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Cline, Ernest

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1972-    ) US screenwriter and author whose Ready Player sequence, beginning with Ready Player One (2011), is set in a Near Future 2044 where Climate Change and other degradations have made the external world profoundly unpleasant. In this context, the creation of a total-immersion Cyberspace-styled Virtual Reality known as the Oasis – its late inventor and exploiter, James Halliday, has some characteristics in common with Steve Jobs (1955-2011) in real life, and prefigures Robert Ford in Westworld – which serves as an answer to despair. The extensive rules governing "inhabitants" of the VR are game-like (see Games and Sports; Role Playing Games) and expansive, with Spaceships required for any venue change, if the player cannot Teleport; the plot turns on a quest to solve a riddle embedded by Halliday into his world (see Godgame), which he continues to inhabit in Avatar form, the winner to inherit his estate. As the solution – which hinges on Halliday's intimate knowledge of the film WarGames (1983) – depends on understanding Halliday's childhood, aspirants create within the VR Pocket Universes that recreate his past. Cline manages the matrioshka structure of his tale with calm panache, as though to these manors born; this calmness does not survive into the film version, Ready Player One (2018) directed by Steven Spielberg, which is noisy with retro eyeclicks. The novel won a Prometheus Award. The sequel, Ready Player Two (2020), carries the winner of Halliday's quest into an even more pervasively Virtual-Reality world under the control of the catch in the bequest: software which pumps VR directly into victims' brains, threatening to paralyze what is left of the world. [JC]

Ernest Christy Cline

born Ashland, Ohio: 29 March 1972



Ready Player

  • Ready Player One (New York: Crown Publishers, 2011) [Ready Player: hb/Christopher Brand]
  • Ready Player Two (New York: Ballantine Books, 2020) [Ready Player: hb/Christopher Brand]

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