Ahh, the power of twitter. Tim Pratt spilled some pretty interesting beans today:

Wow. Greg Bear is going to write a trilogy of Halo novels. That’s pretty crazy. Though he has often written about giant alien artifacts…

Which was then more or less confirmed by Tobias Buckell, who made waves when he penned Halo: The Cole Protocol:

@timpratt ah, the news is out! :-)

It’s interesting to see another prominent author putting out a tie-in novel. A prominent name in the Science Fiction field, Greg Bear certainly doesn’t need any more exposure (and I’m sure his bank account is doing just fine), so I’m curious what Microsoft/Bungie is putting on the table to get authors like Bear and Buckell to agree.

An official press release should be coming in the next few days.

  • Shawn April 2, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    This reeks of April 1st.

  • aidan April 2, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    I’d be skeptical, but it was posted today. Hopefully it is real, otherwise I’ll look like a fool!

  • Adam Whitehead April 2, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Not sure why this is such a big deal. Bear hasn’t written anything outstanding for a while and his last novel didn’t fare well critically, plus he’s written Star Wars and Star Trek novels before. So doing this seems like a good movie to reestablish his name for a new audience.

  • Joe Sherry April 2, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    I’d guess money and exposure – both of which are positives for any author.

  • Shawn April 2, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Well, he is a local boy. I can see him writing Microsoft stuff. I just can’t see him taking the time to write three novels set in the Haloverse when he has other stories he wants to tell.

    And I loved his last book. Just my opinion. :)

  • Alexander Field April 2, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    Yeah, but signing him up for a trilogy, that would be a bit odd. Don’t they usually sign these guys up one book at a time?

  • Joe Sherry April 2, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    I think it depends. Karen Traviss is currently signed up for several Star Wars novels, and there are nine book sets where the authors work in threes. If the Halo people and Greg Bear are planning out a trilogy, it makes sense to sign him up for the full ride.

  • Joe Sherry April 2, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Whoops – I also wanted to say that yes, sometimes it is one book at a time. Matthew Stover seems to do one at a time.

  • aidan April 2, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    I also expect a tie-in novel like this is a much quicker project than an original piece of fiction. Frankly, most of the plotting is probably already done for Bear.

  • Joe Sherry April 2, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    Aidan – Not sure if you’ve read Karen Traviss’s essay over at Emerald City from 2006, but if not – http://www.emcit.com/emcit127.php?a=2 (not sure if you use HTML, message board code, or if links just populate – so, sorry if that looks ugly)

    The essay is on tie-in fiction vs “original” fiction. The overall point she makes is that if you treat the tie-in property with respect and professionalism, and not write a hack-job, tie-in fiction is just as challenging, technical, and time-consuming as “original” ficiton – if not more so.

  • aidan April 2, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    No, I haven’t read that. Thanks for the link, I’m always curious to know more about tie-in fiction and the stigma that surrounds it.

    I wasn’t trying to say that Bear (or any tie-in author in particular) would do a hack job on the novel, or that tie-in is any easier than original fiction. Rather, I expect that a lot of the story is laid out for the author, letting them focus on the actual telling, which can reduce the time taken to write the novel. I’m sure it differs from universe to universe and author to author, though.

  • Joe Sherry April 2, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    I didn’t think you were, exactly. I think (and agree) that it probably depends on the property / universe as to what the author brings to the overall storyline. I think in Star Wars they can propose (somewhat) what they want to work on and then build an outline from there while collaborating with the editors over at Del Rey and Lucas Books. And then making sure the continuity is there.

    Other properties may well hand over an outline and say “write this”. Dunno.

    Karen Traviss is generally the first person I think of in regards to tie-in fiction because she’s been quite vocal (not just in that essay) about tie-in fiction and how it is just as original and challenging as so-called original fiction (which would be more her phrase than mine).

  • tobias s buckell April 2, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    Aidan invited me to pop over. I think John Scalzi’s blog post on this bears re-reading:


    What John said is very, very accurate.

    In response to Aidan’s question, what’s on the table, I can’t speak to any other author, but for me the following things have to line up to agree to do tie-in work:

    1) I have to *love* the universe/game
    2) The pay has to be good

    I play Halo the videogame and enjoy it (for proof, my gamertag is tobiasbuckell on xbox live, but of course, I’ve played less so since since spending a year immersed in writing a novel about it, admittedly, I’m enjoying Left 4 Dead a lot currently, but I’m looking forward to Halo 3: ODST when it comes out) a great deal, particularly the ‘universe’ behind it. No big deal. I’m also on record as saying I’d give a left nut to write a Wolverine novel too, but no one’s come knocking on that LOL, but no one should act surprised that I jump at a chance to write one if offered (when Emily my wife heard I got the offer to write a Halo book she just laughed and said ‘when is it due?’ b/c she knew I’d do it, I spent enough time playing it). I’ve turned down opportunities to write in universes I don’t like.

    The pay was solid, the exposure was fantastic (I got to stick New York Times Bestseller next to my name), but mainly I had fun. I don’t see myself ever doing Star Trek or Star Wars, as they’re not my thing, but something with steampunk aesthetic (Bioshock, or Crimson Skies which I played the hell out of) would be awfully fun. I’ve turned down one opportunity to work on a property I loved because they lowballed crazy.

    And I have to say, it’s opened far more doors than writing an original SF/F novel for me b/c it’s mostly core fandom that seems to think there’s something wrong or icky about working professionals writing tie-in.

    Now, there is also the idea that writing a tie-in ‘takes away’ from time to write an original. I have no idea what Bear has on the table or how he makes a living, but it depends on the writer. In the cast of Halo, I dropped most of my non-fiction freelance work in order to write the Halo novel, and wrote short fiction (most of what came out in 2008), a novella (Hugo nominated in Metatropolis) and part of my 4th original novel, which, it turns out, we won’t be putting out.

    So love, and money. The same reasons I do original work ;-)


  • Frank, from the Halo Franchise Team April 3, 2009 at 7:02 am

    As Tobias can tell you, we give authors significant freedom to create characters and scenarios that they’re invested in, when working in the Halo universe. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that my bedside table currently has a teetering pile of Bear, Banks, Buckell, LeGuin, K.Dick, Herbert (Frank!) and Simmons. And my Kindle has a virtual pile just as large, but not so teetery.

    Our sci-fi novels are a dear prize to us and no matter who we have writing in that universe, they’re writing in it because of what they bring to the table, not what we force down their gizzards.

    Anyway, our new Author will be revealed at Emerald City and folks can ask that type of question there. I encourage anyone local to swing by and test our sci-fi and creative veracity.

  • Shawn April 3, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Well, I’ll be at Emerald City so… I guess I’ll find out. :)

  • aidan April 3, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Tobias, Frank, thanks for stopping by and clearing away some of the fog. It sounds like Microsoft (at least) is taking a smart approach to their tie-in properties. You can’t really argue with getting great authors and giving them a fair bit of leash.

    Maybe I should check out The Cole Protocol, despite having little experience with the Haloverse.

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