Ready Player One came out of nowhere. It was geeky, fun, and oh so memorable. It was the ultimate throwback for those of us who grew up playing Atari, Commodore, Intellivision (Note: Just like today, I didn’t like Apple, except maybe for Zaxxon and River Raid, which were awesome!). Ready Player One offered a sci-fi future that was somehow nostalgic, which seems impossible. How did Cline pull it off? And can he do it again?
My guess is no, but I’m willing to find out. As he tells it, Armada is a unique take on The Last Starfighter (which, incidentally, was one of my favorite movies as a kid), where the narrator has actually seen The Last Starfighter. But the homage to our shared 80s childhood doesn’t stop there. Twenty pages in and we’ve got Star Wars references. Iron Eagles. Tron. Explorers. A new smile on every page.
Before the internet, us kids basked in these imaginary worlds mostly alone. Sure, we played Star Wars on the playground, but we explored our tilt-a-whirl spacecraft dreams by piling pillows and blankets over our heads and blasting off at bedtime. At least, that’s what I did. It’s enlightening and normalizing to suddenly discover other boys and girls may have done the same thing. It’s weird. And it’s awesome.
This book sat on my shelf for only a week while I consumed Go Set a Watchman, which I read faster than I might have if Armada wasn’t beckoning. I’ve read a few reviews. They’re not entirely favorable. But I’m so predisposed to loving this novel I expect to enjoy it despite any possible shortcomings. If it has half as many “OMG, I remember that!” moments as Ready Player One, it will be a delight.
I can still hear The Last Starfighter in my head… “Greetings, starfighter.” I suddenly want to build a blanket spaceship in my bed and blast into the heavens with a book to read. But I’ll probably sit on the couch with a beer. After all, I’m not a kid anymore.