Reviewed for the British Fantasy Society.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
2011, Random House
It’s 2045, but the ‘80s are back. Most of humanity’s time is spent in the OASIS, a massive multiplayer online game that’s become a globally networked virtual reality. Halliday, the powerful loner who created it, was a pop-culture obsessive who grew up in the 1980s. When he dies, he leaves a challenge – whoever finds and solves the hidden puzzles he’s programmed into the game will inherit his fortune and controlling stock of the OASIS.
In true John Hughes/Spielberg fashion, our good guys are a group of lovable misfit loners. They are obsessed with finding the puzzles and they’re in with a chance, because they have immersed themselves in the ‘80s ephemera that Halliday’s quest revived. They rule at clunky console games and know Bladerunner word-for-word, as well as the Bon Jovi back catalogue. This time the geeks really might inherit the world, so long as they get there before the corporate bad guys.
Full review in the Autumn Journal of the British Fantasy Society.