Discussion Board

Topic: RE: Primordium

From: Chris
Location: Boston, MA
Date: 01/06/2012

Hi Greg,

I'm a huge fan of your work with the Halo novels. It's fascinating to see sci fi tackle (in part) issues of speciesism, and question humanity's role as dominators of life when we could be stewards of it. You made Cryptum a brilliant exploration and treated the characters with dignity, something many parts of the series (especially Reach, which didn't seem to be even remotely bothered to respect the canon) have failed to do.

I have a few questions about Primordium. Obviously this should lead those who have not read it to infer that this message will contain spoilers, so I hope they'll reconsider reading this as opposed to retaliating with complaints.

The first, of course, is what device the humans were using to access Chakas' memories? 343 was destroyed; does every monitor have multiple bodies or vessels? And, is in every monitor the soul, or collected souls, of a pre-cataclysm human being?

How do the Terminal dialogue's fit into this story? If Mendicant was deactivated now, how will he and Offensive Bias fight while the Didact races to fire the arrays?

I'm also having a hard time comprehending Chakas' speech's transition to that of 343 Guilty Sparks. Is that the effect of time and the events at the end of Primordium? Also confusing is his appraisal of the Forerunners in those book compared to his comments of them in the games.

The Forerunner were very obviously noble; while aware of species differences they put a hierarchical ideology of speciesism aside to protect as much life as possible, and yet Chakas describes them as monsters. Is this just his old prejudice? No doubt humans are in a huge way socialized into bigotry (most so much they can kill and eat others based on differences in intelligence), so it's not surprising that in the Halo universe ancient ones would be as well.

Also on this topic, it seems that the Didact is going to be the enemy in Halo 4, and I'm confused about how this is possible, unless he has gone insane, which (I hope) is too formulaic for the Halo series.

And to get the Precursors role straight: they created humans and Forerunners, or they created one species that evolved into two, so that they could use them as subjects in experiments with the Flood? And then the Forerunners rebelled once they'd become aware of their test subject status and overthrew the Precursors, the remaining members fleeing beyond their reach. And then the surviving Precursors sent vessels containing the Flood from outside the rim of the galaxy to be discovered by the first empire of humans as described in Cryptum?

I hope you choose to answer these questions, as I'm deeply interested and found the areas I'm inquiring about too vague to feel confident in my inferences. I also hope that you give as much thought and care to the end of the trilogy as you have to the beginning and middle, and would love to see more exploration of the Mantle, and the Forerunner's contemplations of how advanced civilizations should behave.

Best regards,

Re: RE: Primordium

From: Greg Bear
Date: 01/20/2012

Thanks, Chris! All good questions, and if I answered any of them at this point, I'd likely be tazed! More to come in Forerunner number three, in progress.

Re: RE: Primordium

From: Matt
Location: UNSC HQ Sydney Australia
Date: 01/31/2012

The Forerunner Saga humans, both de-evolved and space-faring are far from bigots.

The de-evolved human species are a multi-species society, and Chakas and co. happily accept different races of human and giant gorillas into their merry band.

Space-faring humans had an interstellar empire that embraced alien species like the San-Shyuum.

The true bigots are the Forerunners, which is why they are described as monsters. The Forerunner take it upon themselves to categorize and 'preserve' the life in our galaxy with no acknowledgement of the rights or ideologies of the 'preserved' species.

They are essentially domesticating life in the Milky Way, shaping it into their own ideals of how the universe should be instead of allowing civilisations to forge their own path.

The Forerunners obliterated an advanced interstellar civilisation because it encroached on their territory for reasons the Forerunners dismissed as irrelevant, and this arrogance led to their downfall.

Re: RE: Primordium

From: Greg Bear
Date: 02/22/2012

Interesting points, but more is to be revealed in Vol 3! And remember that humans were pretty rough on many civilizations as well.

Re: RE: Primordium

From: Chris
Location: Boston, MA
Date: 02/22/2012

The humans seem to be more like a multi-breed society than species, or multi-race may be more accurate. I did not say the different races did not tolerate each other, but they slaughter other species wantonly, which is why the Forerunners devolved them. This is why the Didact described them as "among the most contentious, bigoted, self-centered..." beings. And the fact that they accept them into their "merry band", which they join after having been taken from a primitive life and had their entire paradigms shattered, and while they're trying to survive on a Halo run by a rampant AI and an ancient gravemind, forced to depend on other species' (an example of superordinate goals, which drastically reduce out-group prejudice and discrimination) seems to be an exception, rather than a rule.

Their empire used the San-Shyuum, it didn't embrace them. They were a convenient ally to try to take control of the galaxy.

The Forerunner's Mantle inherently recognizes the value of all life, which is why they seek to protect it. If they were bigots they wouldn't have cataloged as many species as possible to preserve them from the Halo effect, or even have built the Halos, ready to sacrifice themselves to protect sentience in the first place. They would have fought for themselves and let everyone else die. The Librarian's work wasn't like owning a zoo where they have a bunch of species on display to children to marvel at and mock. She saw the end of the Forerunner empire and actively utilized resources to selflessly protect as many other species as possible.

And they do, in fact, let species forge their own paths. This is why Bornstellar comments that "it is not a kindness to diminish competition, predation-even war....but...an imbalance of forces can retard growth and reduce the flow of Living Time." Unfortunately humans tried to forge a path of conquest and immature domination, killing others to save themselves.

Awareness of this fact is why the Didact feels so much regret for devastating humanity; even in light of all of our flaws, he recognized that we were fighting two wars. That is not dismissing it as irrelevant. If you saw a group killing your neighbors to take their homes, or killing you family to take their homes, would you do what you could to stop them or consider their motives and let them continue, even if you knew that they were stealing homes because THEIR homes had been stolen? I presume you would intervene. Would you feel bigoted for or unjustified in doing so?

You seem very triggered by my comments. I wasn't trying to insult you, who I didn't know existed before your response, and hope you don't feel that was the case. Rather I was simply trying to acquire knowledge about my favorite sci fi universe, and a pair of books I've read so many times that I can quote them, a sentiment I'm sure you feel as well. I'm looking forward to hearing your, and Mr. Bear's, thoughts.

Re: RE: Primordium

From: Greg Bear
Date: 04/07/2012

I think it's a very complex issue, and it's not going to get any simpler in Vol. 3. The discussion here is first-rate! Looking forward to all of your responses when this final book is published.

Re: RE: Primordium

From: Alberto
Location: Tx
Date: 04/11/2012


I would like to add to this and I will try to make it as simple as possible because I know that it is complicated.
Humans (both ancient and de-evolved) Yes, they were space faring

Re: RE: Primordium

From: Matt
Location: UNSC HQ Sydney Australia
Date: 05/03/2012

Oh, I have no illusions on the damages that humanity inflicts upon other species Greg :-)

I just see the Forerunners as the unjustified aggressors in the conflict. Surely it was within the Forerunner's capabilities and best interests to investigate WHY humanity was encroaching upon their territories, and then to deal with the cause instead of the effects.

This Forerunner hubris directly resulted in the destruction of their entire civilisation.

It is important to remember that not only is the Mantle a philosophical ideal rather than a physical law of nature, it is also a secondhand remnant of the philosophy and civilisation of the Precursors.

Your original question about the origins of the Forerunners and humanity at the hands of the Precursors got my creative juices flowing and I wrote up a large speculative history based upon my knowledge of the Halo universe which can be found here: http://assembly.forwarduntodawn.com/index.php?topic=129.0

I encourage anyone who is interested to read it, and post their thoughts. (Especially you Greg, but then who as an aspiring writer WOULDN'T want to attract your attention?)

The Didact, and his opinion on humanity was clearly not shared by Forerunner civilisation as a whole.

I think one of the most brilliant parts of the Halo franchise is that the different species all have different philosophies and motivations without being caricature or stereotype.

All species in Halo have been shown as 'speciesist' except one. The warm friendly embrace of Flood tendrils. And even they can't absorb the Lekgolo into their collective!

Re: RE: Primordium

From: Greg Bear
Date: 05/08/2012

A lot of surprises yet to come... Thanks, Matt!

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