If youre hoping to check out a library copy of Ready Player One, Washington State Universitys Common Reading book selection, plan on waiting a while.
The sci-fi dystopian book is popular reading, and not just for young adults. Its appeal is part of the reason for its selection as the first novel to be included in the program. The books author, Ernest Cline, will speak at Beasley Coliseum Monday.
Set in the year 2044, Ready Player One features a world marred by economic stagnation and social problems brought on by resource depletion and climate change. The masses escape this less-than-ideal reality by turning to the OASIS, a virtual reality simulator that encompasses all aspects of life. When OASISs inventor dies, a virtual reality game is launched to determine who will inherit the company and its fortune. The story follows Wade Watts when he discovers one of the keys needed to win the game.
Lectures, films, exhibits and other public events based on the themes raised in the book will take place throughout the school year. As an added bonus, and unrelated to the books selection, Steven Spielberg is directing a film adaptation of the book, scheduled to be released in March.
Given this years theme of exploring the frontiers of technology, society and health, its no surprise that a handful of sci-fi novels were considered for selection. Ultimately, it was Ready Player One that made the cut.
This is the best book ever for the Common Reading program, said Chuck Munson, a professor in the College of Business and part of the selection team.
He explained that todays college students arent that excited about reading; hes hopeful theyll make an exception for this book. While it raises big issues, Munson thinks theres a good chance it wont get put down at the end of every chapter like a nonfiction book might.
My feeling is that theyre going to eat it up for the story itself, Munson said.
The book is intended to serve as a springboard for classroom and campus discussion about new technology in a myriad of disciplines, ranging from business and computer programming, to art and science.
Its such a compelling book, and it opens avenues to exploring new technologies and the questions those technologies raise, said Karen Weathermon, co-director of the Common Reading program.
The book features technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, simulation, artificial intelligence and big data, while raising personal and ethical issues like online relationships and personas, privacy, technology addiction, inequality and navigating the discrepancies between the virtual world and the real world.
Unlike a non-fiction book, which would be limited to discussion of existing technologies, the novel looks into a possible future and raises questions about where technology is going.
Were in the midst of enormous change, Weathermon said. Were having to figure out the implications of these technologies.
The changes are happening so fast, Weathermon said, that we arent always able to see consequences until after its too late to do anything about it.
In addition to the author lecture, a number of events will take place throughout the year in connection with the themes raised in Ready Player One. For updated information about upcoming events, visit commonreading.wsu.edu.
IF YOU GO: WHAT: Common Reading Invited Lecture with Ernest Cline, author of Ready Player One WHEN: 7 p.m. Monday WHERE: Beasley Coliseum, Washington State University, Pullman COST: $15/adults, $10/non-WSU students, free/WSU students; tickets available at www.ticketswest.com or call (800) 325-SEAT
View the movie trailer of Ready Player One: