Setec Astronomy

November 28, 2012

If that phrase doesn’t ring a pop culture bell for you, then you need to go out and rent/stream Sneakers, an under-appreciated, in my opinion, film from 1992. If the bell does ring, then you might be the perfect reader for Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline. The novel follows Wade Watts, aka Parzival, a high school senior who has lived almost his entire life in a virtual reality world known as OASIS. As the United States has suffered economic and environmental catastrophe, just about everyone else has also abandoned the real world for the virtual one.

Wade is a gunter–a seeker of the treasure hidden in OASIS by its creator, James Halliday, when he died. Because Halliday was obsessed with late twentieth-century pop culture, OASIS reflects that, so anyone trying to find the “Egg” needs to be equally obsessed. As Wade and his friends are.

The story is fun–a post-modern quest pitting the resourceful gunters against the evil mega-corp who wants Halliday’s fortune for their own nefarious purposes. There is also a bit of a warning to the attentive reader–how close are we to a world like this? But the real fun comes from all the pop culture references–and seeing how many you know. While there are a lot of video game references, there are also TV, movie, and music mentions. Some are explained; some are not. “Setec Astronomy,” for example, wasn’t, and I think that was the only reference to the movie in the book. You are just expected to know or to want to go find out.

And as hokey as the game is by today’s standards,  it will make you want to pull out your old Atari 2600 and play Adventure.

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Kim Harrison

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