Friday, April 8, 2016

Lit Up: On ‘Armada’


BY M. BRIANNA STALLINGS In the 2009 film “Fanboys,” a pack of circa-1998 Star Wars geeks embarks on a cross-country road trip to George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch. Their driving impetus? A desire to see “Episode I - The Phantom Menace” before it hits theaters. That screenplay was co-written by Ernest Cline, who proudly proclaims that his creative identity stems from his Star Wars fandom and an all-consuming love for video games and ’80s ephemera. Although “Fanboys”and if we’re being honest, “Episode I”received mixed reviews, the film proved Cline’s ability to capture the single-minded passions of American otakus, a Japanese term for young people whose obsessions with computers and/or popular culture often outweigh social skills. Since then, nerd culture has risen from an underground interest to a mainstream multibillion dollar industry, and Cline’s writing career has skyrocketed. His bestselling 2011 novel “Ready Player One,” an adventure set in a game-world dominated 2044, is being adapted into a movie directed by Steven Spielberg. Now, Cline is on a tour to promote the paperback release of his latest smash hit, “Armada” (Random House; paperback; $16). The novel examines how the life of gamer Zack Lightman is changed forever when he discovers that his favorite video game is actually a training guide for fighting an impending alien invasion. Venture into a futuristic pop culture playground at Cline’s reading and book signing at 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 17, at Santa Fe’s Jean Cocteau Cinema (418 Montezuma Ave.). Admission-only tickets are $10; for $26, you get in and receive a paperback copy of “Armada.” For more info, call (505) 466-5528.  M. Brianna Stallings makes words work. 

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