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Long winded reviews

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Kiln People
Beth Meacham, David Brin

Ready Player One

Ready Player One - Ernest Cline Ernest Cline is roughly the same age as me and we share some similar tastes for geeky forms of entertainment (though I don't think I played quite so many games as he did and I was never very good at them). There are a lot of people in our age group and I imagine that this book will appeal to most of them that have fond memories of the pop culture and video games of that wonderful decade, the 1980s. I wonder what the book will appeal to people who grew up in the 90s and later though. Any way, for the target demographic this book is just terrific fun, there is not much substance to it but it often raises a smile, we can always do with more of those.

The near future dystopia setting of Ready Player One works very well as it contrasts nicely to the virtual world of OASIS where life is great, and fantastic adventures can be had without fear of permanent death. I find the world the author created very engaging, it has that vivid sense of place that is very hard to achieve in fiction, in reminds me of the immersive experience of reading Harry Potter books or the best Stephen King books. Kudos ti the author for successfully - almost telepathically - transporting this reader to the world of his imagination. This alone is worth a 5 stars rating for me. The book is by no means a perfect, but to me a 5 stars book does not need to be perfect, it just needs to be special.

The prose style reminds me of Cory Doctorow's in his book [b:Little Brother|7101257|Little Brother|Cory Doctorow|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1432127743s/7101257.jpg|939584], hip, sometimes witty, always readable but never lyrical or beautiful. The characters are adequately developed for this sort of adventure though the protagonist Wade is a little Harry Potterish. The books does have a YA vibe to it in spite of not being marketed as one. I generally enjoy the nostalgic 80s element, especially the scenes involving Monty Python, Rush and Pacman. Numerous quick shoutouts to 80s pop culture also abound, but not too much to become grating. The epic climax does descend into juvenilia a little with a heavy emphasis on 80s anime references, I have to confess to enjoying the hell out of that scene also.

The science fiction and world building elements are also very well done. The dystopian setting juxtaposes very well with the VR "holodeck-like" game world. I like how the OASIS game world totally subsume the internet enabling FTL travel, teleportation and spell casting to coexist believably (because they don't actually exist). One aspect of the book which I feel is a little bit of a missed opportunity is that the author did not explore his theme of how over reliance or indulgence in VR means that the real world is generally left to rot. This is more than hinted at but not really adequately explored. This book has been criticized for "nerd-pandering" but I feel that the author's fondness for the 80s is genuine and his enthusiasm is infectious. A light and breezy read, not edifying or life changing in any way, but it made this reader happy, chances are it will make you happy too.

Live long and prosper!

EDIT (five months later): I downgraded the rating from 5 to to 4 stars because a five stars book should leave more of a lasting impression and while the book was a lot of fun to read it is a little too lacking in substance to stand the test of time (and the time is only five months!). It is still tremendous fun but it's like one of those proverbial Chinese meals that leave you feeling hungry again half an hour later.