The Impossible Fortress: A Novel by Jason RekulakThe Impossible Fortress: A Novel by Jason Rekulak

The Impossible Fortress: A Novel

byJason Rekulak

Paperback | February 7, 2017

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A dazzling debut novel—at once a charming romance and a moving coming-of-age story—about what happens when a fourteen-year old boy pretends to seduce a girl to steal a copy of Playboy but then discovers she is his computer-loving soulmate.

Billy Marvin’s first love was a computer. Then he met Mary Zelinsky.

Do you remember your first love?

The Impossible Fortress begins with a magazine…The year is 1987 and Playboy has just published scandalous photographs of Vanna White, from the popular TV game show Wheel of Fortune. For three teenage boys—Billy, Alf, and Clark—who are desperately uneducated in the ways of women, the magazine is somewhat of a Holy Grail: priceless beyond measure and impossible to attain. So, they hatch a plan to steal it.

The heist will be fraught with peril: a locked building, intrepid police officers, rusty fire escapes, leaps across rooftops, electronic alarm systems, and a hyperactive Shih Tzu named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Failed attempt after failed attempt leads them to a genius master plan—they’ll swipe the security code to Zelinsky’s convenience store by seducing the owner’s daughter, Mary Zelinsky. It becomes Billy’s mission to befriend her and get the information by any means necessary. But Mary isn’t your average teenage girl. She’s a computer loving, expert coder, already strides ahead of Billy in ability, with a wry sense of humor and a hidden, big heart. But what starts as a game to win Mary’s affection leaves Billy with a gut-wrenching choice: deceive the girl who may well be his first love or break a promise to his best friends.

At its heart, The Impossible Fortress is a tender exploration of young love, true friends, and the confusing realities of male adolescence—with a dash of old school computer programming.
Title:The Impossible Fortress: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.7 inPublished:February 7, 2017Publisher:Simon & SchusterLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1501166832

ISBN - 13:9781501166839

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book! I really enjoyed this book. I usually stumble into books with female lead characters so this book was really fresh and exciting for me (especially since I grew up in the 90's). It had a Stranger Things feel to it (minus of course the Demogorgon and the top secret government experiments). It's a quick read, I couldn't put it down. You'll never expect this ending! The author also has the Impossible Fortress game on his site!
Date published: 2017-07-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A charming flashback to the 80's and growing up! I stumbled on this book while browsing one day...boy am I glad I did! What a great coming of age story. Set in the 80’s, this book reminded me, not only of growing up in that decade, but also the adventure that is childhood. This book has a bit of everything, comedy, adventure, romance and some good twists and turns. It harkens back to some of the classic 80’s movies and left me with warm memories of the past. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2017-07-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A quick read with a twist I never saw coming... Being a child of the eighties, this story brought back some memories. There is a twist near the end that you won't see coming. Usually I can guess these twists, but this one was so carefully guarded I was caught unawares.
Date published: 2017-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fun coming of age story Mid way through the book I was wondering what will happen as it seemed to be coming close to the end of the story when the twist came and it was like a gut punch just like the character felt and then when the reason for the twist came you were like "WOAH!" and then it all fell into place and it was awesome!
Date published: 2017-02-15

Read from the Book

The Impossible Fortress 10 REM *** WELCOME SCREEN *** 20 POKE 53281,0:POKE 53280,3 30 PRINT "{CLR}{WHT}{12 CSR DWN}" 40 PRINT "{7 SPACES}THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS" 50 PRINT "{7 SPACES}A GAME BY WILL MARVIN" 60 PRINT "{9 SPACES}AND MARY ZELINSKY" 70 PRINT "{2 CSR DWN}" 80 PRINT "{7 SPACES}(C)1987 RADICAL PLANET" 90 GOSUB 4000 95 GOSUB 4500 MY MOTHER WAS CONVINCED I’d die young. In the spring of 1987, just a few weeks after my fourteenth birthday, she started working nights at the Food World because the late shift paid an extra dollar an hour. I slept alone in an empty house while my mother rang up groceries and fretted over all the terrible things that might happen: What if I choked on a chicken nugget? What if I slipped in the shower? What if I forgot to turn off the stove and the house exploded in a fiery inferno? At ten o’clock every evening, she’d call to make sure I’d finished my homework and locked the front door, and sometimes she’d make me test the smoke alarms, just in case. I felt like the luckiest kid in ninth grade. My friends Alf and Clark came over every night, eager to celebrate my newfound freedom. We watched hours of TV, we blended milk shakes by the gallon, we gorged on Pop-Tarts and pizza bagels until we made ourselves sick. We played marathon games of Risk and Monopoly that dragged on for days and always ended with one angry loser flipping the board off the table. We argued about music and movies; we had passionate debates over who would win in a brawl: Rocky Balboa or Freddy Krueger? Bruce Springsteen or Billy Joel? Magnum P.I. or T. J. Hooker or MacGyver? Every night felt like a slumber party, and I remember thinking the good times would never end. But then Playboy published photographs of Wheel of Fortune hostess Vanna White, I fell head over heels in love, and everything started to change. Alf found the magazine first, and he sprinted all the way from Zelinsky’s newsstand to tell us about it. Clark and I were sitting on the sofa in my living room, watching the MTV Top 20 Video Countdown, when Alf came crashing through the front door. “Her butt’s on the cover,” he gasped. “Whose butt?” Clark asked. “What cover?” Alf collapsed onto the floor, clutching his sides and out of breath. “Vanna White. The Playboy. I just saw a copy, and her butt’s on the cover!” This was extraordinary news. Wheel of Fortune was one of the most popular shows on television, and hostess Vanna White was the pride of our nation, a small-town girl from Myrtle Beach who rocketed to fame and fortune by flipping letters in word puzzles. News of the Playboy photos had already made supermarket tabloid headlines: The SHOCKED AND HUMILIATED VANNA claimed the EXPLICIT IMAGES were taken years earlier and most definitely not for the pages of Playboy. She filed a $5.2 million lawsuit to stop their publication, and now—after months of rumors and speculation—the magazine was finally on newsstands. “It’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen,” Alf continued. He climbed onto a chair and pantomimed Vanna’s cover pose. “She’s sitting on a windowsill, like this? And she’s leaning outside. Like she’s checking the weather? Only she’s not wearing pants!” “That’s impossible,” Clark said. The three of us all lived on the same block, and over the years we’d learned that Alf was prone to exaggeration. Like the time he claimed John Lennon had been assassinated by a machine gun. On top of the Empire State Building. “I swear on my mother’s life,” Alf said, and he raised his hand to God. “If I’m lying, she can get run over by a tractor trailer.” Clark yanked down his arm. “You shouldn’t say stuff like that,” he said. “Your mother’s lucky she’s still alive.” “Well, your mother’s like McDonald’s,” Alf snapped. “She satisfies billions and billions of customers.” “My mother?” Clark asked. “Why are you dragging my mother into this?” Alf just talked over him. “Your mother’s like a hockey goalie. She changes her pads after three periods.” He had an encyclopedic knowledge of Your Mother jokes, and he unleashed them at the slightest provocation. “Your mother’s like a Japanese steakhouse—” Clark flung a pillow across the living room, hitting Alf square in the face. Enraged, Alf threw it back twice as hard, missing Clark and toppling my glass of Pepsi. Fizzy foam and soda went sloshing all over the carpet. “Shit!” Alf exclaimed, scrambling to clean up the mess. “I’m sorry, Billy.” “It’s all right,” I said. “Just grab some paper towels.” There was no point in making a big deal. It’s not like I was going to ditch Alf and Clark for a bunch of new and more considerate friends. Nine months ago, the three of us arrived in high school and watched our classmates dive into sports or clubs or academics. Yet somehow we just orbited around them, not really fitting in anywhere. I was the tallest boy in ninth grade, but I was not the good kind of tall; I wobbled around school like a baby giraffe, all skinny legs and gangly arms, waiting for the rest of my body to fill in. Alf was shorter, stouter, sweatier, and cursed with the same name of the most popular alien on television—a three-feet-tall puppet with his own NBC sitcom. Their shared resemblance was uncanny. Both Alfs were built like trolls, with big noses, beady eyes, and messy brown hair. Even our teachers joked they were twins. Still, for all of our obvious flaws, Alf and I knew we were better off than Clark. Every morning he rolled out of bed looking like a heartthrob in TigerBeat magazine. He was tall and muscular with wavy blond hair, deep blue eyes, and perfect skin. Girls at the mall would see Clark coming and gape openmouthed like he was River Phoenix or Kiefer Sutherland—until they got close enough to see the Claw, and then they quickly looked away. A freakish birth defect had fused the fingers of Clark’s left hand into a pink, crab-like pincer. It was basically useless—he could make it open and close, but it wasn’t strong enough to lift anything bigger or heavier than a magazine. Clark swore that as soon as he turned eighteen, he was going to find a doctor to saw it off, even if it cost a million bucks. Until then, he went through life with his head down and the Claw tucked into a pocket, avoiding attention. We knew Clark was doomed to a life of celibacy—that he’d never have a real flesh-and-blood girlfriend—so he needed the Vanna White Playboy more than anyone. “Is she on the centerfold?” he asked. “I don’t know,” Alf said. “Zelinsky has it on a rack behind the cash register. Next to the cigarettes. I couldn’t get anywhere near it.” “You didn’t buy it?” I asked. Alf snorted. “Sure, I just walked up to Zelinsky and asked for a Playboy. And a six-pack. And a crack pipe, too, because why not? Are you crazy?” We all knew that buying Playboy was out of the question. It was hard enough buying rock music, what with Jerry Falwell warning of satanic influences, and Tipper Gore alerting parents to explicit lyrics. No shopkeeper in America was going to sell Playboy to a fourteen-year-old boy. “Howard Stern says the pictures are incredible,” Clark explained. “He said you see both boobs super close-up. Nipples, milk ducks, the works.” “Milk ducks?” I asked. “Ducts, with a T,” Clark corrected. “The red rings around the nipples,” Alf explained. Clark shook his head. “Those are areolas, dummy. The milk duct is the hollow part of the nipple. Where the milk squirts out.” “Nipples aren’t hollow,” Alf said. “Sure they are,” Clark said. “That’s why they’re sensitive.” Alf yanked up his T-shirt, exposing his flabby chest and belly. “What about mine? Are my nipples hollow?” Clark shielded his eyes. “Put them away. Please.” “I don’t have hollow nipples,” Alf insisted. They were always vying to prove which one knew more about girls. Alf claimed authority because he had three older sisters. Clark got all of his information from the ABZ of Love, the weird Danish sex manual he’d found buried in his father’s underwear drawer. I didn’t try to compete with either one of them. All I knew was that I didn’t know anything. Eventually seven thirty rolled around and Wheel of Fortune came on. Alf and Clark were still arguing about milk ducts, so I turned the TV volume all the way up. Since we had the house to ourselves, we could be as loud and noisy as we wanted. “Look at this studio, filled with glamorous prizes! Fabulous and exciting merchandise!” Every episode started the same way, with announcer Charlie O’Donnell previewing the night’s biggest treasures. “An around-the-world vacation, a magnificent Swiss watch, and a brand-new Jacuzzi hot tub! Over eighty-five thousand dollars in prizes just waiting to be won on Wheel of Fortune!” The camera panned the showroom full of luggage and houseboats and food processors. Showing off the merchandise was the greatest prize of all, Vanna White herself, five foot six, 115 pounds, and draped in a $12,000 chinchilla fur coat. Alf and Clark stopped bickering, and we all leaned closer to the screen. Vanna was, without doubt, the most beautiful woman in America. Sure, you could argue that Michelle Pfeiffer had nicer eyes and Kathleen Turner had better legs and Heather Locklear had the best overall body. But we worshipped at the altar of the Girl Next Door. Vanna White had a purity and innocence that elevated her above the rest. Clark shifted closer to me and tapped my knee with the Claw. “I’m going to Zelinsky’s tomorrow,” he said. “I want to see this cover for myself.” I said, “I’ll come with you,” but I never took my eyes off the screen.

Editorial Reviews

"Part love story, part coming-of-age tale, and part heist picture, The Impossible Fortress is an endlessly clever novel about friendship, heartache and computers—all rendered with the bright colors and buoyant spirit of Q*bert for the Commodore 64."