Hello. My name is Kyle and I’m the guy that hasn’t read Ready Player One yet. Ernest Cline’s latest book Armada happened across my desk and I said to the voice inside my head, “Well, why not?” To which the voice replied, “So many reasons!” But what does he know? So I went ahead and skipped Ready Player One and read Armada first.
This is some geeky sci-fi reading, my friends. Like, do geeks of this level exist in the real world or do they only exist within the mind of Ernest Cline and the crowded halls of Comic-Con? To be clear, I consider myself a geek. I know the name of that dude with the pointy Scorpion mask on the Jedi Council. I loved Godzilla movies back when people said they were just stupid men in suit movies. I know the lyrics to some MST3K songs. I judge others based on what movies they have on their shelves (can’t help it. It’s just how I do). So yeah, kind of a geek. Still, Armada was some geeky stuff, man. I understood probably 80% of the references the book makes and I wasn’t always proud of it, either.
I’ll just say this: if you’re not well-versed in pop culture or geek culture, you’re gonna be lost here. Armada is about how the US government has been using science fiction to help cushion us for the blow when it’s revealed that aliens mean to invade some point in the future. A videogame called Armada is a training exercise which picks out the best candidates. Young Zack Lightman is damn good at Armada so he’s just been selected to join the resistance forces. Before it was all a game, now it’s do or die. Can Zack and the other geek champions save the day?
Does that sound a little like The Last Starfighter? Ender’s Game? Ernest Cline thought so, too. The Last Starfighter and Ender are name-dropped on occasion. So is everything else. Armada exists in this super geek culture world, where our favorite genre shows, icons, and scientists are all part of this massive conspiracy theory cover-up about aliens.
Fox Mulder would’ve loved this book.
I enjoyed Armada. It’s fun. It makes so many references to sci-fi classics and yet it still manages to feel like something different. Not sure how Cline pulled that off. By the half-way point I was hooked, eager to see where things were going and rushing towards the end.
I wouldn’t want to read a book like Armada all the time. These sort of geek culture references make Armada different and breezy entertainment, but the style may wear thin before long. Every now and then, though, it’s fun to read a book like Armada. Like a good videogame, I found Armada rather addicting after I understood how it played.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of fiction and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
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