Ready Player One

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Overview

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

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Ready Player One

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Overview

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.  

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape. 
 
A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

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Editorial Reviews

Janet Maslin
With its Pac-Man-style cover graphics and vintage Atari mind-set Ready Player One certainly looks like a genre item. But Mr. Cline is able to incorporate his favorite toys and games into a perfectly accessible narrative.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
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. In a bleak but easily imagined 2044, Wade Watts, an impoverished high school student who calls a vertically stacked trailer park home, lives primarily online, alongside billions of others, via a massive online game, OASIS, where players race to unravel the puzzles OASIS creator James Halliday built into the game before his death, with the winner taking control of the virtual world's parent company, as well as staggering wealth. When Wade stumbles on a clue, he's plunged into high-stakes conflict with a corporation dedicated to unraveling Halliday's riddles, which draw from Dungeons and Dragons, old Atari video games, the cinematic computer hacker ode War Games, and that wellspring of geek humor, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (Of course.) The science fiction, video game, technology, and geeky musical references pile up quickly, sometimes a bit much so, but sweet, self-deprecating Wade, whose universe is an odd mix of the real past and the virtual present, is the perfect lovable/unlikely hero. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Reportedly bought for something like $500,000 and already slated for filming, this novel from Fanboys screenwriter Cline features a geeky kid named Wade Watts who gets caught up in a worldwide virtual utopia called Oasis. There he finds himself on a virtual treasure hunt for a very real treasure. Described by Firstshowing.net as a blend of Avatar, The Matrix, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, this book promises to be really, really big. Get it, probably in multiples.
From the Publisher
“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.  A-”—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 
 
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 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

“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

"READY PLAYER ONE is the ultimate lottery ticket."—New York Daily News

"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

“Gorgeously geeky, superbly entertaining, this really is a spectacularly successful debut.”—Daily Mail (UK)

“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 detailI 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

"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 
 

Kirkus Reviews

Video-game players embrace the quest of a lifetime in a virtual world; screenwriter Cline's first novel is old wine in new bottles.

The real world, in 2045, is the usual dystopian horror story. So who can blame Wade, our narrator, if he spends most of his time in a virtual world? The 18-year-old, orphaned at 11, has no friends in his vertical trailer park in Oklahoma City, while the OASIS has captivating bells and whistles, and it's free. Its creator, the legendary billionaire James Halliday, left a curious will. He had devised an elaborate online game, a hunt for a hidden Easter egg. The finder would inherit his estate. Old-fashioned riddles lead to three keys and three gates. Wade, or rather his avatar Parzival, is the first gunter (egg-hunter) to win the Copper Key, first of three. Halliday was obsessed with the pop culture of the 1980s, primarily the arcade games, so the novel is as much retro as futurist. Parzival's great strength is that he has absorbed all Halliday's obsessions; he knows by heart three essential movies, crossing the line from geek to freak. His most formidable competitors are the Sixers, contract gunters working for the evil conglomerate IOI, whose goal is to acquire the OASIS. Cline's narrative is straightforward but loaded with exposition. It takes a while to reach a scene that crackles with excitement: the meeting between Parzival (now world famous as the lead contender) and Sorrento, the head of IOI. The latter tries to recruit Parzival; when he fails, he issues and executes a death threat. Wade's trailer is demolished, his relatives killed; luckily Wade was not at home. Too bad this is the dramatic high point. Parzival threads his way between more '80s games and movies to gain the other keys; it's clever but not exciting. Even a romance with another avatar and the ultimate "epic throwdown" fail to stir the blood.

Too much puzzle-solving, not enough suspense.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307887443
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/5/2012
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 11,943
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet 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. 

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Read an Excerpt

Ready Player One

A Novel
By Ernest Cline

Broadway

Copyright © 2012 Ernest Cline
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780307887443

0001

I was jolted awake by the sound of gunfire in one of the neighboring stacks. The shots were followed by a few minutes of muffled shouting and screaming, then silence.

Gunfire wasn’t uncommon in the stacks, but it still shook me up. I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to fall back asleep, so I decided to kill the remaining hours until dawn by brushing up on a few coin-op classics. Galaga, Defender, Asteroids. These games were outdated digital dinosaurs that had become museum pieces long before I was born. But I was a gunter, so I didn’t think of them as quaint low-res antiques. To me, they were hallowed artifacts. Pillars of the pantheon. When I played the classics, I did so with a determined sort of reverence.

I was curled up in an old sleeping bag in the corner of the trailer’s tiny laundry room, wedged into the gap between the wall and the dryer. I wasn’t welcome in my aunt’s room across the hall, which was fine by me. I preferred to crash in the laundry room anyway. It was warm, it afforded me a limited amount of privacy, and the wireless reception wasn’t too bad. And, as an added bonus, the room smelled like liquid detergent and fabric softener. The rest of the trailer reeked of cat piss and abject poverty.

Most of the time I slept in my hideout. But the temperature had dropped below zero the past few nights, and as much as I hated staying at my aunt’s place, it still beat freezing to death.

A total of fifteen people lived in my aunt’s trailer. She slept in the smallest of its three bedrooms. The Depperts lived in the bedroom adjacent to her, and the Millers occupied the large master bedroom at the end of the hall. There were six of them, and they paid the largest share of the rent. Our trailer wasn’t as crowded as some of the other units in the stacks. It was a double-wide. Plenty of room for everybody.

I pulled out my laptop and powered it on. It was a bulky, heavy beast, almost ten years old. I’d found it in a Dumpster behind the abandoned strip mall across the highway. I’d been able to coax it back to life by replacing its system memory and reloading the stone-age operating system. The processor was slower than a sloth by current standards, but it was fine for my needs. The laptop served as my portable research library, video arcade, and home theater system. Its hard drive was filled with old books, movies, TV show episodes, song files, and nearly every videogame made in the twentieth century.

I booted up my emulator and selected Robotron: 2084, one of my all-time favorite games. I’d always loved its frenetic pace and brutal simplicity. Robotron was all about instinct and reflexes. Playing old videogames never failed to clear my mind and set me at ease. If I was feeling depressed or frustrated about my lot in life, all I had to do was tap the Player One button, and my worries would instantly slip away as my mind focused itself on the relentless pixelated onslaught on the screen in front of me. There, inside the game’s two-dimensional universe, life was simple: It’s just you against the machine. Move with your left hand, shoot with your right, and try to stay alive as long as possible.

I spent a few hours blasting through wave after wave of Brains, Spheroids, Quarks, and Hulks in my unending battle to Save the Last Human Family! But eventually my fingers started to cramp up and I began to lose my rhythm. When that happened at this level, things deteriorated quickly. I burned through all of my extra lives in a matter of minutes, and my two least-favorite words appeared on the screen: game over.

I shut down the emulator and began to browse through my video files. Over the past five years, I’d downloaded every single movie, TV show, and cartoon mentioned in Anorak’s Almanac. I still hadn’t watched all of them yet, of course. That would probably take decades.

I selected an episode of Family Ties, an ’80s sitcom about a middle-class family living in central Ohio. I’d downloaded the show because it had been one of Halliday’s favorites, and I figured there was a chance that some clue related to the Hunt might be hidden in one of the episodes. I’d become addicted to the show immediately, and had now watched all 180 episodes, multiple times. I never seemed to get tired of them.

Sitting alone in the dark, watching the show on my laptop, I always found myself imagining that I lived in that warm, well-lit house, and that those smiling, understanding people were my family. That there was nothing so wrong in the world that we couldn’t sort it out by the end of a single half-hour episode (or maybe a two-parter, if it was something really serious).

My own home life had never even remotely resembled the one depicted in Family Ties, which was probably why I loved the show so much. I was the only child of two teenagers, both refugees who’d met in the stacks where I’d grown up. I don’t remember my father. When I was just a few months old, he was shot dead while looting a grocery store during a power blackout. The only thing I really knew about him was that he loved comic books. I’d found several old flash drives in a box of his things, containing complete runs of The Amazing Spider-Man, The X-Men, and Green Lantern. My mom once told me that my dad had given me an alliterative name, Wade Watts, because he thought it sounded like the secret identity of a superhero. Like Peter Parker or Clark Kent. Knowing that made me think he was must have been a cool guy, despite how he’d died.

My mother, Loretta, had raised me on her own. We’d lived in a small RV in another part of the stacks. She had two full-time OASIS jobs, one as a telemarketer, the other as an escort in an online brothel. She used to make me wear earplugs at night so I wouldn’t hear her in the next room, talking dirty to tricks in other time zones. But the earplugs didn’t work very well, so I would watch old movies instead, with the volume turned way up.

I was introduced to the OASIS at an early age, because my mother used it as a virtual babysitter. As soon as I was old enough to wear a visor and a pair of haptic gloves, my mom helped me create my first OASIS avatar. Then she stuck me in a corner and went back to work, leaving me to explore an entirely new world, very different from the one I’d known up until then.

From that moment on, I was more or less raised by the OASIS’s interactive educational programs, which any kid could access for free. I spent a big chunk of my childhood hanging out in a virtual-reality simulation of Sesame Street, singing songs with friendly Muppets and playing interactive games that taught me how to walk, talk, add, subtract, read, write, and share. Once I’d mastered those skills, it didn’t take me long to discover that the OASIS was also the world’s biggest public library, where even a penniless kid like me had access to every book ever written, every song ever recorded, and every movie, television show, videogame, and piece of artwork ever created. The collected knowledge, art, and amusements of all human civilization were there, waiting for me. But gaining access to all of that information turned out to be something of a mixed blessing. Because that was when I found out the truth.

...

I don’t know, maybe your experience differed from mine. For me, growing up as a human being on the planet Earth in the twenty-first century was a real kick in the teeth. Existentially speaking.

The worst thing about being a kid was that no one told me the truth about my situation. In fact, they did the exact opposite. And, of course, I believed them, because I was just a kid and I didn’t know any better. I mean, Christ, my brain hadn’t even grown to full size yet, so how could I be expected to know when the adults were bullshitting me?

So I swallowed all of the dark ages nonsense they fed me. Some time passed. I grew up a little, and I gradually began to figure out that pretty much everyone had been lying to me about pretty much everything since the moment I emerged from my mother’s womb.

This was an alarming revelation.

It gave me trust issues later in life.

I started to figure out the ugly truth as soon as I began to explore the free OASIS libraries. The facts were right there waiting for me, hidden in old books written by people who weren’t afraid to be honest. Artists and scientists and philosophers and poets, many of them long dead. As I read the words they’d left behind, I finally began to get a grip on the situation. My situation. Our situation. What most people referred to as “the human condition.”

It was not good news.

I wish someone had just told me the truth right up front, as soon as I was old enough to understand it. I wish someone had just said:

“Here’s the deal, Wade. You’re something called a ‘human being.’ That’s a really smart kind of animal. Like every other animal on this planet, we’re descended from a single-celled organism that lived millions of years ago. This happened by a process called evolution, and you’ll learn more about it later. But trust me, that’s really how we all got here. There’s proof of it everywhere, buried in the rocks. That story you heard? About how we were all created by a super-powerful dude named God who lives up in the sky? Total bullshit. The whole God thing is actually an ancient fairy tale that people have been telling to one another for thousands of years. We made it all up. Like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

“Oh, and by the way . . .​ there’s no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny. Also bullshit. Sorry, kid. Deal with it.

“You’re probably wondering what happened before you got here. An awful lot of stuff, actually. Once we evolved into humans, things got pretty interesting. We figured out how to grow food and domesticate animals so we didn’t have to spend all of our time hunting. Our tribes got much bigger, and we spread across the entire planet like an unstoppable virus. Then, after fighting a bunch of wars with each other over land, resources, and our made-up gods, we eventually got all of our tribes organized into a ‘global civilization.’ But, honestly, it wasn’t all that organized, or civilized, and we continued to fight a lot of wars with each other. But we also figured out how to do science, which helped us develop technology. For a bunch of hairless apes, we’ve actually managed to invent some pretty incredible things. Computers. Medicine. Lasers. Microwave ovens. Artificial hearts. Atomic bombs. We even sent a few guys to the moon and brought them back. We also created a global communications network that lets us all talk to each other, all around the world, all the time. Pretty impressive, right?

“But that’s where the bad news comes in. Our global civilization came at a huge cost. We needed a whole bunch of energy to build it, and we got that energy by burning fossil fuels, which came from dead plants and animals buried deep in the ground. We used up most of this fuel before you got here, and now it’s pretty much all gone. This means that we no longer have enough energy to keep our civilization running like it was before. So we’ve had to cut back. Big-time. We call this the Global Energy Crisis, and it’s been going on for a while now.

“Also, it turns out that burning all of those fossil fuels had some nasty side effects, like raising the temperature of our planet and screwing up the environment. So now the polar ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, and the weather is all messed up. Plants and animals are dying off in record numbers, and lots of people are starving and homeless. And we’re still fighting wars with each other, mostly over the few resources we have left.

“Basically, kid, what this all means is that life is a lot tougher than it used to be, in the Good Old Days, back before you were born. Things used to be awesome, but now they’re kinda terrifying. To be honest, the future doesn’t look too bright. You were born at a pretty crappy time in history. And it looks like things are only gonna get worse from here on out. Human civilization is in ‘decline.’ Some people even say it’s ‘collapsing.’

“You’re probably wondering what’s going to happen to you. That’s easy. The same thing is going to happen to you that has happened to every other human being who has ever lived. You’re going to die. We all die. That’s just how it is.

“What happens when you die? Well, we’re not completely sure. But the evidence seems to suggest that nothing happens. You’re just dead, your brain stops working, and then you’re not around to ask annoying questions anymore. Those stories you heard? About going to a wonderful place called ‘heaven’ where there is no more pain or death and you live forever in a state of perpetual happiness? Also total bullshit. Just like all that God stuff. There’s no evidence of a heaven and there never was. We made that up too. Wishful thinking. So now you have to live the rest of your life knowing you’re going to die someday and disappear forever.

“Sorry.”

...

OK, on second thought, maybe honesty isn’t the best policy after all. Maybe it isn’t a good idea to tell a newly arrived human being that he’s been born into a world of chaos, pain, and poverty just in time to watch everything fall to pieces. I discovered all of that gradually over several years, and it still made me feel like jumping off a bridge.

Luckily, I had access to the OASIS, which was like having an escape hatch into a better reality. The OASIS kept me sane. It was my playground and my preschool, a magical place where anything was possible.

The OASIS is the setting of all my happiest childhood memories. When my mom didn’t have to work, we would log in at the same time and play games or go on interactive storybook adventures together. She used to have to force me to log out every night, because I never wanted to return to the real world. Because the real world sucked.

I never blamed my mom for the way things were. She was a victim of fate and cruel circumstance, like everyone else. Her generation had it the hardest. She’d been born into a world of plenty, then had to watch it all slowly vanish. More than anything, I remember feeling sorry for her. She was depressed all the time, and taking drugs seemed to be the only thing she truly enjoyed. Of course, they were what eventually killed her. When I was eleven years old, she shot a bad batch of something into her arm and died on our ratty fold-out sofa bed while listening to music on an old mp3 player I’d repaired and given to her the previous Christmas.


From the Hardcover edition.

Continues...

Excerpted from Ready Player One by Ernest Cline Copyright © 2012 by Ernest Cline. Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Interviews & Essays

A Conversation With Uber-Geek and Fanboy Extraordinaire
Ernest Cline
author of READY, PLAYER ONE
(Crown, on sale August 16, 2011)


Q) So it seems you're a bit of a pop-culture buff. In your debut novel READY PLAYER ONE you incorporate literally hundreds of pop culture references, many of them in ways that are integral to the book's plot. What's the first thing you remember geeking out over?

A) Sesame Street and the Muppets. I thought Jim Henson ruled the universe. I even thought it was pretty cool that I shared my first name with a muppet. Until the first day of kindergarten, when I quickly learned that "Ernie" was not a cool name to have. That was about the time I segued into my next childhood obsession, Star Wars.

Q) Like the book's hero, you possess a horrifyingly deep knowledge of a terrifyingly broad swathe of culture, ranging from John Hughes movies to super-obscure Japanese animation to 8-bit videogames to science-fiction and fantasy literature to role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. What the heck is wrong with you?! How do you have so much time on your hands?

A) Well, I'm raising a toddler now, so I don't have as much time to geek out as I used to. I think I amassed a lot of that knowledge during my youth. Like most geeks, I was a sponge for all kinds of movies, TV shows, cartoons, and video games. Then as an adult, I worked at a long series of low paying tech support jobs that allowed me to surf the Internet all day, and I spent a lot of my cubicle time looking up obscure pop culture minutiae from my childhood while I waited for people to reboot their PCs. Of course, I spent most my off hours geeking out, too. Luckily, all those hours can now be classified as "research" for my novel.

Q) You're stranded on an island and you can only take one movie with you. What is it?
A) Easy! The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition. (Can I take all of the DVD Extras and Making of Documentaries, too?)

Q) You're given free tickets and back stage passes to one concert (artist can be living or dead)- who is it and why?
A) Are we talking about time travel back to a specific concert in the past here? Because it would be pretty cool to stand on the roof of Apple Records and watch the Beatles jam up there. But my favorite rock band that's still together is RUSH, and I just bought tickets to see them this June!

Q) Favorite book of all time.
A) That's an impossible question! I could maybe give you three favorites: Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut, and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Q) Best failed TV show pilot available on Youtube?
A) The unaired Batgirl pilot starring Yvonne Craig.

Q) Favorite episode of Cowboy Bebop?
A) "Ganymede Elegy." Or maybe "Boogie Woogie Feng Shui."

Q) What's the first arcade game you ever played? What's your favorite?
A) I was deflowered by Space Invaders. My all time favorite coin-op game was probably Black Tiger.

Q) Your idea of the perfect day...
A) Play Black Tiger. Then go see Big Trouble in Little China at the Alamo Drafthouse with Kurt Russell and John Carpenter doing a live Q&A afterwards. When I get home that night, I accidentally invent a cheap abundant clean energy source that saves human civilization. I celebrate by staying up late to watch old Ultraman episodes with my daughter (who loves Ultraman even more than I do).

Q) Top Five 80s Movies where a kid does something impossible?
1. The Last Starfighter – Trailer trash video game geek saves the galaxy.
2. Iron Eagle – Hotshot air force brat steals two F-16s and flies overseas to rescue his dad! (With Lou Gossett Jr's help.)
3. WarGames – Suburban computer nerd nearly starts World War 3, then ends up preventing it!
4. Explorers – Four kids build a spaceship in their back yard and then fly it off to meet aliens, who are also kids.
5. The Manhattan Project – Boy genius steals plutonium from John Lithgow and then uses it to build a nuclear bomb to enter in the NY state science fair.

Q) True or False. We hear you own a DeLorean and that you plan on tricking it out to be a time-travelling, Ghostbusting, Knight-Rider car.
A) False. I actually plan on tricking it out to be a time-traveling Ghostbusting Knight Riding Jet Car. It's going to have both a Flux Capacitor and an Oscillation Overthruster in it, so that my Delorean can travel through time AND solid matter. My personalized plates are ECTO88, just like a DeLorean that appears in my book.
(I'm so glad that you asked this question, because now I can justify buying the car as a "promotional tool" for my book. Everyone reading this is a witness! My DeLorean is helping me promote my book! The fact that I've wanted one since I was ten years old is totally irrelevant!)

Q) Speaking of DeLoreans: biggest plot hole in the Back to The Future Films?
A) The Back to the Future Trilogy is perfect and contains no plot holes! Except for the plot hole inherent in nearly all time travel films: The planet Earth is moving through space at an immense speed at all times. So if you travel back in time, you are traveling to a time when the Earth was in a different location, and you and your time machine would appear somewhere out in deep space. For a time machine to be useful, it also needs to be able to teleport you to wherever the Earth was/is at your destination time.

Q) But there are two DeLoreans in 1885 – why doesn't Doc dig out the one he buried in a cave for Marty to find in 1955 and use the gasoline from it to get the other DeLorean up to 88mph?
A) Doc would have drained the gas tank before he stored a car for 80 years, so there wouldn't have been any gas. And tampering with the DeLorean in the cave at all could conceivably create a universe-ending paradox, because it has to be in the cave for Marty to get back to 1885 in the first place. Totally not a plot hole!

Okay, okay. You win. Thanks for your time, Ernie.
Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

1. The OASIS becomes a part of daily life for users around the globe. What virtual realms (Google, Facebook, iCloud) do you depend on? What is at stake in the war against IOI, the internet service provider that wants to overturn Halliday’s affordable, open-source approach? Is it dangerous to mix profit and dependence on technology? 

2. Explore the question of identity raised in the novel. What do the characters’ avatars tell us about their desires and their insecurities? In reality, does our physical appearance give false clues about who we really are? How does Parzival, transformed into a celebrity gunter, become Wade’s true self? 

3. With a narrator who vividly captures the human experience, Ready Player One delivers a world that is easy for us to imagine. In the novel, what was at the root of the grim downturn for Earth’s inhabitants? Could your community start looking like the stacks by the year 2044? 

4. How does love affect Wade’s rational mind? Would you have given Art3mis the tip about playing on the left side to defeat the lich (page 99, chapter ten)? Did you predict that she would turn out to be a friend or a foe?

5. How does public school in the OASIS compare to your experience in school? Has author Ernest Cline created a solution to classroom overcrowding, student apathy, and school violence?

6. In his Columbus bunker, Wade puts on so many pounds that he can no longer fit comfortably in his haptic chair. How would you fare in his weight-loss program, described in chapter nineteen, featuring a simulation gym, coaching from Max, and a lockout system that restricts his diet and forces him to exercise? 

7. Wade’s OASIS pass phrase is revealed on page 199, at the end of chapter nineteen: “No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful.” What does this philosophy mean to him at that point in his life? 

8. How is the novel shaped by the 1980s backdrop, featuring John Hughes films, suburban shows like Family Ties, a techno-beat soundtrack, and of course, a slew of early video games? Did Halliday grow up in a utopia? 

9. Discuss Bryce Lynch’s financial situation, rigged so that Wade could infiltrate IOI. When does Wade become willing to “die trying”? How did you react to the image of debtors being forced into indentured servitude?

10. Wade doesn’t depend on religion to make moral decisions or overcome life-threatening challenges. What does the novel say about humanity’s relationship to religion? What sort of god is Halliday, creator of the OASIS universe?

11. Despite their introverted nature, the book’s characters thrive on friendship. Discuss the level of trust enjoyed by Halliday and Og, and among Wade, Aech, Art3mis, Daito, and Shoto. How is true power achieved in Ready Player One?

12. In the closing scenes, Halliday’s reward proves to be greater than mere wealth. What is Halliday’s ultimate prize? How did the rules of Halliday’s game help him determine the type of player who would likely win? 

13. In his quest for the three keys, Wade is required to inhabit many imaginary worlds, including movies, video games, and a simulation of Halliday’s childhood home. Which of these virtual realities appealed to you the most? What sort of virtual reality is provided by a novel?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 643 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(487)

4 Star

(108)

3 Star

(29)

2 Star

(13)

1 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 645 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2011

    AMAZING!

    I did not want this book to end! If you randomly stumbled upon this book, like i did, give it a shot, you won't be sorry!

    26 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 27, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Credits remaining: 0

    I wanted to love “Ready Player One”, but I realized by the hundredth page that I was in store for a meanderingly predictable journey with zero surprises along the way. The world Cline has created is inhabited by characters who all share the exact same obsessions, the exact same base of knowledge, the exact same shamelessly self-aware pop-culture references, and largely identical personalities – all while they struggle towards the same goal. The lone antagonist in the story is a cartoonish one-dimensional corporate-fascist entity, lead by a clichéd evil villain sporting little more than a three sentence back story. The main characters barrel forward against this single conflict, spouting childish dialogue as they unsurprisingly emerge victorious against every challenge put in their way. The debatable charm of this novel comes from the endless stream of 80’s references which vacillate between John Hughes films, Atari, Duran Duran, and the etceteras. Some readers may find the references endearing, but others might see them as a literary crutch that does little more than decorate an otherwise unimaginative journey with excerpts of wholesale transcripts from films like “War Games” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. If you’ve ever wanted to have a fictional character describe a movie that you’ve already seen, then this book is for you. It’s hard to fault an author for attempting to fictionalize their interests, but the resulting book is a lazy framework of half baked conflict, predictable plotline and characters that are just marginally differing facsimiles of the author. I really do wish I had some kind words for Ernest Cline, as it is obvious that he threw his heart into the writing of “Ready Player One” with its endless 80’s geekery and pop-culture references, but the story he has fabricated is just as painfully one-dimensional as his underlying obsession might imply. Maybe this might make an interesting movie some day, but the book was simply disappointing.

    15 out of 55 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 19, 2011

    All Hail Cline!

    This book is the bomb! And not just any kind of bomb, but a classic grenade for all the geeks out there (yeah like me!). A book with the touch of old school gaming from the ever popular Pacman to the Dungeons and Dragons! If being a nerd means reading more books that tickle my fancy like this then I am a nerd all throughout!Whew!

    13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 16, 2011

    What fun!

    If you liked The Hunger Games, you'll enjoy this. It was lovely romp down memory lane. If you ever paid a quarter to play a video game, were ever a Dungeon Master, watched Tom Baker on PBS or wached Lady Hawk on Beta (you don't have admit that last one outloud)...in other words, if you were a geek before it was cool...you will love this book!

    12 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 22, 2011

    Great book

    A must read for any person who has a love for video games and sci-fi literature. A book filled with memories of games ranging from pacman and older all the way up to present day online social gaming, while also seeing a future vision of a post apocolyptic future. A fun and great read for anyone.

    11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2012

    Words cannot effectively convey my gratitude to Cline for writi

    Words cannot effectively convey my gratitude to Cline for writing such an imaginative, wholly absorbing world for me to live in. Let me make this perfectly clear : I am not big on the 80's. I have no in depth knowledge of video-games. And mostly everything mentioned in Clines book went totally over my head. With all this in mind, it was STILL one of the best books I have ever read ( and I've read A LOT of books). It was so good that I read it all in one go, over the course of 12 hrs.
    I was literally biting my nails, and when I wasn't reading it in bed, I was on the edge of my seat. When I had to stand up to refill my coffee cup (because as far as Im concerned, the only thing you can drink while reading this book is coffee. The reason being that sleep is just not an option) I was pacing at extraordinary speeds, narrowly missing pets in the process.
    If you don't read this book you are missing out. Big time. I will most definitely re-read this book, a great honor let me tell you, as only a few books out of hundreds have ever held the position. I will also force all of my friends to read it because after ch.1 they'll be hooked.
    So thank you Mr. Cline again, for crafting this wholly absorbing, original, and entertaining world for us all to enjoy. You did good :) (PS. THEY'RE MAKING A MOVIE!!! :D <3)

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Epic Ride Through a Virtual World

    Get ready to get your geek on. Well, technically I should say, get ready to get your 80′s geek on. I will preface my review with you must be nerd to read this book, or at least willing to embrace your inner nerd. Additionally, a love or deep appreciation for the 80′s is required. If you are not nerd, you will likely loose interest as the entire book is drenched in all things gaming, tech, and 1980′s pop culture. That said, this book is an epic ride through a virtual world with a not so average hero as your guide. Wade Watts lives in a trailer park with his aunt, who sees Wade as more of a food stamp source than an actual family member. His unfortunate life situation drives him to spend most of his time inside the OASIS, a virtual world, that’s best described as a combination of a virtual reality video game and the internet. Inside the OASIS, a user can play video games, hang out in a virtual chat room, and even attend school. One of the many things driving people to spend time in the virtual world is the OASIS wide ‘Easter egg’ hunt set up by James Halliday, the creator of the OASIS. Halliday set up the ultimate video game that calls back to all of his favorite 80′s video game, movies, and music, and the winner will receive his entire fortune. Wade, also known as Wade3 and Parzival in the OASIS, is one of a millions of people hunting the for Copper Key to unlock the first of three gates in Halliday’s game. That is, he was one of the millions until he found the Copper Key. Ready Player One has been categorized in the Young Adult genre, however, I kind of feel like this book would go over the heads of most young adults these days. I mean no offense to them in the slightest. I’m in my late twenties and I didn’t get many of the things referenced in this book, so I would imagine a teenager might miss a context. That is, unless they have an unhealthy obsession with the 80′s. I feel more adults would enjoy this book than teenagers. In fact, I think it’s already extremely popular among the 30-40 somethings. That said, the author does a pretty thorough job of explaining the many 80′s facts dropped in this story, so it’s not too difficult to keep up. Referencing everything from Billy Idol to Rush, anime to School House Rock, Atari to the Apple 1, and 16 Candles to Monty Python’s The Holy Grail, Cline crams it all in. There were so many 80′s facts that I began to I feel like I was prepping to be on an 80′s edition of Jeopardy. I know more about the 80′s than I ever cared to know. And I have to admit it feels kinda good. To give you a little taste, Ernie Cline posted his personal soundtrack/mix-tape for Ready Player One on his blog. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Ready Player One. I can truly say that I haven’t read or heard of anything like it before. It’s original, clever, witty, and engaging. It’s a trip through 80′s nostalgia and it’s tons of fun. I highly recommend this book to nerds, 80′s fans, and anyone looking for something completely different.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An entertaining romp down memory lane, but in the end its potential for "geektastic-ness" was never fully realized.

    It's the year 2044 and the real world is apparently a place where no one wishes to live. Instead, everyone chooses to live in the OASIS, a virtual world created by James Halliday. Users don their gear, sit in their Haptic chairs and then surround themselves with valuable artifacts to be used in the game. Their avatars are everything as they choose to live their lives behind these figures. Wade Watts is one of those people. He's a kid, living with an Aunt who really doesn't want him there and he has no real-life friends and only a few virtual ones, but what he does have is skill. This comes in handy when Halliday leaves his entire fortune to the person who can solve the OASIS riddle that he's left behind. What worked for me, are the numerous references to 80's pop-culture. I am an 80's girl, through and through so I enjoyed many of the references, but this book tried to be too many things and in the end it was completely consumed by the game itself. I never considered myself a gamer, but when I was in middle school, I spent a good chunk of time playing Pac -Man, Galaga, and let's not forget Frogger. So the fact that gaming was front of and center, really wasn't the issue here, to me, it had to do with balance or specifically the lack of it. I didn't really like any of the characters and they all seemed a bit flat. Perhaps much of that is due to the fact that many of their true identities are not revealed until the end of the book. Instead, we are introduced to their avatars which to me, left a lot to be desired. For this book to have worked for me, I needed more of Wade outside of his avatar, a less predictable story and a little less of the gaming re-hash that ensued every time Wade had to do battle with his opponent via an 80's video game.

    7 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    Kept my attention..

    from page 1! I enjoyed this book and wish for more!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2012

    Disappointed

    The writing style was't for me. So often the story would grind to a halt for exposition. And much of the plot felt like adolescent boy fantasy fulfillment. I never forgot I was reading a YA novel.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2011

    An Amusing Read,

    An amusing though somewhat near sighted exploration of 80's Pop Culture employing a formula common amongst online writers. While enjoyable it didn't strike me as a text that I'll recall a month or even a week from now. I wouldn't judge the authors ability based off of this work alone.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 25, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I'm saying it right off the bat....I loved, loved, loved this on

    I'm saying it right off the bat....I loved, loved, loved this one! I honestly didn't want this read to end. I found myself really wishing that it was a series opener instead of a stand alone title because I would love nothing more than for the story to lead somewhere else so that I wouldn't have to say goodbye to these great characters, this wonderful world, and all the action and excitement Cline brought to the table with this title.

    I cannot thank the lovely people at Random House NY for introducing me and sending me a copy of this wonderful book. Cline's writing was refreshing, easy to relate to, and the type that kept you wanting nothing more than to keep reading even whether during an intense action scene, a romantic flirtation, or just a casual conversation between characters. As someone who has enjoyed video games but never got crazy into them, I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this title, but I shouldn't have worried. Cline will have you engrossed in the story after the very first chapter and no one will be able to resist the storyline he's laid out for his readers.

    I found myself wishing this was really happening, finally appreciating some of the technology that surrounds us, wondering what it would be like to be able to play out a role in a movie, pick apart a mystery so large that the contest itself could last for years without anyone coming close....the anticipation alone was addicting.

    I unfortunately had never heard about this before it was sent to me, but I can tell you that now that I have, I'll be recommending it to everyone I know, making to sure to gift it to my big reader friends, and hoping with crossed fingers that Cline brings another title to the table in the future that lives up to this amazing book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2012

    Nerds Rejoice

    A great mix of Snow Crash and 80's refrences. A must for any video game nerd.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2012

    Amazing

    At once nostalgic and futuristic, this book is a must for any self proclaimed geek, nerd, dork or otherwise. Fantastic

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 27, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Great, Fun, Fast Blast From the Past

    So, our buddy Wade, is living in a pretty grim reality in 2044. The world has devolved to the extreme have's and have-not's (guess which one Wade is...) and almost everyone has retreated to a Utopian virtual world of their own design, OASIS. Wade is an OASIS fanatic and when the gazillionaire creator of OASIS dies and leaves his fortune up for grabs to anyone smart enough to get it, Wade is an unlikely but strong contender.

    Wade has to avoid death and destruction (literally and virtually) in his attempt to find every clue and solve the puzzle before anyone else. The Easter eggs and puzzles are all retro (from the 1980's) and are fun to read and solve along with Wade for anyone who might remember (and love) War Games, John Hughes, and old school video games.

    The stakes are high as an evil corporation is hell bent on solving the mystery before our beleaguered hero. Ready Player One is somewhat of a cross between Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Tron and Second Life with Eagle Eye thrown in for good measure.

    The pace is brisk and at several points, the pages were turning so fast I thought I was going to get carpal tunnel. I could easily see Ready Player One becoming a great adventure/suspense movie. And guess what? It is! ...in 2014. Great, rollicking thrill ride through our past, present and future. I can't wait to see what Ernest Cline comes up with next!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2012

    Engaging and full of references.

    I was surprised by just how many things were referenced in this book. It was a lot of fun however and all made sense in context. It certainly helped that I was familiar with most of the things the main character mentioned. I'm not sure if this would be nearly as enjoyable for someone who isn't familiar with lots of random things from the 80's.

    On one hand I got a great deal of entertainment out of this novel. It was fun, decently paced, well written, and well researched (for the most part, though there were a few glaring errors).

    On the other hand there were a few instances where I couldn't tell if the author was being ignorant of if the character was. There were also several things that happened towards the end of the story which I felt conflicted about. They weren't quite strong enough for me to feel as if it was a commentary on unfortunate societal norms and they came out more like cop-outs to pacify anyone who noticed the lack of characters in a minority group. I get the impression things were likely meant to be more on the "commentary" side of things which is why I'm still giving it 4 stars. The lack of a 5th star is due to my uncertainty over whether it could stand up on it's own without the reader being familiar with 80's media.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2011

    Loved it

    Clever use of trivia. Excellent fast paced story with a grest message. Why yes, the real world is better but I would love to spend sometime in Oasis, maybe I already do, it's just called Everquest. 4 out of 5 because it is better than your average dystopian novel.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 14, 2011

    Snow Crash?

    Have you read Snow Crash? Then you've read this book as well. It's enjoyable, yet entirely derivative of a book written almost 20 years ago. Bleck.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2013

    BEST BOOK I EVER READ YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK OR I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2013

    Best book in a long time

    I never write reviews but for the geek in all of us I must say this is a must read. I read all the time and I have to say this book kept me turning pages and not wanting it to end. I loved it. I am sure any GEEK would.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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