Ready Player One is for those nostalgic for the 80s


Don't be fooled by the title. Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, is a science fiction book, not just a book about video games, although they are certainly very prominent throughout the narrative.
I am sure that readers nostalgic for video games of the 80s will love Ready Player One, but wonder if it will resonate with a more modern audience.
In brief ,the plot is about a contest among gamers to win the fortune of a deceased technology magnate by solving various riddles that he has left scattered about a futuristic version of the internet which is called OASIS.
OASIS is a sort of a massive multiplayer online simulation game that is a a type of virtual reality universe which is completely immersive and difficult to distinguish from the real world. You could liken it to the holodeck from Star Trek.
Our hero is a geek named Wade who is in competition with a horde of other gamers who commit themselves full-time to the quest of finding the clues for the fortune.
The creator of OASIS, James Halliday, is a product of the video-game universe of the 80s so the gamers questing for his fortune immerse themselves in tech and pop-culture trivia from that time in attempt to decipher his clues.
If you ever played D&D's Tomb of Horrors module, played the arcade game Joust or watched the movie War Games, then you'll be tickled that these, and many other touchstones from that era, figure prominently in this book. If none of those things mean anything to you, then Ready Player One may seem like a series of "in" jokes.
Our hero's quest becomes complicated with a love interest with whom he is in competition with online as well as a conglomerate which is throwing a lot of money and resources at the contest in order to reap the profits of Halliday's fortune.
I found myself doubting the plausibility of a VR universe as convincing as the one portrayed in the book, but didn't try to let it lessen by enjoyment of the story.
Enjoy it I did, but to a point. While it was fun to relive some of those 80s moments, I thought the story was perhaps a bit too predictable.
I'd heartily recommend it to anyone who's spent evenings spending quarters in the arcades of yore, but think the kids of today might find this one a chore.