May 20, 2013 by DayandKnightly
Even though the Forerunner Saga is (allegedly) complete, I still have the creators of the Halo Array on my mind.
Characters and plot points from Silientium continue to wash over me despite the fact that I finished the book months ago, and the recent Dust & Echoes [link] podcast delved into the book as well – further fueling my daydreams of greater arks, star roads and brevet mutations.
With all these brain waves devoted to the Forerunners, I thought I’d add to it by pulling some quotes from a semi-recent bulletin [link] by the author of the Forerunner Saga himself, Greg Bear. I’ve enjoyed Bear’s grand vision of the previously unexplored history of the Forerunners, and applaud 343 Industries’ bold choice in partnering with him to make it happen.
I say “bold” because Greg Bear’s writing style is not something Halo fans had been used to, and any time you try something new there’s always the chance of backlash. “But Knightly,” you say, “Halo fans love to try new things!” My fault – I keep forgetting 🙂
Moving on – let’s hear from (wait for it) the Bear’s mouth!
Looking at the Forerunner environments and designs gamers have experienced, it became obvious that Builder/contractors would be very important. And looking at the destructive power of the Halos and the history of the Flood, it was equally obvious that we are dealing with a warrior civilization near the end of its history and power [emphasis mine]
I love the picture this quote paints – it’s like I can see Bear walking around the studio, looking at concept art, watching the game cut scenes, and getting the general impression about what the Halo universe/Forerunners are all about.
I also love the use of the word “obvious.” Even though the man does this for a living, when I think of formulating a back story for an entire continuality by observation alone the idea of anything being “obvious” is crazy. Where would I even begin?
Bear has thanked the staff at 343 Industries many times for all their help, but he’s the one who had to write the thing. To me it’s both impressive and wild at the same time.
I think the interaction of our feisty humans with Bornstellar and the Ur-Didact remains one of my personal highlights. It was painful to remove them from their homes and sweep them off to high adventure and ultimately tragic transformations…[emphasis mine]
Something that fascinates me about media consumption (be it books, movies, video games, etc.) is the way we can get so strongly attached to the characters we view. If that’s how we feel, how much more so when it’s your own creation?
While difficult to do, I’m glad Bear did it with purpose – there’s a reason Chakas and Riser had to go on their journey, and as a reader that makes all the difference when it comes to accepting the fate of someone you’ve grown to care about, perhaps almost as much as the author.
Bornstellar was always a poor fit for the Didact’s imprint. That said, he does become the Didact, feels both the Didact’s history and his emotions – understands his mentor better than any other Forerunner – and yet remains his own individual. He could be considered the Didact’s imago, as the Didact himself might have been, minus the extraordinary stresses of Forerunner history [emphasis mine]
While there is a TON that can be unpacked in the above quote, the idea of Bornstellar Makes Everlasting being the Didact’s imago really stuck out to me. Can I imagine (spoiler alert: I can’t) what it would be like not only meet a more idyllic version of myself, but to have that other self opposed to a course of action I felt was vital for my (our) entire civilization to survive?
A physical representation of myself minus the hard choices and incredible pressures I’ve been under for the last few millennia, in short, having to stand off against myself but at a different point in life? How often do we look back at situations in our lives, and wonder if/how we would have done them differently knowing what we do now?
Part of the way we make it through life is we know we don’t have to make our choices again once they’re made; yes, we have to deal with the consequences, but the choice itself has a finality to it.
But for the Ur-Didact this permanence is removed – the presence of the Bornstellar Didact means all his choices can be remade*, can be different than what they’ve already been. To have the choices you make be continually in the present and not locked in the past would be maddening.
To say that Cyrptum, Primordium and Silentium have added to the Halo canon would be an understatement – they’ve retroactively built a foundation which the fiction will continue to move forward on.
It’s been said that Forerunner’s are fond of hats. We tip ours to you, Greg Bear
>>>>>>>[Post tenebras lux]
* = Ultimately I believe that this is untrue – we’re talking about two different individuals and their decision are separate, and it that way they are still final. However, I think for the Ur-Didact (and Bornstellar as well) it would certainly feel like your choices are not entirely your own, and that’s the point I am attempting to make.