Summer Reading ’15
It’s been a few years since my last summer reading book report, but then it’s been a few years since Ernest Cline came out with a new book. I recently finished reading Armada, his latest novel, and it makes for a great summer read. For fans of his first book, Ready Player One, Armada follows a similar formula. Perhaps too familiar? There are a ton of pop culture references that seem… unlikely given the timeline of the book. Set in the modern day, Zack Lightman grows up in dead father’s shadow, and is searching for a way to connect with him. He goes through his old stuff in the attic, which includes a retro video game collection, D&D books, mix tapes and journals about a conspiracy that video games and sci-fi and space movies since Star Wars have actually been funded by the government to train the next generation of soldiers to repel an alien invasion.
It’s a fun book, and definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously. In the first act, the barrage of pop culture references seemed a bit much, but it mellows out in the second and third act, and will make one heck of a movie. Cline does well to right from a high school senior’s point of view, all the while having him look back at his dad’s retro games and music to appeal to a larger target audience. I can’t tell if the retro mix tape (including track listing at the back) is a huge nod to Guardians of the Galaxy, or a rip off, but either way, for some reason futuristic combat set to classic tunes just *works*. The inside of the dust jacket is also the blueprints for the main space fighter used throughout the book. If there is one thing that will get me to buy a book its an awesome map, or possibly blueprints.
Next up, I’ve been reading some retro books of my own! I bought these used through Amazon’s various resellers in anticipation of the release of the 3rd edition of Mutant Chronicles: In Lunacy, Frenzy, and Dementia, sometimes referred to as The Apostle of Insanity trilogy. Interestingly, these were all written by different authors. Much like the Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms D&D novels of about the same era, they were published to give more context and material for role players to explore the game with a rich backdrop. I read all of these when they originally came out in the mid 90s. Re-reading the first one (so far) has been a fun and quick summer read. For those unfamiliar with the Mutant Chronicles world, it is set about 500 years in the future. Countries and Corporations have blended to the point that they are inseparable and humanity has colonized the solar system, led by the 5 megacorporations. In the quest for exploration and more territory, humanity made contact with the Dark Legion, a malevolent force that seeks to corrupt and twist technology in their conquest of the universe. The plot of In Lunacy revolves around Luna (the moon) which serves as a galactic Switzerland for the megacorporations. Each megacorp has a presence in Luna, and there are lots of ex-military freelancers who engage in industrial espionage, sabotage, and other odd-jobs for the highest bidder. A group of these freelancers are brought together by rumors the Dark Legion has a presence in the city, and are after a mystic from the Brotherhood, that may be able to see the future. It reads much like a classic RPG adventure. The main characters all come from different megacorp backgrounds, and come together to battle an alien threat. All this in anticipation of the 3rd edition of the Mutant Chronicles RPG, and source books by Modiphius. I always enjoyed the setting, growing up, and am eager to dive back in, now that I have a lot more RPG experience. If you are looking for some fun sci-fi summer reads, these will certainly fit the bill.