Throwback Thursday: Ready for Ready Player One

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Eleventh Stack began publishing content in 2008. That’s nine years of awesome content! We’re highlighting some of our old favorites for Throwback Thursday. Portions of the post “Ready for Ready Player One” originally appeared on October 12, 2015.

Steven Spielberg is adapting Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One into a feature film.

If you haven’t read Cline’s best-selling novel, it takes place in the year 2044 when most of the world is in pretty bad shape (except for Columbus, Ohio—one of the signs that this is a fictional story). Literally everyone is plugged into a virtual reality utopia known as the OASIS. When OASIS creator James Donovan Halliday dies, it’s revealed that he left behind a series of puzzles leading to a hidden Easter Egg. Whoever finds the Egg will win Halliday’s real-life fortune and control of the OASIS, like if Charlie and the Chocolate Factory took place inside The Matrix. Naturally, everyone wants to find the Egg, including an evil corporation (is there really any other kind in dystopias?). Our protagonist, Wade Watts, has made it his life’s goal to find the Egg and when he happens upon the first clue, everything changes—both in the real world and in the OASIS.

I’d heard of the book way before I learned about the adaptation, but I was turned off by the novel’s fantasy and gaming aspects. I can say with conviction that I’m not a fantasy nerd. In high school, I read a few Terry Brooks and R.A. Salvatore books and got about three-fourths through The Hobbit, but they weren’t for me. I missed out on the early days of gaming too, but when I got older I enjoyed the Nintendo 64 and GameCube and, like everyone in the ’90s, I got swept up in Pokémania. I loved Guitar Hero and Rock Band and still find the LEGO video games immensely entertaining (probably because you get to destroy everything on screen), but I wouldn’t call myself a gamer.

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Despite these facts, Cline has crafted a great book that became one of my favorites of 2015. At the most basic level, Ready Player One is a love letter to all things ’80s (there’s Ghostbusters and Oingo Boingo references within the first two pages). Halliday’s quest is filled with references to the ’80s because he grew up in the ’80s. As a result, everything that was popular during that decade experiences a resurgence in the real world because everyone is searching for the Egg. Here’s a handy list of all the references made in the book.

Some readers may find the characters a bit one-dimensional (bad guys and good guys are very clearly black and white) and be puzzled about just how the real world declined so quickly (we’re living in a time that’s only thirty years away from the events of the novel). While things with the evil corporation get wrapped up a little too neatly for my liking, it in no way lessened my enjoyment of the book. Plus, there are plans for a sequel so maybe some lingering questions will be answered there.

As for the adaptation, I have faith in this project with Spielberg at the helm. He had a part in practically every great movie from the ’80s—director of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and the Indiana Jones trilogy; producer of, among others, Back to the Future, Gremlins, An American Tail, *batteries not included, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Land Before Time; and writer of The Goonies and Poltergeist. If you don’t unabashedly love at least one of those films, I don’t think we can be friends anymore.

Ready Player One was originally slated to open on December 15, 2017, but it was moved to March 30, 2018 to make room for  Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi. 

Ross used to work as a Clerk at the Mt. Washington branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. He still loves reading books and watching movies, but won’t be rambling about the two as often here anymore.