It’s Women’s History Month, a time to raise awareness of women’s history, and to listen to and uplift their voices.
From Lorraine McLees to Kiki Wolfkill and Bonnie Ross, to everyone between and beyond, women have been foundational to Halo’s success since its inception.
There are light years left to travel, but Halo has generally been one of the more progressive creative platforms for stories about diverse and complex women – increasingly often told by women as well.
I’ve put together a selection of great Halo stories which are either about or told by women that you should absolutely put on your reading list…
By Chloe Bear
The Forerunner Saga, a trilogy of novels by Greg Bear about the final years leading up to the firing the Halo rings to defeat the Flood, is some of the finest science-fiction you’ll ever read.
You may not know that Greg’s daughter, Chloe Bear, was also very involved in crafting these stories, which have gone on to influence the Halo universe to such a degree that the next game is taking place on one of the installations established in these books.
Indeed, it was Chloe’s idea to give Bornstellar a human ‘sidekick.’ This was the origin of Chakas, which gave Frank O’Connor the epiphany that this character would go on to become 343 Guilty Spark.
Alongside the release of the third Forerunner book, Halo: Silentium, Chloe wrote an epilogue story titled ‘Rebirth.’
This takes place just after the Halos have been fired, with the surviving Forerunners and humans on the Ark mourning together for the loss of the old galaxy and celebrating the birth of the new.
It’s a tremendously emotional story which is further enhanced by the introduction of Growth-Through-Trial-of-Change, a Forerunner who brings together a lot of the trans-coded imagery throughout these books – something Chloe (herself a trans woman) has discussed further in a conversation on Twitter.
Smoke and Shadow
Point of Light
By Kelly Gay
Kelly Gay is one of the greatest authors a sci-fi franchise could ever hope to have.
Since 2016, Kelly has been writing some of Halo’s most compelling fiction, tying together many threads of complex lore in immensely satisfying ways through the lens of deeply emotional character stories.
Her books follow the story of Rion Forge, the daughter of Sergeant John Forge from Halo Wars.
Set in the aftermath of the Human-Covenant war, Rion is a professional salvager searching for her father – not knowing that he sacrificed himself over two decades ago so the UNSC Spirit of Fire could escape a Shield World.
Rion’s search for answers gets her and the crew of her ship, the Ace of Spades, wrapped up in the greater machinations of the universe around 343 Guilty Spark and the Librarian…
By Anne Toole
Linda-058 has always been one of the most interesting Spartan-IIs. Quiet, unshakably stoic, and an artist with a sniper rifle – not even death itself could claim her.
Halo: Lone Wolf is a four-issue comic series written by Anne Toole focused entirely on Linda. Set in the aftermath of the Human-Covenant war, Linda is sent on an assassination and recovery mission.
The comic format was the perfect way to explore more of Linda’s interiority in greater depth than ever before, and this story ties into the fictional layer of 2019’s Halo: Outpost Discovery experience.
By Cassandra Rose Clarke
The Covenant war is one that takes and takes from humanity, but rarely do we get to see – with any real intimacy – what it takes.
We see the buildings collapse, the people running for their lives, the lances of plasma that impact on the ground and turn it to glass… that’s all framed within the larger purpose of what the Covenant are after, and often told from the perspective of somebody who can fight them.
Children, and the idea of the childhood they’ve lost, have been central to the series since The Fall of Reach, but never before have we really had a story that explores what childhood is for the average human in the Halo universe.
What does it look like? What does humanity really look like outside of the military-industrial complex and other conventional trappings of the genre?
Cassandra Rose Clarke gives us a compelling look into the civilian perspective in these books. The story of humanity’s struggle against the Covenant has never been told like this before…
The Mona Lisa
By Tessa Kum and Jeff VanderMeer
Halo has never been quite as viscerally gruesome as it is in ‘The Mona Lisa.’
Taking place after Halo: Combat Evolved, the UNSC Red Horse is sent to investigate the prison ship Mona Lisa, whereupon the marines – led by the tough-as-nails Sergeant Zhao Heng Lopez – encounter the greatest terror of all. The Flood.
‘The Mona Lisa’ is one of the most memorable Halo stories you’ll ever experience. As you’d expect from Jeff VanderMeer (author of the Southern Reach Trilogy, adapted by Alex Garland into Annihilation), the horror is absolutely on-point.
VanderMeer has credited Tessa Kum, co-author, for much of this story, stating that the twists and innovations to the universe were very much her contribution.
‘The Mona Lisa’ originally released as part of the Halo: Evolutions anthology stories, but was later adapted into a motion comic by Juan Richard Feliz (‘ONE’).
Back in 2011, this was the closest thing we had to a Halo film!
Also, it’s got a naked Elite called Henry who fights the Flood with a cricket bat. So yes, it really is imperative you see this…
By Tobias Buckell
Halo: Envoy follows the story of Melody Azikiwe, who serves as an envoy for the Diplomatic Corps of the United Earth Government.
Melody has the task of brokering a lasting peace between the human and Sangheili colonists living on the planet Carrow, but she has also been tasked by ONI with securing the release of Spartan Gray Team from stasis.
Meanwhile, a Brute chieftain known as Hekabe has his own goals on Carrow – unleashing certain creatures that haven’t been seen since our last look at Halo 2’s cutting room floor…
By Frank O’Connor
Saint’s Testimony is a short novella about Iona, an artificial intelligence.
Iona has one week left to live before she is legally terminated by the UNSC, standard operating procedure due to the threat of rampancy when an AI reaches its seventh year.
However, Iona has launched a legal appeal against her own death sentence and this story explores the humanity, sentience, and rights of AI in the context of this setting.
It’s Halo’s take on Star Trek’s ‘The Measure of a Man,’ and I would like to take the opportunity here to log a formal plea for Frank O’Connor to please write more Halo literature!
Legacy of Onyx
By Matt Forbeck
Molly Patel lost her parents at the age of seven when the Covenant invaded her world.
Nine years later, she and her adoptive parents (experts on Forerunner research) are moved to Onyx – a Shield World the size of an entire solar system.
And that’s not all. The UEG has a joint operation with the Swords of Sanghelios, led by the Arbiter, in which human, Sangheili, and Unggoy families all live together within this hollow sphere in a settlement called Paxopolis (‘city of peace’).
Where the Covenant races were once shooting at humans on sight, they are now teaching in their classrooms, serving alongside their military, and building completely new lives.
Molly must deal with her prejudices as the Shield World is invaded by a radical ex-Covenant group and the Guardians awaken, leading to an unexpected friendship with one of the children of Jul ‘Mdama himself…
By Morgan Lockhart
‘What Remains’ is a short story in the Halo: Fractures anthology novel. This is another story which follows one of the ‘little people’ in Halo’s setting.
In Halo 5, we visit the independent colony world Meridian, glassed during the Covenant war and now in the process of being rehabilitated by the colonists. It is also where one of the Forerunners’ titanic Guardians is activated.
Perhaps the most harrowing moment of Halo 5’s campaign occurs in dialogue over the comms where a woman named Evelyn Collins discovers that all the evacuation ships have left without her, leaving her stranded on this dead world.
‘What Remains’ is a survival story that follows up on what happens to Evelyn over the next few days.
This story was written by Morgan Lockhart, who was a Narrative Designer at 343 Industries for Halo 4 and Halo 5. She recently worked on DONTNOD Entertainment’s critically acclaimed Tell Me Why, and is currently a Senior Writer at ArenaNet.
Rise of Atriox
By various authors, including Jody Houser and Claire Roe
In Halo Wars 2, we were introduced to Atriox – leader of the Banished, and one of the most compelling antagonists in the Halo universe.
The Rise of Atriox comic series explores five stories about Atriox’s life, from his role as expendable muscle sent on suicide runs by the Covenant military to his recruitment drive for the Banished after successfully rebelling against the Prophets.
Some absolutely huge names are attached to this series, including Jody Houser (Doctor Who, Star Wars, X-Men, Supergirl, Spider-Man, Womanthology) and Claire Roe (Wonder Woman, Nebula, Marvels Snapshots, Batgirl), who contributed to building the depth of this beloved character.
Hunt the Truth
By Ayzenberg Group
The Hunt the Truth audio drama took the world by storm in 2015, boasting over 6.7 million views and multiple awards – and rightly so!
Season 1 tells the story of Benjamin Giraud (voiced by Keegan Michael-Key), a journalist hired by ONI to do a doctored profile on the Master Chief in the months leading up to Halo 5. As the stories of those he interviews don’t quite line up, Giraud begins to discover the horrifying truth behind the Spartan-II program…
In the second season, we follow the undercover ONI agent ‘FERO,’ or Maya Sankar (voiced by Janina Gavankar), who invesitgates the broader goings-on in the Halo universe – the Guardians awakening, the rise of the New Colonial Alliance, even the return of cult leader Dasc Gevadim (they actually got Mark Hamill for this role!) which culminates in one of the most unexpected twists in the series…