Armada BOOK REVIEW: the difficult second novel

‘Armada’ is Ernest Cline’s long awaited second novel, following the critical and commercial success of the wonderful ‘Willy Wonka meets The Matrix’ romp, “Ready Player One” (probably my favourite book that year – henceforth ‘RP1’). It tells the story of Zack Lightman, a high school kid whose life revolves around playing video games, making pop culture references with his friends, and working in the dream teenage boy job: a video game store run by a guy who’d rather just play games than actually work. Raised by his mother after his father died in an industrial accident, Lightman lives an otherwise comfortable life in middle America – that is, until an alien space ship arrives and turns Lightman’s life upside down – or right side up, really – and he is drawn into a conspiracy of alien invasion and secret government agendas.

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POV and the ‘Rules of Writing’

I want to discuss Point of View (POV) in fiction – a particular bug bear of mine in these early days of my shift from dramatic (back?) to prose writing – and the problems with ‘rules of writing’. But first, a labyrinthine, self-important digression.

It’s only natural at some point in the ‘pursuit of art’ to make a leap for the “Rules”. After all, art is full of uncertainty. There is no winning, or getting to the end (only temporary rest breaks between projects), there is just the pursuit. And that can be pretty unnerving.

For most of us, when we first began doing our thing, we just did it. We wrote. We stood up and performed. We drew. And – not initially, at least – we did not consider the merit of what we were doing. We did it to do it (mind you, childhood trauma is a magical stimulant, hey folks?…)

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