Prometheus Award for Best Novel (2012)
ALA Alex Award (2012)
Tähtivaeltaja Award Nominee (2013)
Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2014)
Green Mountain Book Award Nominee (2015)
Seiun Award, Best translated novel (2015)

When I was in high school in the 1980s, nerds like me got locked into lockers and taped to flagpoles with their pants down around their ankles.

Now we rule the world.

You think I’m kidding? Look around, we own the box office. TV a little less so, but all your cable and Amazon/Netflix/Hulu original series r belong to us. Have you seen that George R. R. Martin guy? One of ours. That thing in your hand right now, the one you’re using to read this? We made it.

And this book, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, is one big, gigantic nerdgasm celebration of our culture. And yes, you probably read it several years ago when it came out, but it will never stop being nominated for, and winning, awards, so it is definitely part of this year of spec fic.

In Ready Player One, our hero Wade Watson (whose dad gave him an alliterative name like a superhero, ala Peter Parker, Clark Kent, and Wally West,) lives in one of the darkest dystopias I’ve ever read. Poverty is rampant–so bad, in fact, that if you can’t pay your bills, you can become an ‘indent,’ a literal corporate slave. Wade lives in a place he calls the stacks, a rickety pile of motorhomes piled one on top of the other, like skyscraper version of ghetto jenga. Leaving the stacks is a real life video game of ‘avoid the pedophiles and muggers.’

Lovely, eh?

The only reason people tolerate living like this is that they don’t have to. OASIS is just a dial-up away.

OASIS is like the world’s largest MMORPG combined with The Sims. Along with all sorts of adventure planets and worlds, you can also shop, work, and attend school in OASIS. Unlike net services these days, OASIS is 100% free to access. Sure, you have to have equipment, but Wade is lucky enough to qualify for the basic public high school issued gear.

Wade is mighty grateful to have access to OASIS at all, but he’s got a bigger goal in life. He wants to win the prized James Halliday Easter Egg. Halliday was a kind of future Bill Gates, super-nerd, who when he died, decided the best way to find an heir to his massive bazillion dollar fortune was to make the world’s most complex and difficult video game hunt for it. He left a few clues, a detailed autobiography filled with his favorite 1980s pop/geek culture references, and now the hunt for his egg is on.

This book was so dense with geekiness and references to every stupid thing I adored about growing up in 80s that I’m actually kind of hurt and shocked by how popular this book is (yes, it, too, is getting a movie deal Steven [bleeping] Spielberg signed on to direct.) I mean, really. How did this even happen? I got slammed into lockers for loving Ladyhawke and Monty Python as much as I did. Seriously, the Dungeons & Dragons references in Ready Player One are so thick, I feel like I need to roll a saving throw against this book’s 18 (+2) charisma.

This book is an award-winning best seller. With a movie deal. Did I mention the movie deal? (Spielberg!)

Yeah, sorry, jocks and cheerleaders. We got this. Me and my nerd herd, we absolutely won the culture war.

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