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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I read this book because it is assigned to one of my kids for a college class on the art of storytelling.  The class is using video games as the medium for the story, and the book is centered on a gigantic video world.

The year is 2044 and things have gone about how you would expect them to.  No one paid attention to climate change until it was far too late, there is little food and water throughout the world, and the have nots far outnumber the haves.  Wade is living in a trailer park high rise, an orphan who has been nominally cared for by his meth addicted aunt.  He spends most of his days in the virtual world of OASIS--where he not only games but also goes to school.

OASIS was the brainchild of James Halliday who grew up in the eighties.  After he died, his lawyers issued a public last will and testament to all OASIS users.  Somewhere within the game, Halliday had hidden three keys.  Solving the first riddle would lead to a puzzle and successful completion would lead to the first key and the next riddle.  The first person to receive all three keys and find the 'Easter egg' would win his legacy and billions of dollars.   Which is what Wade spends all his spare time doing.  He has some advantages, including a life long obsession with Halliday and his loves.  This gets him the first key, which then makes him a target for just about everyone, including a corporation that is willing to kill to get Halliday's fortune.

The reader knows the outcome of the game from the outset, so the story is really about how that happened, and it is remarkably enjoyable, even for a video game Luddite such as myself.

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