Ready Player One's dark future

28 Jun 2012

On the trip I read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. School doesn’t leave much time for reading anything not class related so it’s great being able to have some spare time again. I used to read a ton as a kid, and it sort of feels like I’m not as good at it anymore. I think that might be a shorter attention span, but who knows.

Ready Player One takes part a few decades into the future, but is set largely inside a virtual reality (really just a futuristic video game crossed with the internet). The book, with varying degrees of subtlety, pushes an open-internet agenda in amongst a story of a nerd saving the (virtual) world with the help of a couple friends. It’s easy to read and probably fulfills a fantasy for a lot of gamer kids.

I found the future it portrays kind of interesting. Gas prices had forced everyone to swamp the cities, but a massive unemployment rate meant that huge stacked slums were commonplace everywhere. The only actual employment we see in the book is indentured servitude. School is largely provided in the virtual realm - you still get to meet and greet with other kids but only via avatars.

Pretty much everyone escapes to OASIS when they can, which seems to have replaced the internet, and the book doesn’t talk about this too much. The real world is falling to bits, everyone is retreating to a made-up one, and aside from a supporting character who mentions a couple times that her goal is to actual do something about the state of the world, even the author seems to have shrugged his shoulders as if the problems were just too big.

Still, it’s enjoyable as a geek fantasy, and it certainly provided a more interesting world than Tom Clancy’s Net Force, which I read as a kid.

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