The Weekly Geek: “Ready Player One”

Geeks, I just finished reading Ready Player One this week, and I’ve been dying to write about the experience. The book arrived on shelves (virtual and physical) last year, to rave reviews from geek publications such as io9 and Boing Boing – in which the writer claimed it was “the best science fiction novel I’ve read in a decade” — as well as mainstream pubs. Heck, it was even a New York Times Bestseller. We truly live in the age of nerds.

It’s absolutely required reading for dorks of all stripes, since it’s basically one long love letter to nerd culture (with a real, actual point to the proceedings). Add in likeable, interesting characters, a dystopian world not unlike our own, and a queer woman of color in an admirable role (no spoilers!), and you have yourself a truly wonderful piece of fiction.

Perhaps what impressed me most (aside from the entertaining writing and fast pacing) was the proliferation of themes that really speak to nerd culture. The novel centers on a search for a hidden “Easter egg” in a vast virtual world that’s supplanted the internet (and become even more pervasive to human culture) in the depressed near future. While reading it, I even started to feel a bit awkward – like my own life (and obsession with nerd culture) is too comfortable a bubble. My non-nerdy girlfriend read and enjoyed the book before I did, but she didn’t catch all of the (many) references. I was at first incredibly proud – and later, perhaps less so – that I knew them all from a mile away. But that’s the point: The further steeped you are in internet-life, the more resonant the story.

I realize I came to the book a little late (well, way after the nerd buzz, anyway), but it’s still certainly in the hearts and minds of literary-minded geeks. Just yesterday, io9 put it on its list of “The best science fiction and fantasy novels to cheer you the frak up.”

Have any of you checked out Ready Player One? Share your thoughts below.

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