Welcome to the newest entry in the So You’ve Played… series where I recommend science fiction or fantasy books for you based off of a popular videogame. This week is one of the biggest games ever made… Halo. If you haven’t played Halo then it’s a first person shooting game which in a nutshell sees the planet Earth invaded by an alien force called the Covenant. It’s a brilliant game featuring large battles, tons of fictional weapons and a brilliant multiplayer.
Halo is a game that would fit into the science fiction or military sci-fi genre and so the books I am going to be recommending will have science fiction things such as aliens, battles and soldiers!
The Forever War
The cover looks very dated and for me personally this would be a no-go however… this book won a Hugo, Locus and Nebula for best novel of the year across 1975/76. This should speak volumes in the terms of its quality.
The story itself is about a reluctant private shipped off to fight a fierce alien enemy 1,000 years in the future. The private is willing to do whatever it takes to get back home but going home might be scarier than the aliens since he is aging months but the world he left behind is aging centuries.
A elite military unit, a new soldier, fierce aliens in a distant war for the survival of humanity. This sounds just like the majority of Halo and you can add this book to your Goodreads TBR here.
Armor is the story of a planet called Banshee where the air is un-breathable, the water poisonous and the locals hungry. Felix is a scout in A-team Two. Highly competent, he is the sole survivor of mission after mission. Yet he is a man consumed by fear and hatred. And he is protected, not only by his custom-fitted body armor, but by an odd being which seems to live within him, a cold killing machine he calls “The Engine.”
This is Felix’s story—a story of the horror, the courage, and the aftermath of combat, and the story, too, of how strength of spirit can be the greatest armor of all.
I like the sound of this story. It reminds me a tiny bit of Skyward by Brandon Sanderson (YA sci-fi) but only more adult. It has a soldier with mental crutches. He has body armor and some kind of companion. Also it has a giant insectoid civilisation who aren’t taking too kindly to humans dropping in for a cup of tea. Remember the buggers from the Halo games? Well imagine a whole planet of them that Felix has to deal with. That’s Armor.
You can add Armor to your Goodreads TBR here.
Halo: The Fall of Reach
Halo: The Fall of Reach is the first Halo novel. It tells the story of the planet Reach, the last human stronghold and how it is going to fall to the onslaught of the Covenant aliens unless the secret weapon the UNSC (United Nations Space Command) created, codename SPARTANS, can save humanity.
This story is the birth of the super soldiers humanity has created to give them a fighting chance against their alien oppressors. It takes place before the original Halo and should provide a great backstory into what is a phenomenal game series. It is noted that if you do read this one then you need to then read Flood, First Strike, and lastly Ghosts of Onyx before reading the rest of the Halo books in any order you wish (although if you start a trilogy, continue with that before starting a new one).
The book is currently rated 4.27 on Goodreads after more than 22,000 ratings. You can add this to your Goodreads TBR here.
Starship Troopers is the book of the movie of the same name. The book was written first and then adapted into that giant, kind of corny but still cool, alien fighting movie you saw one Saturday night at a friend’s house in the 90s.
I had to include this story because a) I bought it last week on a Kindle deal for 0.99 and b) because it has huge battles against an alien force and this is one of the elements that makes the Halo games so fun. The book is supremely better than the movie if we go off the reviews as this currently sits on Goodreads with a rating of 4.00 after more than 200,000 ratings!
If you haven’t seen the movie then this book tells the story of The Bug War in which humans have to fight off a giant bug race on a planet where they are outmaneuvered, outsized and outmanned.
You can add this classic to your Goodreads TBR here.
Old Man’s War
John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife’s grave. Then he joined the army.
The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce– and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.
So in this book the Colonial Defence Force (CDF) are in charge of the fighting of interstellar aliens. You’d think they wanted young strong people to fight but they don’t. They want retired folk. They’ve got skills, a good work ethic and life experience you just can’t teach a young person. The deal: Fight for two years and if you survive you get a nice plot of land on a conquered planet. The deal sounds good… if you can survive.
I hadn’t actually heard of this book until I started writing this article and it sounds great. Big space battles, fighting to the death and we all know Master Chief from Halo can’t be a young soldier anymore. I can even see him doing something like this if he was a character in this book. I’ve added this book to my Goodreads TBR and you can add it to yours here.
The Alliance has been fighting the Syndics for a century–and losing badly. Now its fleet is crippled and stranded in enemy territory. Their only hope is a man who’s emerged from a century-long hibernation to find he has been heroically idealized, beyond belief…
Captain John “Black Jack” Geary’s legendary exploits are known to every schoolchild. Revered for his heroic “last stand” in the early days of the war, he was presumed dead. But a century later, Geary miraculously returns from survival hibernation and reluctantly takes command of the Alliance fleet as it faces annihilation by the Syndics.
Appalled by the hero-worship around him, Geary is nevertheless a man who will do his duty. And he knows that bringing the stolen Syndic hypernet key safely home is the Alliance’s one chance to win the war. But to do that, Geary will have to live up to the impossibly heroic “Black Jack” legend…
Dauntless from what I can tell from reviews is a fun, rampant adventure about giant space battles and cool tech. It is not deep and doesn’t have underlining motives from the author (AKA John G. Hemry) and for some of you this will be perfect. Halo is sometimes the kind of game where you can easily beat it but the fun of punching sleeping grunts in the face or rolling into battle on a Warthog outweighs the reasons as to why you’re actually doing it.
You can add this book to your Goodreads TBR here.
Ender’s Game is a weird one to have in this list because of the way the story is told (to my knowledge). You see the story follows a boy called Andrew “Ender” Wiggin who thinks he is playing computer simulated war games; he is, in fact, engaged in something far more desperate. The result of genetic experimentation, Ender may be the military genius Earth desperately needs in a war against an alien enemy seeking to destroy all human life. The only way to find out is to throw Ender into ever harsher training, to chip away and find the diamond inside, or destroy him utterly. Ender Wiggin is six years old when it begins. He will grow up fast.
You see he is not himself fighting enemies in space directly, like face-to-face but from a remote console back on Earth. The reviews, specifically one from author Mark Lawrence, says that he was hugely entertained and that he went onto read three or four of the sequels too. This book has also been turned into a movie but Mark has said that a lot of important parts are skipped but he still found it entertaining. The book has also won Hugo and Nebula awards and if you want to add it to your Goodreads TBR you can do so here.
From the New York Times bestselling author William H. Keith, using one of his many pen names, Earth Strike is a sci-fi story with plenty of vast, intergalactic battles as humankind attempts to bring down an evil empire and establish itself as the new major power in the universe.
There is a milestone in the evolution of every sentient race, a Tech Singularity Event, when the species achieves transcendence through its technological advances. Now the creatures known as humans are near this momentous turning point. This story follows a rogue Navy Admiral, commander of the kilometer-long star carrier America, as he leads his courageous fighters deep into enemy space towards humankind’s greatest conflict—and quite possibly its last.
I found the idea of a rogue Navy Admiral, which is very much like what Master Chief is in the Halo games, a great alternative for when you don’t want a military sci-fi story with a nodding dog at the helm of a spaceship.
If you want to give this interesting sci-fi book a go, you can add to your Goodreads TBR here.
Ninefox Gambit is a story that centers on disgraced captain Kel Cheris, who must recapture the formidable Fortress of Scattered Needles in order to redeem herself in front of the Hexarchate. Captain Kel Cheris of the hexarchate is disgraced for using unconventional methods in a battle against heretics. Kel Command gives her the opportunity to redeem herself by retaking the Fortress of Scattered Needles, a star fortress that has recently been captured by heretics. Cheris’s career isn’t the only thing at stake. If the fortress falls, the hexarchate itself might be next.
Cheris’s best hope is to ally with the undead tactician Shuos Jedao. The good news is that Jedao has never lost a battle, and he may be the only one who can figure out how to successfully besiege the fortress.
The bad news is that Jedao went mad in his first life and massacred two armies, one of them his own. As the siege wears on, Cheris must decide how far she can trust Jedao–because she might be his next victim.
This sounds so good! I had to include it because for those that know; in one of the Halo games you had to team up with the alien equivalent of yourself, The Arbiter who was someone given a death mission as a punishment so this team up between Kel Cheris and the undead Shuos Jedao is perfect as Cheris doesn’t know how far she can trust Jedao!
The artwork on this book is brilliant too and it’s also a trilogy (The Machineries of Empire) and it’s published by Solaris (AKA Rebellion) who are one of my favourite publishers. If you want to, like me, add this to your Goodreads TBR then you can do so here.
Ringworld is actually the book that the Halo videogame series was based of so it would be kind of naughty for me not to include it in here. I want to immediately point out that Halo is called so because certain worlds are a ring shape, like the cover the book, and these are known as Halos – thus the name.
The artefact is a circular ribbon of matter six hundred million miles long and ninety million miles in radius. Pierson’s puppeteers, the aliens who discovered it, are understandably wary of encountering the builders of such an immense structure and have assembled a team of two humans, a mad puppeteer and a kzin, a huge cat-like alien, to explore it. But a crash landing on the vast edifice forces the crew on a desperate and dangerous trek across the Ringworld.
I have seen conflicting reviews about this book. It currently sits on Goodreads with a score of 3.96 after over 100,000 ratings. It was first published in 1970 and has won the Hugo, the Locus and the Nebula awards among others. Some reviewers have said the book is really good while others have said it’s not as good, that it includes outdated views on gender. If you aren’t bothered by what others have said and want to check out the book you can add it to your Goodreads TBR here.
I hope you enjoyed this article based on Halo! It took me about 2 hours to put together which was much longer than I anticipated because I thought finding relevant books would have been really easy but I didn’t want to just throw in either a) bad books or b) books that everyone compiles on their list. I hope you’ve found at least one new book to add to your TBR!
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I’ll see you next Saturday with a new videogame!