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Ready Player One: A Novel Paperback – June 5 2012
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In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
From the Publisher
From the Amazon Book Review: "A Heck of a Lot of Fun": Ernest Cline on the Film
In 2011, Ernest Cline's Ready Player One riveted readers to the page as unlikely hero Wade Watts used his gaming skills and his knowledge of 1980s pop-culture trivia to find clues left by billionaire James Halliday. Clues that would lead to control of the Oasis, the online virtual reality platform within which everyone in 21st-century Earth lives the better part of their lives.
We asked Cline for his thoughts.
Adrian Liang: Several years ago, when you and I first spoke about Ready Player One being made into a movie, you were over the moon because Steven Spielberg would be directing it. For a sci-fi author—or really any author—that's hitting the director jackpot. What was the actual experience of seeing Ready Player One taken from the page and put on the screen by Spielberg?
Ernest Cline: It's been one of the most exciting, educational, and creatively fulfilling experiences of my life. Steven is a huge fan of the book, and he was incredibly invested in making an adaptation that stayed true to the spirit of my story, so he allowed me to collaborate with him throughout the entire process. Every novelist who has their work made into a film should be so lucky.
How was the experience of writing a highly anticipated feature film screenplay different from writing a novel? What did you learn from the process?
It was incredibly challenging, but also a heck of a lot of fun. The process of adapting my own novel into a feature film helped me understand why it's almost always necessary to make considerable changes to the source material in order to tell the story in a more cinematic way. Books and films are two completely different storytelling mediums, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Things that work really well in a novel might not work in a movie at all, and vice versa. The best adaptations manage to capture the spirit of the story and the characters, and Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Ready Player One definitely does that, in the best way possible.
Your book Ready Player One hit shelves in 2011. What are your thoughts about the immersiveness and escapism of the Oasis and whether it has real-life parallels to social media?
When I was writing the novel, I always envisioned the Oasis as an allegory for the modern Internet. Right now, in 2018, billions of us carry small hand-held computers that keep us connected to the Internet every second of every day. We already have virtual conversations and relationships with people we've never met. And we communicate through our social media profiles, which are just like Oasis avatars—idealized versions of ourselves that are often more representative of who we would like to be, rather than who we truly are. So yes, I always had those parallels in mind when I created the Oasis, and they only seemed to have deepened in the years since the book was first published.
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“The science-fiction writer John Scalzi has aptly referred to READY PLAYER ONE as a 'nerdgasm' [and] there can be no better one-word description of this ardent fantasy artifact about fantasy culture…But Mr. Cline is able to incorporate his favorite toys and games into a perfectly accessible narrative.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“Triggers memories and emotions embedded in the psyche of a generation...[Cline crafts] a fresh and imaginative world from our old toy box, and finds significance in there among the collectibles.” —Entertainment Weekly
“A most excellent ride…the conceit is a smart one, and we happily root for [the heroes] on their quest…fully satisfying.” —Boston Globe
“Enchanting…Willy Wonka meets the Matrix. This novel undoubtedly qualifies Cline as the hottest geek on the planet right now. [But] you don't have to be a geek to get it.” —USA Today
“An addictive read...part intergalactic scavenger hunt, part romance and all heart.” —CNN.com
“An action-packed, highly entertaining, nostalgic thrill ride through the past combined with the danger and excitement of a not-too-distant future. It marries the fantastical world of Harry Potter with a touch of Orson Scott Card—where fantasy is reality, geeks are cool, and the possibilities are endless.” —New York Journal of Books
“Ridiculously fun and large-hearted, and you don't have to remember the Reagan administration to love it…[Cline] takes a far-out premise and engages the reader instantly…You'll wish you could make it go on and on.” —NPR.org
“A delirious, crypto-nerd fantasia...Crammed with ’80s nostalgia and sugar-high prose, it's ridiculous and addictive and full of toy surprises.” —Village Voice
“A smart, funny thriller that both celebrates and critiques online culture...Layered with inside jokes and sly references.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“A fun, funny and fabulously entertaining first novel…This novel's large dose of 1980s trivia is a delight…[but] even readers who need Google to identify Commodore 64 or Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde, will enjoy this memorabilian feast.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer
“The grown-up's 'Harry Potter’…the mystery and fantasy in this novel weaves itself in the most delightful way, and the details that make up Mr. Cline's world are simply astounding. READY PLAYER ONE has it all.” —Huffington Post
“If you identify yourself as a nerd, geek, gamer, 1980s history buff, a fan of science, fantasy, or dystopian fiction, otaku, 1980s movie fan, romantic, someone who grew up in the 1980s, or a human with emotions—you will enjoy Ready Player One. If you identify with two or more of the above, it’s a guaranteed new favorite novel.” —Sacramento News & Review
“A modern-day fairy tale...so self-assured and enthralling that it’s hard to believe this is his first novel.” —Long Island Press
“Incredibly entertaining…Drawing on everything from "Back to the Future" to Roald Dahl to Neal Stephenson's groundbreaking "Snow Crash," Cline has made READY PLAYER ONE a geek fantasia, '80s culture memoir and commentary on the future of online behavior all at once.” —Austin American-Statesman
“An exhilerating, unpredictable trip...Part Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and part The Da Vinci Code with a healthy dose of Tron.” —Asbury Park Press
“READY PLAYER ONE is the ultimate lottery ticket.” —New York Daily News
“[Picture] the adventure comedy of Mike Judge’s Idiocracy meets South Park’s Imaginationland with a dash of Willy Wonka, except all of the cynicism has been replaced by sheer geeky love. Grade: A.” —AVClub.com
“A preposterously great read and a richly imagined science-fiction world that uses the very idea of nostalgia as a thematic jumping-off point...One of the true geek events of the year.” —HitFix.com
“This non-gamer loved every page of READY PLAYER ONE.” —Charlaine Harris, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series
“A treasure for anyone already nostalgic for the late 20th century. . . But it’s also a great read for anyone who likes a good book.” —Wired.com
“A gunshot of fun with a wicked sense of timing and a cast of characters that you're pumping your fist in the air with whenever they succeed. I haven't been this much on the edge of my seat for an ending in years.” —Chicago Reader
“A rollicking, surprise-laden, potboiling, thrilling adventure story…. I loved every sentence of this book.” —Mark Frauenfelder, BoingBoing
"A 'frakking' good read [featuring] incredible creative detail…I grinned at the sheer audacity of Cline's imagination.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“[A] fantastic page-turner….READY PLAYER ONE may be science fiction, but it's also written for people who have never picked up an SF novel in their lives…”
—Annalee Newitz, io9.com
“Intriguing and thrilling. Gamers and fans of '80s pop culture will find many familiar references throughout the story...Definitely an enjoyable read and one that can be appreciated by fans of many different genres.” —Examiner.com
“Gorgeously geeky, superbly entertaining, this really is a spectacularly successful debut.” —Daily Mail (UK)
“Fascinating and imaginative…It's non-stop action when gamers must navigate clever puzzles and outwit determined enemies in a virtual world in order to save a real one. Readers are in for a wild ride.” —Terry Brooks, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Shannara series
“I was blown away by this book…A book of ideas, a potboiler, a game-within-a-novel, a serious science-fiction epic, a comic pop culture mash-up–call this novel what you will, but READY PLAYER ONE will defy every label you try to put on it. Here, finally, is this generation’s Neuromancer.” —Will Lavender, New York Times bestselling author of Dominance
“I really, really loved READY PLAYER ONE…Cline expertly mines a copious vein of 1980s pop culture, catapulting the reader on a light-speed adventure in an advanced but backward-looking future.” —Daniel H. Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Robopocalypse
“A nerdgasm…imagine Dungeons and Dragons and an 80s video arcade made hot, sweet love, and their child was raised in Azeroth.” —John Scalzi, New York Times bestselling author of Old Man’s War
“Completely fricking awesome...This book pleased every geeky bone in my geeky body. I felt like it was written just for me.” —Patrick Rothfuss, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wise Man’s Fear
“An exuberantly realized, exciting, and sweet-natured cyber-quest. Cline’s imaginative and rollicking coming-of-age geek saga has a smash-hit vibe.” —Booklist (starred review)
“This adrenaline shot of uncut geekdom, a quest through a virtual world, is loaded with enough 1980s nostalgia to please even the most devoted John Hughes fans… sweet, self-deprecating Wade, whose universe is an odd mix of the real past and the virtual present, is the perfect lovable/unlikely hero.” —Publishers Weekly (Pick of the Week)
About the Author
- Publisher : Ballantine Books; First Edition (June 5 2012)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0307887448
- ISBN-13 : 978-0307887443
- Item weight : 272 g
- Dimensions : 13.28 x 2.13 x 20.32 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Top reviews from Canada
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The story taking place mostly in a virtual world created by a person obsessed by 80s culture has me giving bonus points to the story as having grown up in the 80s myself this very much appeals to me. As for the story, I found the characters adequately built up and the futuristic world a neat concept. The writing was good and engaging, I was definitely not bored, and the story kept you enthralled as to what was going to happen next despite the perspective of the story being told after the events occurred. That removes some of the drama for me, but it was ok in this circumstance.
I give it a 5-star read because it is a very well written story with decent imagination and entertainment value. The retro eighties environment of the virtual world and in game tasks give it extra bonus points and maybe save it from being a 4-star read if say I had not grown up in that era. Recommended. Watching the movie is next.
This book is perfect for anyone who is remotely into 1980's nostalgia, video games, virtual reality, Si-Fi, or if you like the idea of being able to control your universe. This book made me excited for the future of virtual reality but also a bit scared of the repercussions it may have on the way we live our lives.
It is also full of great twists and turns that kept me staying up late to read another chapter.
Just gonna touch on the character set-ups and the conclusion here, and point out all the ways the story's morals could have been more interesting and deep, instead of the one-dimensional mass market status quo they represent.
The main protagonists: Five obsessive teenagers outcast from traditional family life and obsessed with winning this competition for their own various motives, charitable or otherwise. There's an actually interesting lesson in Art3mis' dedication to spending her winnings on charity. You should question why a social outcast would have any sense of charity towards the society that both rejects her and has literally nothing to do with her existence. Really, you're going to spend your money helping people who you have nothing in common with in a reality that you don't spend any time in? Yes. Because this is an allegory for post-globalism altruism, and the "simulation" is really the middle class western world. Otherwise, the protagonists all share this obsessive reject arc that highlights Moral Issue #1: Obsession isn't a product of being a social reject, its a cause of it, and its something we need to stop glorifying in prominent figures (read: Nikola Tesla). Being cast out of society and having sh*t living conditions are less likely to lead you to lone-wolf fantasy herodom than an unstable life teeter-tottering in halfway houses. Want to inspire teenage rejects? How about let them know there’s a whole community willing to accept them, and that they don’t have to try to prove themselves to society by going off the deep end, only to find out that society actually doesn’t care about these obsessions that are now eating them alive and giving them nothing in return, that all the money they weren’t going to win anyways wouldn’t have filled that hole left by the flight of family and friends, that Tesla’s bankrupt “wireless energy” idea would have done more harm than good, etc etc. In general, if an author chooses “obsession” as her protagonist’s main personality trait, she’s a shallow writer sidestepping character development and hedging on a social norm of glorifying that kind of thing.
The villain is a Very Evil Bad Guy Sorrento from Globalist Monopoly Incorporated who wants to ruin everything by putting up ads everywhere. Want to really drive home that the system is evil? Make it capitalist AND monopolistic. Moral Issue #2: Capitalism hates Monopolies and in the real world you we don’t know who the bad guy is. I’m going to give Cline the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s using the IOI “monopoly” as a stand-in for “dystopia” here, because the snowballing world issues the book describes have nothing to do with monopolies. That's the problem with _global_ institutions: There’s a lot of them everywhere and they’re all doing bad things cooperatively with local governments and people, and we don’t know how to resolve these issues in a way that preserves the power structures we’re familiar with and our standard of living (if you’re reading this you’re in the HDI top 20%). But if you just want to evolve from “edgy” to “edgelord”, you rail against the capitalist monopoly.
The final main character is another obsessive type, but this time is a huge narcissist. Moral Issue #1b: Nerds/outcasts can be narcissists too, and their genius doesn’t redeem their narcissism. I actually see “crazy inventor archetype guy” as bad guy #2 who set up a lottery for a reckless amount of wealth and power, with none of the redeeming virtue to direct that wealth/power towards solving (understated) global issues and push the pointless red button (aside: “gunters” and other obsessive consumers are the whole reason internet lotteries need more regulation and why Happy Meal sweepstakes come with so much fineprint). Instead he commits an inordinate amount of energy towards designing a way to make millions of people think and act like him. At least in the real world tech moguls are superficially philanthropic.
There were two conclusions at the end of the book: The conclusion of the love arc, and the conclusion of the competition. Both are problematic.
Moral Issue #3: You can love someone for their personality as long as they’re only a tiny bit physically unattractive. When Wade and Art3mis finally meet, Art3mis is self-conscious about her discolored skin but since our boy protagonist is in love with her personality it’s easy for him to overcome that monumental barrier to physical affection, and the reader learns that true love surpasses all challenges. Here’s a quick exercise to prove how lazy a writer Cline is: Swap the reveal scenes of Aech and Art3mis. “You mean my best friend is actually a hot, witty lesbian? And my crush is a heavy black woman?”. This would force the reader to confront the intended moral of overcoming physical attraction. Instead Cline’s just giving that message lipservice. The actual events weren’t chosen to stimulate the reader’s brain, they were chosen to stimulate his crotch. Challenging the status quo interferes with the story’s masturbation potential, which interferes with the story’s potential sales figures. Guess we know who the real capitalist is now.
Moral Issue #4: Nothing got solved. Between the “good guys” winning some cash and the half-as*ed red button reveal, nothing really changed for the better about the world. At some point the global scope of starvation and poverty and climate disaster transitioned to a very personal problem of Wade’s video game addiction (?), which he was able to resolve after getting $50B and a cute, hetero, cis, conventionally attractive, white girlfriend. But the pursuit of money is what caused the world its problems in the first place, and escapism works really well (>300 pages of this book testify to that), and scapegoating individuals like the Madoff/Sorento guy is how the system continues to grind forward by throwing crumbs of justice to the sheep. Evidence that Sorrento’s arrest wasn’t a happy ending but a sad one, did you know that Bernie Madoff was the only person tried and sentenced in connection with the 2008 financial collapse that ruined so many peoples’ lives? If thats what your villain coming to “justice” is based on then you’re sending the wrong message.
The main fixtures and tone in this book were so convincingly teenage fantasy-like that I actually looked up Cline's name to find out whether he himself was a teenage boy. But besides the storyline itself and all the characters involved, the 80’s trivia was on point and the writing style was really transfixing, which earns it back a star. 2/5
Like most movies based on a book, there will be differences.
This was a great read, hard to put down !!
If you lived in the 80s, or you want to know a little bit about the 80s [ like trying to understand what your parents/ grandparents are talking about ] this is the book to read !!
I liked this book, well written. Highly recommended !!!
I have ordered - Ready Player Two
Top reviews from other countries
It’s set in a dystopian future in 2044 – oil has run out, the climate is a wreck, and most people escape reality by spending their lives inside an immense virtual reality video game called the OASIS (similar to Second Life, if you’ve ever played it). It has its own currency, and kids even go to school inside the game. The creator of the game, James Halliday, died years earlier, without an heir to his immense empire, but left a video will with clues/easter eggs to be tracked in the game. Whoever solves these will inherit the OASIS, and the immense wealth that goes with it, and it’s an international obsession. Halliday was a teenager in the 80s and remained fixated with the era, so this means that everyone who is trying to solve the puzzle is just as fanatical, leading to some wonderful references. Wade Watts, our protagonist, is one of the millions trying to crack this. He’s a teenager, stony broke, living with his aunt, and at the bottom of the OASIS food chain. Through a combination of luck and skill with 80s arcade games, Wade somehow manages to be the first solve the first clue, and that’s when everything changes.
I’m not going to give you any spoilers, but I can’t recommend this highly enough. Great characters, very nasty baddies, loaded with 80s references, and actually worryingly possible – it’s definitely worth a read. Oh, and Steven Spielberg bought the film rights – the movie will be released in 2018. I hope he does it justice.
As we meet the principal protagonist we find that the world of the 2040s is in bad shape. The planet is beset with rampant global warming, economic collapse and the majority of its inhabitants living on government subsidies. So far, so, standard dystopian future! However the thing that moves this from a standard YA dystopia and into the realm of a bestseller are three key features; the hero Wade Watts, the world building and the massive amount of 80’s pop culture references.
Wade has real problems to struggle against; no mother or father, living on his own, no friends his own age and only the quest for the easter egg to keep him focused. A fat kid from the wrong side of town living on his wits and natural intelligence. With no friends or family he has to constantly fight for everything he possess.
The world building is excellent with the reader immediately able to visualise the world of deprivation, global warming and the end of oil. A world so terrible that most of the population has moved into the virtual world to get away from the grim reality of everyday life. The mechanics of the virtual world are also well detailed and thought out. As I was reading the book I kept thinking of a fully immersive version of Warcraft. The book is written from a first person perspective. The reader effectively lives inside Wade's head, which helps a lot with Wade being able to explain a lot of the 80's cultural references.
About half way through we meet the evil corporation trying to thwart our heroes plans. These "bad guys" are simple, one dimensional, greedy corporate goons. Having worked in the financial services sector for many years I recognised, their motivations and methods immediately. The bad guys are cheap and cheesy and a stark contrast with the heroes who are street punks living in a virtual world. The evil corporations motivation is greed and the heroes are motivated by fun, friendship, glory and the pursuit of the prize. Who you gonna root for — come on?
The final third of the book works well with our heroes facing bigger and more complex challenges. The finally is also well done and fun.
All in all an excellent, fun yarn. The book is well written, great entertainment with a blistering pace. If you are looking for a deeper meaning, or insight into nerd culture, this is probably not the book for you.
Having read some of the critical reviews of the book, I think they're missing the point - they compare it (often very unfavourably) with other, more highbrow authors' works. This isn't a highbrow book, it's simply a highly entertaining and imaginative romp, and on those terms it succeeds fully. I'm looking forward to further books by Cline. I'm waiting for his announced sequel Ready Player Two, and I've already downloaded Armada.