I may not have read a lot of books this year (well, not yet, anyways) but I think I’ve already found my favorite in Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. As a geek, it’s really easy to fall in love with this book because it’s oozing with video game, 80’s music and movie, and other geek references.
Set in 2044, the world is left crippled by wars and an energy crisis, most of the humanity have already fled the grim reality and escaped into the OASIS –a massive online multi-player game (like Second Life or World of Warcraft) that has evolved into a virtual-reality universe. Inside this virtual-reality is where people go to learn, do business, or work. Whatever you earn in the OASIS, credits or a college degree, can also be used in real life. In short, OASIS is a big deal.
So, when its recently deceased inventor, James Halliday, released a recorded announcement, which states that whoever finds the easter egg he had hidden within the OASIS will inherit his entire fortune (including control of the OASIS), everyone goes on a hunt. But the egg is well-hidden. Its location can only be found by solving 80’s related riddles, Halliday’s ploy to share his obsession with the 80’s era with the world. All of a sudden, every person in 2044 is playing Pac-Man and listening to bands like Rush.
While Ready Player One is the best book I’ve read in recent years, because it ingeniously infused all things geek into its plot, it’s clearly not for everyone. Like I said, this book exudes a lot of geek and 80’s pop culture references. The characters here will often spout out obscure factoids and trivia about Star Wars or an Atari game. So, it can be overwhelming if you aren’t into this kind of stuff.
However, if you’re like me, whose childhood was spent in the 80’s and enjoyed films like Blade Runner or Tron, listened to Rush, owned an Atari 2600, and played Dungeons & Dragons, then you’ll definitely experience the best nerdgasm by reading this book. I highly recommend it to all geeks.