Halo: The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund

November 4, 2004 at 12:00 am | Posted in 2 stars, Book Reviews, Science Fiction | Leave a comment

With the sequel to the Xbox video game Halo coming out in a few weeks I allowed myself something of a guilty pleasure: a tie in novel. It is the first I have read in such a long time I can’t remember the last time. I knew what I was getting into: the pros were that, for a video game, Halo was a reasonable collection of SF tropes like Banks orbitals and Heinlein power armor. Also in its favor, the book was written by Eric Nylund, who is a Real SF Author. On the downside, I had read negative reviews from fans of Nylund’s previous work, leading me to assume the book was written really quickly for money and not for art.

Much as I would like to say otherwise, my impressions were correct. Halo: Fall of Reach happily steals technology and situations from Ender’s Game, Starship Troopers, and Armor. Nylund is clearly a capable writer but he did not have either the time or the desire to reproduce what made those books compelling–this book has little depth to its characters and never really feels real. A cursory gesture toward thoughtfulness is made in the form of certain characters questioning the ethics of the situation, but little is made of it and at any rate they are in perhaps the one situation–fighting to save humanity from an absolute genocide at the hands of an implacable alien enemy–that makes it easy to toss such concerns right out the window.

So there really isn’t anything to recommend the book for except the procedural back and forth of the battle scenes, which are done competently enough. Fans of “military SF” (a ghetto within the larger SF ghetto) will likely enjoy it, although I think it is not extraordinary in those terms either. Others–even if they are fans of Nylund’s other work–should avoid it.


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