This last weekend I bought and finished (in a 24 hour time-frame) a great new booked titled Ready Player One. I found it while surfing Amazon after finishing the Ender’s Game series and I’m really glad that I did. I won’t spoil the book for you (for that there is Wikipedia), but if you’re a geek, nerd, or grew up around the 80s – you’ll probably enjoy it too.
The book takes place in the semi-dystopian future of 2044. It’s not a horrible future (no major nuclear war or anything like that), but it does help to set the stage. In short, our economic downturn of the late 2000s never turned itself around (30 years later) and oil/energy prices have gone through the roof. People aren’t doing too great; enter OASIS – the virtual world that EVERYONE uses. It’s the concept of Second Life with the game elements of World of Warcraft mixed with the pervasiveness of the Web. In short, everyone uses OASIS for everything (shopping, virtual meetings, games, travel, work, and even public schooling for kids). I really think the concept of OASIS is awesome and hope I get to see something like it in my time.
People, like our protagonist Wade, use OASIS as an escape from their shitty real lives. There’s a fair amount of the book that talks about all the anti-social people that never get out. You know, like Reddit, except with VR avatars. In addition to the all encompassing nature of OASIS, the founder of the company (GSS) who made OASIS, died 5 years prior. He made his Will into a game in OASIS. Whomever beats this “Quest” in OASIS will inherit his fortune (GSS is kind of stinking rich) to the tune of $250 billion. The protagonist, or more correctly his Avatar, named Parzival, is on the hunt for this treasure (and who wouldn’t be with that much money up for grabs).The fun part comes in the form of the Founder’s obsession/inspiration – the 80s. Everything 80s (and geeky). Atari, TRS-80, PacMan, Rush, WarGames, Back to the Future, Star Wars, Dungeons & Dragons, World of Warcraft, Monty Python and Wil Wheaton… just to name a few. The author is obviously a huge fan himself and threads nearly every page of the book with references to the geek culture. Half the fun for me was seeing if I could catch all the references, let alone place them.
I didn’t find this out until I finished reading the book, but there is an Audio version read by none other than Wil Wheaton. He actually has a minor character in the book too, which makes it all the more hilarious. I listened to the Audible sample and it sounds pretty good, but I don’t listen to audio books very much, so I don’t know what to look for in a narrator. It also pleases me to note that the movie rights have been sold, so we may just see this book on the big screen. Of course Hollywood has a tendency to “break” good books when they turn them into movies, all the same, I’m curious to see how they adapt this one.