Last week, I decided to break down and read Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline. If you have never heard of him, don’t feel too bad. He wrote a movie called Fanboys which celebrates geek culture, kind of like I do. His first book celebrates it just as well.
I will have to say that I first heard of Ready Player One while reading about it in Time Magazine. At first I thought that it was Time Magazine hyping one of their own books from Warner publishing, but this book was published by Random House. I have heard that Steven Spielberg is attached to direct the film, which will be released from Warner Brothers. Yeah, I don’t like it when I see things get hyped up that might not deserve it.
I will have to say that Ready Player One is an interesting work, and it is certainly very creative. The book takes place in a future world where the Internet is now known as OASIS, a huge interface that is kind of like Second Life meets everything else on the Internet. Users put on VR goggles and haptic gloves and enter into a worlds a plenty, and since the real world is not a pleasant place, most people spend their time online.
The book spends very little time discussing what the outside world is like, but apparently the world is in both an environmental and economic crisis. The main character, Wade, lives in a trailer court where the trailers are stacked up many stories high. Wade is a young man who wants to win a contest that is the last will and testament of James Halliday, creator of OASIS.
Halliday’s contest involves three keys and three gates left in his virtual worlds, and he has left clues for them as well. Whoever finds the three keys and opens the three gates wins Halliday’s fortune, which is easily in the billions. If Wade wins it, he will be set for life, and he doesn’t seem to have any other prospects. This does not mean that Wade is following his dream with all his ambition, as he can be kind of a slacker sometime.
The villain of the book is Nolan Sorrento, who runs a company known as IOI, a competitor of OASIS. If and his associates the sixers (known because of the six digits in their IDs) win the contest, then OASIS will become a corporate entity and make the world even poorer as they would charge for the use of OASIS.
So what you have is a typical treasure hunt story, but in an MMO atmosphere. This book has more references to the eighties than…Earthman Jack and the Ghost Planet. Seriously, Wade goes to virtual worlds based on WarGames, Zork, Black Tiger, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, just to name a few. The book is really just pulling awesome things from all kinds of places and mashing them into this virtual world that will be easy movie inspiration, and I wonder if Cline wrote this book just so he could get someone to make a movie. I guess he got his wish.
This book kept me going with its constant 80’s references, which is odd because Steven Spielberg is making the movie, so I guess he’ll be referencing himself in the movie that he makes about it. Yeah, that’s pretty meta, all right. Some of the references are explained, and some, like Wade’s alias of Bryce Lynch, are a little more obscure. (Bryce Lynch was a teenage hacker from television’s Max Headroom, who appears as a virtual character in this book as well.) At least it is much better than Super 8, that J.J. Abrams film that looks like 8 Steven Spielberg films blended together (man, I hated that film).
At least Ready Player One feels creative, and I honestly think the world of OASIS could easily be the Internet of the future. I look forward to seeing Spielberg’s vision of it, and if it is as good as Minority Report, then Ready Player One will be the director’s next big hit.