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A jaw-droppingly cinematic, genre-busting debut that's part virtual space opera, part classic coming-of-age story, part brilliant pop-culture mashup.

It's the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We're out of oil. We've wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS - and his massive fortune - will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late 20th century. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle.

Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions - and will that leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.

Reviews

This non-gamer loved every page of Ready Player One.

Charlaine Harris, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Ready Player One expertly mines a copious vein of 1980s pop culture, catapulting the reader on a light-speed adventure in an advanced but backward-looking future. If this book were a living room, it would be wood-paneled. If it were shoes, it would be high-tops. And if it were a song, well, it would have to be Eye of the Tiger. I really, really loved it.

Daniel H. Wilson, author of How to Survive a Robot Uprising and Robopocalypse

The pure, unfettered brainscream of a child of the 80s, like a dream my 13-year-old self would have had after bingeing on Pop Rocks and Coke...I couldn't put it down.

Charles Ardai, Edgar Award-winning author and producer of Haven

Pure geek heaven. Ernest Cline's hero competes in a virtual world with life-and-death stakes -- which is only fitting, because he's fighting to make his dreams into reality. Cline blends a dystopic future with meticulously detailed nostalgia to create a story that will resonate in the heart of every true nerd.

Chris Farnsworth, author of Blood Oath

I was blown away by this book...Ernie Cline has pulled the raddest of all magic tricks: he's managed to write a novel that's at once serious and playful, that is as fun to read as it is harrowing. A book of ideas, a potboiler, a game-within-a-novel, a serious science-fiction epic, a comic pop culture mash-up-call this novel what you will, but READY PLAYER ONE will defy every label you try to put on it. Here, finally, is this generation's NEUROMANCER.

Will Lavender, New York Times bestselling author of Obedience

Completely fricking awesome...This book pleased every geeky bone in my geeky body. I felt like it was written just for me.

Patrick Rothfuss, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of The Wise Manâ??s Fear

Ready Player One is a fantastic adventure set in a futuristic world with a retro heart. Once I started reading, I didn't want to put it down and I couldn't wait to pick it back up.

S.G. Browne, author of Breathers and Fated

Cline's novel is a nerdcore odyssey; engaging and fun, this Gen-X popcult thrillride drew me in like a Galaxian machine set to free play.

James Swallow

The first thing I thought when I finished Ernest Cline's Ready Player One was, "My God, it's the grown-up's Harry Potter." Now this is from a mega "HP" fan, so I mean business, here. The mystery and fantasy in this novel weaves itself in the most delightful way, and the details that make up Mr. Cline's world are simply astounding. Ready Player One has it all

Huffington Post

Pleasingly geeky novel ... No wonder there are plans to make into a film.

Shortlist

The strength of Cline's first novel, other than its geeky referencing of 1980s pop culture, is the characterisation of the Candide-like Wade and his redemptive quest in both VR and the real world.

Guardian

If you grew up with an Atari or maybe had a Commodore 64 back in the day, you are going to really enjoy this one. Cline really captures the feeling of those good old days in Ready Player One.

Wired.com

Cline [crafts] a fresh and imaginative world from our old toy box ... Cline strikes the nerves of nerd culture as expertly as Andy played that skeleton organ in The Goonies.

Entertainment Weekly

Fascinating and imaginative...It's non-stop action when gamers must navigate clever puzzles and outwit determined enemies in a virtual world in order to save a real one. Readers are in for a wild ride.

Terry Brooks, #1 New York Times bestselling author

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Formats & editions

  • EBook

    9781446493830

    October 1, 2011

    Cornerstone Digital

    384 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
  • Paperback

    9780099560432

    June 1, 2012

    Arrow

    384 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Paperback

    9781784754792

    February 12, 2018

    Arrow

    384 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Extract

Everyone my age remembers where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the contest. I was sitting in my hideout watching cartoons when the news bulletin broke in on my video feed, announcing that James Halliday had died during the night.

I’d heard of Halliday, of course. Everyone had. He was the videogame designer responsible for creating the OASIS, a massively multiplayer online game that had gradually evolved into the globally networked virtual reality most of humanity now used on a daily basis. The unprecedented success of the OASIS had made Halliday one of the wealthiest people in the world.

At first, I couldn’t understand why the media was making such a big deal of the billionaire’s death. After all, the people of Planet Earth had other concerns. The ongoing energy crisis. Catastrophic climate change. Widespread famine, poverty, and disease. Half a dozen wars. You know: “dogs and cats living together … mass hysteria!” Normally, the newsfeeds didn’t interrupt everyone’s interactive sitcoms and soap operas unless something really major had happened. Like the outbreak of some new killer virus, or another major city vanishing in a mushroom cloud. Big stuff like that. As famous as he was, Halliday’s death should have warranted only a brief segment on the evening news, so the unwashed masses could shake their heads in envy when the newscasters announced the obscenely large amount of money that would be doled out to the rich man’s heirs.

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