Ready Player One – Bookcast #13

Ready Player One (2011) by Ernest Cline

In the year 2045, 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 – the new internet. Wade spends every day searching the OASIS for James Halliday’s Easter Egg and the promise of billions of dollars in riches that could come with it. But he’s not the only one searching. Soon it will be a life-or-death race to solve the puzzles and find the Egg before the OASIS – and the minds of billions of people – ends up under the control of an evil corporation.

Filled to the brim with nerd nostalgia and thrilling from start to finish, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One is THE cult classic video-game novel and one of the best love letters ever written to the 1980s.

Read and listen to “Ready Player One” on Amazon!

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“Ready Player One” Show Notes

0:00 – Intro to “Ready Player One”

  • On the surface this book is a pure sci-fi adventure story and it totally works at that level. However, like all great books, if you dig deeper there are many deeper themes. Cline deals with obsession, isolation, existential horror, depression and self-loathing in a surprisingly direct way.
  • Intended audience: Anyone who is addicted to video games, sci-fi or nerdy things, 80s nostalgia. Also people who love futuristic stories.
  • People who won’t like it: Video game haters, luddites and anyone scared of technology (looking at you, 5G/Coronavirus conspiracy theorists…)

5:30 – How easy is the book to read?

  • Easy, fun reading. It could take you a lot longer if you want to look up all the hundreds of deliciously obscure pop-culture references Cline has included throughout the book.
  • Print: 386 pages (10-12 hours)
  • Audio: 15 hours

6:00 – Reviews and Significance of Ready Player One

  • 23,741 views, 4.6/5 stars
  • THE Classic video game novel
  • Currently: 
    • #15 Amazon – Computers and Internet Humor
    • #11 Amazon – Humorous Science Fiction
    • #15 Amazon – Time Travel Science Fiction (???)
    • #1 Audible – Hard Science Fiction
    • #2 Audible – Adventure Science Fiction
    • #222 Audible – Overall out of all Audible books

10:15 – Bio of Ernest Cline

  • Born in 1972 – 48 years old 
  • Grew up in Ashland, Ohio (Columbus Ohio is where Ready Player One is set)
  • Was a huge nerd from childhood; in love with Star Wars, John Hughes movies and D&D
  • Had a wide array of jobs, including: restaurant cook, web designer, radio personality and computer tech support
  • 1997-2001 – Live poetry performer, winning Austin Poetry Slam contests in 1998 and 2001; He has published several books of his poetry
  • The book “Ready Player One” sold in a bidding war. Random House won. Warner Bros. bought the rights to the screenplay the next day with Cline as script co-writer.
  • Cline set up an elaborate real-world Easter Egg hunt within his own book. Three puzzles (keys) needed to be found and three challenges (gates) were set up. 
  • Cline also wrote the sci-fi novel “Armada” which came out in 2015. Film rights for the movie were sold a few days later for 7 figures. 
  • Paperback of “Ready Player One” currently in its 17th printing

13:30 – Book-to-Movie Translation

  • Matt: Not great. Book had so much more detail plus the movie added a huge love-story that dramatically changed the theme and plot. However the OASIS in the movie was amazing.
  • Jay: I loved both!

15:30 – Major Themes of the Book

  1. Reality vs Illusion
    1. What’s happening in real life vs In your mind
  2. Nerds and Underdogs
    1. None of the protagonists are physically strong, rich, powerful, influential…
  3. Obsession
    1. All the characters do is play video games, watch movies, listen to music and pore over every scrap of Halliday material. That’s literally all they do.
    2. They HATE real life and can’t deal with it.
  4. Individual vs The Collective
    1. Gunters vs IOI
    2. Wade against IOI alone vs Wade w/Hi-5 against IOI
  5. Connection vs Disconnection
    1. Wade in the OASIS vs Wade unplugged
    2. Wade with girl (Art3mis) vs Wade w/o girl
    3. Wade w/friends vs Wade w/o friends

17:00 – Jay’s Perspectives

  • What did you like best about The Rational Male? 
    • Geek heaven! Especially if you grew up on all this stuff. I dare you to count the 80s references….
  • Share a favorite quote (maybe 2). Why did this quote(s) stand out?
    • “If I was feeling depressed or frustrated about my lot in life, all I had to do was tap the Player One button, and my worries would instantly slip away as my mind focused itself on the relentless pixelated onslaught on the screen in front of me. There, inside the game’s two-dimensional universe, life was simple: It’s just you against the machine. Move with your left hand, shoot with your right, and try to stay alive as long as possible.”
  • What did you learn from this book / How did this book change you?
    • It reminded me why I play less video games than I used to. So easy – and dangerous – to get sucked into a virtual world.
  • What did you like least (critique)?
    • The ending was too cheap for me. It felt like Cline WANTED to believe it was possible for everything to turn out well but he didn’t actually believe it.  “That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.”
  • What question(s) would you ask the author?
    • How good are you at video games? 
  • Any other related/connected books that you’d recommend to others?
    • Go play one of the Legend of Zelda games – ideally “Ocarina of Time”

22:00 – Matt’s Perspectives

  • What did you like best about this book? 
    • I love the “alternate reality” element of this book. Escapism.
  • Share a favorite quote (maybe 2). Why did this quote(s) stand out?
    • “I felt like a kid standing in the world’s greatest video arcade without any quarters, unable to do anything but walk around and watch the other kids play.”
  • What did you learn from this book / How did this book change you?
    • Answers the question about what is a true connection and how to find it. Is it “real”? Is it “virtual”?
  • What did you like least? (critique)
    • The ending was too neat and easy – a generic “happy 80s ending.”

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