Sunday, January 29, 2012

Don't waste your time with Ready Player One

I'm still on a quest for new authors and seem to be in a sci-fi rut for the last couple of weeks. I'm not sure where I found Ready Player One, but it looked interesting and had received decent reviews.
Overall it had a decent storyline, albeit predictable. There was never any doubt as to whether the hero would win in the end, basically your typical "group of like minded people surmount great odds" type of book. The most unique aspect of the book, and why I think it has received good reviews was the nearly unbearable torrent of 80's trivia. I understand that this was central to the story, but many times throughout I went into scanning mode just go get past the useless facts and parse out the relevant bits of story.
I'm also not a fan of the overly descriptive sci-fi writer.

If you look at the classic writers, whose books can stand the test of time you find that when they are speaking of new technologies they briefly mention what it does, or what it's used for, yet never go into too much detail. Think of Jerry Pournelle's pocket computer, in 'The Mote in God's Eye', he mentions what it is (a pocket computer), what it was used for (maps,reading etc) and that was about it. Twenty years later, we have them and because he didn't try to imagine what the exact technologies would be that brought them to us his books are prescient and seldom wrong.
Unfortunately Ernest Cline decided to take the overly descriptive route and although the things he describes in the book aren't too far fetched by today's standards, in the long term he will have hobbled himself with too many details. Too often it felt like you weren't allowed to use your own imagination to fill in the blanks.

Despite looking interesting by then end of this book I just wanted it to be over, and should have obeyed my 100 page rule where I give any book 100 pages and unless I have a strong desire to complete it - I give up.

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