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SF anthology A Thousand Suns channels Warhammer 40k and Dune

The free short film collection packs all the mystery, pathos, and horror of the sci-fi epics into tiny videos less than five minutes long.

Screenshot from Ice, episode one of A Thousand Suns - a man in a yellow and black environment suit watches orbital bombardment of an ice field

If you’re a fan of Warhammer 40k, the Dune books or films, or any kind of big ideas sci-fi, stop what you’re doing and watch A Thousand Suns. You’ve got enough time: each of the six short sci-fi films in this anthology series is less than five minutes long, but drips with the massive ideas, big emotions, and cosmic wonder that only original sci-fi can provide.

As Warhammer 40k fans, we saw lots of details in A Thousand Suns that make us a lot more optimistic about the Warhammer 40k Henry Cavill film deal with Amazon studios. Though set in completely original settings, there’s plenty of aesthetic crossover.

Without spoiling any of the twists, there are scenes in these short films that could represent a 40k psyker being overwhelmed by warp power, a Nurgle daemon incursion (or even an Enslaver creating a flesh portal), and dealings with a mysterious xenos.

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You can watch all of A Thousand Suns now on YouTube.

A Thousand Suns is produced by BlackMilk Studio, and was self-financed by the creative team. The first six episodes “were directed by Ruairi Robinson, Macgregor, Tyson Wade Johnston and Tim Hyten, written in collaboration with screenwriter Philip Gelatt”.

According to the studio’s press release, the creatives were “tired of endless remakes and sequels and bland corporate IP mulch” and set out to “revive the kind of original, mind-bending, thought-provoking sci-fi we grew up on”.

A Thousand Suns feels like a reel of proof-of-concept shorts for future sci-fi feature films, each one demonstrating a unique setting, a distinctive aesthetic, and at least one piece of bravura CGI. The films prioritise mood, aesthetics, and emotional impact over narrative, but a couple of them – Exodus and Bug – stand out as excellent self-contained micro-stories.

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The BlackMilk website lists sixteen more titles for future short films, but the studio states “we could use a little boost to keep our afterburners firing” in the form of studio funding. Here’s hoping that some executives have noticed the success of the Dune films, or Netflix’s Love, Death, and Robots anthology, and get their chequebooks out.

Until that happens, our friends over at The Digital Fix have a great guide to the best science-fiction movies of all time, and we can recommend many excellent Warhammer 40k books if you want to know just why we’re so het up about the prospect of future TV shows and films in that universe.