As you well know, we’re celebrating Digital Citizenship Week this week. I was all set to talk about Feed, which is probably one of my favorite books about technology, but then this one caught my eye and I thought it works as well.
Armada by Ernst Cline (he of Ready Player One awesomeness) is the story of Zach, who wishes life were a little more like his favorite video games. (I’m certain that none of you understand that concept.) So, instead of wasting too much energy on school and college applications, he concentrates on being one of the best players of his favorite game, Armada, an alien invasion flight simulator.
Then one day, while he’s staring out the window instead of focusing on class, he sees an alien ship in the sky.
Maybe he’s going crazy. Or maybe this is the opportunity he’s been waiting (and training?) for his whole life.
This is definitely a fun book, especially if you enjoy video games, and enjoy being immersed in one particular game. There’s some interesting history of video games in here, as well as some pop-culture alien references. That’s part of what I find most fun about reading Cline’s books.
In my opinion, Armada is good. Although not as good as Ready Player One. I’m not sure if that’s because Ready Player One is actually better, or if it’s because I enjoyed that so much that I had higher expectations going into Armada. Either way, it’s fun. And if you want a justification for your video game playing, you may find it in here. Or you may find a reason to get off of the games and go read a book.
This week, Hill Top is participating in The Hour of Code. I had a blast yesterday helping some angry birds crush some evil pigs and helping some zombies stomp some plants.
Of course, there are some great books with coding at their heart. Ready Player One by Ernst Cline is the first one that comes to mind. The story begins when the creator of OASIS, a virtual reality world where most people work and play, dies with no heirs. But, as a true child of the 80’s who was raised on Atari, he has left three easter eggs in OASIS. Whoever finds them first, will inherit his legacy. The battle is on between the gamers, who are pure in their quest, and the corporations who are seeking dominance in the OASIS. This is a great book with lots of really fun 80’s references, which I will be happy to explain to anyone.
Feed by M. T. Anderson has one of my favorite opening lines, “We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.” Imagine all the digital information you could want installed in a chip in your brain. Need to call someone? Just bring them up in your thoughts. Like that sweatshirt your friend is wearing? The feed can show you where to buy it and how much it will cost. But what happens if you have an inferior implant or if someone is able to upload a virus to your feed? (This book gets bonus points for sending kids to school to learn how to make their beds!)
Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother is an updated version of George Orwell’s 1984. When a group of gamers are caught on the streets of San Francisco during a terrorist attack, they’re taking to Alcatraz (aka Little Gitmo) and questioned by the government. Even after being released, they’re still being tracked and watched. In oreder to find out what happened to a friend who didn’t return from Alcatraz, Marcus (aka W1n5t0n) sets up the XNET, a subnetwork that is not monitored by the government that runs off XBox. Lots and lots of good gaming, coding, and hacking content in this story. Best of all, if you enjoy reading on an ereader, you can get a copy of the book for free from Doctorow’s website (you can actually download all of his books, including Homeland, the sequel to Little Brother).
Finally, there’s James Dashner’s The Eye of Minds. Michael and his friends are known in the VirtNet for being serious gamers and hackers. Their skills are so well known that when another hacker starts kidnapping and killing people in “the sleep,” VirtNet Security recruits them to find the rogue hacker and stop him. Dashner is fantastic at telling a story and knows how to build tension really well. I’m in the middle of the audiobook right now and I’m totally hooked. The only downside is that this is the first book in a series, and the next book doesn’t come out until next year. Ugh.