Posts Tagged ‘Ernest Cline’


Ernie Cline does an amazing line in retro 80s reference loaded literature for those of you (*cough* me included) who are old enough to remember it in all it’s glory first hand. Much like his debut novel, Ready Player One, Cline uses those pop culture icons as landmarks to highlight his story. Yet, in Armada, the films, music and video games he name checks all add up to become tropes for the self aware protagonist – one, very coolly named, Zack Lightman.

Armada, in fact, reads very much like one of those epic 80s films I grew up on. Like The Last Starfighter or Wargames, we see a high school kid embroiled in a race to save humanity from the brink of destruction. Cline has, somewhat masterfully, created a meta-80s novel that both embraces those tropes yet remains aware of them, never falling into mimicry nor failing to reflect upon them.

The novel is a fast read and the writing is fluid, filled with brilliant dialogue, a solid cast and lots of action. It’s pretty breathtakingly non-stop really and that’s no bad thing. Zack enters stage right and we’re given his back story – a gamer nerd with a temper who lost his dad while still a baby. Soon, that feeling that he’s meant for something more comes to fruition and he’s whisked away to defend Earth from an alien invasion. Lo and behold it’s because of his skills as a virtual fighter which makes him one of the best of the best and most able to help pilot attack drones against the invading force.

For me it was hugely enjoyable, especially the big dose of 80s- esque story that Armada serves up. It’s straightforward fun with little twist or turns but just like the movies it references, it’s awesome.

Review copy
Published by Penguin Random House


Thanks to all the kind publishers and even kinder publicity and media types who facilitate us reviewers and bloggers, I received a few great (e-copy) books recently.


Great cover, great blurb…

Convicted criminal James Griffin-Mars is no one’s hero. In his time, Earth is a toxic, abandoned world and humans have fled into the outer solar system to survive, eking out a fragile, doomed existence among the other planets and their moons. Those responsible for delaying humanity’s demise believe time travel holds the key, and they have identified James, troubled though he is, as one of a select and expendable few ideally suited for the most dangerous job in history.

James is a chronman, undertaking missions into Earth’s past to recover resources and treasure without altering the timeline. The laws governing use of time travel are absolute; break any one of them and, one way or another, your life is over. Most chronmen never reach old age; the stress of each jump through time, compounded by the risk to themselves and to the future, means that many chronmen rapidly reach their breaking point, and James Griffin-Mars is nearing his.

On a final mission that is to secure his retirement, James meets Elise Kim, an intriguing scientist from a previous century, who is fated to die during the destruction of an oceanic rig. Against his training and his common sense, and in violation of the chronmen’s highest law, James brings Elise back to the future with him, saving her life, but turning them both into fugitives. Remaining free means losing themselves in the wild and poisonous wastes of Earth, somehow finding allies, and perhaps discovering what hope may yet remain for humanity’s home world.


Ready Player One is amongst my favourite books, so the next novel by Ernest Cline is a must. Check out the blurb..

Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?


Written by a former Canadian Naval officer, I’m expecting top-notch military sci-fi. Check the blurb..

The Terran military, the Astral Force, launches a mission to crush a colonial rebellion on the Centauri colony. Although Expeditionary Force 15 succeeds, the surviving veterans remain scarred—physically and emotionally, and the consequences of their actions follow them back to Earth when terrorists seek to exact catastrophic revenge.

Lieutenant Katja Emmes is a platoon commander, leader of the 10-trooper strike team aboard the fast-attack craft Rapier. Although fully trained, she has never led troops in real operations before, and lives in the shadow of her war-hero father. Sublieutenant Jack Mallory is fresh out of pilot school, daydreaming about a fighter pilot position in the space fleet. He is in for a rude awakening. Lieutenant Commander Thomas Kane uses a six-month deployment in command of Rapier is to secure his rise to stardom within the Astral Force. He also plays the subtle politics of the military.