It is a 19 hour drive from Las Vegas to my home on Whidbey Island Washington. This of course is failing to calculate time for gas, food, and endless bathroom breaks or when the car started to leak fluid. To say the least, we had some time to kill. However, as much as I would have love finishing the last few hours of 11/22/63 my driving companions did not have the pleasure of listening to the first 25 hours or so.
After a bit of radio trouble, no CD player, and after the sound of tire against pavement starts to drill holes into your brain, we decided to listen to an audio book. On the drive down we started Ready Player One and on the drive home we listened to Armada both by Ernie Cline. If you haven’t read it before you can catch up on both by following the links. I highly recommend both. In fact, Ready Player One is my current favorite novel.
So all that being said, I got to listen to both again in the last month and it was lovely. I’ve heard some people really try to compare the two books and in my experience Armada gets a bit of flack. I chock this up to a grandiose generalization of the geek factor. One of the beautiful things about Ernest Cline is the ability anyone has to pick up one of his books (or poems) and know from the voice that the author is Ernie Cline. His writing has such a strong and unique voice. There is never any doubt when I pick up a Steven King book, that he wrote it. Regardless of the topic, his books carry in a unique way only to Steven King. I believe the same could be said about Ernie Cline.
Out side of that same unique story telling ability and the pop culture references, Ready Player One and Armada are night and day from one another. They both have young male protagonists and both books are narrated by Wil Wheaton; but that is where the similarities end.
In Ready Player One, Cline built an entire futuristic world where famine, war, technology has turned Earth into something almost unrecognizable. He does this while drawing parallels to our own lives on earth. It’s easy to spend hours on the internet, playing a video game, or chatting with a long distance friend. Teenagers today face a very different reality then the one I had. I grew up without a cell phone. Social networking was thrust upon me after high school and I didn’t really even fall pray till about 8 years ago. Just think, 8 years ago when you googled my name, nothing would have come up.
Today, teenagers have cellphones, and not the kind we eventually got where snake was the coolest feature. These kids today walk around with mini computers taped into the world in their back pockets. Texting is instant gratification. We used to write letters and fold them up into insane origami shapes. Folding was half the fun of sending someone a message. Who really cared what it said. I read that the simple act of hand writing anything is going away in schools. I still can’t quite wrap my head around it.
But I digress. My point was that it is easy to see how quickly we could find ourselves in the world of Ready Player One. It’s not hard to picture Armada either. A book where another alien race has invaded Earth. Now I am of the belief that it is very egotistical to think that we are the only intelligent life in our universe, let alone all of them. I love a good alien story. Is it really so far fetched? Nah, not one bit. but these worlds and characters are night and day from one another.
Personally, I look forward to Ernest Cline’s newest book, whatever it may be. And I’ll be one of the first in line to watch theatrical versions of either.