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  1. #1
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    October 2011 SF Book of the Month - Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

    This month's book is a recent release (August 2011), a celebration of all that is geek:





    From Ernest's website:

    At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

    It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

    Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

    And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

    For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

    And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

    Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

    A world at stake.

    A quest for the ultimate prize.

    Are you ready?
    There's even a soundtrack: http://www.readyplayerone.com/

    Discuss!

    Mark
    Last edited by Hobbit; September 30th, 2011 at 03:39 PM.
    Mark

  2. #2
    Member of the Month™ Ropie's Avatar
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    I could hardly contain my excitement when reading this earlier last month. I wouldn't really class myself as a 'geek' - although I certainly recognized many of the 80s music/gaming/film/general culture references (hey - I'm of that age!) - but I absolutely loved reading this book.

    Now, 3 or 4 weeks later the effect of it has dimmed somewhat and it hasn't quite grown within me in the way that a really good book does after you finish it. I can't deny that it was pure reading pleasure at the time though.

  3. #3
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    I wouldn't really class myself as a 'geek'
    Must admit I'm never keen on the word myself: I've seen it used too often as a negative term.

    But it is being used here to sell the book.

    And then there's this:

    http://www.ernestcline.com/spokenword/gwo.htm which makes it more obvious that it should be a thing of pride, not derision.

    Mark
    Mark

  4. #4
    I absolutely loved this book. Finished it in about a day and a half. Could hardly put it down. Loved the characters and the setting both. My only "problem" with the book is it felt like a book that needed an epilogue.

    Now I'm having problems getting into the new book I'm reading because I keep thinking of RP1 lol.

  5. #5
    Just finished this book, really enjoyed it. Hope there is a sequel.

  6. #6
    Member of the Month™ Ropie's Avatar
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    It's clear that this book has been a great success with a large swathe of people, including those who would not usually read SF. I wonder why this is. Is it simply because Kline is a top class story teller and able to engage across the usual boundaries in a way that other authors can't? Or is it that the story responds to some inner need a lot of people feel to escape from the world in such a profound way that they never go outside and live out crazy hedonistic years long computer game quests?

    For me, the 80s references were just window dressing and even in the context of the story they often seemed gratuitous. Still they were interesting in themselves and did mesh with the story at some points, even if it was only through the use of a film as a sort of grand computer game. They weren't intrusive enough to ever become annoying though so must have been well judged by Kline.

  7. #7
    Has anyone else written a VR world like this? Most of the vr stories I've seen have been more "Matrix" or "13th Floor" type of thing. I don't recall seeing a story where it's used to create the biggest MMO ever.

    I also liked some of the things that were introduced later on in the story like **Spoiler** using it to be in your favorite movie or video game.

    Overall it was just a really fun imaginative joy ride.

  8. #8
    P.s. is there anything similar to this out there?

  9. #9
    Intrigued diletante Nicolas's Avatar
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    80 pages in and I'm pleasantly hooked. So far I'm finding the early expository chapters quite compelling and introducing the characters and their world in a very engaging way.

    P.s. is there anything similar to this out there?
    Halting State by Charles Stross starts with the main characters investigating a bank robbery in a massively successful MMORPG. The book has a great sense of humour and does a very good job of capturing and evoking the mood and general "geeky" atmosphere of these kind of games.

  10. #10
    Just finished this and really enjoyed it. I thought he did a great job with it - I was concerned about where it would go, but was pleasantly surprised by how he pulled it all together. Looking forward to his next book.

  11. #11
    I absolutely loved the book when I read it, possibly one of my top three books this year. I've got a lot of driving ahead this weekend (around 10+ hours) so I'm going to try and get hold of the audio book before then. As it's read by Wil Wheaton it is going to be even more geeky than the book on its own!

  12. #12
    Really, really enjoyed this one. Has been a while since I devoured a book in this tempo - i kept on reading no matter where i was; sitting in the garden, during lunch, in the car. Like Rothfuss states on the cover: "I feel this book has been written especially for me".

    I'm from 1973, so I grew up in the eighties, watching Ferris Bueller, Wargames, Star Wars, Familiy Ties, A-team etc, etc, etc. I had one of the first Commodore 64's - you know, the one with the tapedeck - before the floppy disk arrived. Playing Defender, Way of the Exploding Fist, Frogger, Summergames and ofc text based adventure games. So RP1 was indeed a feast of recognition. But it's not only the unashamed nostalgia that kept me hooked. Cline conjures up a very believable future, including its parallel, virtual economy (which, to be fair, is already here: real dollars are being paid for World of Warcraft gold, or for property in Second Life for instance). I wonder btw which company Cline had in mind when he came up with IOI The story itself, Wade's quest for Hallidays egg, is also very engaging, fast-paced and a lot of fun to read; although it misses the depth Tad Williams for instance achieves in his Otherland series [@Shonsu: Otherland is an excellent example of a VR world used as the central setting for the story, highly recommended]. So here's me rooting for a sequel

    Cheers,

    Sfinx.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Shonsu View Post
    P.s. is there anything similar to this out there?
    I'll second Sfinx with the Otherland series. Very good series, and I get drawing parallels between it and RP1...even though they are not really the same. Same basic idea but Tad Williams does it with more epic a scope.

    I have to say I loved RP1. I also got a kick out of the fact that the "stack" where Wade lived in Oklahoma City is only about 3 miles from my house. Very fast paced book.

    I am kind of torn on the 80s references though. The author used a lot of 80s and 90s nerd references when describing things which I thought was a good way for a nerd of the 80s/90s to follow along. However, as was mentioned above they sometimes felt a bit too gratuitous.

  14. #14
    Lemurs!!! Moderator Erfael's Avatar
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    I'm also in the camp that found this to be both great fun and very readable. It felt like a big cross between Otherland and something like The Da Vinci Code in the whole solving of puzzles aspect of things. I was a little young for some of the pop culture references to click (that and I've never been much of a movie person), but the gaming ones worked well for me. Tomb of Horrors, Joust, Adventure, even Black Tiger are all things I remember well, so he was certainly able to save a lot of world building time with just mentions of these sorts of things.

    But what I particularly liked is that the nostalgia references weren't what made it for me. Under all that was a fun adventure (almost more quest fantasy than SF) that was really engaging from front to back. There were good villains and interesting betrayals. The world building wasn't the most original thing as far as VR taking over real life, but I think it is a bit more relevant now in the face of how often people are plugged into devices.

    A lot of folks upthread are talking about being interested in a sequel. I'm not sure I think it needs one. I think it's a concept that would get to be overwhelming if overdone. RP1 seemed to be a nice length, but I'm not sure I'd have wanted another 100 pages of it. That said, I think it hit the sweet spot for me. It stands right now as the most fun I've had reading a book in a long, long while. Maybe not the best book I've read in years, but definitely the most fun.

  15. #15
    Agreed. I'm not really sure how a sequel would play out. I think if Mr Cline was so inclined (I know...sorry) I could see this as a trilogy if it was written as one from the start. Three Gates, three books. With all the back story and "quest" leading up to the first gate I kind of though that might be the way he was going to go with it. At that point a good chunk of the book was gone. The rest would have to be really stretched out or the puzzles made more time consuming.

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