When the book Ready Player One first came out in 2011, I remember reading lots of favorable reviews for the book. Much was made about how the book seemed to reference every bit of 1980s pop culture and how they were cleverly added into the story. I skipped the book because my to-be-read pile was already too big, but I kept it in the pack of my mind to take a look at in the future.
Skip forward a few years and it’s a MAJOR MOTION PICTURE™ directed Steven Spielberg; himself an icon of 80s pop culture. If the book was filled with references to vintage pop culture, presumably the movie would be as well, and very few people have as much clout to use those references in a film as Spielberg. That said the film got middling reviews, so I didn’t go out of my way to see it. When I eventually did see it on a streaming service, I didn’t think it was that bad. I recognized a lot of the cultural references and enjoyed a strange trip down memory lane, and put it back in my head that I should get a copy to read at some point.
Searching for things to listen to in Audible sometimes seems terrible. The algorithm concentrates on what’s new and/or popular, and it seems like it rarely recommends things that interest me. That said, sometimes it does the job correctly and in this case it recommended Ready Player One. Since I had a spare Audible credit, I went ahead and got the audiobook and gave it a listen.
Though Ready Player One was written by Ernest Cline, it was narrated by actor and author Wil Wheaton. In the story, Wheaton gets a shout out as an unofficial leader of the Internet, alongside fellow author Cory Doctorow. The story itself takes place in a dystopian future version of the world, though it mainly takes place in the United States. It’s a surveillance state where it’s nearly impossible to do anything in private, but most people are kept docile by logging into the OASIS, a 3D online world that’s like a more advanced version of Second Life. Nearly everything to do with real life is done in the OASIS: education, dating, business transactions, etc.
The main plot that moves the story along is that one of the founders of the OASIS died and in his will he created a challenge where anyone who finds three keys will win his fortune ans well as control of the OASIS. The story follows a group of plucky individuals who are working on the challenge and their collective nemesis, the evil corporation IOI.
The story is pretty good and I really enjoyed it. Needless to say, there is a lot more in the book that didn’t make it on the big screen, but that doesn’t necessarily diminish either work. They’re more like two different perspectives on the same story.
Overall, I enjoyed the book quite a bit. There is so much historic pop culture, it was very gratifying to get the different references, whether they were overt or more nuanced. There is a sequel titled Ready Player Two, that I haven’t read or listened to yet, but I think I’ll hold off on that for now.