Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline (2011)
This one’s for the geeks, especially those born in the 1970’s and grew up immersed in 1980’s nerd culture. Cline has created a world where the best shot at becoming rich and powerful is to have thoroughly studied classic arcade games like Pacman, memorized the scripts of Monty Python, and have learnt to program the VIC-20. It’s 2044, the world is in ruins, and much of humanity spends as much time as possible in an immersive multiplayer simulation game – but its creator has died many years ago, bequeathing ownership and control to whoever is first to solve a series of puzzles within the game. His only hint is that they involve the geek culture he grew up with (ie, the culture Cline himself knows best). Our underdog hero is the first to find one of the clues to this ultimate easter egg (thanks to his keen knowledge of 1980’s Dungeons & Dragons expansion modules), and with that the race is on.
You should know by now if this book is for you. And I haven’t even mentioned that Cline was the screenwriter of the movie Fanboys, that he was the spoken word artist who wrote that Dance, Monkeys, Dance piece someone probably forwarded you a link to years ago, or that this book itself contains an easter egg with clues leading to an arcade game tournament whose grand prize is a 1981 DeLorean. Or that Cline himself drives a DeLorean tricked out to look just like the one from Back to the Future… write what you know, indeed; Cline is highly qualified to write a book about a role playing video game in which people role play and play video games and otherwise revel in their nerdiness. Which I know because I’ve watched my fair share of Monty Python myself. If that’s you as well, you’ll have a lot of fun with this novel.