Ready Player One
|Ready Player One|
Cover to the first printing
|August 16, 2011|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
Ready Player One is a science fiction novel by Ernest Cline. The book was published by Random House on August 16, 2011. The audiobook is narrated by Wil Wheaton. In 2012, the book received an Alex Award from the Young Adult Library Services Association division of the American Library Association and won the 2012 Prometheus Award.
The year is 2044 and the world is in near-ruins. The Great Recession has taken its toll on the world's economy, and resources are scarce, leading to poverty, war, and famine. People take refuge in OASIS, a massively multiplayer online simulation game fusing the cultures of the Internet and video gaming. Its creator James Halliday suddenly dies, leaving a will that states that whoever can collect three keys hidden in OASIS and pass through the matching gates will receive Halliday's fortune and a controlling stake in his company. This contest becomes known as "the Hunt" and people immediately begin the search for Halliday's Easter Egg, with the only clues being Halliday's will and his journal, the Anorak's Almanac. Those searching for the Egg are referred to as "gunters," a portmanteau of "egg hunters." Gunters devote an enormous amount of time to studying pop culture of the 1980s, the decade that Halliday grew up in and was perpetually obsessed with, in the hope it will assist them with locating and solving the puzzles involved with the egg.
As the book opens, many years have passed since Halliday's death, but none of the keys have been found. The public frenzy about the hunt has receded into a gunter subculture. The enormous Innovative Online Industries corporation quietly operates a task force dedicated to solving the puzzles and seizing control of OASIS, in the hope of turning the virtual paradise into a corporate profit machine. When a young gunter named Wade Watts going by the handle "Parzival" discovers the first key, the hunt begins again in earnest. Parzival finds himself on the run from Innovative Online Industries (IOI) in both the real world and OASIS, hoping to beat them to the prize and protect OASIS's freedoms. With the help of a small cadre of gunters and OASIS' reclusive co-creator, he solves the puzzles, overcomes the challenges, defeats IOI's best egg hunter, and becomes the benevolent protector of OASIS.
- Wade Owen Watts/Parzival – the protagonist, a poor orphan from the "stacks" surrounding metropolitan Oklahoma. Wade names his OASIS character Parzival after Percival, the Arthurian knight famous for his quest for the grail, and dedicates his life to finding James Halliday's Easter egg.
- Aech/Helen Harris – Wade's best friend, fellow gunter, and rival in the quest to find the egg.
- Art3mis/Samantha Evelyn Cook – a famous gunter and blogger from Canada. Wade has a huge cyber-crush on her, which is complicated by their competition in search of the egg.
- Nolan Sorrento/IOI-#655321 – a high-ranking official of Innovative Online Industries, the multinational corporation that serves as an Internet service provider for most of the world and hopes to take over and monetize the OASIS. Sorrento is head of IOI's Oology (the science of searching for Halliday's Easter egg) Division, and serves as the primary antagonist of the novel.
- Daito and Shoto – Japanese gunters who work as a team in their quest for the egg. They have a generally tense, but sometimes-friendly relationship with Wade, Aech, and Art3mis. At one point in the story, Daito is murdered by IOI agents, forcing Shoto to join Wade and his friends.
- James Donovan Halliday/Anorak – creator of OASIS. He is based on the personalities of Howard Hughes and Richard Garriott.
- Ogden Morrow/Og – Co-creator of the OASIS and best friend of James Halliday. He is among the few in the world who is rich and can afford luxuries that most people cannot. Despite this, he is humble and respects his deceased friend's game and the hunt for the egg.
The New York Times said "The book gets off to a witty start" but noted that it lacks at least one dimension, stating that gaming had overwhelmed everything else about this book. USA Today wrote that the novel "undoubtedly qualifies Cline as the hottest geek on the planet right now." NPR said that the book was "ridiculously fun and large-hearted". Cline "takes a far-out premise and engages the reader instantly" with a "deeply felt narrative [that] makes it almost impossible to stop turning the pages".
Easter Egg hunt
Ten months after the first edition release, Cline revealed on his blog that Ready Player One itself contained an elaborately hidden easter egg. This clue would form the first part of a series of staged video gaming tests, similar to the plot of the novel. Cline also revealed that the competition's grand prize would be a DeLorean. The game Ultimate Collector: Garage Sale by Austin based developer Portalarium was featured in one part of the contest. The final stage of the contest was announced on August 1, and was to set a world record on one of several classic arcade or Atari 2600 games. This was completed on August 9 by Craig Queen, who set a new world record in Joust. He was awarded the DeLorean on the TV show X-Play.
- "Ready Player One by Ernest Cline". Random House Publishers. 2011. Retrieved September 12, 2011.
- "YALSA's Alex Awards". American Library Association. 2012. Retrieved February 24, 2012.
- Libertarian Futurist Society. "PROMETHEUS AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED". Retrieved 13 July 2012.
- "How Lord British Inspired Anorak | Ernie's Blog". Ernestcline.com. 2011-10-19. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
- Sims, Tony (June 22, 2011). "A Few Minutes With Fanboys Writer Ernest Cline on Ready Player One". Wired.
- Maslin, Janet (August 14, 2011). "‘Ready Player One' by Ernest Cline - Review". The New York Times.
- "Most Popular E-mail Newsletter". USA Today. August 19, 2011.
- Schaub, Michael (2011-08-22). "'Player One': A Winning, Geeked-Out Page-Turner". NPR. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
- "Three Hidden Keys Open Three Secret Gates | Ernie's Blog". Ernestcline.com. 2012-06-05. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
- "Ready Player One Author Ernest Cline Gives Away a DeLorean on X-Play". g4tv.com. 2012-08-30. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
- Billington, Alex (June 18, 2010). "WB Picks Up Ernie Cline's New Geek Novel 'Ready Player One'". . Retrieved September 12, 2011.