missed it: My top ten films of all time are as follows:
1) Singin' in the Rain
2) Casablanca
3) Some Like it Hot
4) This is Spinal Tap
5) A Matter of Life and Death
6) The Empire Strikes Back
7) A Canterbury Tale
8) One Million Years BC
9) Ferris Bueller's Day Off
10) The Magnificent Seven

Now let's see what you made of that.

Oh, and, Zing, by the way.

(Just getting some business out of the way)

Hrothgar - I may well write an Alpha Legion novel set in 40K. Sounds like a good idea. 'The Lightning Tower' and Graham's counter-piece are now available as an audiobook. The next Gaunt's Ghosts omnibus will be out very soon.

Big - (back on topic). Yes, I do tend to take the first three Star Wars films as one gulp, although 'Empire' is still the best. 'The Magnificent Seven' may well be a poor remake of 'The Seven Samurai' (which is a fantastic movie), but 'The Magnificent Seven' is an epic all of its own. Just the relationship between Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner is worth the ticket price, alone. Brynner's iconic role as the man in black was so cool and memorable that it lasted through to movies like 'West World'. Besides that, you've got James Coburn being totally Mkvenner with his knife, Charles Bronson defending the little kids, and Robert Vaughn sliding his lip down the stucco wall as he dies. The film is, in so many ways, a total win. And the answer to the secret question is Brad Dexter. You're right, 'The Magnificent Seven' takes me back to the time I first saw it, pre-'The Seven Samurai'. But it rocks, and it has one of the best soundtracks of any movie, ever. I defy anyone to remain unstirrred when they hear it. This film makes it into the top ten by dint of soundtrack alone, but if it wasn't the soundtrack, there'd be another equally valid reason, probably Steve McQueen saying, "So far, so good."

I think that covers one of my choices.

Rob - Thank you for stepping in. 'Singin' in the Rain' is absolutely the best 'bad day' movie of all time. I agree that there might have been more Kurasawa on my list, but that would be very blinkered. I think you would all agree that my top ten is rounded, if nothing else. Oh, yes I might have two Powell and Pressburger films on there, but it's POWELL and PRESSBURGER for crying out loud.

Jackwraith - You can Scooby Doo all you like, but my list stands. 'Blade Runner' is a fabulous film, and, like 'Pulp Fiction', it would definitely make my Top TWENTY, alongside 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind', 'Conan the Barbarian', 'Adam's Rib', 'Born Yesterday', 'Glengarry Glenross', 'Twelve Angry Men' and 'Raise the Titanic' (just kidding about the last one).

Hurrah for the Hussar - If we're on TV series, then 'Band of Brothers' is an absolute winner. I watch it regularly to get in the mood, and I still think that Damien Lewis would make a great Gaunt.

Tom - Thank you for your staunch defence, and your appreciation of the odds I'm up against. 'Singin' in the Rain' stays on my list despite all the nay-sayers.

Someone e-mailed me privately to remind me of the wonderfulness of 'The Godfather'. It would make my 100, because it's properly good, but pay attention to the films in the Top 10.

Big - Thanks for your multi-genre top 10. 'Braveheart'? Despite the historical inaccuracies, 'Braveheart'? 'It's a Wonderful Life' makes my top 20, but I would list 'Them!' and 'The Incredible Shrinking Man' before I'd get to 'Invaders from Mars'. 'Zulu' and 'Wild Geese' are cracking films, but I don't think they'd be up there in my top 20, maybe my top 30. What about 'Deliverence'? Or 'Duel'?

Or 'Jaws'?

Nik just suggested 'Purple Rain'. You've got to give her full marks for nostalgia and Apollonia.

Okay, let's get down to this properly.

First of all, because I didn't give it, my genre specific top ten list:
1) When Harry Met Sally
2) Steel Magnolias
3) Pretty Woman
4) Singin' in the Rain

... oh, not romcom genre specific, then. Okay, sci-fi (ish):
1) Empire Strikes Back
2) Alien
3) Aliens
4) Terminator
5) Beneath the Planet of the Apes
6) Blade Runner
7) Close Encounters...
8) Mad Max II
9) The Innocents
10) Moon Zero Two

Let's get down to the ten on the list. Number 1: 'Singin' in the Rain'.

Any film in which Donald O'Connor runs up a wall is tops with me. This film stands out as a benchmark between the times when people could do this shit and when CGI learned to do this shit. It's packed with fabulous tunes and the most amusing story. Cyd Charisse is but a walk-on, with her million dollar legs. People don't have these skills any more, and we won't see a film like this ever again. The 'Make Em Laugh' routine is one of the most extraordinary things ever put on film. And yes, the film is a rainy day pleasure. Nik and I watch it with the girls every Christmas eve, it's part of our routine. If you haven't seen 'Singin' in the Rain', see it. If you've got kids, watch it with them. And really watch it. Look at what they're doing. Nobody can do that any more. I repeat NO BODY can do that any more.

Number 2: 'Casablanca'.

The perfect film. In filmic terms, it's like 'Hamlet', so many lines have been quoted from it that you forget what the original was like. For example, "the usual suspects". The script of Casablance is so tight and so well-delivered that the film hangs together in the most amazing way. On top of that, you've got Bogie, Ingrid Bergman (the most beautiful woman in the world), Claude Raines, Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre (in a bit part). It's like all the wonderfulness of Hollywood collided in one place at the same time. I defy anybody to sneer at this film.

Number 3: 'Some Like it Hot'.

A film in which Tony Curtis manages to be more beautiful than Marilyn Monroe. We've got a black and white film in a colour era about cross-dressing with Tony and Jack playing the most wonderful dames. It's a pantomime. Marilyn was never sexier than in this film. She got the fuzzy end of the lollipop. Tony doing Carey Grant on the beach is priceless, and the line, "I'll say, I've had three ponies drown under me" is legendary. Billy Wilder never made a better film, and he made some damn good films. George Raft flicks the coin in the most sinister way, playing upon his movie stereotype. I've been to the hotel in Coranado where it was filmed, and it looks just the same today as it did when they pretended it was Florida. This film has to be on everybody's top ten.

Number 4: 'This is Spinal Tap'.

"In here, there's a little man, but in here, there's nothing. What I want is big bread." If that wasn't enough, 'This is Spinal Tap' has so much clever written all over it that my dad, bless him, thought it was a documentary. This is the most quotable movie of all time, beating out, even, 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail', which lurks, affectionately, up in my mid-twenties. We may have the knights who say 'ni', but we do have "Fire and ice", and "Don't even look at that". I dare you to diss this film.

Number 5: 'A Matter of Life and Death'.

Powell and Pressburger. David Niven. Life and Death. Beautifully shot and wonderfully staged, this film has all sorts of goodies waiting for the viewer. The splits between heaven and Earth are wonderful enough, but the moment when the table tennis match freezes in time is one of the greatest moments in cinema. Second only to that, is the moment when David Niven wakes up on the beach, meets the boy playing panpipes, thinks he's gone to heaven, and then looks up as the Mosquito (was it a Mosquito?) thunders overhead: a moment of pure brilliance.

Number 6: 'The Empire Strikes Back'.

Despite the arse about face structure of 'The Empire Strikes Back', it's by far and away the best of the Star Wars films. Who cares if the baddies win in the end? We've had walkers and Hoth and Bespin, and Bobba Fett, and the best asteroid chase in the history of asteroid chases. 'Star Wars' was fantastic and 'Return of the Jedi' was great, but 'The Empire Strikes Back' was the masterpiece in the middle of the trilogy. The Hoth sequence alone is the dog's.

Number 7: 'A Canterbury Tale'.

Yes, another Powell and Pressburger film. I apologise, ( 'The life and death of Colonel Blimp' is right up there too). Powell and Pressburger could do things with cinema that other people could only dream about. A propoganda movie made in black and white, and centred around Canterbury, a recognisable Canterbury, this film is absolutely fantastic. Cameron Diaz was not the first girl to get sticky stuff in her hair. For the first 45 minutes of this movie, you'll wonder why you bothered, and what's going on. Stay with it. It is the most uplifting and celebratory film you've ever seen. If it doesn't bring a tear to your eyes, then you've been watching something else. And where else would you see a boy on the top of a hay cart out of a first floor window, or Bren carriers churning around the landscape?

Number 8: 'One Million Years BC'.

I don't have to defend this. It should be on everybody's list. Ray Harryhausen's dinosaurs win it for me, but then you have to include the wonderful, weird soundtrack that haunts the non-vocal exploits of the Cromagnon and Neanderthal protagonists. Oh, plus, it has Raquel Welch in a suede bikini. Good times.

Number 9: 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'.

This is just a good film that makes you feel happy. "Bueller? Bueller?" I defy you not to laugh at that. Or at "Something D-O-O economics." The sequence in the art gallery just makes you smile. The street dancing is just wonderful. The flip up shades. And there's Alan Ruck.

Number 10: 'The Magnificent Seven'.

I think we've covered this earlier.

Sleep tight.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Special Purple Drinking Fountain

Zing! New post!

Apologies that today's Zing! is a little late, but I've been busy, and travelling, so forgive me for missing a blog-week (which is like a dog year). I went to Baltimore, like you do, to attend Games Day, and a jolly good event it was too: endless signings, a very convivial seminar run by me, Mike Lee and Vince Rospond, and an interview on Warhammer 40K Radio ("Goin' awl the way back! Hit after hit!").

Baltimore was, as ever, very lovely and sunny, and I can particularly recommend their aquarium and their Barnes and Noble. I stayed at Fells Point, the Georgetown-esque, old part of the city, which is extravagantly picturesque, and capable of delivering the finest crab cakes known to human beings. I stayed at the 'Admiral Fell Inn'. That's a joke all by itself.

I feel a large number of thanks are required at this point: to Jervis and the Games Workshop crew from Nottingham for being cheerful companions in the limbo that is Heathrow; to Vince and his family (hello all!) for running the show and being wonderful company during the entire trip; to Mike Lee, my partner in crime on Darkblade and a seriously fine novelist, for being great company both at the stand and at the bar, even though I may have made him cry like a pretty little girl; to the queues of people, who make the job worthwhile; to Venus, my taxi driver, for getting so hopelessly lost on the way to Glen Burnie; to customs official Jessica Jester for stamping my passport and having the best name of the trip; to Bert Smith of GW USA for duty above and beyond the call, chauffeuring me around and surviving nearly three hours of heavy traffic on the way back to Baltimore (as we were following the traffic, generally lost, through Anacostia, Bert remarked, "So how did you get Dan Abnett shot?" "Well, it's a funny story..."). Thanks Bert, I really owe you, and I appreciate you taking the time. The biggest thanks of all have to go to Jeff Barlow, an officer of the close protection service of the Pentagon Police. He was the reason I had Bert drive me out of Baltimore and down the 495. Jeff is a fan of my work, and e-mailed me when he heard that I was going to be in Maryland for Games Day. As a member of the Pentagon Police (the Pentagon is like the Vatican, it is sovereign soil and requires its own dedicated police force. The FBI aren't allowed in, so the Pentagon Police force has to run the place in terms of security and also those annoying little matters like prostitution, drug-trafficking and murder. With a population in excess of 30,000 the Pentagon is a small city, complete with its own shops and restaurants), Jeff wondered if I'd like a tour.

I considered his offer for about... ooh... a micro-second, and said, 'yes'. Jeff, an ex-paratrooper and marine, six foot four in his cop-style uniform, packing a Glock and a night-stick, met me and Bert in one of the gigantic parking lots and gave us a fascinating three hour tour of the building. If I was to recount all the cool stuff and stories that Jeff told me, this blog would run and run, and you wouldn't believe half of it. To sum up, we had a great time. I got to visit Ground Zero Cafe, stand in the doorway of the Secretary of Defence's office, behold the entrance to the National Military Command Centre (Jeff told me that even if I had both keys, the cipher key, and the correct palm and retina print, I still wouldn't be allowed inside because I'm not an American citizen. He said that, at the end of the hallway, there were a couple of guys sitting behind a desk, and if a visitor hadn't identified himself by the time he reached the desk, they had two buttons to push. One was the alarm, and he wasn't allowed to tell me what the other one did). Soberingly, I got to stand at the exact point where the airliner hit on 9/11. Jeff explained that, for a number of reasons, it could have been so much worse, more awful than any of us can imagine.

He told us lots of cool stories, some of which, I'm sure, will blend into Gaunt in the next few years. The one I'll share with you (I have a sneaking suspicion that in other stories he told us rather more than he should have done... how many floors below ground does the Pentagon have?) is the story of the special purple drinking fountain. When the Pentagon was built in 1942, it was equipped with several hundred drinking fountains, all of them of the classic, 1940s ceramic style. They were all blue. Except, that is, for the one in the Air Force Command Centre. This particular drinking fountain was purple. No one knows why... a bad batch? a mis-order? someone's idea of a joke? The truth will never be known, but the point is that it began to acquire a certain mythical status. The preeminent Air Force officers of the day swore by the purple drinking fountain, and claimed it had almost mystical properties. After a while, all the branches of the armed forces trekked through the labyrinths of the Pentagon to drink at the fountain. It was like a holy grail. When the Air Force area was refurbished some time ago, they couldn't bring themselves to rip out the purple fountain. It now resides in a glass display case at the entrance to the Air Force area, a testament to the interface between military logic and personal superstition.

Oh, and official tour guides in the Pentagon walk backwards without looking where they're going. I've no idea how they do this. Training, I suppose. I saw several of them at work and marvelled at their skills. I also enjoyed it every time Jeff opened a door, stood back, and said, "Excuse me, General," to someone walking past.

Now that's how you spend a Friday in anyone's money. Jeff, thank you, and please send your address to me soon so I can mail you a bunch of stuff.

Since we're on a 'thank you' riff, I'd like to say thank you to Geoff Johns for the various lovely remarks he made on internet sites about me and Andy. I'd also like to thank Chris Roberson, author of "The Dragon's Nine Sons", which I feel should be on everybody's reading shelf. Not only has Chris said the most vindicating things about my work on the Games Workshop franchise, he also took the time to praise "Guardians of the Galaxy", the Marvel title that Andy and I are writing. I would urge you to track down and read his blog.

And now, the Q and A:

Al - Titanicus is a Sabbat Worlds story set at the same time as the Ghost books.

Blue Raven - The next cycle of Ghosts books will be entitled, "The Victory". Make of that what you will. Titanicus is a stand alone, unless people like it so much that they demand a sequel (see Double Eagle).

Bert - "Thorn Wishes Talon" will be available in the forthcoming Ravenor omnibus.

OK, let's be clear about this. The top ten films of all time are as follows:
1) Singing in the Rain
2) Casablanca
3) Some Like it Hot
4) This is Spinal Tap
5) A Matter of Life and Death
6) The Empire Strikes Back
7) A Canterbury Tale
8) One Million Years BC
9) Ferris Bueller's Day Off
10) The Magnificent Seven

This list is definitive. It absolutely is. There is no way on Earth that any of these films can be wrested from the pantheon of the top ten films. Or is there? I invite comment... but ONLY from people who have actually watched all of these films (twice). If you haven't, shut the f**k up.

Matthew Churchill - Chaos never sleeps. It really doesn't, but, sometimes, it naps.

Goodnight all.

PS And if anyone's really interested, I'll use my next blog to defend and critique my ten choices. But, you know I'm right.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Well good God damn...

... and other such phrases,
I haven’t heard a beat as good as this in ages!

The immortal words of Scroobius Pip, which brings me neatly to my topic of the day: Things That Will Improve Your Life.

Several things have improved my life significantly in the last week or so, and it would be churlish of me not to share them with you. The first would be the aforementioned Scroobius Pip. I urge you to seek out and buy the album ‘Angles’ by Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip. Now, this isn’t my kind of music at all. I believe, he said in a crusty old man voice, that it might possibly be ‘rap’ or ‘hip hop’. It’s certainly one of those new-fangled youth sounds that a man like me is far too old to ‘be down with’. However, it’s f**king brilliant (sorry Xhalax). Quite apart from the fact that it’s exciting and exhilarating and sounds really good played loud, it’s packed full of the cleverest and funniest lyrics since Tom Lehrer was writing songs. Buy it, simply for the outstanding track ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’, which is a small masterpiece. If you can’t be arsed to buy the album, at least look the video up on Youtube. By ‘kill’, Scroobius is referring to the intended aim of all open-mic rappers... to ‘kill’ with his lyrics. Anyway, it’s what Big would call ‘the tits’ and I defy any of you not to be both profoundly stirred and amused by it.

In terms of music more suited to my age and demographic, may I recommend the debut album of the London Bulgarian Choir. It’s called ‘Alyana Galyana’ and you can only buy it on their website. I’ve been aware of Bulgarian choral music for a while, but when I heard this on Radio 4 earlier in the week, I was blown away. It’s quite astonishing and really rather 40K. The sound the choir produces is the sort of thing you might hear on the ‘Gladiator’ soundtrack. Go and get one for yourself: you will be pleased you did.

It’s no secret that H P Lovecraft is one of my favourite authors. I can’t help myself. I own several different editions of his works: the old and dog-eared Panther paperbacks from the 70s, which first introduced him to me, and several hardback Arkham editions. For reading pleasure, I tend to use the satisfyingly fat Penguin classics (there are three volumes, buy them all! You’re doing yourself a favour!) but thanks to a review in the ‘Fortean Times’ (which is a publication you should all subscribe to, because it is simply wonderful) I was made aware of a hard cover commemorative edition of Lovecraft’s works published by Golancz. It’s only £20 and it’s gorgeous, packed full of illustrations. I already own several versions of all the stories, but this was a must-have. It’s called, no surprises here, ‘Necronomicon’. If you own any H P Lovecraft, then this is the deluxe version that you must own. If you don’t own any H P Lovecraft, what the feth’s the matter with you? Any book that contains ‘The Call of Cthulhu’, ‘The Colour Out of Space’, ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’ and ‘The Dunwich Horror’ has got to be a keeper.

Also, says Nik, buy cardamom flavoured chocolate made by Rococo. It is also ‘the tits’.

If you seek out the above things, your life will be commensurately better. See what I do? I try to bring a little gleam of betterness into your existences.

And so on to any other business:

Hello Jack.

Rory - Yes we have found a new room. It turned up at the back of our house. Sadly, it had nothing to do with the odd keys and rather more to do with the nice builder we got in to erect a conservatory. Having said that, I walked out into it the other night and heard what I presume was cats fighting in the garden. They made the most alarming, human sounds. For a moment, I thought of opening the back door and looking out, expecting to find my youngest daughter crouched outside, making silly noises. But she was upstairs and the curious verbalisations were coming from cats. Or foxes. Or both. Or the hussar, you never can tell. Will try the keys soon. Am expecting to find access to Narnia, Middle Earth, Hogwarts and Erehwon any day now.

Boom - Will the world that the Ghosts finally win be a Death World? Interesting and slightly cruel suggestion. I think the next Ghost book, ‘Blood Pact’, will answer all sorts of questions like that, in surprising ways.

Xhalax - Eurovision. Song. Contest. Three of the most leaden words in the English language.

Leemxt - You asked if any of us find any pieces of my books emotionally moving. I’m interested in all of the responses you post, but I feel I ought to tell you about ‘Riders of the Dead’. The scene where the rocks and stones in the desert start whistling and speaking to our hero is the only time I’ve written something that has seriously spooked me out. And the ending of the same novel, probably because I knew what the last few words would be, weeks in advance, reduced me to spontaneous tears when I finally wrote them. Nik has just reminded me of the scene in ‘Ravenor’ where Frauka is guarding Zael. That’s got to be up there too, along with Varl’s report of the death of Gaunt in ‘Only in Death’, and the final act of ‘Double Eagle’. I won’t even begin to tempt you with the emotional heart tugging that occurs in the final moments of ‘Titanicus’.

Leemxt (2) - Sithee. Ezrah’s speech pattern is undoubtedly buried in British vernacular. I make no apologies for the fact that he speaks the way he does, because I studied Anglo-Saxon at Oxford. It’s pretty bastardised, but the essence is there.

Courtney - Please e-mail your address to my website and I will be happy to send you a signed copy for your boyfriend. You might also tell me your boyfriend’s name, so that I can dedicate it appropriately.

Sredni - Clone 43 counts my words. He took over from Clone 27, when Clone 27 killed itself out of boredom.

Jeff - I’m Alpharius. I’m delighted your wife likes my books. I wish I was coming to Chicago too, but I will be in Baltimore.

Hiwayrobry - Having done a number of readings to captive audiences, I have been told that I don’t do a bad job of it. I may mention this to the Black Library. I’d love to read some of my stories for audio.

Dukeleto - Moffat rules. We’re in safe hands with him.

Hurrah for the Hussar - ‘Titanicus’ is a great big sprawling epic that has many protagonists. I feel sure, however, that you will warm to Cally Samstag, Erik Varco, Major Gotch, Executor Crusius and Adept Feist.

Hiwayrobry (2) - ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is an ongoing series.

Al and Xhalax - I have it on good authority from someone who knows Rory Bremner that accents are easy to cue-in if you can remember certain key words. As I understand it, Geordie is easy to do if you can say ‘Kawasaki’ and ‘conjunctivitis’. I stand to be corrected.

Veyron, schmeyron... Jaguar, schmaguar... I drive a 300C (f**k it, I’ve earned it). It’s lovely, and a real beast. My daughter’s friend, Sarna, was being driven to school by her dad when I drove past them. “That’s Lily’s dad’s car!” Sarna exclaimed. After a short pause, her dad replied, “What is he, a gangster?”

And yes, I probably am. Or a gunshark, at least. My 300C, black as the ace of spades, is called ‘Ramona’. Is it so odd to name your cars? My last car was called ‘Grace’ and the one before that was called ‘Serena’. The one before that was called ‘Kylie’, because she had a nice bottom and also ‘Jacky’ because of her number plate. When I was a kid, I had a bicycle called ‘Hawkeye’. The first car I ever owned had previously belonged to my maternal grandfather. It was a racing green Ford Escort, and it’s registration number began with ‘KLM’ because of which, my grandad had named it ‘the Flying Dutchman’ (KLM being the Royal Dutch Airlines). Go figure.

Big - SinDex returns to 2000AD shortly, and it will delight you, I’m sure.

And finally...

‘Lamentaly’ Xhalax - that’s a great new word, and I intend to use it. A lot.

Now go to bed. Aren’t you all tired?

Saturday, May 17, 2008


New post! Zing!

I must apologise for the delay in posting. Titanicus is finished and I have been lying in a heap. A good heap, but a heap none-the-less. I had a lovely time at my library talk a couple of week backs, and I’d like to thank all concerned for their gracious and accommodating hospitality. The sugar was very welcome. Tomorrow is Black Library Day, officially. I hope you’ll all go out there and be Black Library-ish.

So, the squeaky gate. We’re having a sun room built at the back of the house, and the floor plan extends over to the wall where the squeaky gate sits. As a result, the squeaky gate had to go. Nik and her brother pulled it out of its settings and carried it up to the back of the garden, for later use. Funny thing is, it’s still squeaking, even though it is not there any more. How do you like them apples?

Andy Lanning came to visit me today and brought with him the lovely Eddie Berganza of DC fame. As we told Eddie the story of the squeaking gate his grin became more and more fixed. We went to lunch in town and as we wandered back, I pointed out the White Rabbit and the other places around my house that had once been military residences. “Your local pub is called ‘the Dragoon’,” he said. “Exactly,” I replied. “There are hussars everywhere.”

His fixed grin became even more fixed. Sorry, Eddie, didn’t mean to scare you.

Oh yeah... Titanicus is done. I think I mentioned that. One hundred and forty thousand words worth of stomping titanic chaos. I’m pretty pleased with it, but it drained the hell out of me. I hope you all like it.

And now to business...

Al - I’ve had an ‘awesome handlebar moustache’ for a very long time. The folks at BL used to refer to is as my ‘big gay moustache’. I’m comfortable with my sexuality and therefore laughed at their derision, derisively.

Ryknow041 - Welcome (ltbfth)... long time blogger first time hello. I think you’re probably right. If the hussar isn’t speaking quasi-old-english, I’d be surprised. Thanks for the Guardians of the Galaxy comment. Yes, there will be some inquisitor-related shorts soon. Eisenhorn in short pants is a vision sequestered by the Holy Ordos, as I’m sure you realise.

Sredni - Already on it.

Ashley T - Thanks. I’ll come to Bath when Bath invites me.

Leemxt - You’ll see more first person perspective on the Pact in the next book, which is, funnily enough, called Blood Pact.

Jack - Groot and Cosmo in the same book? It had to happen. Read Guardians of the Galaxy to see how cool that meeting can be.

Rob - Using the key marked ‘R. Carter’ would, of course, be a very bad idea. I’ve put that one in the bottom drawer of the bureau.

Jack - Hello. Thank you very much for the comments on the Torchwood audiobook.

Kid Dork - Thank you very much.

Bigwill - They’re called ‘auto-reactive shoulder-guards’, because that’s what Games Workshop calls them. They’re ‘auto’ and ‘reactive’, because they’re ‘auto-reactive’ shoulder-guards. Hey, I don’t make this stuff up (much).

Turain - I’ll do my best. All I can do for now, is hope.

The-seventh-son - Prophaniti would be a great name for a child, if you wanted a child that sicked up on you every five minutes and rotated its head, laughing gleefully. I’m not sure Dju wants that. Can you imagine what you’d find in a chaos nappy?

Big - Yay! Big’s back! All kinds of win! Get set to check out your ‘Big Steve’ name-check at the start of Titanicus. Thanks for the books, Big. SinDex? There’s bundles more SinDex out there, and it’s running in 2000AD right now.

Hurrah for the hussar - I’m a huge fan of the Warhammer world, I just don’t get to write it that much. Still, have you checked out Riders of the Dead, Fell Cargo, the Hammers of Ulric and Gilead? Demand them! They will be reprinted!

XHALAAAXX! - Where were you girl? Mexico? We missed you! And now the gang’s all here! Explain your strop. It’s better out than in. Do it, Blondie.

John Phillip Law just died, aged 70. Three score years and ten. Everyone go and rent ‘Barbarella’ immediately. And enjoy.

Friday, April 25, 2008

This Week's Recipe

Yes, today's recipe is Apport avec les clefs. For this you will need an old kitchen, a cup of 'whooa', two teaspoons full of 'crikey-o'reilly', a Thursday afternoon and a squeeze of lemon (optional). Mix the ingredients in the old kitchen and set aside. We'll come back to it later and see how it's doing.

So, Paris. Stayed near the Tuileries (one should always stay near the Tuileries, as a basic rule of life, 'what happened to him?' 'He didn't stay near the Tuileries, did he?'), visited the Pompidou Centre, oohed and aahed, shopped in les Halles, found the best toy soldier shop in the universe, and the most fantastic antiques store that sold, amongst other things, antique, double-barrelled, under-and-over, Belgian, holster revolvers (expect to find one of those in a book soon), and generally had a fabulous time. Thanks Mathieu and Dju, and congratulations are due to Dju this week for all sorts of things, including his birthday, his wedding and the imminent arrival of his first son. Dju, just in case you don't know, translates the Ghost books into French, and a wonderful job he does too. He's also a regular poster to this blog. Everyone say, 'Go Dju!'

We were having dinner with Mathieu and Dju on the Friday night, waiting for the mighty Graham McNeill to join us (his plane had been delayed by some kind of cosmic warp event), and I happened to say to Mat, 'What I really like about French Games Day, having been here the last two years, is the gentile and relaxed nature of the meet and greet.'

Sunday morning, twenty past nine, the queue began. Graham and I stood our ground and, like Alpharius and Omegon, we confronted the queue. Six and a half bloody hours of signing! Six and a half! Now, it's not that I'm complaining, oh no, it's fantastic to get a response like that, but SIX AND A HALF BLOODY HOURS! I'm thinking of having a sharpie surgically attached in the manner of some Mechanicus scribe, so that I can sign at will. I would certainly like to thank, and I'm sure Graham would join me in this, the rapturous response we both received from the French fans, not to mention the stirling work put in by the guys selling the books. We signed everything that was thrust at us, we posed for a lot of photos (there are an awful lot of 'looks of destiny' out there), and the convention exclusive French edition of our Horus short story double-header was a gorgeous, full-colour booklet (good job, Mat!).

In France, as Joanie Mitchell once remarked, 'they kiss on main street'. There was a lot of that about. Middle-aged couples happily swapping tongues in the Place Vendome. We wondered if this was particularly French (no pun intended) or if an awful lot of happy couples had come to Paris for the weekend. What the hell, if you can't beat them... you know the rest.

We were met at the Gard du Nord by a suited chauffeur, who held up my name printed on a card, and led us to an immaculate and massive Peugeot limousine. I like France.

By the way, Dju, when I mentioned the Breeders, I was thinking of their new album 'Mountain Battles', which is jolly good.

The best hot chocolate in the world is served at the cafe beside the Hotel Mayfair on the Rue Rouget de Lisle (named after the man who wrote the Marseillais, you'd have thought they'd have given him a longer street). In the organic cafe where we had brunch on Satuday morning, our French friends gleefully spread what amounted to liquid Milky Bars on their croissants. We brought a jar of the substance home for Lily (thanks Dju) and thus far she has regarded it suspiciously from a distance. The past, as the adage goes, is a foreign country, and so, it turns out, is France.

For all of you out there in TV land, you may be interested to know that in the coming months, I will be penning a 'Primeval' novel (it's called 'Extinction Event'), and a Doctor Who book which will recount the exploits of Martha Jones during the year when the Master held the Doctor captive and she roamed the Earth (ie, the end of season three). The latter will not be all my own work, as I am writing the framing sequence and story into which other stories, by other hands will be set. I'm looking forward to it. I have a soft spot for Martha.

And after that... it's Gaunt time again! The twelfth Gaunt novel will be called 'Blood Pact', and you won't believe the tortuous shit I'm going to put our heroes through. In other news, I do recommend that you pick up the critically praised 'Nova' that Andy and I are writing for Marvel, and look out for the first issue of our new series, 'Guardians of the Galaxy', which launches next month and features a team that includes Star-Lord, Adam Warlock, Drax, Gomorah, Quasar and Rocket Racoon. Oh, and also Groot ('I am Groot!'). How can you resist that? I've just read the first issue and it's all kinds of awesome.

Let's review the blog...

... Yes, I'm going to Games Day Germany.

Re frontages. I like frontages, me.

Rory - I hope you find your shoe.

Sredni - Dukeleto was quite correct when he suggested that I had read up about submarines in order to research 'Titanicus'. U-Boats, specifically.

Glad everybody liked 'Legion'. Glad everybody hates Cuu.

Mouz - Welcome to the blog. If I come to Brighton, I do like Bourbons, and the clones can stay outside in the car. If you ask me very nicely, and e-mail your address to this site, I might happen to find the soundtrack CD.

Andrew - Throw in General Sturm and knock yourself out. I love you too.

Mouz (2) - Just in case you hadn't realised, Nik is Mrs Dan.

Rob - Yes, it is rather nice to get paid for blowing up planets. Could you explain what a golf clap is, because I'm sure I would have enjoyed it.

Tom - Yes, I call that a salute. What was it that you were doing? (Apart from posting your comment three thousand times ;-))

So back to the recipe. It should be ready to serve, now. You may find that a pinch of hussar helps to make it piquant. You've all heard about the squeaky gate, the suspiciously rosemary scented scissors, the shadow at the end of the corridor and the footsteps around the bed. Well, try this one. The other day, Thursday, I was upstairs and Nik was downstairs and –

What is it, clone number 1?

Well, sir, I was concerned that your preoccupation with ghost stories might alarm or distress your younger readers. Also, I thought that your affirmed belief in the supernatural might put off your more rational bloggees.

Both points well made, clone number 1. But I don't think my stories will alarm too many people, and I don't believe in the supernatural per se. I'm just remarking upon the curious shit that happens in my house.

OK then, sir.

Off you go then, clone number 1. I want that book finished by Sunday.

So, there was a tremendous clatter from the kitchen. I came down from upstairs and Nik emerged from the basement where she had been working. In the middle of the kitchen floor lay over half a dozen keys, scattered in an almost deliberate arc. They hadn't fallen out of anything. We don't keep keys in a pot that could fall, and there was not pot, besides. They had just appeared there, on the floor. They were big, fat, back door keys of the old variety that we didn't know we had. In technical terms, this is called an apport, which means the sudden materialisation of objects. We were both properly taken aback. Before you ask, none of the keys smelled of rosemary. At some point, we intend to see if the keys fit any of the doors in the house. However, there are more keys than doors. And I have resisted the temptation, thus far, because I have a nagging suspicion that when I go round the house, door to door, trying the keys, I will eventually open a door that should give into the bathroom or our bedroom, and find a room that I haven't previously discovered. Inside, the hussar will look up from his rosemary clipping and say, 'I've been waiting for you.'

And serve.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thank Blog It's Friday

Ah, the weekend beckons. I love the smell of Saturday in the morning. It smells of... eggs benedict. And Doctor Who. A couple of Saurdays ago, I opened the review section of the Guardian, and was delighted to find, not only a favourable review of 'The Second Solaris Book of Science Fiction', but, one that picked my story out as one of the highlights. As Xhalax would say, 'Yay! Go me!' *dances*. I won't repeat the review verbatim here, unless somebody actually wants me to.

So, I'll tell you where I won't be next week. I won't be at the New York Comicon. However, my partner in crime, Andy Lanning, will be, along with my other partner in crime, Ian Edginton. If you're at the con, do go up and shake either gentleman warmly by the hand, and say, 'It's so great to meet you, I wish Dan was here.'

Bu-dum-bum! Tish!

Seriously folks, they're lovely gents, and I mean that most sincerely.

Ooh! I came over all Hughie Green then.

I'll tell you where I will be. Paris, that's where! Games Day Paris, my favourite event of the convention circuit. I'll be there to sign books, shake hands, misspell names, sit next to Graham McNeill, pretend I'm not mono-lingual, and ravage Fnak for books for Jess.

Speaking of Jess, she's the latest member of the household to be troubled by the hussar (ie, our resident phantom). This afternoon, she spent a good while looking for the kitchen scissors, including searching the utensil pot several times. When she turned her back, she heard a noise from the utensil pot, turned around, and discovered the scissors, literally poking out at her. Then, of course, there's the case of the missing jigger. God knows where that went, but I'm sure it's tucked in the hussar's back pocket, and will no doubt turn up, now that I've replaced it. Jess, of course, has developed a scissors phobia, which is also related to cutting rosemary, which is why she needed the scissors in the first place, and I fear I have years of therapy to pay for.

So, what's been happening up your end, Dan? Well, thank you for asking, clone 68. As I said to clone 19, not half an hour ago, it's been a pretty full week, what with writing 'Titanicus' and 'Guardians of the Galaxy', fending off rosemary scented hussars and shopping at Bluewater with Lily. My younger daughter can never make her mind up about anything, I think. I don't know, can she?

In my not so copious free time, I've been reading Lee Child (what a refreshingly straightforward and fantastic author he is). I've been watching NCIS (really good, old-fashioned entertainment. How cool is Pauley Perrette?) And, I've been listening to 'The Breeders' (I believe it's a grower, and so does Nik, and so do clones 16 thru 28).

In answer to the posts on the last blog, I would like to reassure Matthew (how are you Matthew?) that I have, indeed, checked the clone enclosure and there are signs that one of them might have skipped out and taken my IP with him. The little funt!

Xhalax - I'd love an extra day in the week too, but could it be a Saturday, please. I'd call it Clonesday, and I'd use it for gentle relaxation and cell division. By the way, Nik would love a black sheep, but don't put yourself out on our account. Hope your knees are fine.

Al - Welcome aboard, and thanks for the very nice comments.

Rory - I share your pain.

Madclaw - If I'd known it would take you that long to get a copy, I'd have sent you one myself. I hope Jack is doing well.

Toymachine - So here I am on my harpsichord fighting with Titanicus. Tinkle... tinkle... tinkle... thunk! Whap! Crunch! I hope you're enjoying the mental images.

Oscarp - They have suggested that I might write a Time of Legends book. I'm CONSIDERING it (smoothes down velvet smoking jacket and lights another cigarillo).

Xhalax - Let's just say, 'Big front', and leave it there. What's not to admire about a big front?

Anonymous - It's not a new cyberman. It's been there all the time. It just snuck up on you, like cybermen do.

Logarithm - The third Gaunt Omnibus is due out shortly.

Rob - I take your point, but as far as I'm concerned, I sound like me. Am I strange?

Nemesis749 - Well, that was the point.

Col.gravis - I could come to Devon. October/November time because that's when my niece is having her baby (in Plymouth). Just get someone in your local shop to put a call through to BL to ask me.

Logarithm - The Fold of the Gaur is probably what this blog should have been called in the first place. It may also become the name of a future Ghost book. Good job, fella.

Well, that's me for the now. The garden gate just squeaked again, and what are those? Are they scissors? Oddly, they smell of rosemary.

I'd better go. The hussar is about.


And please remember to turn off your set.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Weekend Starts Here

Hi all!

Dan had a lovely jaunt to London today. He met with the BBC for an interview. It must be nice to be popular.

Matthew Wright interviewed Dan for his Friday night show, which, I think is called 'Weekender' and goes out on Radio 2 at 10pm (BST). I believe it will also be available as a podcast.

Torchwood fans and (wouldbe) writers might want to listen in, because the subject for the interview was writing a Torchwood story for CD format. Dan and Matthew also had a nice chat, so you might just want to listen in for that.

Right now, Dan is sitting at his keyboard battling with Titanicus, which is good news for all of us.

He will, of course, be back soon, so keep an eye out over the weekend for his next blog.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Squeaky Gate

It turns out that our ghost has migrated. It must be the spring, or something. Tired of standing in the upper hallway as a dim and distant silhouette, he has gone out into the garden. It happened like this. I was in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon, loading the dishwasher (oh, how middle class!) and I kept hearing the squeak of the gate outside and footsteps. So that you can understand, our back door from the kitchen opens into a concrete courtyard (Nik calls it the lanai or patio [pronounced 'pay-show'. Oh, how middle class!]), which has its own gate onto the garden, up a flight of five stone steps. The gate is heavy, iron and old, and very rusted in its hinges, so that every time someone opens it, you can hear it in the rest of the house. It cannot swing on its own and it would take a typhoon to move it. That Sunday afternoon was very still.

So, as I said, I was loading the dishwasher and I heard the gate squeak several times and lots of footsteps. At first, I thought it must be Jessica out in the garden for some reason (probably collecting herbs. Oh, how middle class). Then I thought it might be Nik, or Lily. But Jess was staying at a friend's house, Lily was up on the fourth floor revising and Nik was in our bedroom editing Titanicus. So I supposed it might be the boys next door, hopping over the stile that divides our properties (oh, how middle class) to retrieve their lovely little dog. BTW the dog is small enough to go through the gate without swinging it open.

So, I looked up, out of the kitchen window. There was nobody there. The garden was empty. As I watched, the gate deliberately swung open, stayed open, and closed again. As before, I heard footsteps outside.

The hussar has gone outside to enjoy the spring. It bodes well...

I told Lily about it as we were cooking dinner together and she immediately went outside and hooked the gate up to stop it 'blowing around in the wind' (which it hadn't). Half an hour later it was opening and closing again, all by itself.

So whatever... Blackpool!

Go Back to Back! Yay!

Lily was competing in the 8 couple formation dance competition at the Tower Ballroom, Blackpool. Inevitably, since this was her first outing to Blackpool, Nik and I escorted her and stayed in a hotel nearby while she strutted her stuff. Blackpool is a very strange place. It's like England's answer to Las Vegas, but if it's England's answer to Las Vegas, Las Vegas is a bloody silly question. Lily's team reached the semi-final, the first time her dance school has done that in years, so we were all very proud, and shouted a lot.

Because we were up there, we arranged to put in an appearance at the nearest GW store (Preston) and a very fine reception we had. Many thanks to James, Alex, Chris, Paul, Gareth, Ben and... and... I'm really bad with names, but we had a lovely time and I hope Preston GW enjoyed it as much as we did. James, we'll be back same time next year, if you want us. I have a feeling Lily will be dancing then, too. Oh, and Sarah, I'm really sorry for making you wait while I blathered on. I didn't realise you were waiting for your books to be signed. Thanks for coming.

GW Blackpool - Pete, I'm really sorry we didn't get to see you too, we did try... promise.

And now to other business...

Rory - I have been invited to Scotland, I'll tell you when.

Allandaros - I wish I had a blog clone too. Nik is getting very tired.


Bigwill - Ravenor isn't half-eldar, but the fluff is (that I imagined) he was involved with the eldar for quite a long time in his early years, hence his use of wraithbone. I think it's mentioned in the books.

And no, you're not Omegon. I'm Omegon. Everyone else is Alpharius. Except the ones who are Omegon. On reflection, that might be you, so forget what I said previously.

Ross - Thank you for the kind comments on the Solaris story. Last weekend, it was reviewed, favourably, in the Guardian, and my tale was picked out as one of the highlights. Go me! Reviewed favourably in the Guardian!

Big - You are still the master of the Blood Pact. Apocalypse Blood Pact... you just wait for the next Gaunt.

Rob - I don't know where I'm signing this summer, apart from Games Day, obviously.

Per - Eisenhorn did it inwardly, of course. It was a character thing, not a muscular reaction.

Cor - Thanks a lot for the nice words.

Anonymous - I'm glad you appreciated the twist.

Okay everybody, sleeping in is so win, so I'm going to try for it.

Xhalax - I think you might be Kara Swole after all.

Oops... the gate's squeaking again. I must go and attend to my hussar. See you all next time on the funny place.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lancashire in the spring.

Dan will be signing at the GW shop in Preston on Saturday, 29th March at 11.00am. He doesn't often venture quite so far north, so take advantage.

He'd blog himself, but he's getting ready to travel to Preston, while simultaneously writing more Titanicus, and his blog clone is indisposed.

Best to all,


Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Saturday Blog

It was a dark and stormy night. Well it WAS. You should see it out there.

Graham and I would like to thank everybody who turned up at Forbidden Planet last Saturday (or Forbidden Plant as Nik just typed). We had a good time, I hope you did too. It’s Good Friday today, and Nik and I spent a few hours wondering up and down Rochester High Street. We discovered the Rochester Armoury, and I bought a pilum. That’s not a sentence you often get to say. For anybody who doesn’t already know, I collect weapons as part of my research for the novels. It’s useful to know how a weapon feels in the hand, what the weight and balance are like etc. A pilum is a Roman javelin. It’s a wonderful piece of military technology (don’t take my word for it, go and look it up on Wikipedia), but not something I’d ever thought to buy. I’d like to thank Dave at the Rochester Armoury for drawing my attention to it, and being an all round good bloke (I urge you to visit the Armoury and engage Dave in such subjects as hunting boar... with a bow... in France).

Oh, and the Armoury has a website too. Google Rochester Armoury.

Anyway, it was only after I made my purchase and was lugging a first century piece of military hardware back to my car, that I realised that a Roman spear was possibly the least appropriate thing to buy on a Good Friday. I console myself with the thought that the centurion did it out of pity. I was chatting to Andy Lanning later on, and told him of my purchase. Andy said, as a sign off, “Well good luck with the rest of your blasphemy.”

I bought a buckler too, so I could swash it. How sad am I?

Anyway, to business:

I love zoids. Grant Morrison’s first comic book work was on zoids (little known fact), and I’m sure I gave Nik the ones she had on her desk at college.

I refuse to get drawn into the whole primarch kneeling thing. Several posters have already articulated interesting points of view (thanks, Sredni). 30K, just like 40K, is all about interpretation, and we’re all working from a mass of disjointed, revised, contradictory and all together mythic material that has been established in the last quarter century. Everyone’s entitled to their own take on ‘how it should be’. No one is wrong. Go with the version that feels right to you and own that one. That’s the point of a hobby. However, I feel I must point out that Alan Merrett is no newbie and he’s been around since the Age of Strife.

Pack-master - Hark’s ‘superior bulk’ certainly counts as ablative armour.

Jack - I remember Gilgamesh, so we’re best pals forever.

nhz - Titanicus is going fine, thank you. As you might expect, it is big and ponderous, and difficult to control.

James - Yes, I also want to know what happens next.

James Ferguson - We still have something for you, and haven’t received your address yet. Please advise.

Childofnurgle - Yes you are Varl. Look after yourself and feel better soon.

Rob - Yes, you’re Varl, too. Varl-ness is not exclusive to a single poster.

Brother Chaudeux - Welcome to the fun and games of the Dan Abnett blog. Excellent posts, so far. I hope to hear more from you.

Ross - No...

I’m Alpharius.

Jack - Gotta love that Wikipedia.

The-seventh-son - Konrad Curze sounds like a good idea.

Ross - Simon Spurrier is a great writer and I recommend you seek out all of his material.

One day gingers will rule the Earth - Thank you for the compliment. Much appreciated.

Rory - I did paintball once. I shot Andy Lanning in the face. Huzzah!

Lofty - 1) No, when I introduce a character into the Gaunt series, I do not, necessarily, have in mind their ultimate fates.

I studied Anglo-Saxon at university (well, I studied English, and AS was part of the course). I studied it under Bruce Mitchell, who is pretty the world authority. He used to go and teach it to the Japanese. He is Australian, and a previous alumnus of my college, Terry Jones (of Monty Python) used him as the inspiration for the classic Monty Python “Bruce” sketch. I have a feeling therefore that Bruce Mitchell was entirely responsible (via Monty Python) for the cliche that all Australians are called Bruce. He is a fantastic bloke. He wrote the standard Anglo-Saxon primer. His study was at the top of a slender and winding staircase in the front quad. At the end of every tutorial, he’d say, (and use an Australian accent for this) “don’t fall down the stairs until you get a first”. So, to answer your question... Anglo-Saxon. A (very very) little bit. And then, made up shit.

Bog - Glad you’re enjoying Ravenor. I knew you would.

Garrett - Thanks for joining in. I’m sorry you have been affected by the deaths of several characters. So was I. That was the point.

Xhalax - Hello!

Jack - Thank you.

Rory - Ezrah is pretty cool. He has a life of his own.

Arianwen - I’m sorry I made you cry. I suffer when my characters meet their ends, too.

Elaes - Welcome aboard, and thanks for the kind words.

Big - Loving the fact that you’re now calling yourself ‘Big’ on this site.

I’d like to leave you all with the following pict that was sent to me by my brother-in-arms, James Swallow. Thanks, Jim! It is rather funny or rather portentous, depending on your pov (point of view). Enjoy.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

WE had chocolate cake...

...thanks to Alex, who came to the Cambridge GW signing this afternoon. Apparently, at the last Cambridge shop signing, I had told him that if he brought chocolate cake, I would be prepared to sign his entire back catalogue of books. Alex duly brought chocolate cake and a very heavy bag. Twenty minutes and a repetitive strain injury later, I had upheld my side of the bargain. The Cambridge signing was great, and my thanks go to Andy, the store manager who organised it and mediated the entire event. It was great to see people like Big, and also new faces like Gregg, Martin, Lars and Paul (welcome to the bloggage and thanks so much for showing me your fantastic sketch books). Thanks to everyone else who attended, it was great to see you.

Over lunch, at the Fucking Stupid Large Burger Joint across the street (buffalo! Who knew buffalo could be so good?) Big told a story about a group of variously deaf and blind people who had turned up in his club the other night. Big is a doorman, and runs security and general behaviour, just so you know. He’s also big, ex-army and, you know, big. He has a way with words. The deaf/blind group came to his club for a night out and got a bit carried away with the haha juice. What happened then was something out of the ‘Keystone Cops’. I can’t begin to repeat it here, or do it justice, but if you encounter Big Steve at a Games Day or similar event, implore him to tell you the story, because it is the fething funniest thing I have ever heard. I almost choked on buffalo. I think it was the moment where Steve said, ‘Mind the step,’ to the blind guy and the blind guy fell down the step and the deaf guy, who hadn’t heard Steve, started to attack him for pushing his blind friend down the step. The entire story is much longer and much more involved and much funnier than I’m presenting here. Get it from Big himself, and when you have, ask for the other stories: the luminous shards of wood in his arse, for example, and the wolf man on the roof of his building when he was a kid. Laugh? I nearly went to Ethiopia; second class of course.

It was great fun to hang out in a shop with the living embodiment of Gol Kolea (Big Steve, or is he Corbec? Or Bragg?), MkVenner (Gregg, I hope you don’t mind me comparing you to the character, but you were so quiet and serious), and Varl (Andy, you are Varl, and if you’re not, you’re Brostin, take your pick). I write them here and they come out there, in person, to meet me, and they are always much better than the characters I have fashioned in my head.

Let us now attend to the day’s business. I’m sorry if these recent blogs have come across as a bit of a Q&A, but it seems the fastest and most efficient way of getting things done.

Lordy - I’ll be at Forbidden Planet in London next Saturday with Graham. Is that any good?

Allandaros - Very few things in the entire universe beat the coolness of the Starship Enterprise. It just IS. But I am a devoted fan of both Firefly and Babylon 5. However, in terms of doors, I wish life worked the way it did in Space 1999, when you can point a comlock at a door and make it open. I have a fabulous replica comlock sitting on a shelf above my desk. Sometimes, when a novel is going slowly, I pretend I am John Koenig (or actually, Alan Carter) and point my comlock at various doors. Non ever open, but (see previous post) I’m hardly surprised.

Jack - Me and a Jerry Cornelius, Michael Morcock story in the same book? How chuffed am I? I’m glad you enjoyed ‘Point of Contact’, and if Dreadstar is as wired into your makeup as it is mine, we’ll be friends forever.

Xhalax - You are not a minion, but you are a servant of the Legion and one of the few who gets to hear the command, “Do it.”

Big - I’m delighted you enjoyed my most recent Warhammer 30K novel, Legion, and your expressions of delight were duly noted here at Abnett Towers. Good luck with the therapy.

Toobad and Sredni - Ravenor Rouge will now become a short story in the forthcoming Ravenor/Eisenhorn collection. It will be about Maxilla.

Rory - I will come to Scotland and, indeed, Edinburgh as soon as the Black Library organises it (late summer, we hope).

One day gingers will rule the earth - Delighted as I am to be playing tennis with the multiple personas you are lobbing at me over the net, I feel, at this time, I should say, “Good luck with that.” Paper towels are, of course, always an option.

Shawn - This is how it worked. Mike Lee was cloned from my genetic material into 15 bodies and then ran wild and free with creative energy to turn the Darkblade graphic novels I had produced into proper prose. He now needs to have a long, restful lie down.

Jimmi magnus - The Emperor was worshipped right from the minute he sent his forces out from Terra. They didn’t actually understand him as a god, but they realised he was fething heavy duty.

Anonymous - The Patrick O’Brian novels are, indeed, fantastic, and I would recommend them to anybody. The film’s pretty good too. I wish I was half as good as Mr O’Brian.

Kromvolt - I am so glad I put the E in epic. I may have put the c and i into epic as well. I’ve nearly got the whole word covered.

Nemesis749 - No one in the known world can actually explain the colour code at the top of the Horus Heresy novels. It’s just a fact. Accept it and get on with your life. I have. If it’s any consolation, we meet regularly and discuss the over all structure of the Horus books and none of us understand the colour coding either.

Ross - Yes, you did get mentioned in a Dan Abnett blog post. Oh my fething god, you got mentioned again.

The-seventh-son - Thank you for your kind words, and welcome to the blog. May you post regularly.

Brandon - The death of Gary Gygax was, indeed, a terrible blow. Without D&D, AD&D, Traveler and Call of Cthulhu, I would not be doing what I do today, and neither would my wife. We were RPGers in the 80s and we were proud to be so. The death of Mr Gygax made me think of iron spikes (always useful), the original Games Workshop pale blue cover edition of D&D, which I treasure to this day, and the fifth form at school (year 11 or 9th grade to you lot). My friend, Julian Styles had the original 3 volume D&D and introduced me to role playing. Everything I do and write now is based on the campaigns I mastered back then.

Chris - Thanks for your fond remarks. Gravier’s storyline never really came to an end.

nhz - The wounds that Gaunt has received during his career defy cataloguing. Just be thankful he’s still alive.

mob - Guardians of the Galaxy, like Nova, is going to be a blast. Hold tight and prepare for action.

Jennifer Burdo - If it was me, I’d call my cat Ludd, which is like purr, backwards, except it isn’t. I’d also be tempted to call it Mkvenner, except that it would go out and never come back again.

sorl kennedy - Namatjira is empowered with the authority of Horus, which equals the Emperor. He is the commander of a branch of the crusade. Of course fething primarchs kneel to him. He’s the proxy of the fething Emperor. By the way, congratulations for being the first Legion nay-sayer so far.

Paul - As I said somewhere at the start of this rambling monologue, welcome to the blog. Your sketches were really fantastic and you should post them here for others to enjoy.

Thus concludes the business of the day. Tune in next week to hear Nurse Janice say...

Friday, February 29, 2008

I don't get hand dryers...

...or hamadryads, but they’re another thing entirely. It seems that an awful lot of you experience the same kinds of problems with automatic doors, automatic taps, automatic blowy devices and automatic automatics. We’d all be pretty crap on the Starship Enterprise, wouldn’t we? yes, wait... that was meant to be rhetorical. Why am I expressing my ignoramity out loud. What a loser.

Soapy- I too have stopped peeing in public loos. I now pee in public. It’s just part of my thing. Performance art.

Cor - yes, I have sold my soul to the devil.
Too bad - the sequel to Double Eagle is called Interceptor City and will be with you in a year or so. What books of mine should you definitely read? Eisenhorn, Riders of the Dead , and Fell Cargo.

Xhalax - Do it! Thank YOU for coming along to the signing, it was lovely to see you.

Big - Dancing? In Cambridge? Next weekend? We are so going to capture that!

Toymachine - Yes I am a psyker.

Rory - Seems I might be coming to Edinburgh soon, and Games Day Germany, which might please several of my regular posters.

Jack - I’m the whole silver-skinned, purple afro Magus. I didn’t grow up on Starlin comics without bonding them into my DnA. Trolls? I don’t know anything about trolls.

Dom - Welcome Dom, to this blog. Rooney too.

Big - Thanks for the listing.

Ross - Oskar Viltry is a truly lost hero. Thanks for remembering him.

Kelticemt - Thanks for reading. Beltayn is a wonderful person to be.

One day gingers will rule the earth - Yes, your wife is having an affair. With an insurance salesman.

Xhalax - Do it! is the overall command of the Alpha Legion. You’ll find it in several places.

My local, independent art shop is closing down. I have been frequenting the shop for its entire 19 year tenure, first buying supplies for my mother, the artist, Emma Abnett, and latterly for my wife, Nik, whom you all know.

Lots of stuff in the shop is on sale, and I had my eye on a skeletal wooden hand that I had been admiring for nigh on ten years. Picture the following scenario, bearing in mind that the proprietor’s name is David.

Nik - It’s the fist of Horus.

David - Horus... as in Warhammer?

Dan - Yes.

David - I’m not into the game, but I read a lot of sci-fi and I’ve just been reading a big volume of some of the collected novels.

Dan - That’s my job.

David - ...What’s you’re name.

Dan - Dan Abnett.

David - You’re kidding me!

The rest of the conversation went pretty much as you’d expect. Anyhow, the following day, I popped into the shop with a copy of Legion and duly signed it for him. I still can’t believe, after all these years, that we didn’t know each others’ names.

If you’re there David, say Hi to everyone.

Typed, but not dictated by young Lily. Whoopdy frikkin do!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Life and opinions

I would like to be Adam Warlock, but I fear I am Agun Soric.

I’m playing Big’s game of “Pick which character you’d like to be, but then admit which one you actually are.” Adam Warlock, who wouldn’t want to be him? The hair? The teeth? The pecs? The lightning flash? Being written by Jim Starlin wouldn’t hurt either.

Sadly, I think I am a chained psychic toiling in the mechanisms of the 40K universe.

So, moving on from that dull note, I can confirm to Curis that “The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy” is one of my all time favourite books, very much like “The Canterbury Tale” is one of my all time favourite films. I have no apathy towards 18th century literature or Steve Coogan. Thanks for the recommendation, “A Cock and Bull Story” is up there with “Adaptation” and “Stranger than Fiction”.

I’d like to thank everybody who turned up at the Plaza today, especially Xhalax. Double thanks to her for sticking around for a chat, it was a long way to come and she was charming company, as always. Next Saturday I’m going to be at Waterstones in York from 6 o’clock. Be there, or be somewhere else.

Xhalax - you’re Ban-ness rating is the best piece of inter-textual review my books have ever received. Just you wait, I believe Ban is going to be the star of “Blood Pact”.

For general consumption. Nik is definitely Alizebeth Bequin. Except she’s not a ho. I want to make that perfectly clear. You can base a character on a person without all the extraneous stuff. She is beautiful, wise and serious.

Jack - If the Nova run is up there with Ed Brubaker’s Cap then that’s fine praise indeed.

Big - You are indeed the personification of Gol Kolea. I know everyone wants to be Mkoll.

Kampfhamster - We all miss Gutes.

Anon - Thanks for the recipe. I will recite the litany of refrigeration.

Xhalax - As Nik suggested, let’s not have big breasts come between us. I think you mean Seena. Actually, it’s quite possible that you’re Commissar-General Victoria Balshin.

Rob - Yes, you ARE Varl.

Rory - Cuu scares the living shit out of everyone. And, yes, I‘d love to come to Scotland, and I’ve suggested it to BL, so watch this space.

Nemesis749 - It is, indeed, a long, ugly war, and I do love putting your faves into the shooty shooty.

Cor - I love Firefly too, one of the best shows EVER.

Blade4hire - Welcome aboard, and thanks for the kind words.

Xhalax - Congrats on the hundredth post. Summer Glau! PhwwAU!

Sredni - I’m so, so sorry.

Dear Sleepless in Strathclyde. One day gingers will rule the earth - Sir, I’m a sci-fi author and not a marriage guidance counselor. However, I suggest the following. Take the garden gate off its hinges. Oil it thoroughly with WD40 and then hide the gate somewhere, such as the back of the garden shed or the bottom of a deep, deep well. Then wait in bed for your dearest and see what creaks. I suggest packing a deuce-deuce over-and-under las pistol, or a 40watt, 700megathule plasma cannon, perhaps snuggled under your pillows. If the bedroom door opens, and it’s Ana Curth or Kara Swole then hurray you. Otherwise, lock and load. Hey, I think I’m getting the hang of this agony aunt thing

Packaj - Of course I read everything you (write here). I don’t have people to do that for me. I don’t have people to do anything for me. I don’t think Gaunt would be Gaunt if he accepted a promotion, either.

Big - Apparently you’re dancing. What I wouldn’t give to see that!

Lordy - Gaunt vs Rawne? Gaunt would win for the reasons given, but Rawne is a sneaky bastard and I’m a sneaky writer.

Cor - Karkasy was a favourite of mine and Loken was too, but my favourite Horus Heresy character has got to be John Grammaticus. Or Hurtado Bronzi. Or Peto Soneka.

That’s enough for tonight. I appear to be suffering from a strange condition whereby automated taps and hand dryers don’t respond to me. I understand that this is very strange and minor, but can anyone help?