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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
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Aug 29, 11

Read from August 26 to 27, 2011

Enjoyed the crap out of this one, although I should give a disclaimer in the form of a couple of key personal facts.

1. A cousin and I used to think it was the height of coolness to act out episodes of the Super Mario Brothers Super Show, where the couch was Bowser's castle and the neighborhood cats were Goombas.
2. I have, in my possession, several hand-drawn, intricately detailed maps of the labyrinths in the original NES Legend of Zelda--all circa second grade, all written in very measured D'Nelian.
3. There was a point in READY PLAYER ONE where Wade was explaining the virtual internet of OASIS and how people could buy all different kinds of ships modeled off of pop culture, and I thought "I bet someone has a Firefly!" And then three paragraphs or so later, he explained that there was a whole planet modeled on the Firefly verse, and my little geeky heart went pitter-pitter-pat.

All of this is to say that the nerdom stars definitely aligned for me and this book; I'm not sure if it will have the same impact on those who don't have a pre-existing interest in video games or 80s culture, mainly because I don't think the sci-fi/dystopia elements are all that novel. The idea of the world's population turning to virtual reality to escape problems of the real world is not a new one, and the jabs at Evil Corporations are all expected and broad. And while I didn't have any problem believing that Halliday's challenge would revitalize 80s/90s culture, I found the absence of new pop culture in the society to be shenanigans.

But! But but but! What READY PLAYER ONE does do awesomely, I think, is tap into the ways that individual personalities influence technology and what we do with it, both good and bad. I loved everything about Halliday's Scavenger Hunt--its riddles, its puzzles, its Joust matches and Monty Python and the Holy Grail reeactments and Pac-Man perfect games--but most of all, that it began because hey! Halliday loves all of this geeky pop stuff, and he thinks you should to! Let's face it--if I had enough money to influence society, we would all be watching episodes of The Vampire Diaries on repeat and there would be a pre-school that used my favorite kids' book, Rainbow Brite and the Color Thieves, as its textbook. (Why do you think Murky Dismal hates colors SO MUCH? I don't know, kids. I don't know).

With that in mind, here is the scavenger hunt I would create in the Oasis if I were a hermity billionaire game designer hiding clues in treasured things of my geek past.

The First Key--Found on Planet Veronica Mars. Hidden in Lily's spy pen. Bonus points for killing Duncan.
The First Gate--Aladdin Sing-a-long. Miss a line in "You've Never Had A Friend Like Me" and your avatar dies.
The Second Key--Beat the Noid at the pizza-eating game in the NES classic video game, Yo Noid! (This one will likely be difficult, as I imagine I owned the only copy in existence).
The Second Gate--Reenact Robin Hood BBC as it sould have gone, i.e. Robin dies and Marian/Guy is triumphant forever. Be awarded a bubble tea that will come in handy during the final fight.
The Third Key--Go back to Southport Library and shelve all books on a children's cart correctly. Fall asleep in break room for 45 minutes while nobody notices.
The Third Gate--Battle the dreaded Nicolas Cage/Katherine Heigl monster. Throw bubble tea in its face! Kick it until it promises to never make any more movies.

And there you go.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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John Paul Feehily Ha ha, ditto the zelda maps :)
The game was impossible without them.

Jessica I'm with you on the bonus points for killing Duncan.

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