Friday, July 6, 2012

Geeky Book Review "Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline

I came across this book on Amazon, it being one of their "Top 100" for last year, and was drawn in by the cover-trailers stacked on top of one another with retro graphic looking title. I read the description and was immediately drawn in.
The story is set in a grim 2044, where the people are poor and resources are scarce. They escape their daily lives by entering the Oasis-a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online game) that had gradually evolved into a globally networked virtual reality. They can spend real world money to purchase items for their Avatar, or earn points by completing quests to gain treasure-gold or in-world items like armor or weapons. Worlds that can be visited are in the thousands-there's recreations of the Star Wars Universe, Dungeons and Dragons style questing areas, nightclubs, virtual homes..whatever people can think of.

The creator of this virtual universe was a man named James Halliday who was obsessed with the 80's culture. By his death, he had achieved a multibillion dollar fortune.In his will, he left behind a quest called “Anorak’s Invitation” based on all the 80's trivia, songs, TV shows, movies,and videogames he loved so much. Whoever solves the riddles and quests associated with them will inherit his fortune.

"Continue the quest by taking the test"
Yes, but what test? What test was I supposed to take? The Kobayashi Maru? The Pepsi Challenge? Could the clue have been any more vague?” -Ready Player One

Most of the people who are trying to solve the quest are teenagers, called "gunters"-disenchanted by the world they live in and are virtual shut ins. One is named Wade Watts. He is an expert on all things 80's. He's spent years watching 80's tv shows and movies and playing through all of Halliday’s favorite games while trying to figure out the first clue. When he does, and his name goes to the top of a "high Scorers list", the world goes into a frenzy and interest ramps up. There is also a blogger he's been following called Art3mis that he meets and falls for even though he's never met her in the "real world". She's just as good at the games and references as he is.
“Dilettantes,’ Art3mis said. ‘It’s their own fault for not knowing all the Schoolhouse Rock! lyrics by heart.”

But, another corporation is working against all the solo hunters to gain the fortune, and applying massive resources to the quest-hundreds of people all networked together, as well as an archive of all movies, books, TV shows, video games, etc. Will Wade, the underdog win? Will he also gain the heart of Art3mis?

I thoroughly enjoyed the geeky references in this book, as I was a teen in the 80's and played my share of Atari games and Dungeons and Dragons modules. Something I didn't know is that in the Atari game Adventure, there was the first "Easter egg". In a hidden room the creator its creator, Warren Robinett placed an egg with his name on it as being the designer of the game.( I guess way back in the beginning of videogames the individual designers were not given credit for the game and this was his workaround.) I sung along to "Dead Man's Party" and other iconic hits as they were referenced, and laughed at some of the wacky lines referenced from my favorite 80's movies.

I would totally recommend this book to anyone who likes popculture, especially those who were teens in the 80's. A thoroughly fun and nostalgic read.


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