I’m not sure I consider myself a child of the 80s, but I’m certainly old enough to appreciate the vast majority of the pop culture references in Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. From Ferris Bueller to Geddy Lee, Max Headroom to Dungeons & Dragons, Monty Python to Back to the Future, there’s a bit of 80s nostalgia for everyone in this story. I listened to the audiobook (one of the pleasures of a long daily commute), narrated by Wil Wheaton.
The year is 2044. Our hero, Wade, is an 18-year-old orphan living in the stacks – an overgrown trailer park where the mobile homes are literally stacked sky-high. Things are not going so great for Wade “IRL” (in real life), but that’s OK! Wade spends most of his waking hours in the OASIS, a sprawling online utopia that most of the population of Earth relies on to escape the crumbling mess that the real world has become. When the OASIS’s creator, game designer James Halliday, passed away, he promised control of the OASIS and his vast fortune (in the hundreds of billions) to the first person who can find the “Easter Egg” he has hidden inside this virtual world. The catch? The egg hunters or “gunters”, as they’ve been come to be known, must possess enough knowledge of 1980’s trivia to decipher the clues Halliday has sprinkled throughout the OASIS. It’s been 5 years and no one has found the first clue that will begin the game and lead to the ultimate prize… Until one day Wade stumbles upon it, putting his name at the top of the game’s scoreboard and making him both a legend among gunters and a target for the ruthless corporation that has its sights set on taking over the OASIS.
If you enjoy fast-paced humorous science fiction (even if you’ve never picked up a joystick), grab this one before it hits the big screen in the not-too-distant future.