3 Sci-Fi Novels that are the better version of Halo’s plot.

Posted: March 23, 2011 by ryanlecocq in Off-topic

I’ve mentioned before that Halo doesn’t have one scrap of original script.  It would take pages and pages to list every story that Bungie borrowed from when writing their blockbuster shooter, but there are 3 at least that stand out.

Children being put in a special program to be trained as weapons: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

The setup is similar: Humans are fighting a losing battle with a more advanced alien species.  In a desperate effort the government trains children to be military super-geniuses.  Much of this legendary Sci-Fi novel appears in the backstory of Master Chief John 117.  While this is only part of the backstory not actually shown in the games, it’s not glaring, but obvious nonetheless.

An ancient alien device of unknown origin holds the secrets to human evolution:  Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

Pretty much the only difference between Rama and the Halo is that Rama is a hollow cylinder and the Halo is a ring.  The imagery of a geo-sphere extending up the circular walls of a space-bound object could have come from nowhere else.  The fact that the Halo is also part of a doomsday weapon as well as being a space bio-dome is not enough nuance to make the two at all dissimilar.  The discovery of both objects reveal that humanity originated elsewhere from a specific design.

A single soldier in super-powered armor performs feats of great heroism: Armor by John Steakley

I did a whole article a while back on the movies that have ripped off this book.  I didn’t even mention games, of which Halo is the primary offender.  Although the Master Chief gets his supersoldier backstory form Orson Scott Card, his never give up attitude is 100% Felix, Dominar of planet Golden, hero to the people of the galaxy and armor wearing badass.  Although Felix performs his heroic acts because of a sense of fatalism, while the Master Chief is a cliche Christ-figure, the result is the same.  The idea of the power armor clad messiah originates with this masterpiece Sci-Fi novel.

I won”t bore you by explaining that Cortana is a character from a very well known early cyberpunk novel (huge props though if you name it in the comments) or that Sgt. Johnson is obviously Sgt. Apone from Aliens.  Others have already written articles on Halo’s other cliches.  The most startling thing about these three novels, is that with the exception of Armor, the other two are HUGE bestsellers.  There are not many people who read classic Sci-Fi who haven’t read Ender’s Game and Rendezvous with Rama.  I suppose I did just recently write another article saying that gaming should not be ashamed to plagiarize the classics, but I specifically said only if you acknowledge them with praise or clear references.

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Comments
  1. linearfix says:

    Nice blog, I’ve been following it for a few weeks using the WordPress subscribe feature and really enjoyed your unique technology posts.

  2. Todd says:

    Always love your posts, dude. You’re a pretty adept author. Keep on truckin!

  3. lagunawsu2 says:

    And here in the silly halo after notes they told me her name was based off a sword! Filthy liars.

    “In an essay on references to mythology in Halo and previous Bungie games, Jill MacKay analyzed the significance of Cortana’s name. It is a variant of Curtana, the sword used by the legendary Ogier the Dane, just as the titular AI character of Marathon 2: Durandal is apparently named after another legendary sword, Durendal. Curtana’s inscription reveals that the sword has the same “temper as Joyeuse and Durendal”. Accordingly, MacKay speculated before the release of Halo 3 whether the “smart” Cortana would follow Marathon’s Durandal in succumbing to rampancy, a concept invented by Bungie in which an AI character becomes insane by gaining too much knowledge.”

    • lagunawsu2 says:

      On a side side note, though I love wikipedia, I guarantee you that Bungie didn’t invent the concept of “rampancy”. That would probably go to Arthur again, with HAL in 2001. Man Bungie likes to jump conceptual claims.

      • ryanlecocq says:

        Sorry I should have been more clear. I didn’t mean Cortana’s name, that would have been a clever reference if it was from a novel. I mean her exact character, the friendly female AI with the personality of it’s now deceased creator. That character appears in a certain novel by an author called “The Godfather of Cyberpunk” by many.

  4. ryanlecocq says:

    Thank you Todd and linearfix, it’s almost shocking to get comments I can make sense of that resemble praise. Thank you for reading.

  5. Jay Kintner says:

    Idoru. Thank you for putting Cortana in that light. Even if it is not the right reference, it fits for me.
    Although I am a bigger fan of Hero and YT for material by “Godfather” writers, you make a strong case.
    Bang on with the theme from Halo and Gibson’s writing; You know there’s more back story but you don’t get it handed to you. Didn’t put Rama in Halo, but I see the ship/artifact connection.
    Thanks for giving credit due, and shame on Bungi for not!
    Good source work. You’ve got big geek cred.

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