Monday 19 March 2012

My short stories #3: Bad Spirits

Here's one from the archives (a.k.a. my old blog Unnatural History) presented here to mark Black Library's 15th birthday this week...

The Black Library’s ‘Inferno!’ magazine published stories of action and adventure from the worlds of Games Workshop’s tabletop games. These are primarily the medieval fantasy world of Warhammer and the Imperium-dominated galaxy of the far future from the Warhammer 40,000 setting. However, when ‘Inferno!’ first came out, a popular off-shoot of one of these shared universes, with a suitably detailed background, was the world of Necromunda.

Necromunda is a hive-world, a planet dominated by the mountain-sized cities that cover its surface separated by deserts of the worst industrial pollution imaginable. The atmosphere of the planet is a toxic fog and the spires of the vast hives are so tall that they pierce the stratosphere. It was a fantastic setting – a cross between the Wild West (complete with gunslingers and tribes of Ratskins) and the dystopia of upper decay gone mad (with rogue cyborgs wandering deserted city-domes miles across).

As you can probably tell, I loved the Necromunda setting and wrote, what I feel, are among some of my best short stories set within that particular background. My first foray into Necromunda fiction was a story called ‘Bad Spirits’, featuring a bounty hunter in the vein of The Man With No Name, except that he had a name: Nathan Creed.

Nathan Creed was a cliché in many ways, but I prefer to think of him as an archetype, inspired by the drawling cowboys of the spaghetti Westerns as portrayed by Lee Van Cleef and Clint Eastwood. Creed didn’t really develop as a character until I began to expand his world and build a cast of characters around him, who started to act as foils to the bounty hunter. He was a crack-shot with a great line in put-downs, always having the last word in any matter, usually because everyone else was dead. So detailed did this background become over the next few stories, and in my ideas notebook, that I actually planned to pitch a Creed story as my first novel for the Black Library, but unfortunately, it was not to be.

'Bad Spirits' first appeared in 'Inferno!' Issue #3 and was ultimately re-printed in the Necromunda short story anthology 'Status: Deadzone' (2000).

If the opportunity ever arose, I would love to go back to chronicling Creed’s adventures. But ‘Bad Spirits’ is where it started and with this story it was all about the adventure, not to mention the twisted sting in the tail. And it was, of course, a paying gig, and as Nathan Creed himself would say, ‘A job’s a job, old man.’

Bad Spirits is available again as part of the Necromunda Omnibus Vol. 2 which you can purchase direct from Black Library as part of their Direct Exclusives range.

1 comment:

Civilian Reader said...

Ah! I had both of those publications! Loved Inferno, and the Necromunda fiction. :)

Wish they'd bring some of it back...