Monday, September 26, 2016

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Here's a bit of 80's pop culture/classic gamer porn for those of you who are into that kind of thing. It's a bit over the top complicated but fun nonetheless.

The year is 2044 and the internet has evolved into the OASIS. This is basically where everyone goes when they go online, and depending on your gear, you'll wear wear haptic gloves, a head visor, and maybe even a haptic suit. While the OASIS was originally created as a gaming environment, it evolved into meeting places (or planets) for any interest you may have. Kids can even attend school on the OASIS from the comfort (or discomfort as it may be) of their homes (for reasons not really explored, the world sucks and people live in mobile homes stacked dozens high in basically lawless societies). 

The story is told from the perspective of Wade Watts, a high schooler who pretty much lives in the OASIS and goes by the name Parzival. When the creator of the OASIS, (who was born in the 1970's) dies, he leaves his vast fortune to whoever can discover an easter egg he has left behind. Egg hunters, or gunters as they became known, begin their quest, but after years of searching, no one is able to unlock the first of three gates that lead to the egg. Until Parzival makes a breakthrough. 

The creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, was a big 80's fan and so his clues reference pop culture from the 80's. Gunters research Halliday and the 80's, creating grail diaries and training to find the egg, which includes watching movies like Monty Python and the Holy Grail enough times to quote every line from memory, or playing classic games like Adventure so many times it can be beat on one life. The actual tasks that must be performed to obtain keys to gates and clear the gates is a bit convoluted, but the story is entertaining. 

Interestingly, the basic premise of this book is similar to the book I read just before it, Lock In, by John Scalzi, an author who is referenced in Ready Player One. And like Lock In, I found the premise intriguing. Whether you care about videogames or the 80's as much as Wade doesn't matter. You'll become entrentched in the story and world Cline has created.

Also interestingly, according to Wikipedia, the 2016 version of the book is published with fan fiction written by Andy Weir (of The Martian fame). The short story is a prequel and now considered a legitimate part of Ready Player One. You can read it here.

Also also interestingly, (and again according to Wikipedia), Cline himself included an easter egg in the book, the winner being awarded a Deloreon in 2012. That's pretty cool and I think my rating for this book just jumped a bit higher.

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