Ready Player One is Science Fiction Epic-ness
In Ready Player One, Ernest Cline has created a story that will transport you back to the 1980’s. Not a specific time, as you can take your pick and you will feel comfortable. It has tons of 80’s pop culture trivia, coin op video game mentions, but also a lot of futuristic mentions of virtual reality and the way it should be done, global warming, corporate zealotry, and poverty ridden life.
The book is written in the first person view of the protagonist Wade Watts with his avatar know as Parzival. You know right up front that he is the winner of the contest known as “Anorak’s Invitation” which is the dying wish of the virtual reality world, the OASIS, that was created by James Halliday. The story is a sort of autobiographical history of how he won.
The contest follows Wade and his best friend Ache (pronounced like the letter “H”) and their progression in moving through the contest. Cline take time to expound on Wade’s childhood of having a single mom, father who was killed while robbing a store, and foster parent (aunt and deadbeat boyfriend.) All of those things drive Wade to stay in the virtual reality of the OASIS. In between explaining his life, Wade has epiphanies on Haliday’s contest as Wade has “researched” everything 80’s. The contest has 3 keys that progress an avatar through the obstacles. Knowing the 80’s is what helps to get through those obstacles which include beating a “boss” in Joust. Joust is a classic 80’s video game. Another key obstacle is reading back the entire WarGames movie as you are part of the movie.
A secondary plot inside the story that does not get a lot of play in other reviews is the part that the “sixers” play. This is the antagonist group and fights Wade and the protagonist group known as the “Gunters” (egg hunters) who are supported by the evil IOI corporation. IOI wants to win the contest at all costs so that they can take control of the corporation that created the OASIS so that they can make billions of dollars on monetizing the open source programming nature of the game. IOI kills Wades aunt and one of the “High Five” who where the first five Gunters to land on the scoreboard.
The story continues to build to an epic battle between the Gunters and the Sixers after the keys have been found. A real life scenario plays a part in winning inside the game for Wade and Cline does a good job in bringing it all together. A lot can be guessed at, but Cline does a really good job at keeping you guessing as of how it will be shown in the story. The love interest for Wade is in Art3mis who is also part of the “High Five” and in the end brings Wade back to real life.
There has been talk of a movie and Spielberg has the director chair already for it. IBMD shows it coming in December 2017. You should really read the book by then to take advantage of your memory taking you back to the 80’s and feeling the nostalgia instead of it paying out on the big screen. The story is compelling and witty. It is an easy weekend read as you get drawn in to the references. I would consider this mandatory reading for anyone who was a teen in the 80’s decade.