Book Discussion | Armada by Ernest Cline

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There was loads of stuff I wanted to talk about in my Armada review but didn’t because of spoilers. So I’ve decided to put them all into a “discussion” post instead. I’m putting a huge spoiler warning on this post. Basically only read this if you’ve finished Armada, if you’re thinking about reading it check out my review instead.

*I’m not joking don’t read this unless you’ve read Armada.*

So the basic plot of Armada is that there is this computer game which is being used to train everyone on Earth as drone pilots so they can fight when these giant squid alien things attack. You go on to learn that the army has funded this game along with many others and has been funding the film industry for the last 40 years. Basically all popular science-fiction movies and television programs have been funded by the army. Basically what I want to know is how was all this kept secret. There must have been hundreds of people working on that game alone, we find out Gabe Newell and Peter Jackson and the London Philharmonic Orchestra have worked on it. We see that the army funded Star Wars and Star Trek and even Cosmos. We find out that Carl Sagan was hugely involved in the project. The army has built huge amounts of infrastructure so people can control these drones and we find out there are drones basically hidden under every city. Not only that but they built a secret base on the moon. There must have been thousands and thousands of people working on this and not one person let it slip in 40 years?

And then we have the problem that large parts of this book feel like Ender’s Game. So the thing with Ender’s Game is there is a massive plot twist at the end, all those battles that Ender thought was just training turned out to be real conflicts with the “buggers”. So then in Armada, not only does it already feel very similar to Ender’s Game anyway, but that first in game battle we see is almost exactly the same as the final battle in Ender’s Game. You have all the tiny ships protecting the big guns as they try to destroy the planet. It almost feels like Cline is trying to make Zack Lightman into the new Ender Wiggin, and that’s fine. The strange thing was the fact that Zack was constantly making references and comparing what he was doing to Ender. Like I realise the whole point of this book is all the pop culture references, but it felt like Ernest Cline was trying just a little too hard to make Armada the new Ender’s Game.

Then we have the secret space station on the dark side of the moon. One of the things Zack mentions when he arrives there is that it looks familiar. Almost like the builders took reference from sci-fi movies. Which is completely ridiculous. First of all designing a building to look like a thing they saw in a movie would be so much extra work, what did they get the original blueprints? Because if so then doesn’t copyright also come into play. There is also the fact that those original sets were made to look nice, they weren’t designed to be part of an actual working space station. Wouldn’t the designers create something that actually worked rather than something that they saw in a movie.

And then the ending. Okay I like this book but the ending was like actually what the fuck. So it turned out the whole aliens invading thing was actually some AI trying to “test humanity”, the AI wanted to see what humanity would do if aliens tried to invade which (in my opinion) was really stupid. The AI said that it knew humanity was a “violent race” but the book also says that the humans tried to talk to the “Europans” and didn’t get an answer. It really felt like Q putting the human race on trial in The Next Generation. Actually no, you know what it felt like. It felt like Galaxy Quest. It felt like Ernest Cline was trying to mock all those alien invasion type movies.

However even though I enjoyed the book I did feel that the ending ruined it for me. You have all these millions of people that died and all this damage and suddenly oh its all okay because we’re now a member of some fancy club and have all these new medicines and technology. Also that stupid cliffhanger ending even though we are probably never going to get a sequel.


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