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Ready Player One: A Novel Paperback – June 5, 2012
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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
ERNEST CLINE has worked as a short-order cook, fish gutter, plasma donor, elitist video store clerk, and tech support drone. His primary occupation, however, has always been geeking out, and he eventually threw aside those other promising career paths to express his love of pop culture fulltime as a spoken word artist and screenwriter. His 2009 film Fanboys, much to his surprise, became a cult phenomenon. These days Ernie lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, their daughter, and a large collection of classic video games. READY PLAYER ONE is his first novel.
Top customer reviews
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I will admit that when I first read the synopsis of this book I didn’t think it was my jam. My best friend convinced me otherwise and boy was she right! I loved it! Like really loved it. I am not sure if I would have felt the same way reading the book versus listening; I think since I enjoyed the narration that I was more engaged. Either way I now can’t wait for the movie coming out in March.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is about a highly introverted billionaire, James Halliday, whom leaves his fortune and control of his company to one lucky winner of a treasure hunt he has created inside the virtual reality environment (the Oasis) that he has also created (Wow, realized I wrote a sentence that could easily become some sort of tongue twister). Halliday loves the 80’s: its music, movies and video games…if you don’t, well then you probably would not have had a chance at winning the prize (and would not enjoy this book/audiobook as much).
As someone who is not typically a fan of this genre, what Cline and Wheaton did with this story kept my attention. I did not harp too much on the numerous stereotypes within the book (stereotypical traits of gamers, nerds, and the like) and took the story for what it was (well, to me at least): an entertaining story that brought me into a new world that had me fully engaged from the start. I will certainly be expanding my reading selections moving forward.
Still need convincing (or just enjoying my review)?: One of the book’s main characters is a strong female heroine who is super smart and kicks butt.
Movie will be released March 29, 2018…countdown is on! Who’s coming with me?
Here comes the plot set-up, and maybe a ***SPOILER ALERT*** now.
The year is 2044, and the global population endures its fourth decade of economic collapse. Huzzah. In a world of fading prospects and rapidly dwindling natural resources, everyone's favorite pastime is the Oasis, a massive, all-inclusive multiplayer online game that had metamorphosed into a globally networked virtual reality universe what's now habitually accessed by nearly everyone on the planet. The Oasis has become such a panoptic entity, it's become synonymous with the Internet. In the Oasis, kids attend virtual school, business offices can purchase virtual landscape to promote their wares, virtual concerts are staged. Who wouldn't prefer this utopian cyberspace over bleak reality? When they can look for James Halliday's fabled Easter egg, nestled somewhere in the vastness of Oasis?
Eccentric genius video game designer - and creator of Oasis - James Halliday, before dying, recorded a video in which he challenges all comers to seek out his hidden treasure, to first unearth and then figure out the clues he'd embedded in the fabric of his Oasis program. His Easter egg, when found, conveys untold riches and power and unfettered administrative control over the Oasis. Overnight, the hunt for Halliday's treasure became the new global recreation. Halliday's addiction with 1980s pop culture was well documented, and so, too, in their feverish pursuit did these Easter egg hunters - nicknamed "gunters" - immerse themselves in Halliday's obsession, triggering a global revival of 1980s culture. But years and years would elapse before the elusive first clue would surface. Meanwhile, the gunters developed into figures of ridicule.
In the slums of Oklahoma City, in the Stacks - a decaying community in which run-down trailer homes are stacked on top of each other - 18-year-old orphan Wade Watts ekes out a miserable existence. Reclusive and anti-social, Wade is a low-level but dedicated gunter, a walking talking encyclopedia of vintage 1980s facts and trivia. He realizes that his only hope for a better life is to win the game. And so he perseveres when so many have given up. And, even though he's only a self-declared "third level wimp," he works out the location of the first clue. It's a life-changing thing.
The virtual scoreboard allows everyone to track his and other competitors' progress. Wade - or, rather, his avatar Parzival - becomes an instant worldwide celebrity - making him the target of fellow gunters and groupies and the media and, worse, of sinister corporations hungry to seize control of the Oasis. In his quest for Halliday's holy grail, Wade Watts - alliteratively named by his comic book-reading father - must call on every bit of his tech savvy and knowledge of 1980s culture to outwit his competitors and enemies. He is an awesome character that boasts impressive measures of pluck and resourcefulness and audacity in the face of frightening odds. And Wade Watts only becomes more awesome once he's compelled to venture out into the real world for survival's sake.
If the cyberpunk yarns of William Gibson and Neal Stephenson tend to intimidate you, be at ease with Ready Player One. Ernie Cline has crafted an immensely accessible story. He makes you swim in nostalgia. I'm not a 1980s buff, but I'm an old cat who actually lived his childhood thru the '80s, and it is so much fun trying to catch all of Cline's references. Ready Player One is a well-told, richly realized, and incredibly satisfying adventure, one populated by appealing characters. There's even a sweet love story. Wade engages in an online flirtation with a talented fellow gunter named Art3mis, and so we get a peek into Wade's gnawing doubts as to what the person beneath the Art3mis avatar is really like (and even what she really looks like). But that's just misdirection. It's another character who drops the startling reveal.
"Unputdownable" isn't a real word, yet it's the perfect adjective for this book. I think that everyone, at some level, has a grain of geekness in them. If you've ever envisioned scenes of your favorite cartoons or animes interacting, if you've once loved a movie so much that you've memorized entire passages of its dialogue, or been influenced by a rock song to the extent that you'd picked up a guitar to learn the chords... Ernie Cline revives these feelings. Ready Player One moves like a locomotive, and there are scenes in it that will absolutely explode your nerdy brain. Ready Player One was a New York Times Bestseller. It's soon to be a blockbuster motion picture what's directed by Steven Spielberg, and, self-deprecating guy that he is, good luck to him trying to tamp down on the book's references to his movies. I'm hyped for the movie. But the book came first, and the book will have an even more special place in my nerd heart. It's easily in my top five favorite reads ever. Ready Player One, yeah, an immersive, imaginative, childhood-mining, unputdownable read. Armada, not so much.
That disturbing aspect of Cline's novel is imaginatively and entertainingly written. The first third of the novel is a marvel. I'd give it ten stars. The second two-thirds, like The Martian in many ways, is a bit repetitive and predictable in a TV-series sort of way.
The novel is worthy and well-written, and the fairy tale aspect is touching. You end up rooting for the heroes and heroine, and even get a small glimpse into the motivations and heart of the villain (though I think he could have been much better presented, a la J. K. Rowling's villains).
All in all, a highly enjoyable book. The best take I've read on VR and online gaming. Plus it's lots of fun!