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Ready or Not: The World in 2044

By DJ Shuman

The decade that was the 1980’s captivated the world, and told it to move its groove thing since the day it started. Though the 80s may now be ancient history to today’s youth, this new generation harkens back to the time that pop-music and great movies were all kids needed to keep smiles on their faces and bumps in their steps. Granted, we don’t always understand all the funky hairstyles or weird trends, but who are we to judge?

Ernest Cline’s 2011 book, Ready Player One, centres around these concepts, but in a very different way. The year is 2044, and the world faces threats that we see a possibility of in our not-so-far future. One might call Cline’s world a dystopia, as poverty is not so much a threat as a fact of life. After an event called the “Global Energy Crisis,” many parts of the world have pulled back from their dependence on non-renewable power production. Instead of a luxurious, eco-friendly, electric utopia, Ready Player One portrays the opposite—something along the lines of the industrial revolution with massive trailer parks and starvation.

Humanity’s one solace from all this misery shows itself in an unlikely way: a video game. This game, aptly named the OASIS, uses haptic gloves and a virtual-reality visor to transport users into a new world. Billions of people log in to OASIS everyday, and large amounts of industry have moved on to it. Jobs, education, even politics have are flourishing inside this video game.

At the time of our story, OASIS has become much more than a game: it is a second world. The creator of this world, its one true god, James Halliday, has recently passed, leaving a final task for OASIS players: finding a hidden Easter egg.This egg would help grant the wildest dreams of the one who finds it, and millions start looking.

The story features a young boy, Wade Watts, a self described “OASIS Addict.” Watts is a student inside the program, and an avid Egg Hunter (Or “Gunter” for short). Wade is living in an ugly place, as everyone does. His dream is to find Halliday’s egg, and free himself from this disaster of a life.

Halliday, who was born in the 1980s, laces each clue to solving the egg puzzle with a little nostalgic pop-culture hint. Dungeons & Dragons, Ghostbusters, the Muppet Show, Van Halen, and Madonna, Halliday covers all base. Armed with the findings from his extensive research, Wade gears up to solve the greatest puzzle humans have ever tackled.

Here in the late 2010s, there seems to be a growing divide between kids and adults, because we don’t understand you geezers, and I’ll bet you can’t understand us. But Wade’s story shows us that today’s generations aren’t all that different. Anyone can dance to Michael Jackson, and everyone can enjoy Back to the Future.

This odd, fantastical story has something new and unexpected at every turn, and keeps you on edge. It was a really page turner for me, and held a lot of high intensity cyber-action for readers to enjoy. Steven Spielberg has directed a film based on this novel that will come out later this year. If action, sci-fi, and fantasy are your forte, then I hope to see you in the theatres!

 DJ Shuman is a junior at Eastern Shore District High.

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