Friday, May 25, 2012

"Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline

Hey check it out... I won a free copy of the new paperback edition of Ernest Cline's Ready Player One from Goodreads! It came in the mail the same day as MechaGodzilla Jr. there.

I read a library copy of the hardcover back when it was first released, but knew I had to acquire a copy of my own for rereading (and reference) purposes. Now I just need to purchase the audio version so I can hear it read by the always awesome Wil Wheaton.

My first thought upon completing Ready Player One was that here is a novel that an entire generation of nerds will feel was written as a special gift just for them. That would be the generation that came of age in the 1980s, the decade that brought us such wonders as The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, Back to the Future, and Ghostbusters. The decade we spent watching sitcoms and anime, listening to '80s music, dumping all our quarters into arcades, and playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons all night long. Are you nostalgic for any and all aspects of '80s pop culture? If so, you'll quickly declare this to be one of the greatest books in human history. Author Ernest Cline doesn't use the '80s references as a crutch or a gimmick, however. On the contrary, Ready Player One is an original, wildly imaginative science fiction novel in its own right. Cline depicts the world of 2044 in dark, gritty detail: a dystopia in which the recession has only gotten worse over time, it stands in stark contrast to the virtual world of OASIS. 

To escape their miserable lives in the real world, users jack into OASIS, the internet of the future in the form of a massive multiplayer online simulation game. Are you a Trekkie? Do you list Jedi as your religion? Then you can spend your day in a shared virtual reality simulation of the United Federation of Planets or a galaxy far, far away. Just as the saying goes that "everything is on the internet," everything imaginable really is in OASIS. So much so that when they announced that there would be a Ready Player One movie, my first thought was, "How will they ever secure all the rights?" This is the textbook definition of a licensing nightmare.

The author and his DeLorean.

If my description of Ready Player One has left you still wondering about the actual plot, or why '80s pop culture would be so important to the people living in the year 2044, I'll tell you this: James Halliday, the original creator of OASIS, was obsessed with the '80s, and has decided to leave his vast fortune to the first person who can solve the series of riddles he hid throughout OASIS like Easter eggs. Billions of dollars are up for grabs, to be claimed by whomever has the greatest knowledge of '80s movies, music, TV, and games... and of course the best puzzle-solving skills.

Fans of Japanese pop culture in particular -- anime, giant robots, tokusatsu television programs, etc. -- are in for a real treat. As a matter of fact, the MechaGodzilla Jr. blog owes its existence indirectly to Ready Player One. On his own blog, Ernest Cline posted this picture of his collection of RPO foreign editions and advance reader copies, along with the giant robots that factor into the novel:

Like Cline, I waste spend a lot of time searching for toys on eBay, and when I saw this picture of his sweet Mechagodzilla figure, I knew I had to have one. That kicked off my Monster Island toy collection, which led to this picture, which inspired this blog. So, blogging and ordering toys from Japan: 2 things I do that annoy my wife that I can blame on Ernest Cline.


  1. An excellent book. Like many other books, it lets one immerse themself in its world as readily as the OASIS written about within it.
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  2. Look this entry! And the movie was amazing! I've gotta find my own MechaGodzilla figure at some point now. My Gundam needs a new enemy. ^_^