Ruddy Player One
Since Ready Player One was released last week I've seen some mixed reviews. Whatever happens it I think I'll enjoy it, because I've read the book and it can't fail to be better than the book (there are a few spoilers for the book below, in case that's something you care about, but it shouldn't be, because they're only for the book, and you shouldn't read this book, please don't read this book). I was given the book as a present while ago and from the first few chapters I knew I needed to tell the gift giver just what kind of gift she had given me. I sent her this:
I finally started reading Ready Player One. I wanted to give you a sample of the literary excellence with which you have gifted me. This is the main character facing off with a frenemy. None of the dialogue is ironic. Expect further updates.
I-Rok glared at us a moment. “OK. Let's see who the real poseur is,” he said. “Check this out, girls.” Grinning, he produced an item from his inventory and held it up. It was an old Atari 2600 game, still in the box. He purposefully covered the game's title with his hand, but I recognised the cover artwork anyway. It was a painting of a young man and woman in ancient Greek attire, both brandishing swords. Lurking behind them were a minotaur and a bearded guy with an eye patch. “Know what this is, hotshot?” I-Rok said, challenging me. “I'll even give you a clue. . . . It's an Atari game, released as part of a contest. It contained several puzzles, and if you solved them, you could win a prize. Sound familiar?”
Soon followed by:
Right, I've just finished chapter 3. I DON'T KNOW WHO THIS IS WRITTEN FOR!!! IT MAKES NO SENSE!!! The style of writing is like it's for teenagers (or maybe just idiots). It's set in the future and the main character is a teenager but he's obsessed with 1980s culture (for a ridiculous convoluted reason, more on that below) and the 80s references are constant, there's no way to get enjoyment out of them if you didn't grow up through it. The world is dystopian with a virtual reality called the OASIS, and the way that people interact with it is basically how we use the internet but chat rooms are full 3D virtual rooms etc., but everything is constantly over-explained (there's one point where he feels the need to point out that when he logs on to a chat room he doesn't physically move to the chat room, "when you log on, it's kind of like being in two places at once"! (Not. fucking. kidding.) as though it's for people that don't use the internet or any modern technology (or, again, idiots)
As for the reason for the 80s obsession: The guy who created the OASIS, Halliday, a genius, benevolent, super-rich, business man/programmer/Steve Jobs/Jesus-type left a video as his will. He revealed that he had hidden an easter egg in the world of OASIS and whoever finds it inherits all his businesses and control of the OASIS, or some such shit. He was obsessed with the 80s and there's a bunch of clues in the will-video about what/where the easter egg is. The community of people looking for the easter egg call themselves gunters. No shit. They call THEMSELVES that. I can't remember if it was explained or I've just decided it's egG hUNTER. Anyway, they're right gunts. They are all obsessed with the 80s, music, games, films and TV because they think it will give them some insight into finding the egg. In chapter 3 the main guy and his frenemy face off (passage above) in a chat room (two places at one) arguing with an audience, trying to out geek each other, like some sort of 80s John Hughes inspired wet dream, and when the good guy wins "The crowd bursts into applause. I-r0k hangs his head in shame".
The main character is called Wade Watts, calling himself Parzival in the OASIS. Even though he is the ultimate nerd about ANYTHING 80s, in a world where knowing stuff about the 80s is apparently cool, he is still, somehow, the uncoolest kid around. Around chapter 6/7 he lists all the 80s research he's done and he provides a list (he refers to it as 80s despite the existence of a bunch of stuff that didn't exist until the 00s, but I guess that's just good writing for you):
Revenge of the Nerds
Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Back to the Future
Indiana Jones (he makes a point of saying the Crystal Skull is shit, but of course he watched it anyway, he's a completist)(he's definitely a complete something)
Guillermo Del Toro
The Muppet Show
All variations of Star Trek (he names each of them)
G I Joe
Anime (he doesn't name any anime things, just anime, the whole lot)
They Might Be Giants
Youtube videos of cute geeky girls playing cover tunes on ukulele (Yeah, I don't know either, it's weirdly specific and more than a little creepy)
THERE'S TWO AND A HALF PAGES OF THIS SHIT!!!
Classic coin op arcade games
Home computer games
Text based adventures
First person shooters
Third person RPGs
Ancient 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit classics
So everything. He pretty much lists everything white, middle-class pop culture created in the space of about 30 years and claims to be an expert in ALL of it.
I could honestly write a thousand words about the multiple ways this book is terrible, but you probably don't want to read it all (and I can't be arsed typing it). I made so many notes about the lack of tension or any sort of excitement when Wade comes up against a zombie king, and has to play an old arcade game against him on a virtual old arcade machine, or when he has to re-enact the entirety of WarGames from the point of view of Matthew Broderick. There is constant repetition of almost everything, at one point 5 separate pieces of information are repeated with within the same paragraph. The dialogue is cringe-worthy with almost every character interaction, from the love interest to the best friend to the evil corporate bad guy. There's a whole bit about him getting a sex doll and spending a week just fucking it like crazy before deciding it's too much of a distraction, and a whole paragraph about just why masturbation is so ace:
Our hands evolved to grip tools, all right – including our own. You see, thinkers, inventors and scientists are usually geeks, and geeks have a harder time getting laid than anyone. Without the built-in sexual release valve provided by masturbation, it's doubtful that early humans would have ever mastered the secrets of fire or discovered the wheel. And you can bet that Galileo, Newton and Einstein would never have made their discoveries if they hadn't first been able to clear their heads by slapping the salami (or “knocking a few protons off the old hydrogen atom”). The same goes for Marie Curie. Before she discovered radium you can be certain she first discovered the little man in the canoe.
I really hope all that makes it into the movie.
Oh, and the bit where he takes a part time job doing IT support over the phone, where he has to go and work from a virtual desk in a virtual office with a virtual headset, instead of a virtual face to face meeting. That whole section totally makes sense and is in no way stupid.
And the bit where one guy tries to smuggle a VR device into a building in a fake testicle. (I'm really not making any of this up.)