I was born in the early ‘80s. I was barely two months old when Return of the Jedi was released, and only two years old When Back to the Future made Marty McFly a household name. In addition, I was the only girl in a family with two older brothers. So, needless to say, I did not grow up watching My Little Pony . Instead, my childhood consisted of Transformers, RoboTech, and GI Joe (however, they did watch She-Ra with me!).
In addition, most of my cousins were also boys and that meant when we visited them I left my Barbies at home and played a wide range of Atari, Nintendo, and Sega games. Akira, Iron Giant, and Castle Wolfenstein? That was my childhood too. My early years were rooted and framed around these now classic ‘80s and ‘90s pop culture staples. Thus, for those of you who have already read Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One you can see why I am such a fan of the novel since all of these things are referenced, and then some.
I don't remember how I found Ready Player One but I do remember being the first of my friends to read it. I remember being being blown away at how fun it was to revisit all these childhood favorites in an entirely new environment. I found myself jumping up and down at all the references I understood as I feverishly turned the pages. This of course layered my understanding of the novel and intensified my attachment to Wade Watt’s hero’s journey. I saw myself in Wade just as Wade saw himself (and ultimately played out via OASIS, an immersive online virtual world he logs into) in all of his attachments to ‘80s and ‘90s pop culture.
For those of you who have not read it, Ready Player One could be described as a future dystopian novel that pays heavy homage to the ‘80s and ’90s via Wade Watt’s interactions within the 3D immersive virtual world called OASIS. However, that is not completely what this novel is about. It is also an homage to a childhood long past, and a glimpse into the childhood of tomorrow. While Cline drops ‘80s and ‘90s pop culture references left and right, he is also describing a world gripped with an energy crisis, and one where society is so far removed from one another on a social interactive level that people, like Wade Watts, do not feel themselves, unless they are logged into OASIS and in their avatar form. Thus, this novel is as much about nerding out on fandoms as it is a social commentary on how technology has become intertwined with our individual identities.
I was excited, and then worried, when I heard Ready Player One was being converted into a movie. I usually don't like book to movie conversions and to be completely honest I wasn't sure how this would ever get done. When the possibility of a movie released became news, 3D technology was only just beginning to be talked about and MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role play games) were irrelevant to the general population who does not game. And all the movie and gamer references! The cost alone to be able to include them I thought would make it impossible to pull off this movie well.
Are you a fan? Tell us what you think of either the movie trailer or the book!
San Mateo County Libraries have copies of the book and audiobook if you haven't had a chance to read it. Young or old, it should be on your reading list.
Ready Player One (ebook)
Ready Player One (downloadable audiobook)
Ready Player One (audiobook)