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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One (2011)

by Ernest Cline

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,5014941,080 (4.22)3 / 527
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    Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (2seven)
  2. 130
    Neuromancer by William Gibson (jbgryphon)
    jbgryphon: Gibson's Matrix and Stephenson's Metaverse are as much the basis for OASIS as any of the geek universes that are included in it.
  3. 120
    Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (jbgryphon)
    jbgryphon: RPO's OASIS owes it's existence as much to Neil Stephenson's Metaverse as to the miriad of geek universes that are included in it.
  4. 92
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  11. 10
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  12. 65
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    sturlington: Ready Player One reminded me of a grown-up version of this classic.
  13. 32
    The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks (GD2020)
  14. 21
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  15. 00
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  16. 00
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    erikrebooted: Another cyberpunk story set decades in the future, but one that revolves around Disney World rather than the 1980s.
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  19. 11
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(see all 26 recommendations)


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English (484)  Finnish (3)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (491)
Showing 1-5 of 484 (next | show all)
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: In 2044 teenager Wade Watts and his Gunter friends pursue virtual lives in the OASIS. Through the actions of their avatars in the OASIS, they struggle to achieve massive power and fortune by solving puzzles based on the OASIS creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past. However, in addition to Watts and his friends, ruthless corporate entities (the Sixers) are also determined to solve the puzzles to enhance their power and fortunes. They will stop at nothing to accomplish this goal. It’s an interesting premise, but for me the author failed to grab and maintain my interest in the story during the first three-quarters of the book. There is some action, but not enough to make up for the unending descriptions of Watts’ virtual gamesmanship, his massive knowledge of computer/video games, and his knowledge of popular culture. I found the more action-packed last quarter of the book to be more entertaining, although it was still predominately virtual actions with real consequences. This book just didn’t grab me, but I know it is widely popular. ( )
  clark.hallman | Jul 25, 2015 |
Most of this sci-fi novel takes place in a virtual reality space crafted by an obsessive programming genius in the near future. The author does a wonderful job of describing the action that takes place in the subjective experience of the protagonist. There is so much detail about the recreation of the 1980's movies, music, TV, comics, and video games that it is a nostalgic trip to read and experience along with the characters in the novel. ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
OK, first my disclaimers. I am not in the intended audience for this book. I'm the wrong age, for one. (Too old.) My values don't match (aesthetically and morally). Possibly as a consequence of the previous mismatches, but not completely because of them, I don't worship pop-culture icons or philosophies, works of "art", etc. And, worst of all, I'm not a gamer.

There! I got that out of the way. One more thing--I don't believe in books with intended audiences. I'm not a fanatic on this point, but I like to think it's better to be writing for an audience of all humans, rather than, say, humans who agree with me. I understand that this is nearly an impossible standard and that culture exists and divides us despite our best intentions, but I would hope we wouldn't surrender to this limitation so quickly.

Now my confessions. I understand competition. I've played some games. Enough to not have to have PVP explained to me, or NPCs, or artifacts, even. I've played text adventure games, including Zork. I got the Cap'n Crunch clue the first time I heard the quatrain (I'd explored phreakery for a short time) I even appreciated the double initial conventions of comic book superheros, with W.W. and H.H. echoing Lois Lane, Peter Parker, etc. I've seen (and liked) Blade Runner, War Games, Monty Python, Brazil (I got the Harry Tuttle reference), Firefly. I do hate large corporations, appreciate the difficult social life of the geek, like solving puzzles and appreciate the steps and missteps involved, resent cheaters in on-line games.

Last night, I watched the movie Not Fade Away which was in large part and infodump of my generation's touch points--Jagger meets Richards, The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, JFK and Martin Luther King, etc. It reminded me how miserable I was as a kid. The nostalgia didn't help. I wasn't prompted to remember the good parts and minimize the bad--almost enjoy the bad because we suffered through them together and watched our values prevail. The idea that one would look back to the 80s as the good old days is insane to me. There never were any good old days. The riches won as the prize would do precious little to fix the ills of 2044 and might inadvertently make it worse. Halliday asks Parzival to use his powers for good (as if the IOI villains experienced themselves as using their powers for bad) but "good" is a naive value. For me, it would not include making money by using your fame to endorse a product, for example. Remember Google's "Don't be evil?" How are they doing?

OK, so forget the realism arguments. This book adheres more to the conventions of comics or video games where the good are all good, the bad are all bad. Love can conquer all. Winners can fix what needs to be fixed. If we can accept this in some media, why reject it in others?

Well, there are some reasons. Novels are long. We expect this length to be matched by character depth. Nolan Sorento coded some good games, Wade admits, but, what happened to him? Where's his character depth? We know (if we are into comic book trivia) why Lex Luthor turned evil. Did Nolan just sell out for the power and money? I didn't find it convincing. A detail I especially liked is that the evil corporation had to hire programmers (because money lacks skills and must purchase them) and these coders then inserted their own trap doors in the code. However, this doesn't happen much in practice because IRL, non-trivial commercial code is reviewed by several others who can't all be in on the conspiracy. This is especially true in a corporate environment--and doubly so in an evil paranoid one. Yet I still enjoyed the concept of the contemptuous misused employees striking a blow against their employers.

That Wade could pull off a perfect game of Pacman is easier to accept than that he can hack a corporate network and write bug-free code in a matter of a few days with no opportunity to test anything. That a few geniuses can outwit a megacorporation so easily (and that their only skill is cheating, threatening, bribing and enslaving) doesn't work as well in a novel than in a comic book. That kids with little real relationship experience, who hated their physical selves until the end can succeed in a relationship, is OK with me. I'll suspend my disbelief because it feels good.

The foreshadowing was mostly transparent. Wade had to used the beta capsule and the magic quarter and I waited for it. Similarly, IOI would have to use the artifacts it was known to have. And Shoto goes for revenge. Still, the extra life trick was a good one.

A port wine birthmark is a pro-forma disfigurement. We can feel good about this triumph against looksism without there having been a serious challenge.

For all that others complained about the writing, I found it a better read than Corey Doctorow (now on the OASIS board), much of Douglass Adams, and other canonically admired writers. (Vonnegut is in a whole 'nother class, though.) That reality is better than the OASIS (if that's the moral of the story) is questionable. Groucho to the contrary, you can get a lot of bad meals in the real world too, and often in 2044, no meals at all. Reality is something we face, because we have to. Not something we learn is better aesthetically. Hey--we're readers here. We prefer a book, even (or especially) one that's unrealistic, to boring, annoying, terrifying reality. What's more it's not all that real either. Yeah, realer than facebook, but the impulse behind facebook strongly infects the real world wherever you turn in how we present ourselves (even to ourselves) and converse and think about things and everything else. If you don't believe me, drop some acid some time and look around you. Or just read R. D. Laing. Or Erving Goffman, Ernest Becker. (Even Ernest Cline has W.W. say that meeting someone mind to mind on line is more intimate than vaunted real life.

Should we really value genius and hard work the way we do in this book? We have to value something. We question the values of society that rewards rapaciousness, manipulation of others, and deceit. We reject the values of religion, but the most unambiguous good person in the book is the innocent, murdered, Mrs. Gilmore. I'm just going to ask how we who claim to be realists choose our values.

Personally, if I were going to hack the IOI database, while I was in there, I'd free all the indents--maybe with a timer-executed program. What chaos that could cause!

SNL is still on the air in 2044? I hope it got good again at some point. No, really, that it was all these years in the future and (outside the important theme elements of the book) society has changed so little was too unbelievable to overlook. Wade jokes about Art3mis being a 40-ish balding guy named Chuck, but what's wrong with that? It's an age-ist and sexist and looksist kind of a joke underneath it all, which we then overcompensate for in the person of Aech (who gets to be the only Black person in the book.) If we, the reader, were sure that Aech was white and male, it is our assumptions, not Wades, that get subverted. And speaking of racism, the Japanese "brothers" are given a cliche stereotype character that is already pretty outdated in 2013. By 2044, it can't have reverted that much. We still have countries in 2044, but they all suck so much that we don't care about world politics at this point? (Wade doesn't bother to vote, except for OASIS council--it was fun to hear Wil Wheaton read his own name in the audiobook as if it was just another line of text.)

Which leads one to ask, why 2044? 2022 would have been more convincing, considering how little has changed but at only 9 years into the future, I can see why one might want to hold off on our destruction.

I complained a lot up there, and yes, I wish it had been better at many points, but in the end, I enjoyed it, the way one enjoys a piece of pop-culture, perhaps, without over-analyzing or insisting it meet the standards of the stuff we were told in school is real art. I teared up at the sentimental parts as I was supposed to, even though the happy-ish ending was never really in doubt.
( )
  Gimley_Farb | Jul 6, 2015 |
This book gets 1 star, and that only because GoodReads does not allow fractional rating scores.

I am actually just the right age and background to feel at home with all the cultural references (I played adventure on the 2600, k?) - but the book is so godawful that the constant and methodical term-dropping only made me like it less.

If it were a pre-teen book, then sure, maybe. But it is published as an adult book, and as such, no mercy.


What a stunted, shallow, condescending, and sexist (yes, that too) piece of work!

Never mind that the bad guy has no redeeming qualities and is flatter than, oh, the Power Rangers witch (just to conjure (!) an image)

Never mind that the good guys are a bunch of whiny goody-two-shoes that constantly feel under-appreciated and think the world's coming to them.

Never mind that the plot is inconsistent and has to invent new devices at a record pace just to keep itself afloat, said devices often literally being actual devices... new types of bombs or new types of shields in the virtual reality universe...

Never mind that there's actually a token black guy (well, gal, and the only person described in racial terms,) and being chubby AND lesbian, is clearly out of play for our lady killer protagonist, who discovers that his virtual love is in fact a straight pretty girl with a birthmark, basically a version of himself but with boobs, waiting for him to rescue her from her self-imposed social exile because he can see right through the birthmark and everyone else can't. (The world ain't waiting for you, chum).

And what's with the sex doll ?! Seriously? Is the take-away lesson here that a doll can't replace a person? That's deep. If he wasn't so serious about it, it'd be funny.

Never mind that the basic premise has the intelligence level of the Dukes of Hazzard, except that it is not self-deprecating and there's no Daisy.

Never mind that the ending is so grotesquely obvious that the only reason you don't fully guess it is that you can't believe a grown author would be so banal.

Never mind all that.

The worst offense, in the literary sense, it the basic Potteresque cockamamie plot, in which a wizard will give a medal, or a million dollars, or the equivalent in geek terms, to the winner of an abstract competition he's set up, where clearly the wizard is rooting for the good guy, but has to pretend he's impartial... The protagonist is clearly more qualified, but the bad guy can win by cheating because he has more money so it's a close race... The fate of everything the Wizard has built hangs on the result of this race, and he's going to give it away to whoever is best at Pacman? I mean, seriously?


It's as shallow a fantasy as I've ever seen. Simply stunted writing, with not a glimmer of originality or character depth.

I can see exactly why it's having such great success. ( )
  meekGee | Jul 6, 2015 |
Definitely a fun read, although descriptive vocabulary left something to be desired. ( )
  technotheist | Jul 3, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 484 (next | show all)
Ready Player One borrows liberally from the same Joseph Campbell plot requirements as all the beloved franchises it references, but in such a loving, deferential way that it becomes endearing. There’s a high learning curve to all of the little details Wade throws out about the world, and for anyone who doesn’t understand or love the same sect of pop culture Halliday enjoyed, Ready Player One is a tough read. But for readers in line with Cline’s obsessions, this is a guaranteed pleasure.
The breadth and cleverness of Mr. Cline’s imagination gets this daydream pretty far. But there comes a point when it’s clear that Wade lacks at least one dimension, and that gaming has overwhelmed everything else about this book.
added by zhejw | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (Aug 14, 2011)

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cline, Ernestprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brand, ChristopherCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fowler, RalphDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Massey, JimCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wheaton, WilNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wheaton, WilNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Susan and Libby
Because there is no map for where we are going
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Everyone my age remembers where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the contest.
Like most gunters, I voted to reelect Cory Doctorow and Wil Wheaton (again). There were no term limits, and those two geezers had been doing a kick-ass job of protecting user rights for over a decade.
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Book description
A world at stake. A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

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.

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.

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"An exuberantly realized, exciting, and sweet-natured cyber-quest. Cline's imaginative and rollicking coming-of-age geek saga has a smash-hit vibe."--Booklist, starred review "Ready Player One takes place in the not-so-distant future--the world has turned into a very bleak place, but luckily there is OASIS, a virtual reality world that is a vast online utopia. People can plug into OASIS to play, go to school, earn money, and even meet other people (or at least they can meet their avatars), and for protagonist Wade Watts it certainly beats passing the time in his grim, poverty-stricken real life. Along with millions of other world-wide citizens, Wade dreams of finding three keys left behind by James Halliday, the now-deceased creator of OASIS and the richest man to have ever lived. The keys are rumored to be hidden inside OASIS, and whoever finds them will inherit Halliday's fortune. But Halliday has not made it easy. And there are real dangers in this virtual world. Stuffed to the gills with action, puzzles, nerdy romance, and 80s nostalgia, this high energy cyber-quest will make geeks everywhere feel like they were separated at birth from author Ernest Cline."--Chris Schluep, Amazon Best Book of the Month… (more)

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