Book: Armada

Ernest Cline’s second book, Armada, is almost as wonderful as his first book, Ready Player One. While plenty of folks on Amazon are giving it mediocre ratings, I think it’s because they don’t understand what Cline really did here.

Both books are scifi. Both books are heavily gamer influenced. Each moves fast. However RPO is complicated while Armada is straightforward. And that’s important, since RPO is missing the majority of self-referential human subtext – ala Lost – that Armada is filled with. The DHARMA Initiative has nothing on the Earth Defense Alliance. I mean, c’mon, even the EDA logo kicks DHARMA’s logo lameness.

I was born in 1965. Ernest Cline was born in 1972. The ten year period starting in the late 1970s made an indelible impression on each of us. We were too young for free love and Vietnam. But we were perfectly timed for the arc that started with Star Wars and drifted into adulthood with Star Trek: The Next Generation. And video games. And Memorex and cheesy 1980s TV and commercials (go to 25:45 in the video below for the Doublemint Twin Montage.)

It was simply awesome how many ways Cline could weave my late adolescence and early adulthood into a fast paced book about the potential end of humanity which takes place almost in real time as you are reading it (I think the book took place over – at most – a few days.) While I read the first 25 pages last Sunday, I read the rest of it this weekend. I finished it today, after an epic afternoon nap, in time to go to dinner. I should have timed things a little better so I could have watched Avengers: Age of Ultron with Amy this afternoon (somehow I’ve convinced her to watch it with me.)

If you haven’t read Ready Player One, do yourself a favor and grab it. If you have, grab Armada. Ignore the “I’m disappointed the second book wasn’t as good as the first book” reviews. It’s different – and revel in the difference.

  • My advice to folks would be to get through the first half and then decide if you want to put it down. Especially if you remember the 80s [fondly] 🙂 Glad I did keep going, and I am looking forward to the sequels – but I do think Ready Player One was better.

    • Good advice. I found Part 1 slow-ish. Part 2 was when I really got engaged.

  • Rick

    Just something to consider…
    The concept of “self-referential human subtext” is probably not on the reader’s mind. A fiction book is suppose to whisk the reader away into a world that they cannot enter in real life. While I like a lot of hard science in my Sci-Fi it’s suppose to be fun not a science reference.

    So to put it another way. A Sci-Fi book should be a wonderful imaginative read for people to enjoy.

    • I suppose I see sci-fi a bit differently. For me I see it as exercise for my imagination. Its valuable to have both fantastical sci-fi as well as sci-fi that is a fairly practical look at a near future.

      • Rick

        I like the fantastical sci-fi with supporting science better. But I do read some of the near future ones. Cool.

    • Rick – that sounds like what YOU want a sci-fi book to be for you. And that’s totally cool. But I don’t think that’s a valid absolute statement. There is a huge range of things sci-fi books can do / be.

      • Rick

        Hmm… Good point. Thanks

  • jfhaft

    I would reccomend Neal Stephenson….Snow Crash, REAMDE or SevenEves 😉

    • All three are spectacular.

    • Rick

      It appears that Seveneves doesn’t come in paperback. I need that for off-the-grid decompression retreats.

      • It’s brand new – hardback and kindle only for now.

  • Marcus Dahllof

    Thanks for the recommendation. Adding to reading list.

    Am currently enjoying Ghost Fleet by Singer and Cole on a WW3 futuristic scenario between US and China/Russia. Like a modern Tom Clancy, a war fought with data and technology.

  • somedayrainbows

    Just got both books! Thanks for the rec.

  • Dave Katz

    Just downloaded “Ready Player One” for my flight home. Thanks!