AUDIO REVIEW: Dredge Runners, by Alec Worley

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Genre: SF Crime

Publisher: Black Library

Runtime: 61 minutes

Cast: Kelly Hotton, Emma Noakes, Paul Putner, Jon Rand, David Seddon, Andrew James Spooner

Release Date: 08/08/2020

Verdict: 5/5

 

Baggit and Clodde, two abhuman former guardsmen, now make their living as petty criminals in the great city of Varangantua. When a deal goes wrong, they find themselves in more trouble than they could possibly have imagined . . .

Following on from Warhammer Horror, Warhammer Crime shows Black Library’s committment to diversifying the kind of stories they tell about the grim, dark future of the 41st millennium. With a new subsetting in the form of Varangantua, Alec Worley’s tale is a perfect introduction to the seedier side of the Imperium of Man, and a cracking tale to boot.

Right from the start, it’s clear that this is no regular Warhammer story. The deep an sonorous tones of a morning benediction are common enough, but then give way to a church-sponsored advert for lho sticks, the Warhammer equivalent of cigarettes. It’s such an odd moment that I burst out laughing, and this hybrid of straightfaced Warhammer with flashes of comic genius really sets Dredge Runners apart from all the other audio dramas out there.

The story is fairly simple a sthese things go, and little about it immediately screams ‘grimdark future.’ Two rogues find themselves in over their heads and are forced to work for a bigger, smarter crime boss. In the course of their escapades they come into conflict with enforcers of the law and are soon faced with a choice of getting filthy rich or doing the right thing. It would be a brilliant story just as a reguar piece of noir, but festooned with the trappings of Warhammer, it edges into something a little more. None of the SF bits are really essential, they simply make for some wonderful scenery,a nd proide on eor two excellent set pieces. As an introduction to a new setting, it’s a pretty seamless blend of the familair and the new.

Baggit and Clodde are both great characters, played with a clear amount of fun by the actors. A ratling and an ogryn make for an odd pairing, but one that works marvellously. The differences between the two really come across in the dialogue, and the banter flies quick and thick. More than a few times was I chuckling to myself over their antics. The cast is filled out with criminals, law enforcers and the voice of the city’s regular intermissions. This could be a radio play from the 1940s, with the styling, but the acting and productions have all the hallmarks of the slick modernity we have come to expect from Black Library.

Dredge Runners manages to be funny, charming, dramatic, and tense all in the smae hour of listening. With this, Alec Worley has secured his place as my favourite wirter of audio for Black Library, and I look forward to whatever he does next. Hopefully, this will be more Baggit and Clodde, as the pair surely have many stories left in them, but I’ll be picking up his next 40k release regardless of what it is.

 

If you want more Warhammer, this is a no-brainer. But even if you just wnat a solid slice of SF crime, Dredge Runners is worth the price of entry.

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