The Dead Robots' Society

Writers on Writing


You know what? I just realized I completely forgot to finish out this list here on the main site! Yikes! Mea culpa, everyone. Mea culpa. Let me get back to it…

Today’s entry – Joe Staten.

Joe works for Bungie, and Bungie makes what I consider to be one of the finest video games of all time: the Halo series. Let me see if I can break it down simply…

Halo takes place several hundred years from now. When Halo opens, humanity is engaged in a war with a group of alien races known as the Covenant. The Covenant believe humans to be despoilers of religious artifacts left by beings they call the Forerunners. so their war with us is – for them – a crusade. We learn in the opening cinematic that the Covenant have just destroyed a human military base called Reach, and only one human ship, the Pillar Of Autumnrent a car bulgaria, was able to escape the destruction. Onboard that ship is the last of a group of super-soldiers called Spartans. The Spartans are enhanced humans. raised from childhood to be warriors. There used to be a bunch of Spartans, but Reach saw the end of almost all of them (not really, but you only learn that through the novels), and Master Chief is the only one left. Now, to escape Reach, the Pillar of Autumn‘s IA controller, Cortana, performs a blind jump into hyperspace, but that is what they’re supposed to do. It’s called the Cole Protocal, and they do it so as to not accidentally lead the Covenant to Earth, which they have thus far not found (you also learn in the books that Cortana’s “blind” jump wasn’t so blind). Anyway, once the ship exits its jump, they find that they’ve entered a system filled with Covenant ships. The reason all those ships are there is because the system is home to a giant ring shaped spacestation that the Covenant call Halo. The Covenant believe it to be a very holy relic of the Forerunners, and something that will lead them to paradise, but the humans land on it to find out what it really is. The game that follows is all about Master Chief and Cortana searching through Halo and discovering its true purpose. To find out more about that, play the three games.

Now, I wrote all that to say that I love Halo. I really do love the games. They have a story that is incredibly rich and textured and thought-out, and they’ve certainly influenced my writing. In fact, I make a direct homage to them in my Sovereign Stars novels (I named the royal bodyguards the Amber Clads after a ship that appeared in the second Halo game called In Amber Clad). There are elements of all sorts of other genre movies and stories in it, but what it does with all those is amazing if you dig into it. It’s very much a space opera, and that goes right to my heart. Joe Staten is one of the creators of Halo, and he served as its chief story writer. Later he went on to pen a Halo novel titled “Contact Harvest” that served as a bit of a prequel to the games. “Contact Harvest” was also very well written. I enjoyed damn near every word put on the page. He is able to tell a very military tale, but without making it too hardcore or unemotional. I highly recommend it.

Anyway, that’s it for today. Go out, pick up Halo 1 – 3, and then get the novels. I think you’ll be in for a real treat.



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