Read the first chapter for Ready Player One author Ernest Cline’s new sci-fi novel

Aside from being on the fast track to becoming a feature film with Steven Spielberg attached to direct, Ready Player One is also a fantastic sci-fi novel written by Ernest Cline. Well, here’s a first look at his eagerly awaited followup.

Cline’s new novel, Armada, is set to hit shelves on July 14. To use some film references, the plot sounds like a modern spin on The Last Starfighter, with a dash of Pixels thrown in for good measure. Basically, a whole bunch of videogamers are tasked with fending off an alien invasion that bears a striking resemblance to a hit alien battle flight simulator.

Given that it's coming from Cline, we can’t wait to see what he does with the premise. He’s a smart dude and will almost certainly subvert whatever expectations a reader might bring into this one. Not to mention: Paramount is already developing a film adaptation of Armada. To help build a little buzz for the release, Random House has released an extended preview of the first chapter via io9. Check out an excerpt from the sample text below, and read the full chapter right here.

Fair warning, there’s a bit of salty language:

I was staring out the classroom window and daydreaming of adventure when I spotted the flying saucer.

I blinked and looked again—but it was still out there, a shiny chrome disc zigzagging around in the sky. My eyes struggled to track the object through a series of increasingly fast, impossibly sharp turns that would have juiced a human being, had there been any aboard. The disc streaked toward the distant horizon, then came to an instantaneous stop just above it. It hovered there motionless over the distant tree line for a few seconds, as if scanning the area beneath it with an invisible beam, before it abruptly launched itself skyward again, making another series of physics defying changes to its course and speed.

I tried to keep my cool. I tried to remain skeptical. I reminded myself that I was a man of science, even if I did usually get a C in it.

I looked at it again. I still couldn’t tell what it was, but I knew what it wasn’t—it wasn’t a meteor. Or a weather balloon, or swamp gas, or ball lightning. No, the unidentified flying object I was staring at with my own two eyes was most definitely not of this earth.

My first thought was: Holy fucking shit.

Followed immediately by: I can’t believe it’s finally happening.

You see, ever since the first day of kindergarten, I had been hoping and waiting for some mind-blowingly fantastic, world-altering event to finally shatter the endless monotony of my public education. I had spent hundreds of hours gazing out at the calm, conquered suburban landscape surrounding my school, silently yearning for the outbreak of a zombie apocalypse, a freak accident that would give me super powers, or perhaps the sudden appearance of a band of time-traveling kleptomaniac dwarves.

I would estimate that approximately one-third of these dark daydreams of mine had involved the unexpected arrival of beings from another world.

Of course, I’d never believed it would really happen. Even if alien visitors did decide to drop by this utterly insignificant little blue-green planet, no self-respecting extraterrestrial would ever pick my hometown of Beaverton, Oregon—aka Yawnsville, USA—as their point of first contact. Not unless their plan was to destroy our civilization by wiping out our least interesting locales first. If there was a bright center to the universe, I was on the planet it was farthest from. Please pass the blue milk, Aunt Beru.

But now something miraculous was happening here—it was still happening, right now! There was a goddamn flying saucer out there. I was staring right at it.

And I was pretty sure it was getting closer.

I cast a furtive glance back over my shoulder at my two best friends, Cruz and Diehl, who were both seated behind me. But they were currently engaged in a whispered debate and neither of them was looking toward the windows. I considered trying to get their attention, but I was worried the object might vanish any second, and I didn’t want to miss my chance to see this for myself.

My gaze shot back outside, just in time to see another bright flash of silver as the craft streaked laterally across the landscape, then halted and hovered over an adjacent patch of terrain before zooming off again. Hover, move. Hover, move.

(Via io9, /Film)

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