Saturday, 29 December 2012

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

'Ready Player One' is the debut sci-fi novel from screenwriter and spoken-word artist Ernest Cline.

Set in a dystopian yet strangely recognisable future, the world has basically gone to s**t. Just once I'd like to see a happy future where people aren't starving and the Government is doing an alright job! Anyway, the economy has collapsed and people are now living literally on top of each other, starving inside caravans piled up high. To escape this meagre existence, Wade Watts regularly ventures into an online world known as the OASIS, where he joins other users known as Gunters who are all focussed on one thing; winning Halliday's Easter Egg. The creator of the OASIS, Halliday, set up a challenge before he died, for which the winner would receive enough money to escape their dreary life forever. The only problem is that Wade and the other Gunters are not the only ones after the prize. A corporation known as the Sixers will stop at nothing to win the Egg and their resources are limitless... Watch the book trailer here.

If you grew up in the 1980s and perhaps didn't go out too much then 'Ready Player One' is essentially a geeks paradise. The game creator Halliday is an 80s fanatic and so all of the challenges that Wade must face are linked to the pop culture of that decade. Author Ernest Cline shows off a wealth of obscure knowledge in crafting this novel, with a particular fascination for computer games from the period. 'Joust' and 'Pac-Man' are just two of hundreds of references that play a key role in the hunt and it's particularly satisfying to read if you're familiar with the games firsthand.

While this is arguably 'Ready Player One's biggest strength, the sheer volume of geeky material referenced could also be its downfall, depending on the readers knowledge. I myself was a 90s child so while some of the 80s pop culture was familiar to me, I found it difficult to fully understand some of the more obscure references. Films like 'Heathers' and 'Blade Runner' are two of my favourite 80s movies that pop up in the novel and these moments really excited me but then when other films like 'Wargames' and 'Monty Python' became key to certain challenges, where Wade actually has to re-enact particular scenes, I felt almost left out as I haven't seen them yet.

Other references that add to the nerd nirvana of 'Ready Player One' include heavy metal rock bands like AC/DC, 80s TV like 'Family Ties' and classic anime such as the 'Gundam' series. Some of these are key to the Halliday challenges and some just crop up as part of Wade's obsession with the 80s, which he researches meticulously in order to win the quest. Now this may all seem incredibly geeky and aimed just towards teenage boys but 'Ready Player One' has much more going for it then that. For example, as the novel progresses, Wade makes a particularly strong connection with a female gunter known only as Art3mis. Now you might assume that Art3mis would just be a stereotypical depiction of the ideal woman, akin to Lara Croft circa 1996, and this is true to an extent but the book then does a great job of subverting these cliches as the story progresses.  

'Ready Player One' is not a perfect book however. The main character arc is slightly predictable and as previously mentioned, the geeky references can become almost inpenetrable at times for some readers but overall, I absolutely loved this novel. Cline has devised an extremely original premise for his debut and there is much to like about the characters and their quest but I just wish we could have seen more of the dystopian future which they inhabit. Every other sci-fi novel seems to be set in some kind of apocalyptic setting but 'Ready Player One' has a fresh take on the genre, particularly in the final third of the book when Wade is captured by an IOI holding facility and forced to work there to pay off his debts. It's scary how scenes like this seem like they could actually be possible at some point in the distant future. 

Before 'Ready Player One' was even completed, different studios fought over the rights to turn the novel into a film, with Warner Bros eventually winning but I don't know if this will ever become a reality. Cline himself admits that there would be huge licensing issues involved with all the various intellectual properties but the author is attached to overseeing the screenplay so apparently it is still going ahead. Hear more about this in an interview with Ernest Cline here.

I personally would LOVE to see this made into a film if it can be done properly. So what do you think of 'Ready Player One'? Could it become a successful movie? Let me know what you think by liking, sharing and commenting below.


  1. this is one of the firts books i read, but also one of the most amazing storys i know. i think it's a very good idea to make a movie, becouse it has everything a good story needs, big action scenes, awesome character, a lot of geeky stuff and a very nice love story.

  2. Ha yes I completely agree! Can't wait to see it turn into a movie. But who would direct and star???