Ian Watson


Space Marine


Part of the ‘Warhammer 40 000’ franchise, under the ‘Games Workshop’. Somebody hired to write for a very specific market, alá ‘Starship Troopers’, probably even going back to something like ‘The Guns of Navarone’. I read it a while ago now, so I’m less able to provide examples of my impressions. The author constantly uses obscure words - to self-consciously impress? Also for a mood: these are supposed to be ‘warrior-monks’, and quasi religious practises form a framework. There’s even supposed to be some tortured psychological character building.


But ultimately it fits the ‘craphouse’ epithet M. (owner) applies to these franchise novels. The worlds are hinted at, the philosophies sketched out, the characters supertough ultimate almost cyborg marines that barely bat an eyelid when their limbs are cut off (“Just a flesh wound, I’ve had worse”). But they’re also murderous evil vile dirt bags - the author does try to make us respect them even though their morality is different, but doesn’t begin to pull it off (unlike ‘Starship Troopers’, where the argument is flawed but put forward cleverly enough). The brutality, although comic, is offensive.


June 06