Well, it’s been an interesting few days hasn’t it?
I went to bed on Thursday after a quiz at the local pub, having seen online that doctors were concerned for the Queen’s health, then woke up on Friday morning to find that she was gone and we now had a King. I had the day off work and had a medical appointment to get to, so it was all rather surreal. I kind of felt like the world should have stopped for a bit, while at the same time was wondering just why the world – especially the Australian bit – should have stopped for the death of one rather elderly person.
Maybe it was the speed of it. If she’d taken to bed and been ailing for weeks it would have been less surprising. But she was up on her feet and doing things – including swearing in (or whatever) a new Prime Minister – only the day before. I guess she kept going right until the motor burnt out.
I was raised as a monarchist, in the sense that my mother is English and both she and my dad are social conservatives that got into the reproduction game fairly late. I can’t recall ever being specifically sat down and told that the Royal family were our rightful rulers and overlords, but it was a kind of unspoken assumption. She was the Queen, and as such we were her subjects, how the world be any other way?
I remember going out to join the crowds lining the streets to see her Maj on one of her visits – the one in 1981 seems a bit early but it can’t have been the bicentenary visit in 1988 so 1981 it must have been. I remember standing by the roadside near the Mount Hospital, waving a small Union Jack while a large black car sped past with a white-gloved hand circling out the window. I think I was slightly disappointed, I suspect when Mum said we were going to see the Queen I thought we were actually going to meet her – or at least see more of her than her hand.
As I got older I found myself increasingly conflicted. The fact that our country was ruled (de jure if not de facto under most circumstances) by a foreigner rankled a bit. As did the fact that said foreigner got the job based not on any personal merits but by accident of birth. It seemed unfair and undemocratic. But that said, the Queen really didn’t seem to do much. Wouldn’t it be worse to have someone at the top who had actively pursued the role? I could see arguments on both sides.
When the first $5 polymer bank note came out in 1992 production problems made it possible to scratch the design – which included a portrait of the Queen – off with a fingernail. An informal movement sprung up with people scratching her off the notes in protest at a foreigner appearing on our money. It was prevalent enough that my high school had to issue a rule that defaced notes would not be accepted at the canteen – although how many students were doing it as a political protest as opposed to simply engaging in general mischief must remain unknown.
At the end of the 90s we had a referendum on ditching the royals and becoming a republic. By this point I had come to an uneasy internal truce, balancing my royalist upbringing with my sense of the unfairness of the whole thing with a somewhat disingenuous argument that things weren’t terribly bad so why go to all the trouble of changing them? I voted ‘No’ to the republic, but at the same time utterly despised some of the advertising promulgated by the No campaign. There was one TV commercial in particular that informed the public that “The Republic movement want to make over 200 changes to the Constitution!” without mentioning that around 197 of them were replacing the words ‘Monarch’ or ‘Governor General’ with ‘President’. The referendum failed to get up and we remained a Constitutional Monarchy.
In the years since I have got over my upbringing and although I have no specific problems with the Royals I think that we should stand on our own two feet. It’s been said for many years that the time to revisit the Republic would be when the Queen passed away, and now she has. We’ll likely have another referendum in the next couple of years and if Charles III is still our Head of State in 2027 I’ll be rather surprised.
Concerning the transfer of power I find myself quite surprised by the speed of it all. I guess it was always going to go like that, but I’d always envisaged her Maj passing away then there being about a week of arranging things before Charles was proclaimed as the new monarch. Of course he became King the moment the Queen passed (possibly due to the instantaneous transfer of kingons), so in hindsight why would there be any delay? It still all feels rather strange.
Whether monarchies should exist is a valid question, but overall I think her Majesty did a decent job of managing a very difficult position. I had hoped she’d make it to 100 like her mother, but the elderly tend to not long survive the loss of their spouses, so when Phillip went it was really only a matter of time. She held out for her Jubilee, then left.
So, the Queen is dead, long live the King. I was a bit confused when the media was calling him Charles III as I understood that he was going to take the throne as George VII, but apparently he changed his mind – maybe he didn’t want to have to keep explaining regnal names? Given the disdain he’s been surrounded by ever since the Diana fiasco he seems to be doing remarkably well – I imagine the media fixers at the Palace are working overtime to convince the public he’s the best thing since sliced bread before the sympathy for his mother dies off.
In any case I’m now mostly just waiting for the ABC to go back to regular programing instead of 24 hour live coverage of every leaf that blows down a Westminster avenue. I did happen to catch the Proclamation at the Royal Exchange and was amused in equal parts by the noisy dog in the crowd and by the ABC commentator telling us that “Lord Mayor Sadiq Khan” would soon call for three cheers (what do they teach them at journalism school these days?). The Mace and Sword of the City of London were quite impressive, although I’m not quite convinced about the sword bearer’s fuzzy hat.
I’ll finish up with a song. In 1951 composer Ronald Binge premiered a piece of music he named Andante Cantabile. The next year he renamed it Elizabethan Serenade to celebrate the newly crowned Queen and the start of a new Elizabethan age. Eight years afterwards it was re-recorded as Elizabethan Reggae by Boris Gardiner and the Love People. And here it is.
As a general rule, authors do not read fan fiction.
They do not read fan fiction and are also, generally, loath to accept plot ideas from random members of the public. The reason for this can best be demonstrated by the following short play…
TAMBURLAINE AND THE WALRUS
Random Member of the Public: Excuse me good sir, are you by chance the famous author Congreave?
The Famous Author Congreave: I must confess, sir, that I am indeed he.
Random Member of the Public: And I in turn must confess that I am the most ardent admirer of your work, often resorting to unseemly extremes to obtain your latest publication.
The Famous Author Congreave: I am flattered sir. Flattered.
Random Member of the Public: Allow me to ask, have you ever considered writing upon the great conqueror Tamburlaine? I fancy your talents well suited to a fabulous tale of his encounter with a surly walrus.
The Famous Author Congreave: I have not, but I must admit that the idea is an intriguing one.
Random Member of the Public: Then I hope you shall consider it. It would be an honour indeed to inspire one of your works.
The Famous Author Congreave: You honour me sir with such praise. I see my driver has arrived and I must away, however it has been a pleasure to to make your acquaintance.
Random Member of the Public: And yours sir. And yours.
FIVE YEARS LATER
Random Patron in a Pub: Did you hear? The latest work of the famous author Congreave – a fabulous conceit on the subject of the conqueror Tamburlaine encountering a walrus – has sold out in each and every book emporium and has been optioned by a Hollywood producer! He stands to receive millions!
Random Member of the Public: What!? That was my idea! I shall contact my attorney at once!
LENGTHY AND EXPENSIVE LEGAL PROCEEDINGS ENSUE
As I hope this short drama illustrates, any person in a creative field must be extremely careful when it comes to sourcing ideas. Recent history is replete with famous authors being dragged through the courts by random so-and-sos insisting that said author’s best selling novel is plagiarised from the 20 page storybook they self published in 1983. It’s safest overall for an author to straight up refuse to engage with fans offering them ideas, and to completely avoid any amateur writing involving their worlds and characters.
Which sucks, because I have a great idea for a Rivers of London/PC Grant novel.
Or at least I think it’s a great idea. It ties together some obscure real-world London history with some obscure real-world London geography while involving a number of well known historical figures and events in the way that the best moments of the PC Grant novels do. It’s the kind of hook that an author like Ben Aaronovitch could hang a great story on – it’s just unfortunate that it occurred to me and not him.
“So why don’t you write it yourself?” you ask. And it’s a fair question. I’ve written my fair share of fanfic and without wanting to sound big-headed I think a fair amount of it passes muster. The problem lies in the kind of writing I’m good at. You want an idiotic comedy where established characters behave like lunatics? I’m your man! Or are you after a faux-academic paper? No problem! Could I interest you in a brochure for a non-existent museum replete with in-jokes? I have one right here! You want a story where realistic characters behave in a realistic fashion in the real world? Yeah… That’s not something I can do.
I suspect that’s down to my autistic brain. It’s easy to write characters breaking the accepted rules of society when you’re not that clear on the accepted rules of society to begin with. Imitating a specific literary style is simple when you’re a hyperlexic who’s read literally thousands of books. But describing the thoughts and actions of realistic human beings? I’m barely a realistic human being myself.
And then there’s the issue of length. My brain fizzes with so many ideas and urges that it’s hard to find the time to get even a short story written. At any given time I’m likely to have at least a dozen projects on the go. I’ve never been diagnosed with ADHD but I certainly have enough of the traits to frame a suspicion.
So, what to do?
To my mind the only sensible option is to lay the whole thing out here, if only to get it out of my head. As such I am pleased to present the plot for a PC Grant novel based on my idea. It’s not the only possible plot, and certainly not the plot that Mr Aaronovich would come up with (I’m entirely confident that his version would be far better). I’ll avoid spoilers by placing an explanation of my brainwave at the end – if you’re not interested in my painful attempts at story-telling then please feel free to skip to there. But if you’d like to come on the journey then please read on as I sketch out the plot of –
(or “Der Kreis auf der Hundeinsel” if you’re nasty)
The story begins with the body of a middle aged man being discovered in Millwall Park on the Isle of Dogs, apparently having been stabbed to death. The Folly is called in when a battered business card is found in his pocket with the contact details of the late and unlamented Martin Chorley – AKA the Second Faceless Man.
Investigation shows that the man – one Christopher Greenshield – was an antiquities specialist who’d recently returned to the UK after an absence of about six years. He was renting accommodation along the Outer Millwall Dock, which proves to have been burgled and ransacked around the same time as his murder. There are no traces of vestigia in the flat, on his body or at the site it was discovered, although it’s quickly determined that he was attacked elsewhere and his body relocated post mortem. It’s also determined that he was killed by several stabs with a narrow, stiletto-style blade.
Historical investigation fails to uncover any links between Greenshield and the Little Crocodiles. It is determined however that since his arrival back in London two weeks earlier he’d been trying to contact Chorley – apparently unaware of his demise. A painful slog through the material in his flat and tracking his movements eventually establishes that Chorley had been in contact with him around 12 years earlier, seeking some kind of rare historical document. He’d returned to London because he managed to obtain a copy and was seeking Chorley as a buyer.
The actual identity of the document is unclear, but Greenshield’s documentation shows he found it after research into 18th century Shakespeare forger William Henry Ireland. This puzzles everyone – why would Chorley be interested in Ireland? A tenuous connection is suggested between his Arthurian obsessions and Henry’s forged play Vortigern and Rowena – did he base it on some kind of authentic material? Or was Chorley somehow unaware that the play was a forgery?
Investigation on the Isle of Dogs indicates that Greenshield had a number of encounters with an eccentric local resident living on the north side of Mudchute Park, one Justin Linstock. Linstock appears to have appointed himself unofficial caretaker of the park and often harasses visitors with accusations of littering, noise and anti-social behaviour – complaints about which have previously brought him to attention of the police. He’s interviewed but denies all knowledge of the burglary and the murder, stating that Greenshield was loitering in the park and needed to be moved on.
Following up leads eventually tracks down a historical researcher employed by Greenshield to authenticate the mysterious document. Greenshield had him sign a non-disclosure agreement, but the prospect of prosecution convinces him to talk. It’s revealed that when composing his Shakespeare forgeries William Henry Ireland managed to obtain a genuine Elizabethan script to use as a model, and Greenshield found it. A manuscript copy of the suppressed and long lost 1597 play by Thomas Nashe and Ben Jonson The Isle of Dogs.
No one believes this to be a coincidence.
Happily the researcher has a photocopy of the whole thing which is quickly forwarded to Professor Postmartin, who almost has a stroke out of sheer literary excitement. He quickly confirms that the work is genuine, although it shows clear signs of not being the original script. Rather it’s a ‘memorial reconstruction’ or ‘bad quarto’ put together from the memories of audience members and actors. This would explain how it survived the government suppression of the original. Comment is made on the irony of Ireland laboring over painful Shakespeare pastiches while sitting on a genuine literary treasure.
Postmartin goes on to reveal the astonishing reason why the play was suppressed. Accepted history says it was banned as being insulting to Queen Elizabeth. Instead it turns out to be a dramatised claim that the playwright Christopher Marlowe was ritually murdered as part of a magical ceremony conducted by Queen Elizabeth’s court astrologer Doctor John Dee to establish a magical nexus or ‘omphalos’ on the Isle of Dogs. A nexus intended to serve as the heart of a world spanning British Empire.
Postmartin explains that there have been strange rumours surrounding Marlowe’s 1593 death for centuries. The official story says he was stabbed to death in a drunken fight over the bill in a Deptford boarding house, but there have been claims that he was involved with espionage and may have been eliminated to plug a leak. He was also known to be associated with a group of radical free thinkers, occultists and atheists – labeled in later centuries as ‘The School of Night’ – who were viewed as a threat to the Throne. The play – employing a series of fairly transparent pseudonyms – alleges that Dr Dee was the head of a magical group loyal to the Queen and who decided that Marlowe would not just be a suitable sacrifice, but that his death would strike a blow against their rivals.
Research shows that stories surrounding Dr Dee and the Isle of Dogs are well known among modern day occult groups, who tie them into a series of alleged ‘ley lines’ stretching across the city of London. Nightingale even heard similar stories as a young man, but the Folly never considered them as anything more than spooky campfire tales. The existence of the manuscript – authored by Marlowe’s friends Nashe and Jonson – entirely changes matters. Putting aside the historical implications, could Chorley have been after it for details on how to construct his own omphalos or reactivate the purported Elizabethan one? If there was already a nexus of empire-building magical power in London then re-energising it might be an easier way to Make Britain Great Again than trying to create and control a god. And regardless of Chorley’s intentions if there is a nexus of empire-building magical power in the heart of London’s Docklands then the Folly needs to know about it.
Postmartin and Nightingale dissect the details of the script to try and determine if the ritual described therein has any accuracy to it while Peter heads out to the supposed site of the omphalos – located in Mudchute park. He finds nothing unusual or magical at the site – a circle of stone paving – but has a run in with a somewhat agitated Justin Linstock who tells him he’s not welcome in the park and orders him to leave. Peter leaves, then doubles back to shadow Linstock, but he merely returns to his house.
Back at the Folly Peter does some more digging on Linstock. He has a lengthy record of warnings and public nuisance reports to his name, all relating to incidents in Mudchute Park. One from 18 months ago particularly stands out where he was involved in a physical scuffle with a John Leverpool. According to the incident report Leverpool – a New Age enthusiast – was dowsing for ley lines in the vicinity of the omphalos when Linstock approached from behind, tackled him to the ground and made several attempts to punch him in the head. Bystanders intervened and the police were called. On their arrival Linstock refused to explain himself and Leverpool declined to press charges. Peter attempts to contact Leverpool but he’s at a retreat in Scotland and won’t be back for the next week. Leverpool is tagged as a person of interest and Peter marks Linstock as worthy of more detailed investigation.
By the next day Nightingale and Postmartin have completed their research and have concluded that the ritual described in the manuscript – while consistent with pre-Newtonian magical beliefs and practices – simply couldn’t work. It’s a farrago of portentous sounding nonsense, and if it bears any relationship to an actual ritual carried out by Dee, said ritual would have achieved nothing. Speculation is had concerning Martin Chorley – did he figure this out for himself somehow, or did he simply give up on the omphalos and move on to other projects because of the lack of information? It will probably never be known.
An alert is then received. The previous evening a South London schoolboy failed to return home. CCTV has turned up showing him talking to and then leaving Greenwich railway station with a man who has been identified as Justin Linstock. Nightingale notes today’s date – May 30th, the anniversary of Christopher Marlowe’s mysterious death in Deptford…
A search of Linstock’s house turns up no trace of him or the missing boy, however the missing manuscript of The Isle of Dogs is found along with a large collection of books and material relating to the Elizabethan era, Doctor Dee and ley lines. Examination of the manuscript shows that the pages containing Dee’s supposed ritual are missing.
Nightingale leads a team across the park to the omphalos but finds nothing. At the same time Peter heads across the river to meet up with another team at Deptford. Matters are complicated because the exact site of the house in which Marlowe’s was killed is unknown – the best information is that it’s in the vicinity of Charlotte Turner Gardens. As police go door to door Nightingale races to meet up with Peter who is on the phone to Postmartin, going through the script for any clues. References to the river and “harnessing nature’s power” eventually lead to the electricity substation on Borthwick Street, when they interrupt Linstock acting out Dee’s ritual from the play, arriving just before he’s about to sacrifice the schoolboy using a stiletto-like Elizabethan ballock dagger.
Under interrogation Linstock confesses to the murder of Christopher Greenshield using the same dagger, which he claims is the very one used to sacrifice Christopher Marlowe. He claims to be a descendant of John Dee, and the hereditary guardian of the omphalos, a role that has been passed down through his family for centuries. Communication with angels (received via automatic writing in Dee’s Enochian alphabet) alerted him to Greenshield’s presence and his possession of the key to re-activating the omphalos. When Greenshield refused to hand this over he had no choice but to kill him and recover the manuscript himself. An initial psychological assessment shows him unlikely to be competent to stand trial.
The Museum of London confirms that the dagger is authentic to the period, so the claim that it killed Marlowe is at least plausible. The rest of Linstock’s claims are rather dubious with his family only emigrating to the UK in the late 1800s and his knowledge of the manuscript more likely coming from conversations with Greenshield in the park than from angels. However they cannot be entirely ruled out.
The play is added to Postmartin’s archives and the omphalos site is added to the Folly’s watch list, although assessed as very low risk.
OK, so that’s the story as best I can tell it. Or at least as best I care to tell it – I could work on it more but there’s not really much of a point. My inspiration was some random neurons in my brain suddenly linking the (quite real) occult claims about the mysterious paved circle in Mudchute Park to the suppressed and lost The Isle of Dogs. After that it pretty much all flowed. That’s the core idea, and that’s what I’d like – were it at all possible – to submit to Mr Aaronovitch for what I assume would be his far better take on it.
I decided to throw William Henry Ireland into the mix both to pad out the tale and because his story is a fascinating one. I read most of his Vortigern and Rowena for this project and how it could ever have been mistaken for Shakespeare is entirely beyond me.
The name Eastward Ho is taken from a another Ben Jonson (with George Chapman and and John Marston) play from 1605 which features a scene on the Isle of Dogs and which (like The Isle of Dogs) got into trouble with the government, this time for it’s satirical take on King James’ Scottish associates. It was written in response to the play Westward Ho by Jonson’s rivals Thomas Dekker and John Webster who went on to write Northward Ho as their own response. The names of several characters in my story are taken from these plays.
So that’s it. I have yelled my idea – for what it’s worth – out into the universe. If you’ve managed to stick with it this far I hope it has provided some level of entertainment. Keep an eye out for my next project, Southward Ho, completing the City Comedy tetralogy started over 400 years ago!
Being old and ugly enough to hate on young peoples’ music without shame I would like to nominate Tion Wayne’s IFTK as the worst track of the year.
Call me an old fogey if you lie but in my day looping a La Roux sample and muttering over the top of it while randomly shouting “BLUGH!” would get you laughed off stage, not critical acclaim and a hit single.
But, times change and it’s inevitable that they eventually change so much that you become incapable of understanding them. Or to put it another way…
I used to be with it! Then they changed what ‘it’ was! Now what I’m with isn’t ‘it’, and what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary to me!
So, you may well disagree with, or even be offended by, my opinion, but remember…
There are a few things I need to get done this evening so I decided to go goblin mode and grab dinner from Red Rooster on the way home. I put my order in, took a seat, and was watching the staff running around trying to deal with the queue in the drive through when three people walked in.
They were a young Asian couple and an older Anglo guy carrying a wine bottle. The couple walked towards the counter but were suddenly blocked by the older guy leaping in front of them with his arms out and a big grin. They tried to step around him, and he leapt in front and blocked them again, and put his hand on the young man’s shoulder.
My initial impression was that they were friends and he was just goofing around, but when I caught a look at the young guy’s face he looked seriously distressed. I was just about to get to my feet to do something (moaning mentally about how I didn’t need this and just wanted to get my food and go home) when the older guy suddenly backed off and wandered out the door.
I breathed a sigh of relief, but rather than leaving the man stood just outside, yelling wildly into the night. He was – I realised at this point – extremely drunk. He then walked back in and proceeded to forcefully slam his bottle down on the bench right next to me several times – I was amazed it didn’t instantly shatter. The staff looked up at the noise but seemed uncertain about what to do about the situation.
He wandered across to a table, said hello to the Uber Eats guy sitting there waiting for a pickup, and slammed the bottle down again. He then staggered into the corner and took a seat, knocking another chair flying as he did so. His attempts to right it were notably loud and uncoordinated.
My order came up so I grabbed it, said thanks, and went for the door. The guy leapt up and staggered across to intercept me. I gestured for him to go out first in the hopes that he’d stagger out, get distracted and vanish into the night. However he echoed my gesture and burbled out “you first”, so I mentally shrugged and walked out.
I was barely out the door when he came up behind me and tried to snatch the food out of my hand! His state of inebriation however made this attempt – and its immediate follow up attempt – pathetically easy to resist. I snarled “I don’t think so mate!” and swung the bag out of his reach, before starting on my way homewards.
I decided to take the well-lit route around the front of the shops rather than ducking around the back like usual just to be on the safe side. I checked behind me a couple of times, but he wasn’t following me, or if he was he was moving so slowly I easily outpaced him. I wasn’t seriously worried – he was so drunk that if things had gone any further I’m confident that a single shove would have knocked him over.
It has recently come to my attention that filming for Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 has concluded and – in what can only be described as an appalling lapse of judgment – director James Gunn has failed to consult me on what retro songs should be used on the soundtrack. It’s inconceivable! What is the man thinking?
In the face of such madness I have no option but to post the songs that should be featured, in the hopes that Mr Gunn comes to his senses. So please enjoy what I am calling the completely unofficial Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol 2.5!
1: Run Runaway – Slade
It’s axiomatic that the opening scene of a Guardians film needs a kickass track and what’s more kickass than the rumbling drums and wailing guitars of Slade’s faux-Scottish anthem about fleeing in terror (and – for some reason -chameleons)? Hell, open the film by having the Guardians fleeing in terror from space chameleons, it’ll be downright diagetic! (Note: I may not actually understand what ‘diagetic’ means).
2: Our Man in London – CCS
Not only does this have exactly the kind of swinging big band sound the Guardian soundtracks are famous for, the lyrics talk about rocket ships and space-age heroes. It’s a natural inclusion!
3: Zero – Alastair Riddle
Is there anything more retro-futuristic than synthwave? Yes! The synthpop music of the 80s that synthwave attempts to imitate! And is there any synthpop more synth or more pop than hand crafted New Zealand synthpop? I say no, and offer this unfairly obscure gem by the David Bowie of West Auckland, Alastair Riddell, as proof!
4: Sugar Baby Love – The Rubettes
Every Awesome Mix needs a love song, and what better than this ridiculous bubblegum confection? Half the lyrics are “Bop Shawady, Bop Shawady-wady” and what could be more Guardians than that?
5: Prologue and Twilight – ELO
This would have worked spectacularly well at the start of Avengers: Endgame where Captain Marvel rescues Tony and Nebula, but the Russos unaccountably chose not to consult me. So I’m offering it to Mr Gunn instead. I mean Mr Blue Sky worked great in Volume 2, didn’t it? You can never have too much ELO!
OK, so that’s just five songs, but they’re five awesome songs, perfectly suited for the final installment of the Guardians trilogy. And on top of that I don’t work for free! If Mr Gunn wants to hear the rest of my suggestions (which definitely exist) we’ll have to strike some kind of deal. Have your people call my people James, I’m sure we can work this out!
As the turning of the year speeds us onward into winter the time has come for me to actually make a post. Don’t expect this to be a regular thing mind you, it’s likely only possible because I’ve taken a week off work and hence actually have the time to think.
Anyway, this week someone on Reddit had decided to compile a list of Adeptus Astartes war cries (yes, I’m on about Warhammer again, deal with it) and helpfully posted the same to the 40kLore subreddit. When browsing through this list I noticed something a bit strange – can you spot it?
“Doom ye! Doom ye! Doom ye!”–Doom Warriors
“Skovakarah uhl zarûn!” (“Redden the earth!”)–Emperor’s Spears
“Bringers of war!”—Emperor’s Warbringers
“In too deep, against all odds brothers!”—Genesis Chapter
“”We are the hammer!” or “I am the hammer, I am the right hand of the Emperor, the instrument of His will, the gauntlet about His fist, the tip of His spear, the edge of His sword!”—Grey Knights
“Primarch-Progenitor, to your glory and the glory of Him on Earth!”—Imperial Fists
“The flesh is weak!”—Iron Hands
In case you’re not an ageing Gen-Xer and the title of this post didn’t tip you off, it’s the war cry of the Genesis Chapter, who apparently charge into battle yelling “In too deep, against all odds brother!”. What immediately startled me about this can best be summed up with the inclusion of a couple of videos…
So, we are being asked to believe that the war cry of the Genesis Chapter just happens to be built from the title of a Genesis song, and a former-lead-singer-of-Genesis-Phil-Collins song?
Now, sure, Warhammer 40k is probably the most plagiarism-guilty IP in human history. It’s cobbled together from chunks of Dune, Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, the collected works of J. R. R. Tolkien, Judge Dredd, the generalised evil of Margaret Thatcher and dozens – if not hundreds – of other sources. There’s barely an original idea in the whole thing. But directly quoting prog-rock lyrics seems a little too on the nose even for Games Workshop. So what the hell is going on?
I started digging. The oldest reference I could find to the alleged war cry is on the Genesis Chapter page on the 40k Fandom Wiki – which immediately sounded all kinds of alarm bells.
Warhammer 40,000 has been a thing since 1987, and since then an absolutely titanic amount of background lore has been generated. Organising it all into a Wiki is the obvious management solution, and as a result there are a number of 40k Wikis on the web. The big three though are Lexicanum, 1d4Chan and the 40k Fandom wiki.
Lexicanum is – in my opinion – the most reliable as it insists that all information must be properly sourced. It can be a bit dry and academic though, being very much the “just the facts ma’am” 40k wiki.
1d4Chan (when it hasn’t gone offline, which it seems to do regularly) is an obscenity laced carnival of memes that – once you scrape off all the hyperbole – is often surprisingly accurate. It’s also the only of the big three to really include meta-information – that is to say info about the history and community of 40k . If you want to understand the hate directed towards C. S. Goto, or know why Matt Ward is your spiritual liege it’s the place to go. On the downside it’s not updated that much any more, and if not tempered with more reliable sources can easily delude new 40k fans into confusing memes and jokes (usually very dated memes and jokes – like those involving Matt Ward and C. S. Goto…) with actual lore (For instance the Death Korp of Krieg are not suicidal and they do not regard shovels to be their ‘cultural weapon’, and you cannot kill Orks by pointing a gun at them and shouting ‘bang!’).
The 40k Fandom Wiki… well, to be frank, I do not like it. Its moderation and sourcing rules are extremely lax – pretty much anyone can post anything they like there and it’s up to other uses to spot and correct it. Which brings us back to the Genesis Chapter…
On February 8th 2011 – yes, that’s over a decade ago folks! – some wanderer of the digital waste decided to have a bit of fun with the Genesis Chapter Fandom Wiki page and made a series of edits to the info box, which I shall display here as a before and after screenshot…
Such wit! Such satire! Actually, to be entirely honest, it’s exactly the kind of joke I’d make, but I certainly wouldn’t go and vandalise a wiki with it!
The joker’s changes were reverted pretty quickly, but whoever did it seemingly lacked the necessary knowledge of Phil Collin’s back catalogue to recognise the war cry as part of the prank, even adding quotes around it to standardise the format. And so it has sat there unchanged for 11 years, spreading through the fan community as the accepted war cry of the Chapter!
I may try to do something about this. Or I may not. All in all I suppose we should just be glad that the Genesis Chapter don’t charge into battle yelling “Billy don’t you lose my number!”