Monday, July 30, 2012

"Ready Player One" By Ernest Cline

1. I liked it. 1.1. As a science fiction novel. 1.1.1. The concept was good. The immersive virtual reality hook was interesting enough to hold my attention. Even if the idea of an immersive virtual reality isn't new. [a] 1.1.2. The setting was believable. It was desolate without being desperate. Hope is very important in sci-fi. Why else would you want to go there? 1.1.3. The technology was believable. It's given parameters which seem possible but also advanced. If the parameters were unbelievable, why not just make them magic? 1.2. As a mystery novel. 1.2.1. The most basic version of the story is "Wade is a detective looking for a lost object." 1.3. As bildungsroman. 1.3.1. The characters are dynamic and have changed by the end of the book. They have experienced psychological growth. Wade in particular has grown from being an loner with low confidence to someone who leads. They have experienced moral growth. By the end Wade's plan of what to do with the money is very different from his plan in the beginning. 1.3.2. Cline included a Wise Old Man character. As you know the archetype is often presented as a wizard. Especially to knights seeking the Holy Grail. As you know the archetype is often presented as a hermit. 2. I felt like it could've done better. 2.1. By ditching the 1980s theme. 2.1.1. There was nothing essential about the theme to the telling of the story. The thing Halliday was obsessed with/nostalgic for could've been anything. If it's completely interchangeable, there's no gravity to its inclusion. [b] It was "inflicting your research on the reader". Cline is showing off how much he knows instead of bringing the reader in. 2.2. By spreading the narration around. 2.2.1. Recognize there is more than one interesting character in the book. 2.2.2. Emphasize the massiveness of this MMORPG. Showing us only one character's story is like showing the Grand Canyon thru only one family's vacation there. 2.2.3. Introduce characters who come back later in small cameos. [c] The main character may not recognize them but the audience will. Punching thru the fourth wall reminds the reader they themselves are experiencing a virtual reality. (Albeit via a 560 year old technology.) 3. It should've been more ambitious. 3.1. Be more literary. 3.1.1. The writing itself was too sophomoric. 3.1.2. Talk about how the characters feel. Not merely their motivations for doing things. Empathy creates a strong connection between the character and the reader. 3.2. Be more like a videogame. 3.2.1. Videogames are interactive by their nature. The first thing they ask you to do is explore. Exploring is immersive. They leave you clues and ask you to make the connections. Even if they explicitly spell them out later to move the plot forward. 3.3. Be open-ended. 3.3.1. The problems this world is experiencing aren't going away overnite. [d] 3.3.2. Suggest the next bad guy. Show how the stakes have now raised. [e] Every all-powerful hero needs a villain who could defeat him. Turn the hero's powers against the good guys. Especially turn it against the hero himself. 3.3.3. Tidy endings are boring. Putting a bow on the story shows how limited it is. It implies the author has exhausted their idea completely It doesn't encourage the reader to carry the book on with them after they've set it down. The coolest feeling in the world is setting a book down and anticipating the next one coming out. [a] The Matrix for an example. [b] [c] Like the "puking Oreos" guy on page 274. [d] Blowing up The Death Star didn't overthrow The Empire. [e]

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