Ernest Cline is an accomplished author, screenwriter, and spoken-word artist. Born in Ashland, Ohio, he grew up amidst books, video games, and movies which led him to develop a keen interest in science fiction and pop culture. Some of his truest obsessions include Star Wars, the films of John Hughes and the role-playing board games and stories of Dungeons & Dragons. His favorite video game is no other than Black Tiger, a title which heavily influenced Ready Player one, his first published novel.
While he is now a prominent figure in the science fiction community as well as in major Hollywood firms, Ernest had to go on a journey of many different jobs before his true passion came to light and he was able to not only publish a novel but get his first screenplay onto the big screen. His resolve and love for all things geek eventually put him on the right path which has resulted in him writing, and sometimes performing, some incredible works of fiction.
The word “geek” gets thrown around a lot these days but the very life of Ernest Cline is perhaps one of the greatest examples of a true pop culture fan. He regularly performs pieces from his spoken-word works, and actively participates in communities in order to answer questions, expand on his works, and interact with his fan base. He drives around in a custom DeLorean which mixes elements from Back to the Future, Knight Rider, and even Ghostbusters. His work is full of pop culture references, especially ones from the 80s, and it includes many of the aspects he came to love about video games while growing up, such as elaborate Easter eggs.
While his work is full of references to the 80s, the period which the author grew up in, it is also accessible to everyone else. After all, science fiction sometimes serves as the background of complex character studies, coming-of-age stories, and other adventures that fill our own world with a sense of wonder, as seen by the eyes of someone who was influenced by such things his entire life.
Works by the author
Ernest Cline’s first published book is called Ready Player One. It is a dystopian, sci-fi novel about Wade Watts, a teenager in the year 2044. In the world of the book, which is parallel to our own in many ways, Wade prefers to spend his time in a virtual world, aptly named OASIS. As part of his legacy, the creator of the virtual world created an elaborate Easter Egg hunt with an unannounced grand prize. As the years passed and no one seemed able to uncover the clues, public interest waned and only the most dedicated of people continued the search. Wade, who is also known by his virtual pseudonym of ‘Parzival’, spends his time solving the many puzzles scattered around the virtual world in a bid to escape the real world. In a twist of fate, Wade uncovers the first clue of the puzzle which sets him on a journey where he meets new people, battles a major evil corporation, and learns how to face the harsh reality of the world without escaping into a virtual one. As more secrets are uncovered, Wade finds himself in progressively dangerous situations as some people will kill for the truth while others will kill to hide it.
His second novel, ‘Armada’, is set in a future version of our own world and features another teenager named Jack Lightman. When an alien invasion threatens Earth, a government division with the imposing name of Earth Defense Alliance asks Zack and a number of other top video gamers to use their proficiency in video games to battle the extraterrestrials and save the planet. More specifically, the government originally created a video game called Armada in order to unconsciously prepare gamers for an upcoming alien invasion, which is where the book’s title also comes from. As expected, players in the game actually battle alien forces using technology similar to what the government has developed. In contrast to similar works of fiction, Armada takes place in a universe much like our own where science fiction movies and video games are known to everyone. In essence, it provides a glimpse into a possible future where an alien invasion of our world would be combated with our existing knowledge of fiction, provided that technology had advanced to a sufficient degree.
The characters in Cline’s worlds are regular people, often teenagers, who lose themselves in works of fiction and in virtual worlds that are usually better than their own. They are individuals whose worlds are unsuspectingly thrown into chaos and they have to rise up and stand their ground against major forces, whether they are evil corporations such as in Ready Player One or invading aliens in Armada. Regardless of their differences, they share a simple truth; when the need arises, they find themselves worthy of whatever is required of them and do their best to fulfill expectations, get over their personal issues, and see the world in a renewed light with a sense of wonder and newfound knowledge.
Even before publishing his first novel, Cline was actively working on his writing and he initially focused on screenplays. His screenplay for Fanboys, a 2009 movie which has now been established as a modern cult film, circulated online since 1998 until the Weinstein Company purchased the script near the end of 2005. The film centered around a group of Star Wars fans who want to break into George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch so that their dying friend can watch The Phantom Menace before he passes away. Aside from Fanboys, rights to the film versions of Ready Player One and Armada have been sold to major film studios.
Aside from his novels and screenplays, Ernest has also published a chapbook entitled ‘The Importance of Being Ernest’ which contains several of his previous poems and spoken-word pieces. Such works include Dance Monkeys Dance, Airwolf, and more. He has also published a spoken word album called ‘Ultraman is Airwolf” which is provided in his website free of charge.
Books in order of publication:
|Ready Player One||(2011)|
|Ready Player Two||(2020)|
|The Importance of Being Ernest||(2006)|