Review of The Wicked and the Damned (2019)

Parts only

This page describes the individual parts of The Wicked and the Damned. The work as a whole is reviewed elsewhere.

The Beast in the Trenches (2019Text)

Joshua Reynolds (writer).

Read in 2021.

Long since stuck in the mud under intermittent artillery fire, Commissar Valdemar’s regiment may be nearing a breaking point.

A solid transposition of early modernist “false positive” horror to the 40K setting, with appropriate touches of dystopian existentialism and a fluid physical setting reminiscent of Satsuma Gishiden (1977). The beast of the title is the serial-killer protagonist; there is no supernatural threat, nor even an enemy for the regiment to fight. The protagonist’s name, which he is constantly trying to prevent from being spoken, is from Poe’s hoax “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” (1845).

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The Woman in the Walls (2019Text)

Phil Kelly (writer).

Read in 2021.

An officer of the Astra Militarum climbs the ranks.

The gore is monotonous, but I liked both the enginseer friend (“end falshood”) and the detail that the protagonist’s main rival is one of 40K’s rare Mary-Sues; her fate is suitable in that regard.

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Faith and the Flesh (2019Text)

David Annandale (writer).

Read in 2021.

A missionary dubious of his own calling visits his girlfriend on an isolated scrap recycling station.

The station is a nice environment reminiscent of Alien (1979), but the main source of dramatic tension (a demon of Tzeentch who just breaks stuff) feels tacked on.

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