Armada The Next Starfighter
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.