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Mad scientists face off in new Warhammer 40k novel

Guy Haley’s upcoming novel ‘Genefather’ pits the Adeptus Mechanicus techpriest Belisarius Cawl against Chaos Space Marine fleshcrafter Fabius Bile.

Warhammer 40k novel Genefather special edition cover - metal relief icons of a cog and an eight-pointed star with cameo profiles of a cyborg techpriest and a balding Space Marine

An upcoming Warhammer 40k novel, ‘Genefather’ by Guy Haley, will see two of the maddest mad scientists in the Warhammer 40k universe face off, with the potential for juicy developments in the setting’s ongoing plot.

Representing the Imperium of Man is Belisarius Cawl, Adeptus Mechanicus hyper polymath and the genius responsible for the Primaris Space Marines; standing for his own vision for the human species is Chaos Space Marine apothecary Fabius Bile, the Pater Mutatis, gene crafter extraordinaire.

Warhammer 40k novel Fabius Bile Clonelord cover art by Games Workshop - inside a green and black alien tomb complex, , a Space marine in purple armor, holding a skull-topped walking cane, holds a Necron's metal skull and grins maniacally

According to a Warhammer Community post announcing the book, Bile has “simply invited himself along to a congregation of the Imperium’s greatest minds on Pontus Avernes, arranged by the Archmagos Belisarius Cawl”.

These imperial intellectuals are trying to tap into the Necron pylon network to find some way to hold back the Chaos rifts gnawing at reality from the galactic core outward.

Lore channel Majorkill actually explored the question of which of these two mad geniuses is the most mad and genius in the YouTube video below; it will be interesting to see how a Black Library author approaches the same question:

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Former Black Library author Josh Reynolds wrote three excellent Fabius Bile novels, charting Bile’s strained relationship with his parent legion the Emperor’s Children, his total denial that he is in any way advancing the agenda of the 40k Chaos Gods, and his efforts to establish the race of New Men.

Guy Haley has been the narrative custodian of Belisarius Cawl in every Warhammer 40k book published by Black Library. The 49th Horus Heresy book, Wolfsbane stars the Space Wolves, but its B plot shows Cawl’s origin as a techpriest with a lax interpretation of Mechanicum dogma.

Cawl also appears in Avenging Son, the first book in the Dawn of Fire series that tracks the Indomitus crusade, where he shows off the new Primaris Space Marines with typical showmanship.

In The Great Work, Cawl accompanies an expedition with the remnants of the Scythes of the Emperor Space Marines chapter to the ruins of their homeworld Sotha, as they seek to purge the last of the Tyranids responsible for its destruction.

Cawl ventures into the Necron ruins beneath their chapter monastery and goes tomb-raiding on a scale to make other Tech-priests envious – and in the process unlocks some of the many memories he has lost, deleted, or had stolen over 10,000 years of continuous life.

Both Cawl and Bile are characterised by incredible arrogance; both have meddled with Astartes geneseed and improved on the Emperor of Mankind’s work, at least according to their own metrics.

Warhammer 40k novel Belisarius Cawl: The Great Work cover art by Games Workshop - a multilimbed cyborg in red robes walks through the ruins of a world with a Space Marine in the yellow and black of the Scythes of the Emperor

While Bile has created whole worlds of abominations, Cawl isn’t blameless: his first, proto-primaris, Alpha-Primus, is both enormously psychically powerful, and lives in a state of continuous agony.

Bile last cropped up in the 40k narrative during the Psychic Awakening expansion books that closed out 8th edition, hunting for Adeptus Custodes DNA. He’s also dealt with Necrons before, trading away an irreplaceably valuable clone to Trazyn the Infinite to receive a cargo container full of untainted pre-Heresy Emperor’s Children geneseed.

Whatever Bile’s motivation is for crashing Cawl’s party in ‘Genefather’, it’s going to be interesting.