Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is a fast paced action-adventure story set in a future dystopic America, complete with shanty-town-skyscrapers made from mobile homes and armored bus service between cities to guard against roving bands of highwaymen and thieves. Good stuff in and of itself to be sure.
But what really made this premier novel so much fun was the setting within the setting. Turns out that in Cline’s vision of the future, people are positively obsessed with ’80s pop culture and frequently retreat into an immersive computer simulation allowing them to escape the drudgery of living in a shanty-town-skyscraper while also indulging in movies by John Hughes, Atari video games, the music of Rush, and Cold War paranoia. Don’t you just miss those days?
There’s nothing terribly ground breaking in Ready Player One; I’m not disclosing classified information to say that the hero saves the day and gets the girl in the end. (Don’t be mad; you’d have figured out the ending after the first 50 pages anyway.) The journey though ’80s pop culture (which incidentally includes Journey) is a real treat and brought back – at least for this child of the ’80s – a flood of nostalgia. Ok, time to play some Pitfall!