The origin of "Pillar of Autumn"?
December 26, 2004 6:58 PM   Subscribe

I have always considered the name of the Marine ship in Halo, Pillar of Autumn, to be terribly poetic. Is this phrase original to the talented game designers at Bungie, or does it come from the Western Canon somwhere?
posted by jimfl to Media & Arts (11 answers total)
There's a band by the same name, and in the band Hollywood Ending's album "Praying to Fiction", there's a track named Pillar of Autumn.

Neither of these appear to have anything to do with Halo, so I suspect it's probably not an original name, but rather obscure.
posted by Saydur at 7:39 PM on December 26, 2004

Bungie's writers have a history of picking up names from ancient epics like Beowulf. The name "Cortana" is a reference to the Song of Roland. The old Bungie game Marathon is just littered with ancient literature and poetry references. And their AI characters like to reference epics and mythology.

Folks over at the fansite have spent a lot of time dissecting Bungie's references. The closest they've gotten to the Pillar of Autumn is the text of Marathon terminal, which also references the Song of Roland.

Also, check out this post, and that page in general.
posted by maschnitz at 8:06 PM on December 26, 2004

I love Bungie. Halo makes me want to own an XBox. They are geniuses.
posted by josh at 9:03 PM on December 26, 2004

Look into the various works of Iain M. Banks; his Culture series features AI starships with interesting names: Irregular Apocalypse, Limiting Factor, Fate Amenable To Change, Steely Glint, Tactical Grace, et cetera.

I strongly suspect that Bungie was influenced by Banks, and if you dig around the net you'll find innumerable folks feel likewise. It's fairly well-known that Bungie mines literature for their inspirations -- the Myth series, for example, was pretty clearly influenced by the "Ten Who Were Taken" series of books by Glen Cook.
posted by aramaic at 10:22 PM on December 26, 2004

Bungie's research and mythology is fantastic.

It's too bad about the gameplay.
posted by Jairus at 10:44 PM on December 26, 2004

Jairus, what's your beef with the gameplay?
posted by gen at 11:26 PM on December 26, 2004

gen, I found it to be bland and uninteresting. It was pretty, but aside from the engine, it was just a run-of-the-mill FPS. I didn't get anything out of it that hadn't been done better by some other game.
posted by Jairus at 12:14 AM on December 27, 2004

You mean i'm not the only person who finds halo to be dull and repetitive?

Thanks Jairus-I thought something was wrong with me because I didn't believe the hype.
posted by neilkod at 6:27 AM on December 27, 2004

Aramaic: Bungie's relationship with Banks' books runs pretty damn deep. When I first played Halo (which I love, by the way - the cut 'n' paste scenery can't spoil the wonderfully tactical combat on the higher difficulties), I couldn't believe how much of a resemblance it bore to Consider Phlebas, the first Culture novel. Take the Culture/Idiran war (between a peaceful humanesque civilisation and hyper-religious, caste-based aliens), down-tech both sides quite a bit and you've got the humans and Covenant from Halo. Down-tech (and size) a Culture Orbital and you've got the Halo itself. Idiotise a Culture drone and -hey- Guilty Spark!

Oh, and jimfl: I always loved Pillar of Autumn as a ship name, too. I think the ship in Halo 2's called In Amber Clad, but I could be mishearing. If I'm right, I like that one too.
posted by terpsichoria at 6:50 AM on December 27, 2004

Having just finished the first Halo, co-operative style with a visiting friend who wanted to see what the fuss was about, we'll both endorse the "love the story, the gameplay's repetitive" notion.

I also like the names of the Covenant ships. "Truth and Reconciliation" is a pretty sly name for a planet-busting capital ship.
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:44 AM on December 27, 2004

Re: Halo's repetitiveness
posted by abcde at 8:04 PM on December 27, 2004

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