Of all of the genres that exist today, nothing is quite like science fiction. With more than ten sub-genres and close to two-thousand years of history (Arabian Nights!), science fiction is one of the most established genres around. In recent decades especially, science fiction has, to a degree, exploded. Star Wars, Star Trek, Lost in Space, War of the Worlds, the list is endless. One would assume then, with the sheer number of major titles and franchises, that there are hundreds (if not thousands) of spinoffs floating around. It takes tremendous power to give any idea the power to swim through the mediocre and emerge among the tall.
In 2001 a company by the name of Bungie created what many would believe to be the twenty-first century’s first major franchise. In 2001 they created a game called Halo. In the eleven years since the Chief first filled our screens with muzzle flashes and Sangheili blood spatters Halo has become so much more than just a game. It is a culture.
What Halo has done for the videogame industry is hard to explain, but suffice it say that Halo changed the game, both literally and metaphorically. A role model for multitudes of shooters that followed, Halo reinvented a genre that didn’t know it needed reinventing. Bungie created so rich a universe that the games couldn’t even hope to cover entirely. So to give their fans access to all of those untold stories, Bungie began publishing books.
Today there are eleven novels and four graphic novels, with more on the way, creating one of the most in-depth science fiction universes this generation has seen. But what is the importance of these novels, some ask. Why do I need to read them?
While the games are complete, stand-alone creations, allowing players to play them by themselves and get a complete story minus holes, the books provide something that the games don’t; backstory. Through the Halo novels, fans can not only learn of the Chief’s origins and development, but they can learn the story of Captain Keyes before he was captain or Sergeant Johnson before he was the famous ‘Sarge. And these stories all tie in beautifully to the fiction of the games. In The Fall of Reach we learn of the Spartan’s beginnings. In The Flood we get to explore all that happened during the first game that Chief wasn’t a part of. First Strike tells us what happens before Halo 2.
The canon covered in the Halo novels is rich and full of life. And while it may not be absolutely necessary that you read them, it is strongly suggested. Just as many would argue that you’re not really a fan of the Harry Potter movies unless you’ve read the books, a true Halo fan has steeped himself/herself in the fict
At the San Diego Comic-Con panel The Fiction of Halo 4, Halo creators and writer told fans that the, though Halo 4 is a fully sufficient work on its own, those people who have read the novels will have a greater understanding not only of what is going on but also of what will happen next. Sounds like a good enough reason for me!
Stay tuned here at Leviathyn for the upcoming months before the release of Halo 4 as I will be reviewing each of the books for you in as much detail as I can (no spoilers hopefully). Also be sure to tune in to Machinima Prime and Halo Waypoint on October 5th for the premiere of Halo: Forward Unto Dawn.