This week I decided to review the recent re-release of Halo: The Forerunner Saga: Cryptum by Greg Bear.
The story begins long before the main Halo series on Erde-Tyrene, later known as Earth, homeworld of humanity and now a prison planet and nature preserve for what remains of the human race after humanity’s interstellar empire fought the Forerunners and was defeated. A young Forerunner named Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting, or Born, is travelling with two humans who eventually take him to the Cryptum where the Didact, the leader responsible for defeating Humanity during the war is imprisoned.
The trio releases the Didact then is taken with hm on a journey to many of the battlefields of the war including the world which had served as humanity’s capital after they abandoned their homeworld in the face of a Forerunner expansion long before the war. The world was also a treasure trove of artifacts of the ancient Precursors who proceeded the Forerunners, but something the Didact found there after the war is missing.
Eventually, Born is granted access to the Didact’s memories which reveal the truth. Long before the war the humans found a mysterious substance on an ancient spacecraft and exposed lab animals to it. These animals seemed fine but over generations their descendants and those who had eaten the meat of their descendants mutated into what became known as the Flood, and it was fleeing the Flood and needing new worlds which drove Humanity and their allies to attack the Forerunners.
The humans eventually developed a genetic weapon which devastated the Flood and drove it into flight but the sacrifices made to infect the Flood with the weapon decimated the human population. Some of the Flood escaped and are returning to the edges of known space. The Forerunners have been working on a weapon to defeat them once and for all: The Halo Array. But some oppose such a destructive weapon and, as one of the leaders of this movement, the Didact was imprisoned. Now the Flood are closing in, but as war looms an ancient secret from forgotten Forerunner history reveals the true nature of the mind now controlling their enemy…
I give this book 8 out of 10. It was an interesting origin story for both humanity in the Halo universe and an interesting peek into the culture of the Forerunners. However, some parts of the story, like the origins of the Flood, seem like preaching against animal experimentation more than anything. Also, I fail to see how the big secret revealed near the end could have possibly been unknown to the Forerunners before that point.