Sometimes it’s good to be in the book business. Mention you love an author’s debut, for example, and you might find yourself lucky enough to be reading his follow up months before it comes out. I make this promise to fans of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One: when your four-year wait is over, you won’t be disappointed.
How much of a geek is Ernest Cline? In the documentary Atari: Game Over, he’s filmed picking up his Delorean DMC-12 from Games of Thrones author George R.R. Martin and driving it to Alamogordo New Mexico to see if the urban legend about all those E.T. video game cartridges being buried in shame thirty years ago is true, with E.T. riding shotgun.
That’s how deep Cline’s nerdery goes – one level is not enough, to achieve full nerdgasm he’s got to roll several layers deep. Some geekdom is off-putting, or condescending; you feel left out if you’re not in the know. The shotgun-style of his pop culture references is what makes Cline’s work feel so inclusive. He doesn’t throw one reference at you, he throws four and five at a time, and one of them is sure to land. He just wants you to have a good time – no matter what makes you geek out, you’re welcome at the party.
The real trick is referencing sixty years of pop culture without being derivative of any of it. Armada presents a reading of sci-fi history that manages to take the video-game-as-training-simulation-for-real-life-combat trope and make it fresh. Within the space of these pages, Cline spins the pantheon of sci-fi into a prologue for his own unique, thrilling, and stylish take on an alien invasion.
As a bonus, Armada is also a page-turner. Zack Lightman believes there’s more to this invasion story than he’s being told, and so do we; the need to know What’s Really Going On will make these pages fly by.