Published on November 25th, 2013 | by Mel Gray0
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I may be late to the party but I just finished Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel, Ready Player One and I can’t stop telling people about it. Set in the year 2044, the Earth has become your standard economically challenged, agriculturally and environmentally defunct, imagined-dystopia.This is where we meet our hero, eighteen-year-old cyber-era kid, Wade Watts. In his world, two men named James Halladay and Ogden Morrow— characters reminiscent of an early Steve Jobs and Bill Gates—have built a virtual reality simulation in Halladay’s basement that has come to reshape modern life.
They call it the “OASIS“ (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation) and for just a one–time payment of 25-cents, the user gets permanent, unlimited access to it. Forever.
The OASIS is being used for everything from gaming to doing business to providing a world full of functional, virtual public schools. But there’s an energy crisis and big money is always knocking on the door. Halladay dies suddenly without a wife or heir and leaves a message that the key to claiming his unimaginable fortune is hidden inside the OASIS as an easter egg.
The person who completes the seemingly impossible challenge of finding it will be the sole recipient of his entire wealth. Would-be treasure hunters, or “Gunters” spend 5 years seeking clues before the first part of the easter egg is unraveled. The clever answers are hidden in pop culture references to Halladay’s growing years, the 1980’s and 90’s.
I don’t just love it, I am IN LOVE with the premise of Ready Player One simply because it asks a question I’ve been asking myself too. “What’s it all gonna look like for the old lady waxing nostalgic about the 80’s and 90’s?” The kids who have had the Internet, video games, and the kinds of access to information on the scale that we have now for their entire lives are gonna see things a whole lot differently.
Wade’s journey from obscurity is told in a voice we nerds can hear coming from our own mouths and it doesn’t skimp on perfectly timed references across all genres of games, movies, television and music that defined generations. Though it might be best appreciated by those who’ve seen War Games too many times or
have a hidden stores of several-sided die somewhere in their house, Ready Player One can appeal to everyone. My own embarrassing numbers of hours playing World Of Warcraft helped paint the private chat-rooms and the world of the OASIS easily in my imagination, but if you’re not drawn to that sort of gaming or general geekdom, don’t worry. It’s got plenty of insight for a reader just looking for a new perspective on some relevant daily issues like cyber-security and privacy. I hear those topics are big right now.
On a side note: if you like audio books, Wil Wheaton reads this one and he is absolutely the perfect narrator. It’s available on Audible and well worth the subscriber credit if you have it. Somehow it seems right hearing Wesley Crusher reading jokes about his very own show and since he’s familiar with the landscape he really knows how to accentuate the punchlines.
Ernest Cline was better known by me as being the screenwriter for the 2009 film Fanboys so if you saw that and hated it, don’t hold it against Ready Player One. If you saw it and liked it, this story won’t let you down so go check it out.