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ELEKTROGRAD: RUSTED BLOOD

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ELEKTROGRAD is the city of the future. Since the early 20th Century, it has been used as a testbed for futuristic modes of living. Each of its seven districts is an experimental site for new forms of architecture.

It is now the early 21st Century. Elektrograd is showing its age.

Mekanoplatz is the northernmost district of Elektrograd. And, on the district border, within site of the old construction robots with homeless people sheltering in their rusting carcasses, under the green flingers reaching their tentacles to the edge of space, and in the shadow of the hall where the shape of the future was first revealed in sparks and fire, there is a dead body.

ELEKTROGRAD: RUSTED BLOOD is a murder mystery in a strange dream of a city, from the NYT-bestselling author of the crime novel GUN MACHINE and the graphic novels TRANSMETROPOLITAN, PLANETARY and RED.

35 pages, ebook

First published August 1, 2015

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About the author

Warren Ellis

1,202 books5,679 followers
Warren Ellis is the award-winning writer of graphic novels like TRANSMETROPOLITAN, FELL, MINISTRY OF SPACE and PLANETARY, and the author of the NYT-bestselling GUN MACHINE and the “underground classic” novel CROOKED LITTLE VEIN, as well as the digital short-story single DEAD PIG COLLECTOR. His newest book is the novella NORMAL, from FSG Originals, listed as one of Amazon’s Best 100 Books Of 2016.

The movie RED is based on his graphic novel of the same name, its sequel having been released in summer 2013. IRON MAN 3 is based on his Marvel Comics graphic novel IRON MAN: EXTREMIS. He is currently developing his graphic novel sequence with Jason Howard, TREES, for television, in concert with HardySonBaker and NBCU, and continues to work as a screenwriter and producer in film and television, represented by Angela Cheng Caplan and Cheng Caplan Company. He is the creator, writer and co-producer of the Netflix series CASTLEVANIA, recently renewed for its third season, and of the recently-announced Netflix series HEAVEN’S FOREST.

He’s written extensively for VICE, WIRED UK and Reuters on technological and cultural matters, and given keynote speeches and lectures at events like dConstruct, ThingsCon, Improving Reality, SxSW, How The Light Gets In, Haunted Machines and Cognitive Cities.

Warren Ellis has recently developed and curated the revival of the Wildstorm creative library for DC Entertainment with the series THE WILD STORM, and is currently working on the serialising of new graphic novel works TREES: THREE FATES and INJECTION at Image Comics, and the serialised graphic novel THE BATMAN’S GRAVE for DC Comics, while working as a Consulting Producer on another television series.

A documentary about his work, CAPTURED GHOSTS, was released in 2012.

Recognitions include the NUIG Literary and Debating Society’s President’s Medal for service to freedom of speech, the EAGLE AWARDS Roll Of Honour for lifetime achievement in the field of comics & graphic novels, the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire 2010, the Sidewise Award for Alternate History and the International Horror Guild Award for illustrated narrative. He is a Patron of Humanists UK. He holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Essex.

Warren Ellis lives outside London, on the south-east coast of England, in case he needs to make a quick getaway.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 63 reviews
Profile Image for ricardo is reading.
202 reviews45 followers
January 25, 2016

How are we supposed to live in the future when the future just abandons us to the night?

Alia Noton in Elektrograd: Rusted Blood

The future is coming, and we’re going to win.

– Warren Ellis, Orbital Operations

Morning comes and the building blocks rise up on their groaning, rusted mechanical legs. Shaking the snow off its shoulder, the city walks off into a brand new day.

Towering green flailing devices, intended to quite literally fling crafts into orbital space shoot out of the ground like the tentacles of a giant squid.

The decrepit carcasses of construction robots serve as shelter for the homeless.

This is Elektrograd, built as a test bed for experimental architecture. This is a city meant to represent the future.

And the future has just murdered somebody.

Warren Ellis is back with another novella and we are all grateful for it. It is a murder mystery, a genre in which the writer has been playing around in on and off for the last couple of years. And he’s getting fearfully good at it.

So the future has murdered someone, and the people who live in it need to find out why.


Discussing the writing process behind The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Michael Chabon said that, for that particular story, the setting came first, and then it was just a matter of conceiving a character who would be able to guide the reader through all the different aspects of said setting. And so he bethought himself of a detective. Historically, Chabon says, detective have always been ideal vehicles in fiction, having access to both the highest tiers of society, down the lowest of lows. It is the reason why speculative fiction has so many stories that use mysteries as their focal point (the aforementioned and mighty excellent Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World, The Last Policeman, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, a handful of Philip K. Dick’s stories). Stories like these need someone who can guide us through an Inferno and, well, Philip Marlowe makes a damn good Virgil.

In Elektrograd: Rusted Blood, we get our own Virgil in the form of Ervin Frauss, an aging, cantankerous-yet-always-charming Detective Inspector in Mekanoplatz, Elektorgrad’s northernmost district.

The murder narrative, truth be told, is nothing out of this world. The main mystery, although interesting and engaging enough, turns out to be not that terribly mysterious. (Indeed, Ellis seems to be aware of the fact, as a character is introduced right in the middle of the story, with a sign practically over their heads, in which THIS IS THE MURDERER WHO MURDERS WITH MURDER is written in giant block letters.) But the whodunit is not the point of the tale, rather the setting is – and settings are one things at which Ellis exceeds superbly. From the sprawling and disorienting City in Transmetropolitan, to the bleak and desolate Snowtown in Fell, to even his realistic, albeit grim, depiction of Los Angeles in his Dead Pig Collector novella, Warren Ellis knows how to create an atmosphere. Elektrograd is no exception. You leave the story wanting to explore its other districts. You leave the story wanting to know more about the city’s history, its genesis. You leave wanting more, and what higher praise could there be for a story?

(In the afterword, Ellis writes that there are still six other districts in the city left to explore, and that he wishes to write these six other stories. One can only hope he gets the chance to do that.)

Profile Image for Artur Coelho.
2,245 reviews58 followers
November 21, 2016
Como boa parte da obra deste escritor e argumentista, Elektrograd é uma leitura interessante não pela história em si mas pelo mundo ficcional que a sustenta. Conta-se em poucas palavras, como um policial procedimental onde um detective da velha guarda e os seus colegas, um polícia algo brutamontes e uma agente ambiciosa que vê a experiência de detective criminal como degrau para patamares mais ambiciosos, investigam um assassinato aparentemente banal nas ruas mais degradadas da cidade.

Esse fio condutor mergulha-nos em Elektrograd, a cidade onde enferruja o velho futurismo cromado, de arquitecturas luzidias e formas em barbatana, aquele gernsback continuum/dieselpunk saído das visões de arquitectos futuristas e designers industriais dos anos 40 e 50 do século XX. Um futuro envelhecido, de lustre perdido, feito de edifícios desertos que se movem em ritmos cronometrados (uma das inspirações para Mekanoplatz, a zona da cidade onde decorre a acção deste livro, são as Walking Cities concebidas nos anos 60 pelos arquitectos radicais do grupo Archigram), enquanto os habitantes preferem viver nas carcaças dos velhos robots de construção. Nestas ruínas funcionais do futuro, escondem-se ainda velhos andróides electro-mecânicos que se ocultam como psicólogos para tentar compreender o que é o ser humano.
Profile Image for Alex.
523 reviews28 followers
September 5, 2015
A swing and a miss by Ellis on this one, I felt. Too much of the imagery was all surface and no substance, trying a bit too hard to come off as cool. Much was left too-unexplored (e.g. flingers? Why even put these in the story? Nothing was added by their inclusion in the manner presented.) I know Ellis can write this kind of stuff well, whether in comic or prose format, and stuff like Gun Machine is the proof, but this just didn't do it for me.

That said, I definitely like this developing trend of getting to see more work from him, faster, in cheap digital format (with Elektrograd following the excellent Cunning Plans). Though this offering felt decidedly lackluster to me, I wouldn't let it deter me from trying whatever else he puts out next in this medium, whether it's another story set in this same world, or something else.
Profile Image for Jules Galette.
9 reviews1 follower
January 9, 2016
I'm not sure how I really felt about this as a detective story - it's one of the ones that gives you a chance to figure it out before the charcters, which I've always enjoyed (something the hard-boiled ones like Gun Machine can't really give you), but it all kind of just comes and goes.

The real triumph here is The City we're presented with, Elektrograd. It's supposed to be the city of the future, at least it was when it was built. Now time has passed it by and parts of it are rotted and rusting and some of its citizens live in toxic, deplorable conditions. There's a lot here for anyone who's interested in what it looks like to give readers a taste of a living, breathing place, with politics and a long storied history, without doing the whole George R.R. Martin thing. (And that's not a crack at grrm, I fucking love ASOIAF....but I've seen people try to do his thing in a short story and it never works out too well.)

Ellis mentions at the end of the story that he'd long considered writing several different stories about different parts of this city, each with their own little eco-systems, things that make them tick. That's something I think I'd be deeply interested in seeing more of.
June 9, 2016
Short fiction from Warren Ellis set in the imaginary city of Elektrograd, whose seven districts experiment in new forms of futuristic architecture. That’s the backdrop for a murder mystery in the decaying district of Mekanoplatz, where buildings can walk around and homeless people live in abandoned construction robot shells. Like the best of Ellis’ work, there’s a good balance here between futuristic ideas, storyline and vivid characters you get to know mainly through dialogue – although arguably the most interesting “character” here is the one that doesn’t speak: Mekanoplatz itself. Ellis says in the afterword that Elektrograd was conceived as a possible series, with one episode set in each district. I hope he follows through on that someday. I enjoyed the story and was fascinated by the concepts embodied by Mekanoplatz – I’d like to see what the rest of Elektrograd looks like.
1,020 reviews16 followers
September 9, 2015
this is the first in a proposed cycle of stories of the fictional town of elektrograd. ellis merges all his interests here, architecture, science fiction, and crime and makes a sort of columbo-ish story about big walking robotic city blocks, a 1930s german expressionism style robot madman and a murder. it's quick and fun and perfectly fine at three stars.
Profile Image for Bill Childers.
Author 19 books12 followers
October 12, 2015
More interesting ideas from Warren Ellis

I've really enjoyed most of Warren's work, and when he announced this short for sale on his weekly newsletter I snapped it up. It's a great start to what may be an interesting exploration into yet another world that might have been.
Profile Image for Miloš Petrik.
Author 23 books31 followers
December 7, 2015
This goes beyond a hard-boiled detective story and some way into the province of a pressure-cooked one, albeit cliché and unremarkable. The setting is compelling, though, and lamentable is the fact that it is only available as a short story adapted from a graphic novel script.
Profile Image for Sara Habein.
Author 1 book64 followers
December 23, 2015
This was a pretty great Kindle Single short story, though a bit overwritten in some places. We get it; you have a large vocabulary. Still, an interesting sci-fi crime story in a setting I hope Warren Ellis revisits.
Profile Image for Norman Isley.
13 reviews
September 21, 2015
Ellis says he likes writing mysteries. It shows. This isn't one of the really weird ones and could have been done as an episode of the Outer Limits.
Profile Image for Kirby.
69 reviews4 followers
October 28, 2016
Good not great

Love the idea for the city. Hate the plot. Mystery crimes are not my cup of tea. The sci fi angle is very cool, though.
Profile Image for Artur Nowrot.
Author 7 books39 followers
Read
April 19, 2020
Really digging the concept of a short story anthology focusing on different districts of an experimental city.

The vibe was more important then the plot, but the investigation was cool enough.

I’ve been thinking recently of light writing and a short story adapted from a comic book script gave me some interesting food for thought.

I enjoyed spending an hour in the retro-futurist world of the story.

Wish there was more. For now Rusted Blood, like Elektrograd itself, seems a testament to a future that never was. An off-shoot, an experiment.

We live in hope, I guess.
Profile Image for Ramón Nogueras Pérez.
502 reviews215 followers
May 14, 2018
Una muy breve historia policíaca sobre un asesinato en una ciudad futurista al estilo de los años 40-50, donde los edificios desarrollan patas y echan a andar según sean los planes urbanísticos. Sencilla y sin grandes pretensiones, está ejecutada con oficio y buen hacer, y tiene unas cuantas ideas muy originales y bien desarrolladas, en el estilo habitual del autor. Me ha gustado.
Profile Image for Fil Garrison.
181 reviews2 followers
January 26, 2016
How are we supposed to live in the future when the future just abandons us to the night?

The newest non-comics work I've read from my favorite author Warren Ellis. As always, his tales seem tailor-made to cater to my exact loves. This one revolves around architecture and crime fiction, with a great noir core in a broken down rusty city of the future.

Like all of Ellis' works, this is something of a pastiche of all of his interests, architecture, retro-futurism, crime, possible futures, and the bizarre intersection of what was possible with what is possible.

I think it's clear that this story started out as a comic book, there are a lot of visual elements in it, some places where the feeling very clearly is in a panel structure, but never mind that, it's an excellent story and a great foray into a world I hope to see more of from Mr. Ellis. The closest thing to this, I think was one of my all-time favorites from him, Ignition City, about a used retro-futuristic colony hiding a great secret. I can't help but be excited every time something new comes from his brain, it's always fascinating, and more often than not, a poignant look at the current feelings towards technology and crime, the two unique human constants. Like many of the stories, the world and the environment are the main characters, with the actual plot and people there only to lift us through it, to guide us safely to the point of the story.

This one does it in flying colors, as is usual from Ellis. My main complaint is that I would love to see more of it, and it could easily have been longer. The world that's been created is big enough, strange enough, and lovely enough to live in for quite some time.
Profile Image for Bill Williams.
Author 76 books13 followers
September 16, 2015
Elektrograd: Rusted Blood is a dystopian near-future steampunk detective story with a team of investigators looking into the untimely passing of a customer, police slang for corpse, in an abandoned industrial area. The rusting district of Mekanoplatz exists in a future that has little use for man. This part of an experimental city has walking tenement buildings, hidden labs and enhanced ammunition.

The Eastern-Europe-in-Decline environmental material is entertaining stuff, however the plot is by the numbers. The story has a nice resolution, but it’s one you can see coming like a city block on wheels.
Profile Image for Paul.
Author 2 books
July 14, 2016
First book of its genre I've read - a novella, naturally. Kept going at a fast clip. Some neat dialogue, but was mostly kept entertained by the descriptions of the dystopic universe in which it was set. Especially the architecture/cityscapes. Really liked the attention to detail too (mobils and telefons, etc). Will seek out more from Warren Ellis based on this. It's also whet my appetite for more dystopic fiction...
Profile Image for Booth Babcock.
396 reviews1 follower
September 28, 2016
Really more of a novella, or even a longish short story, and I'm not sure what to make of it. Ellis has started a high concept project set in a fictional future-ish city where each neighborhood is a completely different idea for a short story. In this case, a kind of detective noir set in a neighborhood abandoned by most humans, but still populated by robots. Not sure if he ever came back to the idea.
40 reviews6 followers
December 9, 2016
A lovely, gritty, architectural robopunk noir set in a district of a city where buildings get up and walk to new locations, where nameless workers scurry hither and yon, and where a trio of police officers attempt to solve both a murder and a historical robotic mystery.

Ellis has said that the district Elektrograd is one of seven in the city, and that he had thought to do a story for each in a collected book. I certainly hope he does.
Profile Image for Atleb.
86 reviews
August 31, 2015
Just a slice

Sometimes a draft is all it takes. Part short story, part ruminations on a large canvas, Elektrograd is the second monthly short from Ellis. It brings to mind viriconum , whilst still being fully Ellis.

It might be interesting to read a full tale of Elektrograd at some point, but just letting the ideas simmer after a quick read works well. So have some cake.
Profile Image for Daniel.
658 reviews41 followers
September 6, 2015
Good short story with a vaguely-soviet retro-future feel. Closer to a police procedural than mystery, but a bit thin for either. I'd have liked to see it developed a bit more, but still, enjoyed it enough I'd like to see more of the setting and characters and will definitely check out any future Elektrograd stories if Ellis does write more.
Profile Image for Michelle Tackabery.
Author 1 book8 followers
December 16, 2016
Great little story

Ellis has really gotten scarily good at taking a few of his speculative concepts and smashing them into a conventional narrative so you can cruise right on in before you even realize you've made a left turn into the very bad consequences of progress. This story features an architectural concept known as the Walking City.
Profile Image for Michael.
201 reviews6 followers
August 20, 2015
I loved this. It's more a long short story than anything else, but the world that Ellis builds is fantastic - a run-down post-Soviet dieselpunk noir with strong nods to Archigram's Walking City.

I hope he returns here in the future.
Profile Image for Josh.
61 reviews
August 18, 2015
A quick little noir story, with an interesting setting and characters that feel surprisingly alive for how little time we get to spend with them. I certainly hope Ellis gets a chance to write the six other parts to the cycle. A slightly different feel than his comics work.
4 reviews
August 26, 2015
A nice bite-sized bit of pulp detective fiction with a heavy dose of 60s style sci-fi. Ellis' prose is as muscular and engaging as always. I'm definitely onboard for any more stories from the Elektrograd universe that he wants to give us.
Profile Image for DEAN MCROBIE.
2 reviews1 follower
August 31, 2015
wow, short, beautifully written, powerful

I was looking for a short read to while away a commute and have discovered a new writer! great ideas, pacing, characters, and story. I highly recommend taking an evening and reading this book.
Profile Image for Jonny Illuminati.
143 reviews3 followers
September 1, 2015
A nice little short story... Parts of it read more like a draft or rumminations, but it all fit nicely. A nice little dark and gritty mystery - Definitely worth the short amount of time it took to read.
63 reviews2 followers
September 6, 2015
Recently bought and read this. A tight, decaying future police proceedural. If you've read Ellis' work in the past, it's a mix of Ignition City and the Frank Ironwine issue of the Apparat singles. I liked it.
Profile Image for Alek.
1 review3 followers
September 20, 2015
A nice little pearl. Reminds me of China Mieville's "Two cities" in the faux-Communist Bloc worldbuilding. WOuld enjoy immensely reading the whole seven-part series, which might end up as a XXI-century, architecture-inspired godchild of Calvino's Invisible Cities.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 63 reviews

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