I bought this book on a whim. Didn’t know who Cline was, didn’t know he was a successful screenwriter. I haven’t even seen the movie Fanboys
. The store didn’t have the particular book I was there to buy so what I usually do in these situations is grab one at random off the New Release or Staff Choice shelves. I’m a gamer, have been since the dexterity of my tubby little tot-thumbs allowed me to handle the controller of my dad’s Sega Master System. That being the case, the cover image of a pixilated man leaping for an equally pixilated key caught my attention. That alone instantly brought me back to the days of playing Ghost House on my (even then) outdated wood-paneled TV that had a fetish for the colour green. I briefly skimmed the synopsis, but really I had already judged the book by its cover and bought it then and there.
I am glad I did.
Holy ****... This book is a 372 page nerdgasm. It’s one homage to '80s pop culture after another. I wasn’t exactly an '80s kid. I was born in 87, but the hand-me-downs from both my nostalgic parents left me with an '80s-filled childhood. Monty Python, Space Invaders, Pacman, Transformers, Star Wars, Blade Runner, and John Hughes. That was my ****.
It takes place in a ****ty world in the year 2044. Economies crashing, useless governments, poverty, depression… the usual dystopian ****. But the story is mainly set in the Oasis: a virtual universe/MMORPG where every player (almost everyone in the world) plays, interacts, competes, dates, learns, and works with one another. It’s a crazy mashed-up blend of sci-fi and fantasy where robots can carry swords and wizards can pilot X-Wings.
The story begins when the Oasis’ creator passes away and leaves the citizens of his world with one last gift: an easter egg, hidden somewhere in the virtual universe, that can only be found by solving three puzzles he’s programmed himself. The riddles, usually containing references to late 20th century (at least its movies, music, and video games), bring about a resurgence of '80s trends for anyone at all interested in the hunt. The prize is his entire estate… total power over the Oasis, and a vast fortune of real-world money.
The book is a breeze to read, and has some pretty witty commentaries on the effects of more modern-day technologies, like internet anonymity and social awkwardness. It’s exciting and funny. Not ground-breaking in its artistry or anything, not that it is supposed to. It reads like a movie I’d pay full price to see. On opening day. And even buy popcorn to watch. And stay until the end credits. Then buy on Blu-ray.
I really liked the book. It’s so overflowing with nostalgia that I’ve actually loaded my Droid with old roms, put entire discographies for Rush, and AC/DC on my iPod, and am considering watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail again. But… I feel like playing Zork right now…
tl;dr - It’s a good book. You should read it.