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Monday, August 22, 2011

Beach Reading in Boston and Beyond--Part II--Ready Player One--Ernest Cline

Ready Player One is light science fiction romp through the pop culture--movies, games, and music of the 1980's.  It seems that in the post energy crisis world, the only way to get away from the poverty and nastiness that is living in the "stacks"  (think trailer park piled vertically) is to slip into the OASIS--an immersive virtual reality experience that is the place most kids get their education.  Our hero, 18 at the start of the story is about to graduate virutal high school and spends most of his life wrapped up in the realities created by the OASIS mastermind.

But the mastermind has died and he has left behind a fortune to go to the lucky gamer who can find the "easter egg" embedded in his most elaborate game.  The world is full of skilled gamers, all of whom work toward the prize.  And among these gamers are a group of corporate stooges who want to seize the OASIS and start charging a monthly fee for its use--a fee most present users can't afford to pay.  "It's never been properly monetized," is the explanation.

From there on it is a race through the games, music, and movies of the 1980s.  Filled with Geekdom's favorite pass-times from D and D and Zork! through to the Plimsouls and War Games.  Many reviews have claimed that the story doesn't really go anywhere and that the character arc is either not pronounced or non-existant.  But then, to those poor lost souls, I would politely suggest, read the cover copy--it's clear you're not entering the world of Dostoevsky with this novel.

For fun, fast, light, exciting, interesting reading this is your book.  For deep, thoughtful insights on the human condition, you might want to consider Henry James.

Highly recommended to Geeks and SF freaks.  *****

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