As a child of the eighties, many of the video games, movies, TV shows and music mentioned in Ready Player One are like old friends. Also, as a fan of the Star Trek franchise, I knew right away I had to listen to the audio book once I found out it is narrated by Wil Wheaton, the actor who played Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation. I was so impressed by the audio book, I bought it as a Christmas present for my brother.
* CONTAINS SPOILERS
In the year 2044, most of society escapes the ugliness of Earth and the harsh reality of poor socio-economic status by jacking into the OASIS, an online virtual world where people become avatars and live fantasy lives. When the creator of the OASIS dies, his will reveals that he has created a quest within the virtual world that will end with the winner not only receiving millions of credits, but ownership of the OASIS.
Ready Player One is nothing but a huge geek fest for anyone who loves eighties pop culture and, most specifically, played or plays any kind of old school video or role playing games. I enjoyed how the story revolved around a quest structured very much like the games I used to play.
If you are not familiar with the eighties pop culture mentioned in the book, you may not get some of the jokes or references; however, I’ve read reviews by bloggers who said they still enjoyed the story without this knowledge. Unfortunately, the themes of social class, the individual’s relationship to technology and other issues raised in the story gets lost and simply cannot compete against reenacting Monty Python’s Holy Grail as a quest challenge, Japanese robots that turn into one mega-robot, deciphering Rush lyrics and Converse shoes that help you fly.
Ready Player One is a love letter to the eighties. A completely unique dystopian that had me laughing and grinning at every single pop culture drenched chapter. Sure, there’s a significant amount of woe-as-me-ing by the main character, a cheesy romance and other things that didn’t work for me, but overall the book is an irresistible wild ride. I often found myself saying, “Wow!” and “Cool!” and “Awesome!”.
I wasted hours playing Atari games like PacMan and Space Invaders, and later Sierra PC games like Space Quest and Leisure Suit Larry. I observed Dungeons and Dragons (I loved the Saturday morning cartoon!) and other RPG games, but never played myself. How about you? What were your favourite eighties games?