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Strange Company: Voodoo Warfare –

Strange Company: Voodoo Warfare

Saturday , 23, July 2022 Leave a comment

Twenty five years real time/two months subjective time after the events of the first Strange Company, the company finds itself in the employ of the Monarch who betrayed it. Alongside simian guerillas and a rookie mech company, the Strange is thrust into the hottest fire in the galaxy: a desperate assault that will be the last stand for either the Monarchs’ Ultra Marines or the Strange Company itself. To survive, Sergeant Orion must use every trick he can to kill the galaxy’s elite before they can kill him. Even if it means using the psychics of Voodoo Squad. Even if it means opening the door to the dark things beyond normal sight. For the hammered remains of Strange Company, their survival rests in voodoo warfare.

Strange Company: Voodoo Warfare, by Nick Cole, wears its influences on its sleeves: a leavening of Warhammer 40,000, a touch of Macross, and a double fistful of Planet of the Apes. But the biggest influence of all is Glen Cook’s Black Company. And that is both Voodoo Warfare‘s strength and weakness.

Black Company spawned a plethora of grimdark imitators, many of which miss the truth and nobility beneath the grim dark realties of war. Not in a jingoistic sense, after all, the mercenaries of both the Black Company and the Strange, after hiring themselves out to questionable masters, are quite jaded about politics. War for pay tends to weed out the idealistic–usually with a bullet. Rather, there is a purity of purpose, adorned with all the foibles, failings. and fellowship of fighting men unable or unwilling to find any other work besides infantry. Cole steers into this, while not shirking from the cruelty and randomness of battle, taking time out among the spray of lead and plasma to touch the raw nerves behind why men joined the Strange. Ever since Heinlein, military science fiction has held a fascination with the reasons why men fight in war, with many notable writers vying for the title of the Bard of Battle. Nick Cole has ripped that mantle from Heinlein, Haldeman, and Ringo.

Unfortunately, the Black Company fascination is also a weakness. The Forgotten Ruin, written by Nick Cole and Jason Anspach, exists side by side with Strange Company. While the two series don’t repeat the same themes, settings, or set pieces, they do rhyme. The beleaguered fates of time-lost companies are each recorded by an official chronicler, and while the habits and addictions of Strange’s Sergeant Orion and the Ruin’s Talker are different, the voice of both men is similar to each other and to the Black Company’s Croaker. And whether Rangers in fantasy or Strangers in space, both series by Cole follow a similar pattern, with set piece battles blowing up to encompass an entire book–a feature also seen in Galaxy’s Edge season 2. Don’t get me wrong, what Cole does, he does well, and those who enjoy Galaxy’s Edge and The Forgotten Ruin will be thrilled to find a new source for such stories. But a pattern has been established across all three series, and the experimentation of Soda Pop Soldier and early Galaxy’s Edge is sorely missed.

And yet I will be along for Strange Company’s next ride.

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