Ready Player One
Cover to the first printing
|Genre||Science fiction and dystopian|
|August 16, 2011|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
Ready Player One is a 2011 science fiction and dystopian novel by Ernest Cline. 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.
A film adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg is slated to begin production in spring 2016.
From the back cover:
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
The OASIS is a virtual universe, containing thousands of worlds. It functions both as an MMORPG and as a virtual society, with OASIS currency being the most stable currency in the world. Upon his death, the creator of the OASIS launched a contest to look for a hidden Easter Egg within the OASIS. This was his legacy, and per his will the winner would receive his vast, real-life fortune and control over the OASIS. In essence, this would make the winner into one of the most powerful people in the world.
Those who are "egg hunters" begin to be called "gunters". The contest goes for many years with no one having any success at even completing the first stage in the contest. Public interest wanes and all but the most dedicated abandon the hunt until Wade Watts (who seems the least likely of candidates) completes the first step. Shortly thereafter, he is soon followed in his success by fellow gunter, Art3mis. This brings the Egg Hunt back into the spotlight and kicks the competition into high gear again. Wade competes both against his peers, friends, and the evil Innovative Online Industries (IOI).
- Wade Owen Watts/Wade3/Parzival: the protagonist, a poor orphan from the "stacks" surrounding metropolitan Oklahoma City. 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.
- Helen Harris/Aech: Wade's best friend, fellow gunter, and rival in the quest to find the egg. Though her OASIS avatar, Aech, is depicted as a white heterosexual high-school-aged male, Harris is in fact an African-American lesbian. Harris grew up in Atlanta, Georgia.
- Samantha Evelyn Cook/Art3mis: a famous gunter and blogger from Vancouver, Canada. Wade has a huge cyber-crush on her, which is complicated by their competition in search of the egg.
- Nolan Sorrento: 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.
- James Donovan Halliday: creator of OASIS. He is based on the personalities of Howard Hughes and Richard Garriott.
- Ogden "Og" Morrow: 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. His appearance and personality are described as being "a cross between Albert Einstein and Santa Claus." Despite being rich, he is humble and respects his deceased friend's game and the hunt for the egg. His backstory somewhat parallels that of Steve Wozniak and his eventual relationship with Steve Jobs. Og lives in Oregon and owns a set of very advanced OASIS consoles and immersion rigs.
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, 2012, and was to set a world record on one of several classic arcade or Atari 2600 games. This was completed on August 9, 2012 by Craig Queen, who set a new world record in Joust. He was awarded the DeLorean on the TV show X-Play.
The film rights were purchased by Warner Bros. the same day Cline finalized his publishing deal with Random House, one year prior to the novel's publication. Dan Farah brought the project into the studio and is producing with Donald De Line. Cline adapted his own novel into a screenplay. Over the years, Eric Eason and Zak Penn assisted Cline with rewrites. Steven Spielberg signed on to direct in March 2015. Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger of Amblin Partners also joined Deline and Farah as producers. Warner Bros. has since announced a release date of December 15, 2017. On September 1, 2015, The Wrap reports that Olivia Cooke, Elle Fanning and Lola Kirke are on the shortlist for the role of Art3mis along with two unnamed actresses and Justin Kroll tweeted that Nick Robinson is being an early favorite of Spielberg for Parzival. On September 11, 2015, it was reported that Cooke was cast as the film's female lead. On January 6, 2016, The Hollwood Reporter has reported that Ben Mendelsohn is in talks for the lead villain. In early 2016 the movie launched a worldwide casting call for 3 character roles in the project. The movie will begin production in the spring of 2016 and will film in both the US and the UK.
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