Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Reading Is Fundamental

Horus Rising: Brotherhood In Spiderland (III)

Horus' flagship, Vengeful Spirit (copyright Games Workshop)
Welcome, citizens, to the Truth.

Our question for today is this: why in the name of the Emperor would a conquering army bring their library along with them?

Actually, this shouldn't be a question at all.  If sufficient space exists on-board ship, there's no reason why an exploration/invasion fleet shouldn't carry anything its commanders please.  Nevertheless, it is almost impossible to imagine a forty-first millennium vessel carrying an expansive library where Imperial citizens can while away the hours reading up on rumours of Chaos.

To some extent this is simply a reflection of general Imperial policy.  Knowledge, like any other resource, is something to be jealously guarded and obsessively monitored; the inevitable consequence of allowing an organisation like the Administratum such tremendous power. But knowledge isn't like other commodities.  It is not and can never be used up. On the contrary, knowledge generates knowledge.  It auto-breeds.  Husbanding resources, then, cannot explain the situation.  Something else must be going on.

We know what that is, of course: knowledge of Chaos is exposure to Chaos. The creatures of the Empyrean terrify us at least in part because they can bypass any amount of armies and armour to strike at us.  This was knowledge denied to Sindermann, along with almost everyone else serving in the 63rd Expeditionary Fleet, so of course they were less guarded in their pursuit of enlightenment.

In truth, however, this is only part of the answer. Yes, the Imperium is paranoid of chaotic manifestations tearing the heart out of strongholds once thought impregnable.  But is is also terrified of the suggestion that a single lowly mutant be allowed to go about their lives without constant oppressive monitoring, if not indeed execution.  Yes, the chance that mutant is psychic is non-zero, and yes, the chance of a psychic mutant becoming corrupted by the warp is non-zero also (though to return to our last topic of conversation, how do those odds compare to the chance our hypothetical mutant is so enraged by their treatment they foment armed rebellion?). The fact remains that it is strange to see a culture so utterly convinced of its biological, martial and moral superiority over every other sentient race imaginable so scared of its own shadow.

The central paradox is this: if it is truly mankind's destiny to rule the galaxy, how can that glorious and inevitable fate be threatened by a three-eyed woman, or by a terraformed moon inhabited by humans happy to trade with local xenos? How can a culture that spends every other breath telling itself it is the greatest civilisation ever to have existed simultaneously believe the slightest deviation from what a planetary governor asserts a cardinal believes the Ecclesiarch interpets from a man who last spoke ten millennia ago meant to say will lead to utter disaster?

It is the nature of the powerful to fear others desire their power.  To believe that power can so easily be taken, though, is sad, paranoid delusion.  Or at least, that is how it starts. Ultimately, though, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The power of the powerful can be taken quite easily, by the powerful themselves, without them even realising.

Whether it is too late for the Imperium to avoid this fate, we choose not to speculate.  We simply point out that enemies beset us on all sides, and allies are not merely unavailable, but unimaginable.


What Was

Loken has spent some time recently deciding which candidates are suitable to be given full Astartes status. It might then be a good time to revisit your conception of just what the Astartes are.

So is he choosing soldiers from the "normal" army to become Astartes? Or do they get born as potential Astartes but not everyone makes the grade?  Or undergoes horrible mutations?  Maybe the ones that don't work out get turned back into genetically engineered goo, along with any of them that show emotions.  How do you genetically engineer a brain, anyway?

What Is

What do you think about this "Warrior Lodge" idea?

I don't understand how Loken can be frustrated by the idea of the Lodge but be OK with the Mournival.  Besides, I'd imagine doing nothing but kill everyone must be emotionally draining, even for genetically engineered warriors, and they might need to blow off steam by chatting about how awesome they are at killing people. Maybe the frisson of disrespectability helps with that.

So you think Loken might be deliberately trash-talking the Lodge so they feel all edgy and dangerous?

No. He's probably really against it, but he'll change his mind later. That seems to be his thing.  Maybe it'll turn out to be pretty similar to the Mournival, though maybe a bit less cultic.

Cultic?  That's not a word.

I know. But it should be.  It's a nice word.

A nice word is not a real word.

(Turns out: real word).

How different do you think the Great Crusade's approach might have been if the possessing creatures of the warp were common knowledge?

You mean assuming Horus didn't just make the whole thing up?

...Assuming that, yes.

It'd make things more difficult, surely? The Astartes cause enough trouble without people being terrified that they could blow your head off at any moment for no reason. I'm not sure how it would affect the Astartes themselves, for that matter.  It's shaken Sindermann to the core, and maybe Loken too, to the point where I'm not sure Horus trusts him. Though if that were true, why take him with him?

Yes, what possible reason could there be to want to keep someone untrustworthy near to you?

It's a dangerous thing to do, though.  Much safer to send him as far away as possible, get some invasive tests run.

The Horus you're describing is not our Horus.

You mean little Horus?

No! I mean Horus isn't going to pass Loken to anyone else to get probed.

The Emperor would, I bet. Maybe Horus sends Loken to him.  Kind of a peace offering?

That would be a hell of a plot twist.

Sindermann seems to be acting suspiciously over his choice of reading habits. What do you think he was really looking at?

He clearly doesn't believe the official story.  He's probably looking at religious texts.  Or porn. Religious porn.

Which part of that would piss the Great Crusaders off most?

The religious bit.

It's not like there's a dearth of secular porn, I suppose.


Are you really suggesting there's not enough porn around?  Are you aware of the internet?

I just don't go looking.

Clearly a lot of books were lost in the twenty-eight thousand years between us and the time of Loken. What do you hope survived?

The books from the Babylonian library.  Be good to read them.

But they don't exist now.

They exist in some form: air and dust.

So what you're saying is you'd like the same air and dust that aren't books now to be air and dust that aren't books in the future?

It's too hard to choose. Be easier to come up with a list of things I want gone.

Updated weekly: Fliss' list of things to not make it through to 30 000 AD.

Terry Pratchett. Boom. First on the list.  All of my book should survive, because that means my mother can't have given them all away.  Texts from Dog, for example.  The World's Cutest Zoo Babies.

I have a brilliant image of Sindermann sneaking peeks at a baby orang-utans when he things no-one is watching.

What Will Be

Now that Karkasy has been promoted to official truth-teller, is he going to get beaten up any less?

Depends on how temperamental Loken is.  I can't imagine anyone else beating him up publicly whilst he's under Loken's protection.  Privately is another matter.  He might like that in the bedroom.

It is not our place to judge.

He's probably still going to get plenty of slaps from women for his lecherous ways.  I bet he doesn't tell them the whole truth every time.

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