Book reviews / Science Fiction / Top picks

Book review: Ready Player One

Oh man! What a book! Though, I am pretty sure I’m the exact demographic that this book is playing to – I got most of the references (though not some of the really old video game ones).

So plot: It’s about 30 years in the future and everything is basically pants. Poverty, climate change, massive corporatist entities that aren’t very nice. But there’s the OASIS – which is basically like an immersive, interactive, online simulation. Everyone is on it. It has shopping but also PvP zones and magic and all that stuff. It’s basically awesome. I want the OASIS to happen now.

The book is about a group of people (good and bad) hunting for the creator of the OASIS’ ‘easter egg’ which would bequeath the finder his entire estate (as he had died). The creator was obsessed with the 1980s, so if you are the right age – you understand everything.

The van was my refuge. My batcave. My Fortress of Solitude.

Anyway. It’s awesome. It’s awesome because the characters are great, the action is great, it’s not predictable and I get all the references. Which might not then make it awesome for everyone, though the author does do some stuff to future proof it – explaining the films, the books, the tv shows and the video games in an unobstrusive manner. So mileage may vary, possibly. Some of it is definitely in the now pop culture though:

It was also time to elect the president and VP of the OASIS User Council, but that was a no-brainer. Like most gunters, I voted to reelect Cory Doctorow and Wil Wheaton (again).

The other thing that was nice was the lack of sexism. It totally passes the test:

  • it has 2 female characters
  • 1 of them is a lead character
  • both of the female characters have equal status to their male counterparts
  • the even talk a little about gender politics (and even delve into race and sexuality issues – very briefly though.)

The jeopardy that the female characters experience is the same as the male characters (basically getting killed by the evil corporation). There isn’t a real 50/50 split though on male to female characters, so no bonus point for that.

It also is pretty atheist friendly:

Here’s the deal Wade. You’re something called a ‘human being’. That’s a really smart kind of animal. Like every other animal on this planet, we’re descended from a single-celled organism that lived millions of years ago. This happened by a process called evolution…That story you heard? About how we were all created by a super-powerful dude named God who lives up in the sky? Total bullshit.

At one point it’s mentioned that the creator of the OASIS was an atheist as well. Cool.

I was genuinely anxious near the end of the book, you really wanted the characters to win and it was really tense. It also alludes to idea of internet freedom and the problems that might come about with the end of net neutrality. So those issues really resonated. Whether or not they will in 30 years remains to be seen!

I heartily recommend the book! I should probably by @AdamRutherford a beer next time I see him for recommending it in the first place.

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