Rush is Everywhere in 2011 New York Times Bestseller
If you’re not a science fiction fan you might have missed the news that Ready Player One was one of the biggest literary hits of the year when it came out in 2011. First-time novelist Ernest Cline became an improbable success story when his book about a Tom Sawyer-like character sticking it to the corporation in a dystopian future reached No. 20 on the New York Times bestseller list. But maybe the book’s success is no more improbable than Rush’s success, since the book is threaded throughout with wry Rush references.
The story takes place in the not-too distant future and it’s not a pretty picture. The environment’s a mess and the social order is collapsing. But there’s one good thing: virtual reality. For many people, the real living takes place online in a highly immersive massively multiplayer game.
Without getting too much into the details, think of the story roughly hewing to Voltaire’s Candide, in which a low-born adventurer named Owen finds himself in the most outrageous situations. But with native optimism and smarts, he always finds a way out and even ends up wealthy and on top of the world. In the end, though, he settles for the simple life in a garden, surrounded by the people he loves and who love him.
If that plot summary sounds like Clockwork Angels, that’s because it is. It’s very much the same story. But that’s just one of many Rush connections in the book, the most important of which is to “2112.” In one of the key moments, Owen has to find the third of three keys that have been hidden. He does, and it’s in Megadon, the world of the priests in the Temples of Syrinx.
Cline clearly knows his Rush, but he also knows his 1980s pop culture more broadly. Indeed, he’s an encyclopedia of everything from the 1980s, so if you’re a 40-something, you’ll no doubt find this a trip down memory lane as well as a trip through Rush’s catalog of ideas over the years.—Rob Freedman, Rush Vault
Here’s a sample of the critical acclaim the book’s received:
“Gorgeously geeky, superbly entertaining, this really is a spectacularly successful debut.”—Daily Mail (U.K.)
“A delirious, crypto-nerd fantasia . . . Crammed with ’80s nostalgia and sugar-high prose, it’s ridiculous and addictive and full of toy surprises.”—Village Voice
“A smart, funny thriller that both celebrates and critiques online culture . . . Layered with inside jokes and sly references.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“An exuberantly realized, exciting, and sweet-natured cyber-quest. Cline’s imaginative and rollicking coming-of-age geek saga has a smash-hit vibe.”—Booklist
“I dare you not to fall in love with Ready Player One. And I mean head over heels in love—the way you fall for someone who is smart, feisty, and who can effortlessly finish your favorite movie lines, music lyrics, or literature quotes before they come out of your mouth.”—Daniel Wilson