Ready Player One (Book)
Okay so the rich guy was nuts about the 1980s even though this story takes place in the future (2050 perhaps). As a result, the whole world goes nuts over 1980s pop culture, studying every damn thing from the 80s in case it gives them some insight into the treasure hunt. They’re watching every single TV show and memorizing every single song and wearing 1980s clothes and using 1980s pop culture references and programming ROMS for their TRS-80s and asking where’s the beef and memorizing every single line from every 80s movie.
Here’s my first complaint!
The author WANTS the reader to enjoy the nostalgia feels while the characters recite episodes of Family Ties verbatim and name their children Buck Rogers. But guess what? That shit SUCKED!
What’s actually happening is the characters are force-feeding themselves someone else’s nostalgia in the infinitesimal hope that they will escape poverty, which is depressing as fuck. It’s depressing to see an entire generation of people pretending to like Men Without Hats more than literally ANY other band from any decade. The characters say that they enjoy 80s shit but it also shows them going to insane levels far far beyond the human concept of enjoyment.
The author wants the reader to nod and say “Ha, I remember playing Zork on a Commodore 64, too, it was tits!” But it was only tits AT THE TIME IT CAME OUT, and has clearly, CLEARLY, CLEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLY been surpassed by other video games.
(my friend asks why, if they only use the VR simulation to duplicate the 1980s, didn’t the author just scrap the VR and set the story in the actual 1980s?)
I fear the main reason the story takes place in the future because the author is sincerely trying to argue that 1980s shit is the universal pinnacle of cool and these young kids today with their “PSPs” and their “Mumford and Sons” are simply too stupid to appreciate the finer things in life. Namely, Micronauts and the McDLT. Another reason is that people living in the 80s weren’t nostalgic about the awful shit that existed back then, so that’d be a tough sell. Which scenario is less plausible? Teenagers in 2050 creating a virtual planet based on The Facts of Life? Or teenagers in the 1980s admitting that they watch The Facts of Life?
Also, the players all go BERZERK (pun intended lol!) studying 1980s shit down to the finest particle of detail, but really once the treasure hunt clues are explained then it’s a lot simpler. Meaning, they TRULY wasted their lives overthinking the clues and doing needless gruntwork. “Oh no! There’s a quiz in pre-algebra next week and I’ve only read Principia 100 times! Better read it a few more times just to be sure.”
Another thing that is depressing is how these kids foie gras force feed their brain’s liver full of fatty grains of 1980s shit culture. It is portrayed in the least fun way possible. Look, playing The Legend of Zelda in 1986 was fucking awesome. It was awesome! But, forcing yourself to memorize the source code in 2050 just in case that comes in handy is not at all fun. It’s just drudgery.
I think I’m hitting my thesis here: the author takes the things that were fun at the time and turns them into work. He has characters literally memorizing and then being forced to recite entire movie scripts. WarGames, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and the like. Part of the treasure hunt relies on users reciting every line from WarGames – EVERY LINE – before they can proceed. Is there any LESS fun way to portray that movie? Maybe if the contestants stabbed themselves every time WOPR ties itself at tic-tac-toe.
In conclusion, it’s the story of people wasting their lives on shit that wasn’t all that good in reality, while claiming to sincerely enjoy that old shit, while being shown doing the exact opposite of enjoying those things.
It’s not a good story.
But, back in reality, I know that the narrative is only a thin watery glue that the author uses to bind a hundred wikipedia articles about 1980s crap that he thinks is great. I wasn’t expecting to be moved by great literature or anything. But I guess I’m disappointed that this asshole is portraying 1980s garbage in the worst possible light, thereby undermining his own argument and ruining the character’s motivations.
The ending: At the end the main kid wins the treasure hunt and the AI says “congratulations! You are such a complete and utter goddamn geek that I know I can trust you with this giant red button that will erase the entire game forever! Remember, it’s not healthy to spend all your time indoors on the computer. Go outside and interact with people!”
Then the hero goes outside and kisses a real girl on the mouth with tongue, the end.
The only reason he won the game was because he was a complete shut-in geek drowning himself in pop culture geekery 12 hours a day, and that approach won him hundreds of billions of dollars! It’s like a book about an Olympic gold medalist and at the end some jackass walks onto the page and says “You know, there’s a lot more to life than pole vaulting! Get out of the gym, take up smoking, and treat yourself to some Cheesecake Factory. Live a little!” FUCK. YOU.
Final complaint: the author didn’t even try to show that pop culture progressed after 2012. The 1980s shit is 80s shit, but even the rest of the planets were all stuff that existed before 2012. Well, anyway, it would have taken very little effort for him to make up some future fads*.
What purpose did the quarter from Happytime Pizza serve? I skimmed a bit towards the end. He dropped it in Tempest and it said “tokens only please” so wtf.
* You know who else does this? Star Trek writers, specifically Peter David. Every motherfucker from the year 2414 is a big fan of Sherlock Holmes, Frank Sinatra, or baseball. Shouldn’t they be into shit that is far beyond what we are familiar with? It would take a lot of creativity and originality to invent believable future pop culture though, which is maybe why they don’t write it that way.
Comments? Join us on the forum.