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Journal of No. 118


September 21st, 2012

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline @ 02:44 pm


The nerdosphere had a nerdgasm about Ready Player One. I was curious enough that I checked out the author's appearance on (friend-of-the-blog) The Dork Forest. He seemed like a hoopy frood, so I kindled the book and just now got around to reading it.

To be honest, I was a bit worried about the first few chapters. It seemed like there was little there except 1980s nerd allusions. In brief, the set-up is that in the not too distant future, an aging (ok, dead) bajillionaire sets up a Willy Wonka game/contest to choose his successor. And getting the bajillion dollars requires you to know all about 1980s nerd stuff. The whole premise seemed like a strange psycho basement nerd's justification for all his toys and games. 'You just wait! My mint-in-package action figures, Robotron skills, and extensive trivia knowledge of ALF will be worth billions some day! Mwahaha!' It's a little grotesquely self-indulgent that it seems just about everyone in this world-of-the-future spends their time obsessing over the 1980s (give or take a decade), rather than inhabiting their own world. As far as you can tell from the story, there's no such thing as new music or films in the world, just recycled music and TV shows from th... oh shit.

Fortunately, after the nostalgia enema, the plot settles down and provides a fun ride. And, yes, I am not immune to a story that can reawaken the remembered thrill of hearing some crazy word-of-mouth friend-of-a-friend story (in the pre-internet age) about a little dot in Adventure. And then finding it. Or recognizing that the bad guy's employee number is the same as little Alex's inmate number.

In short, if you are a nerd about my age, this will provide at least some cheap thrills and a pleasant trip down memory lane, or maybe through some twisty little passages all alike. Not that non-nerds not my age would be left out entirely (unfortunately?). One of the clumsiest things is that occasionally Cline takes the time to explain something that everyone reading his book probably already knows. You don't need to explain Tempest to me, dude. Even if I did suck at it. (Incidentally, Tempest is not an easy thing to describe in words.)
 
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Journal of No. 118