Adventures in Bookland: Atlas Infernal by Rob Sanders
OK, I admit it. My guilty little literary secret is my love for books where blokes with big guns blast aliens into pools of green slime. And there’s no better universe for blasting aliens than the Warhammer 40k one: orcs, tyrannids (think Alien but hordes of them), the Tau (sort of like the Borg), necrons (metal zombies), Chaos (basically Michael Moorcock’s demons from the Elric era of his writing transplanted into outer space). And, of course, the eldar – basically elves in space but with spiky guns rather than shiny swords. In fact, the only failing of the Warhammer 40k universe is its unrelenting grimness – it’s really a world of wonders, only no one seems to have realised it yet!
One of the tropes of the universe that I particularly like is how it riffs on aspects of Tridentine Catholicism to inform the human world – for Imperium think Magisterium. Not least among the parallels is the Inquisition and, since you never expect the Space Inquisition, it has carte blanche to travel anywhere in this future, whereas other parts of the Imperium are more restricted. The Inquisitors even deal with alien species, which is just what Inquisitor Bronislaw Czevak does here: he travels the webways of the eldar (a tube system to the stars, but with fewer delays and no copies of Metro blowing on the line). So if, like me, you find the Warhammer 40k universe a place of wonder rather than just an arena for blasting aliens into alien gore, then this is a particularly good effort from the Black Library. So I’ve rather contradicted what I said at the beginning: my guilty secret is guns and marvels, and you’ll find them here.