Nerd pulp fiction: Ready Player One
Posted on March 07, 2012
I think there is no shame in admitting that I almost made love to Ernest Cline’s science fiction novel “Ready Player One” when I finally got my hands on a copy. It’s a deliciously geeky story about the eccentric übernerd James Halliday who dies and leaves his entire fortune for the one who finds the easter eggs in his legacy: OASIS, “a massively multiplayer online game that had gradually evolved into the globally networked virtual reality most of humanity now used on a daily basis.” I don’t think it’s “this generation’s Neuromancer”, as one reviewer put it, but it’s a genuine grown up boy’s adventure book crammed with 80s nerd culture references, which made it so easy for me to love this book. It’s nerd pulp science fiction at its best.
I occasionally ran across things that required further investigation, though. So as an exercise for my first post, I figured I’d throw some of these questions out there to see what you other RP1 fanboys think. Look away if you haven’t read the book yet, because there’s gonna be spoilers!
1. Wade’s first years in OASIS
Why did Wade find the OASIS such a mind-blowingly awesome thing before his actual adventures started? The only thing he could do before that was hang out at boring old Ludus, the school planet, and use the normal internet part of it (the “world’s biggest public library”). He couldn’t travel, play games or go on quests — yet he has been a lyrical fan of OASIS since childhood. Why?
2. How is OASIS open source?
As far as I understood, GSS kept the whole thing closed, with IOI breathing down its neck to close it up even further. Why didn’t anyone fork OASIS?
3. When the clock strikes twelve…
I didn’t get the whole reset-at-midnight thing. So what, everything just resets every 24 hours, regardless of progress, newly created items or currently happening evens? Their cybersex and games and all those other virtual reality persuits get interrupted and reset to the same old default, like some cyberspace version of Groundhog Day?
4. O A S I S e p t i o n
Well, here’s a brainfuck: when Wade visits IOI headquarters (the virtual one inside OASIS), it has immersion rigs in it, just like the real-life headquarters would. But the rigs are being used by IOI’s personnel, the Sixers. So what are they doing? Did they log in to OASIS to have their avatar log into OASIS again?
5. The OASIS experience
How would you image the OASIS differs when being accessed from the wireless one inside the stacks, as opposed to the superfast uplink in Columbus? Aside from a few fancy things like the force feedback suit, there surely must be more differences. The low-tech rig Wade had in the stacks accessed OASIS on an undoubtedly laggy wireless connection, so did it look somewhat like DOOM?
6. Is that a console in your pocket?
Why on earth did that guy have an OASIS console built into his testicles? What’s wrong with a somewhat less… delicate body part? Ouch.
So those are some of the things that I wondered about during this cute cyberpop page-turner. One final question I have is: will we ever see this book being turned into a movie? Is that even possible, what with all the copyrighted pop culture and movie bits that would need to be used? Will we really be watching Wade as David Lightman, playing through the first part of WarGames? Ernie Cline must have some connections in the world of film, as he already released his Star Wars fanboy movie, Fanboys. So who knows — maybe we’ll see a Ready Player One – The Movie…
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UPDATE: Check it out — Mr. Cline answered these questions on his blog!