Can a novel set in a videogame universe enthrall fans of the game and entice those who don’t play the game? Iconic science fiction writer Greg Bear’s seem to be a great example of a series that can attract both sets of readers. Halo: Primordium—the follow up to the first volume, Halo: Cryptum—has just been released by Tor Books. The viability of the series is partly a testament to the Halo game and partly a tribute to Bear—a Hugo and Nebula award-winner—who, in his original fiction, brings powerful and original ideas with him.
When Omnivoracious asked Bear, just back from a recent book tour, how he first encountered the game, he replied that his son Erik “followed the game faithfully and played it frequently. I observed and then played it a few times—I was not as good as he was!—and thoroughly enjoyed the action, design elements, the entire science fictional outlook and feel. I was also intrigued by the back story, which seemed fascinating, but just barely touched upon. I’m a sucker for ancient giant alien artifacts.”
In terms of any constraints exploring the implications of those “giant alien artifacts, Bear indicated the Halo team has given him “a lot of freedom to create and play around in the known Halo universe. We have to respect what has gone before, of course—but when there’s a major question or something pretty much undeveloped, I run with it, develop my own solutions and scenarios, then run them past the gang [at 343] to see if they fit. By far, the majority of my creative additions have been accepted, and then added upon by the Halo team. It’s a great collaborative effort!”
Still, Bear acknowledged that there are challenges to writing in an “established universe”: “I’m used to developing my own moods and themes for individual works. Halo has its own moods and themes, which have to be respected...[it] requires some disciplined and thoughtful maneuvering. Fortunately, the Halo universe reminds me so much of classic science fiction, that it isn’t much of a leap to discern what Halo fans are going to enjoy. They seem to like what I like, so far!”