Ready Player One
Cover to the first printing
|Genre||Hard 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.
Cline sold the novel in June 2010, in a bidding war to the Crown Publishing Group (a division of Random House). The book was published on August 16, 2011. The audiobook is narrated by Wil Wheaton, who also happens to cameo in the story as the Vice-President of the OASIS Player's Council.
In the year 2044, the world is gripped by an energy crisis and global warming, causing widespread social problems and economic stagnation. The primary escape for most people is the OASIS, a virtual universe, accessed with a visor and haptic gloves. It functions both as an MMORPG and as a virtual society, with its currency being the most stable currency in the world. It was created by James Halliday, who has recently died. His will left a series of clues towards an Easter Egg within the OASIS that would grant whoever found it both his fortune and control of the OASIS itself. This has led to an intense interest in all aspects of 80s pop culture, which Halliday made clear would be essential to finding his egg.
Wade Watts is a teenager living in poverty in a slum with his aunt. He attends school within the OASIS but lacks the virtual currency or XP levels to travel to other locations. He is a 'gunter' (an egg hunter) who spends all of his spare time researching films, songs, TV series and videogames from the 80s and 90s to aid his hunt. The hunt has been going on for five years, yet no one has been able to find the first key. Then, Wade, who goes by the avatar name Parzival, stumbles upon a Dungeons and Dragons reference in the first clue and after defeating an NPC character at Joust, is given a key which unlocks a gate. This gate places him in a simulation of the film WarGames in which he has to recreate the lines of the lead character. After clearing the gate, he is awarded points and his avatar's name appears on the previously empty leaderboard.
His avatar becomes famous within the OASIS, as does his friend Aech and another gunter named Art3mis who clear the gate shortly after him. He takes advantage of his fame, endorsing virtual products for credits, and develops a tentative relationship with Art3mis. He is approached by a corporation (IOI) who want to control the OASIS and after he refuses, they unsuccessfully attempt to assassinate him.
The hunt for the egg continues and more keys are discovered and gates are cleared. Wade loses both his place at the top of the leaderboard and his friendship with Aech and Art3mis, becoming increasingly isolated. Art3mis opens the second gate, followed by Aech who also gives Parzival a hint about its location. IOI who had been monitoring the locations of Art3mis and Aech using purchased items on the OASIS also discover its location. Shortly after, Parzival, Daito and Shoto also reach the gate's location. Daito is killed by the IOI in real life as he is helping Shoto open the second gate.
Eventually the final gate is discovered by IOI who are unable to open it. They barricade the location, so Wade infiltrates the real world headquarters of IOI and hacks their databases. He enlists the help of all the gunters in the OASIS to launch a coordinated assault on the corporate forces, during which all the avatars are killed before Parzival solves the final puzzle with the help of Aech and Art3mis. He clears the gate and claims the egg, awarding him control of the OASIS, including the ability to switch it off. In real life, he and Art3mis finally meet in person and kiss.
- Wade Owen Watts/Wade3/Parzival/Bryce Lynch: 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 male, Harris is in fact an African-American lesbian. Harris grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and both she and her avatar are about the same age as Wade.
- Samantha Evelyn Cook/Art3mis: a famous gunter and blogger from Vancouver, British Columbia. Wade has a huge cyber-crush on her, which is complicated by their competition in search of the egg. She chose her avatar's name from the Greek goddess of the hunt.
- 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.
- Toshiro Yoshiaki/Daito and Akihide Karatsu/Shoto: Japanese gunters who work as a team in their quest for the egg. They have a generally tense, but sometimes-friendly relationship with Parzival, Aech, and Art3mis. These five are referred to as The High Five, since they were the first five to obtain the first key.
- 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. He ultimately quit his job at Gregarious Simulation Systems, concerned that people were using it to escape reality. Instead, he and his wife Kira created free educational games. He had a falling-out with Halliday and the two men remained estranged until shortly before Halliday's death. 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.
Ready Player One was a New York Times bestseller and the paperback is in its 17th printing. It was praised by such publications as Entertainment Weekly, The Boston Globe, The A.V. Club, CNN.com, io9, and Boing Boing, to name a few. 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." On the other hand, 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.
The book has been translated into at least 21 languages, including Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Georgian, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Latvian, Mandarin, Norwegian, Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, and Turkish.
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. on 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 it with Donald De Line. Cline adapted his 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. initially announced a release date of December 15, 2017. On February 9, 2016, the release date was pushed back to March 30, 2018, to avoid competition with Star Wars: Episode VIII. The movie began production in the spring of 2016 and is being filmed in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
On September 1, 2015, TheWrap reported that Olivia Cooke, Elle Fanning and Lola Kirke were on the shortlist for the role of Art3mis, along with two unnamed actresses, and Justin Kroll tweeted that Nick Robinson was an early favorite of Spielberg for Parzival. On September 11, 2015, it was reported that Cooke was cast as Samantha. On January 6, 2016, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Ben Mendelsohn was in talks to play Nolan Sorrento. In early 2016, the movie launched a worldwide casting call for the roles of Wade Watts, Daito, and Shoto in the project. On February 24, 2016, Deadline reported that Tye Sheridan was cast as Wade in the film. On March 17, 2016, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Simon Pegg was in negotiations for the role of OASIS co-creator Ogden Morrow, better known by his OASIS avatar: the Great and Powerful Og. April 13, 2016, Variety reported that Mark Rylance has joined the cast as OASIS creator James Donovan Halliday. On June 1, 2016, The Hollywood Reporter reported that T.J. Miller has joined the cast to play an unnamed role. Originally, rumors had started to spread that he would be taking on the role of an annoying online Internet troll named i-R0k, but he will instead be taking on an unnamed role. A description of the character has been revealed as "a bounty hunter with an amusing personality." On June 5, 2016, Variety reported that Japanese singer-actor Win Morisaki is cast as Toshiro Yoshiaki, also known as Daito.
Screenwriter Zak Penn tweeted on July 1, 2016 that the first week of filming was completed.
A fan-fiction story written by Andy Weir, "Lacero", was published in the 2016 edition of Ready Player One, making it canonical to the book's fictional universe. Dealing with the back story of Nolan Sorrento, "Lacero" functions as a prequel to the main novel.[NB 1]
- Galactanet - The Creative Writings of Andy Weir, "Lacero" (short story fanfic)
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