File this under “A” for awesome…
Back in 2011, I read and enjoyed Ready Player One, a dystopian science fiction novel written by Ernest “Ernie” Cline. The novel posits a brutal future for humanity where people find relief from the ills of the world in OASIS, a virtual reality utopia steeped in nostalgia for 1980’s pop culture. The novel’s protagonist, Wade Watts, works to unravel the secrets of OASIS while taking part in an elaborate treasure hunt created by OASIS’ inventor James Halliday.
It’s a great book. It received a lot of press when it first came out for the way Cline used ’80’s culture to define OASIS… but there’s quite a bit more depth to the book than references to Ghostbusters and Back to the Future. Readers loved that aspect of the story so much, they overlook the desperate sadness of the state of the world Cline’s created in 2044, and I find that the most interesting part of RP1. It’s a solid read and one I’ve passed on to my students many times.
The detail about Ready Player One that immediately arrested me when I first read it was the backstory of James Halliday. The computer genius and billionaire who incites the plot of RP1… is a graduate of the high school where I’m currently teaching 9th grade English Language Arts. Middletown Ohio is specifically named in the book several times and at one point, the protagonists find themselves in a virtual reality simulation of Middletown.
Well, I knew I had to prevail on the civic pride of Ernie Cline to donate a class set of Ready Player One to my classroom’s library
…and lo and behold, he did!
I’m going to end up doing some comics about Ready Player One and teaching the novel but I wanted to shout out to Mr. Cline and his publishers at Crown for the act of kindness.