“Enchanting . . . Willy Wonka meets The Matrix.”—USA Today • “As one adventure leads expertly to the next, time simply evaporates.”—Entertainment Weekly
A world at stake. A quest for the ultimate prize. Are you ready?
In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the OASIS, a vast virtual world where most of humanity spends their days.
When the eccentric creator of the OASIS dies, he leaves behind a series of fiendish puzzles, based on his obsession with the pop culture of decades past. Whoever is first to solve them will inherit his vast fortune—and control of the OASIS itself.
Then Wade cracks the first clue. Suddenly he’s beset by rivals who’ll kill to take this prize. The race is on—and the only way to survive is to win.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Entertainment Weekly • San Francisco Chronicle • Village Voice • Chicago Sun-Times • iO9 • The AV Club
“Delightful . . . the grown-up’s Harry Potter.”—HuffPost
“An addictive read . . . part intergalactic scavenger hunt, part romance, and all heart.”—CNN
“A most excellent ride . . . Cline stuffs his novel with a cornucopia of pop culture, as if to wink to the reader.”—Boston Globe
“Ridiculously fun and large-hearted . . . Cline is that rare writer who can translate his own dorky enthusiasms into prose that’s both hilarious and compassionate.”—NPR
“[A] fantastic page-turner . . . starts out like a simple bit of fun and winds up feeling like a rich and plausible picture of future friendships in a world not too distant from our own.”—iO9
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Excerpted from "Ready Player One"
Copyright © 2017 Ernest Cline.
Excerpted by permission of Diversified Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This
"The pure, unfettered brainscream of a child of the 80s, like a dream my 13-year-old self would have had after bingeing on Pop Rocks and Coke…I couldn’t put it down."--(Charles Ardai, Edgar Award-winning author and producer of Haven )
"This non-gamer loved every page of Ready Player One."--(Charlaine Harris, #1 New York Times bestselling author )
"READY PLAYER ONE is the ultimate lottery ticket."
“An exuberantly realized, exciting, and sweet-natured cyber-quest. Cline’s imaginative and rollicking coming-of-age geek saga has a smash-hit vibe.”--starred review
"Pure geek heaven. Ernest Cline's hero competes in a virtual world with life-and-death stakes -- which is only fitting, because he's fighting to make his dreams into reality. Cline blends a dystopic future with meticulously detailed nostalgia to create a story that will resonate in the heart of every true nerd."--(Chris Farnsworth, author of Blood Oath )
"Fascinating and imaginative…It's non-stop action when gamers must navigate clever puzzles and outwit determined enemies in a virtual world in order to save a real one. Readers are in for a wild ride."--(Terry Brooks, #1 New York Times bestselling author )
"Ready Player One expertly mines a copious vein of 1980s pop culture, catapulting the reader on a light-speed adventure in an advanced but backward-looking future. If this book were a living room, it would be wood-paneled. If it were shoes, it would be high-tops. And if it were a song, well, it would have to be Eye of the Tiger. I really, really loved it."--(Daniel H. Wilson, author of How to Survive a Robot Uprising and Robopocalypse)
Reading Group Guide
A Guide for Reading Groups
New York Times Bestseller
Ready Player One
By Ernest Cline
1. The OASIS becomes a part of daily life for users around the globe. What virtual realms (Google, Facebook, iCloud) do you depend on? What is at stake in the war against IOI, the internet service provider that wants to overturn Halliday’s affordable, open-source approach? Is it dangerous to mix profit and dependence on technology?
2. Explore the question of identity raised in the novel. What do the characters’ avatars tell us about their desires and their insecurities? In reality, does our physical appearance give false clues about who we really are? How does Parzival, transformed into a celebrity gunter, become Wade’s true self?
3. With a narrator who vividly captures the human experience, Ready Player One delivers a world that is easy for us to imagine. In the novel, what was at the root of the grim downturn for Earth’s inhabitants? Could your community start looking like the stacks by the year 2044?
4. How does love affect Wade’s rational mind? Would you have given Art3mis the tip about playing on the left side to defeat the lich (page 99, chapter ten)? Did you predict that she would turn out to be a friend or a foe?
5. How does public school in the OASIS compare to your experience in school? Has author Ernest Cline created a solution to classroom overcrowding, student apathy, and school violence?
6. In his Columbus bunker, Wade puts on so many pounds that he can no longer fit comfortably in his haptic chair. How would you fare in his weight-loss program, described in chapter nineteen, featuring a simulation gym, coaching from Max, and a lockout system that restricts his diet and forces him to exercise?
7. Wade’s OASIS pass phrase is revealed on page 199, at the end of chapter nineteen: “No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful.” What does this philosophy mean to him at that point in his life?
8. How is the novel shaped by the 1980s backdrop, featuring John Hughes films, suburban shows like Family Ties, a techno-beat soundtrack, and of course, a slew of early video games? Did Halliday grow up in a utopia?
9. Discuss Bryce Lynch’s financial situation, rigged so that Wade could infiltrate IOI. When does Wade become willing to “die trying”? How did you react to the image of debtors being forced into indentured servitude?
10. Wade doesn’t depend on religion to make moral decisions or overcome life-threatening challenges. What does the novel say about humanity’s relationship to religion? What sort of god is Halliday, creator of the OASIS universe?
11. Despite their introverted nature, the book’s characters thrive on friendship. Discuss the level of trust enjoyed by Halliday and Og, and among Wade, Aech, Art3mis, Daito, and Shoto. How is true power achieved in Ready Player One?
12. In the closing scenes, Halliday’s reward proves to be greater than mere wealth. What is Halliday’s ultimate prize? How did the rules of Halliday’s game help him determine the type of player who would likely win?
13. In his quest for the three keys, Wade is required to inhabit many imaginary worlds, including movies, video games, and a simulation of Halliday’s childhood home. Which of these virtual realities appealed to you the most? What sort of virtual reality is provided by a novel?
author of READY, PLAYER ONE
(Crown, on sale August 16, 2011)
Q) So it seems you're a bit of a pop-culture buff. In your debut novel READY PLAYER ONE you incorporate literally hundreds of pop culture references, many of them in ways that are integral to the book's plot. What's the first thing you remember geeking out over?
A) Sesame Street and the Muppets. I thought Jim Henson ruled the universe. I even thought it was pretty cool that I shared my first name with a muppet. Until the first day of kindergarten, when I quickly learned that "Ernie" was not a cool name to have. That was about the time I segued into my next childhood obsession, Star Wars.
Q) Like the book's hero, you possess a horrifyingly deep knowledge of a terrifyingly broad swathe of culture, ranging from John Hughes movies to super-obscure Japanese animation to 8-bit videogames to science-fiction and fantasy literature to role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. What the heck is wrong with you?! How do you have so much time on your hands?
A) Well, I'm raising a toddler now, so I don't have as much time to geek out as I used to. I think I amassed a lot of that knowledge during my youth. Like most geeks, I was a sponge for all kinds of movies, TV shows, cartoons, and video games. Then as an adult, I worked at a long series of low paying tech support jobs that allowed me to surf the Internet all day, and I spent a lot of my cubicle time looking up obscure pop culture minutiae from my childhood while I waited for people to reboot their PCs. Of course, I spent most my off hours geeking out, too. Luckily, all those hours can now be classified as "research" for my novel.
Q) You're stranded on an island and you can only take one movie with you. What is it?
A) Easy! The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition. (Can I take all of the DVD Extras and Making of Documentaries, too?)
Q) You're given free tickets and back stage passes to one concert (artist can be living or dead)- who is it and why?
A) Are we talking about time travel back to a specific concert in the past here? Because it would be pretty cool to stand on the roof of Apple Records and watch the Beatles jam up there. But my favorite rock band that's still together is RUSH, and I just bought tickets to see them this June!
Q) Favorite book of all time.
A) That's an impossible question! I could maybe give you three favorites: Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut, and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
Q) Best failed TV show pilot available on Youtube?
A) The unaired Batgirl pilot starring Yvonne Craig.
Q) Favorite episode of Cowboy Bebop?
A) "Ganymede Elegy." Or maybe "Boogie Woogie Feng Shui."
Q) What's the first arcade game you ever played? What's your favorite?
A) I was deflowered by Space Invaders. My all time favorite coin-op game was probably Black Tiger.
Q) Your idea of the perfect day...
A) Play Black Tiger. Then go see Big Trouble in Little China at the Alamo Drafthouse with Kurt Russell and John Carpenter doing a live Q&A afterwards. When I get home that night, I accidentally invent a cheap abundant clean energy source that saves human civilization. I celebrate by staying up late to watch old Ultraman episodes with my daughter (who loves Ultraman even more than I do).
Q) Top Five 80s Movies where a kid does something impossible?
1. The Last Starfighter – Trailer trash video game geek saves the galaxy.
2. Iron Eagle – Hotshot air force brat steals two F-16s and flies overseas to rescue his dad! (With Lou Gossett Jr's help.)
3. WarGames – Suburban computer nerd nearly starts World War 3, then ends up preventing it!
4. Explorers – Four kids build a spaceship in their back yard and then fly it off to meet aliens, who are also kids.
5. The Manhattan Project – Boy genius steals plutonium from John Lithgow and then uses it to build a nuclear bomb to enter in the NY state science fair.
Q) True or False. We hear you own a DeLorean and that you plan on tricking it out to be a time-travelling, Ghostbusting, Knight-Rider car.
A) False. I actually plan on tricking it out to be a time-traveling Ghostbusting Knight Riding Jet Car. It's going to have both a Flux Capacitor and an Oscillation Overthruster in it, so that my Delorean can travel through time AND solid matter. My personalized plates are ECTO88, just like a DeLorean that appears in my book.
(I'm so glad that you asked this question, because now I can justify buying the car as a "promotional tool" for my book. Everyone reading this is a witness! My DeLorean is helping me promote my book! The fact that I've wanted one since I was ten years old is totally irrelevant!)
Q) Speaking of DeLoreans: biggest plot hole in the Back to The Future Films?
A) The Back to the Future Trilogy is perfect and contains no plot holes! Except for the plot hole inherent in nearly all time travel films: The planet Earth is moving through space at an immense speed at all times. So if you travel back in time, you are traveling to a time when the Earth was in a different location, and you and your time machine would appear somewhere out in deep space. For a time machine to be useful, it also needs to be able to teleport you to wherever the Earth was/is at your destination time.
Q) But there are two DeLoreans in 1885 – why doesn't Doc dig out the one he buried in a cave for Marty to find in 1955 and use the gasoline from it to get the other DeLorean up to 88mph?
A) Doc would have drained the gas tank before he stored a car for 80 years, so there wouldn't have been any gas. And tampering with the DeLorean in the cave at all could conceivably create a universe-ending paradox, because it has to be in the cave for Marty to get back to 1885 in the first place. Totally not a plot hole!
Okay, okay. You win. Thanks for your time, Ernie.