Besides the fact that in the audiobook Will Wheaton of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Big Bang Theory fame narrates Ready Player One, Ernest Cline has done what other writers of techno-virtual worlds/interactive worlds has been unable to do–at least for me, a reader who does not play video games with substantial interactive worlds and has never played Dungeons and Dragons. Those worlds can be confusing at best when it is large part of a novel and not set up properly with the lingo of gamers explained. It is why I abandoned Tad Williams, City of Golden Shadow. I may go back to it, now that I have a better understanding of interactive world games.
For the builder of miniature model pieces for my O-scale train layout, Ready Player One hit home. I finally was able to see why interactive world games (aka virtual reality games) can be addictive. To me it would be like entering the world of a tv soap opera or a mini-series and actually being a part of the plot.
Ready Player One’s plot, set in 2045, in an America on a dying Earth, is a combination of dystopian (in the real world of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (among other places, and Wade Watts) and fantasy, magic, and science fiction (in the virtual or interactive virtual world of Oasis and Parzival, Watts’ avatar). Parzival is on a quest to find an Easter Egg hidden on Oasis by one of Oasis’ creator, James Halliday, who is deceased at the novel’s opening. The payoff is huge – control of the Oasis computer system (think of getting control of Google), more money than could ever be spent in one lifetime (space travel becomes extremely affordable), and notoriety. Watts through Parzival and four other individuals and their avatars must battle the Sixes (which are avatars that represent corporation bent on gaining control of the Oasis system to commercialize it for profit’s sake).
There is space flight, transport (think Beam me up Scotty) and warfare, wizards, magical devices, the playing of vintage video and arcade games, and good old fashion detecting based on research by Watts.
Ready Player One is also a nostalgic look back to the 1980’s (and some 1970’s). It is a hit parade of movies, books, music and video and arcade games and television shows including Knight Rider. Cline’s writing is excellent. And, with the elements of fantasy, dystopian, magical wizardly, and science fiction, and one of the main characters a female geek, Ready Player One is not so geekzoid that a reader whose life does not revolve around video games or is not in the IT profession would be turned off.