Ar­mada The Next Starfighter

SFX - - Red Alert -

Wwrote Ready Player One – the pop cul­ture- in­fused epic about an Easter Egg hunt in a vir­tual world – he looked to the fu­ture while cram­ming his tale full of ref­er­ences to his videogame and film- filled past. The same is true of Cline’s sec­ond novel Ar­mada, which marks the cul­mi­na­tion of a life- long ob­ses­sion with science fic­tion in its many guises.

“In some ways this novel is even more am­bi­tious than my first,” Cline tells Red Alert. “I never thought that Ready Player One would ap­peal to any­one other than me be­cause it seemed so spe­cific. I’ve tried to do that again – write what I know. And this is full of stuff I know.”

Set just a few years in the fu­ture, Ar­mada is the story of Zack Light­man – a high school stu­dent who be­comes part of the front line de­fence against a space- based alien in­va­sion. The rea­son? He’s very good at videogames.

“My idea is: ‘ What if all the videogame con­soles in the world could be used to con­trol drones in real time across space and al­low the gamers of the world to fight off an alien in­va­sion?’” Cline says. “Large parts of the videogame in­dus­try were set in mo­tion to train peo­ple in planes or tanks. I think it’s a vi­able de­fence strat­egy if aliens in­vade… pro­vided we have decades to cre­ate drones and hide them all over the world, which is the sit­u­a­tion I cre­ate in Ar­mada.”

So far, so The Last Starfighter. But in Ar­mada, The Last Starfighter, En­der’s Game, all of pop cul­ture has in fact been en­gi­neered to pre­pare us for an ex­trater­res­trial on­slaught.

“Un­der­pin­ning Ar­mada is the idea that the way pop cul­ture un­folded was by de­sign, not just some ac­ci­den­tal se­ries of events,” Cline ex­plains. “There were forces at work to make me want to grow up and build a cock­pit out of couch pil­lows in front of my TV and prac­tise play­ing De­fender and wish I was fight­ing aliens. Star Wars and ev­ery­thing that fol­lowed – all that ended up pre­par­ing the world.

“I wanted to do the ul­ti­mate alien in­va­sion story where it’s aware of all those tropes, talks about all those tropes and when the alien in­va­sion mir­rors tropes from our own science fic­tion the char­ac­ters think, ‘ That doesn’t make sense, why would this be like the movies?’ The kind of story I’d never seen.”

Ar­mada is pub­lished on Thurs­day 16 July.

sci- fact! Star Trek/ Green Lan­tern: The Spec­trum War # 1 is pub­lished in July.

The Red Lanterns are cur­rently in hid­ing.

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