Hidden Gem: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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Anyone who’s come across me will know from the outset that I am stuck in the 90s. Literally. I dress like I’m from the 90s, my music taste abruptly stops after 2000, and my favourite television show is a staple 90s cultural phenomenon. But it’s only those who are truly close to me that know that it’s not just one decade that has a tight grip on my heart, it’s two. From knowing what my favourite film is, to my vast array of knowledge of this particular period, it’s time to cue Huey Lewis and The News because that decade is the 80s.

The only piece of fiction at the moment that purely encapsulates my second favourite decade is the ABC comedy – that no one has ever heard of even though it’s airing on E4 – The Goldbergs. It’s one of the loves of my life, and it allows me to full immerse myself into a lost realm that feels like a second home. I thought my eighties cravings were being fully satisfied by this show. That was until I stumbled across Ready Player One.

I remember coming across this book once or twice, probably on Tumblr, and never giving it a second thought. I had no idea what it was about or who it was by, just the title. I assumed it was a book about gaming, so I put it on my to-read list. But it wasn’t until I read a brief synopsis one day that my curiosity got the better of me, and I immediately ordered the damn thing.

Written by Ernest Cline (who owns his own goddamn DeLorean), Ready Player One tells the story of teenager Wade Watts in the year 2044. The earth has become a desolate place, where teens and adults feel the most alive when jacked into a virtual reality software/utopia known as the OASIS. Watts dedicates his life to solving the puzzles hidden within the confines of the OASIS – all created by the software’s creator.  Whoever can solve all three Easter eggs hidden within the OASIS is promised unlimited amounts of power, fortune, and ultimate control over the entire OASIS system.

The book is a lexicon of pop culture references, especially from the 80s. There are too many to highlight here, but man, I could talk about it for days. Whether it’s from Back to the Future, Family Ties, a Flicksync (a simulation of a film where an OASIS avatar assumes the place of one or more characters in a movie, having to speak the characters lines and act with the same mannerisms) of the films WarGames and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, or travel to Syrinx, a recreation of the world that the Rush record ‘2112’ occurs on. In other words, it’s my idea of heaven.

When I finished the book, I wanted more. So much more, I uttered the words “…this needs to be made into a movie.” Lo and behold, my wishes came true. But little did I know that the director of the adaptation of my now favourite book was chosen, and turned out to be my favourite director since I was four years old…Steven Spielberg. When I first thought about wanting to see this on the big screen, he was the first director I thought of. I feel like I’m in my own virtual reality, all of this is too good to be true.

I have no idea how any of this book is going to be adapted, especially with sequences like the Flicksyncs. Spielberg has already stated that the references to his own films may not even end up being in the movie:

“The movie won’t have any of my films in it. I’m not putting myself in this movie…They reference so many ’80s movies. I’m doing the whole pop culture thing. I’m just going to leave myself out of it.”

Spielberg may also be excluding nods to films he’s been involved with, ala Back to the Future. Spielberg not including his own films is understandable, but Back to the Future is a main plot point in part of the novel, so I can’t see how they’re going to skip over that.

All in all, it’s one hell of a day when you find out that not only is your favourite book being adapted into a film. But when that film is going to be directed by your favourite director, well. I’m ready.

Ready Player One was written by Ernest Cline in 2011.
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A film student stuck in a 90s timewarp of FBI agents, UFOs, conspiracy theories, alternative rock and grunge.

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