The "Ready Player One" backlash.

I read "Ready Player One" and enjoyed it and wasn't quite prepared for the critical backlash. Yes, the constant cultural references were annoying at first, but I just skipped over those. Yes, it was all fanboy wish fulfillment, but what's wrong with that?

The problems with the book are bigger than that.

SLIGHT SPOILERS, overall story arc, no details.


It has a young white boy, who is completely marginalized by his nerdity, who revels in his nerdity, who because of his esoteric fanboy knowledge, wins the game, and fame and fortune, and most importantly the magic pixie dream girl.

So I can see-- if you really want to over-intellectualize it--that might not be politically correct.

I would suggest if you want to filter this book through political and cultural criticism that you ignore the book, don't read it, it's quite obviously about as unrealistic a novel as could be written.

At the same time, strangely, I have had a similar problem with science-fiction novels for a long time now.

This first started happening about twenty years ago as I started to realize that many of the Heinlein-esque novels I was reading had the tendency to glorify elite skills--not only that, but to actively disdain anyone who didn't have those skills.

These were the same ideas the pervaded the Golden Age of SF, lots of it coming from the John W. Campbell version of the universe, where the good guys are always white men overcoming all obstacles, all aliens, all other cultures.

What had been fun and triumphant when I was younger starter to feel off as I got older. I'm not technological proficient, but I still feel like I bring something to the game. And this overwhelming sense of superiority started to seem more like defensiveness, of getting back at the larger culture who didn't understand them.

At the same time, a sense of insularity, of "WE" have our own little world that is better than everyone else but no one understand us.

This has metastasized over the last few years, with Gamergate and Rabid Puppies and other movements that are toxic.

As a reader, I do find some SF to be relentlessly preachy, but I don't have to read it if I don't want to, and I feel like these writers have every reason to exist and are in fact an antidote to the culture that has dominated SF for so long.

Meanwhile, what I actually read probably falls mostly in the middle of these two extremes, or if I read books that are out of my comfort zone, I give them a pass.

It will all settle out in the end, I'm sure.