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Literature / The Dawnhounds

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The Dawnhounds is a 2019 Biopunk New Weird novel by Sascha Stronach. A doomed ship rolls into the harbour of Hainak Kuay-Vitraj, its crew fallen victim to a horrifying engineered plague. Jyn-Yat Lorn is a beat cop, demoted to the night shift after being caught in a gay bar. She stumbles on the ship’s deadly trail, but she’s not the only one—powerful and secretive forces conspire to take control of a bioweapon with the power to reshape the world. They catch up to Yat and well …


They kill her. It doesn’t stick.

An ancient chthonic power called Monkey resurrects her and suffuses her body with magic. On the run from her former colleagues, she has to solve her own murder before the plague gets out and tears her home to pieces.

The Dawnhounds provides examples of:

  • And I Must Scream: particularly dangerous criminals have their consciousness wiped, and are experimented on and forced into dangerous jobs, they’re still aware of everything around them, and can feel pain. Also, the ‘particularly dangerous’ part is mostly a government fiction: there aren’t enough criminals to fill demand, so they’ll blank people for incredibly minor offenses.
  • Animal Motifs: all the weavers have an associated animal patron who grants them magic. Different patrons grant different powers: crane weavers can teleport, ox weavers are incredibly strong, and tiger weavers hide in plain sight.
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  • Big Damn Heroes: the Kopek teleports into a city canal, wrecking itself in the process, to save the day.
  • Bio Punk: with a Steampunk twist.
  • Body Horror: the plague repurposes human flesh and other organic material to create aggressive fungal/flesh hybrids.
    [...] a dog with a man’s face, crying out in pain. Its mouth remade into a snout like a dog’s, but puckered pink human flesh. It tried to bite him until he walloped it with the cane and send it running off down into the rats-nest of alleyways, shrieking in the voice of a child. Sen moved on.
  • Cast from Hit Points: weaving requires life energy going in to put magic out. That energy can come from an external source, but in a pinch can come from the weaver themselves. It has a tendency to go poorly.
  • Dirty Cop: of two flavours: Wajet is tremendously corrupt but is good-natured and has secretly been letting LGBT+ people out of the cells and directing them towards better company, while Varazzo is squeaky clean but is working to unleash the plague.
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  • Eldritch Abomination: Monkey is not a monkey. None of the Gods are what they say on the tin.

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