Ready Player One is the ultimate geek fiction. It’s set in the near future, with Earth facing a major energy crisis and a MMORPG having replaced actual reality for much of the human race. Imagine Second Life, but infinitely more expansive and fun to play, and accessible to nearly every human.
This was all created by a social introvert and genius computer programmer by the name of James Halliday, who, after his death, revealed his last will to be a gigantic virtual treasure hunt for all players of OASIS (the virtual reality game system). Whoever cracks the codes the Halliday left and finds the Easter Egg first wins ownership of the benevolent company he founded and his entire fortune, some 17 billion dollars or something like that.
Our hero is Wade Watts, a kid from a poverty-stricken upbringing who spends nearly all his time in OASIS (people can go to school in OASIS, work, etc.). And the story opens as he stumbles across the first of three keys necessary to find the Easter Egg. This is a huge deal because years have past since the hunt for the Easter Egg was announced and nobody has been able to crack the first code Halliday left.
From there, Wade is launched into an all-out race for his life to find the Easter Egg with the help of a few other players, before the evil corporation IOI get their hands on the Easter Egg and Halliday’s company and fortune.
If this sounds geeky, it’s because it’s incredibly geeky. But it was a fun read. If you’ve got even the slightest knowledge of pop culture from the ’80s and ’90s, you will get 80% of the references in the book. Since the created of the Easter Egg hunt was a huge nerd/geek/social outcast, he found solace in pop culture, and so the whole Easter Egg hunt is based around references to pop culture and video games.
This was a fun read, but it almost backfired and made me wish I was playing the story instead, like Wade on the Easter Egg hunt. As cool as the story is, reading about it was almost a bummer, like it’d be so much more fun to strap in to a virtual reality kit like in First Kid* and play through the story. Or maybe that’s not a backfire, but the whole point of the book and a killer way to tell a story. If you’re looking for an easy read and you’re into nostalgic pop culture references, I’d give this one a go. It was a fun read. Props to my pal Kyle for the recommendation.
*one of the best (or worst, you decide) references I’ve ever made here.