Ready Player One and The Freedom Maze win the Prometheus Award for best novel

Congratulations to Ernie Cline for winning the 2012 Prometheus Award for Best Novel! His book, Ready Player One, shared the prize with The Freedom Maze, by Delia Sherman. Both Cline and Sherman will receive one-ounce gold coins (what else would you expect from the Libertarian Futurist Society?).

NewImageDelia Sherman's young-adult fantasy novel focuses on an adolescent girl of 1960 who is magically sent back in time to 1860 when her family owned slaves on a Louisiana plantation. She's mistaken for a light-skinned slave fathered by a plantation owner. She endures great hardships, commiserates with others suffering worse, works in the household and the fields, and sees the other slaves demonstrating their humanity in the face of incredible adversity. In the process, she comes to appreciate the values of honor, respect, courage, and personal responsibility.

NewImageErnest Cline's genre-busting blend of science fiction, romance, suspense, and adventure describes a virtual world that has managed to evolve an order without a state in which entrepreneurial gamers must solve virtual puzzles and battle real-life enemies to save their virtual world from domination and corruption. The main characters work together without meeting in the real world until near the end of the story. The novel stresses the importance of allowing open access to the Internet for everyone.

Ready Player One and The Freedom Maze win the Prometheus Award for best novel (Thanks, Tom!)


  1. I am surprised it won anything.
    I almost stopped reading when it’s revealed that the main characters friend is black and the friends mom also disguises herself as white. This written today with a Black President, with the story set 50 years in the future. 

    This gave me the impression that Cline has very little exposure to today’s multicultural society. Yeah, I’m reading a lot into that. I would have preferred that they were white and not Black ashamed of being Black. 

    It seems to me Cline’s imagination of Black people as well as his knowledge of pop culture is stuck in 1985.

    1. You def have a point there, I’d like to add the weak structure of the book and the cliché-driven plot. However, I enjoyed it on quite some levels, like: Montypythonwargamespacman, fuck yeah ;)

    2. Yeah, didn’t anyone tell him that all racism stopped in 2008? Sheesh, how out of touch can you be?

    3. You should have had a ready player one SPOILERS!!!! in your post. Spoilers !!!You missed the point,yes Aech had the trifecta trope but it was not that she was ashamed but that was her Identity that is who she was. she saw herself as a  male and their is no reason to believe that she was ashamed of her race. Ernest cline’s spoken word stuff disproves your theory about his experience in multiculturalism. lookup you’ll be dead soon.

      1. Was there not a line in there about the mother specifically choosing a white avatar to make her clients comfortable? 

        This wasn’t something that I was checking for. It’s the only 2 times race is mentioned in the book and I felt it was written poorly. I’m from Spain and grew up in New York City. So when I’m reading the book I can imagine the lead to be me. Aech can be a Asian friend I grew up with the other people in the game room I can put different faces from my youth as well. I was really lost in the story from all the nostalgia. Then  race is tagged to the story and in a way that suddenly took me out of the story. I’m not hinting that Cline is a closet racist. It’s a decent book. Just that final bit showed some limitations in writing from my point of view anyway. 

    4. Hold on.  The Ready Player One universe is an alternate, post apocalyptic, future timeline.  In this universe indentured servitude is commonplace and (I think) legalized, A single corporation basically runs everything and makes all the rules, the environment is trashed, and humans cannot find any form of contentment unless they are signed on.

      This is a universe where you think racism/sexism should no longer exist?  Nearly every other modern day failing has been exacerbated in this future but the longest lasting somehow misses the cut!?  If this universe were free from racism/sexism it would be out of sync with the whole story.

      Go finish the book.

      1. Thankyou. 

        I have not read the book but it struck me that people should keep in mind it’s a work of fiction set in a fictional future. The idea that somehow an author should presume that any future is rid of racism is an incredible restriction to expect of authors. It’s fiction. Plus I saw an extensive interview with Cline on NSFW 134 and he didn’t come across at all bigoted.

  2. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate that the “Libertarian Futurist Society” give out one-ounce coins made of Reardon Metal instead of gold? 

    Since Reardon metal doesn’t really exist, it’s the perfect basis for money in Libertarian society.

    1. When a subgenres top example of literary exellence is “Atlas Shrugged” you kinda wonder who would actually WANT to be part of it.
      (I mean I bet the books are great (haven’t read them) and that it rocks to be given an award… even if its handed out by “liberterian futurists” (liberterian in the wierdest Randian sense of the word). I thought all the futurists died out during WWI? 

  3. I checked out another sci fi book titled “Player One” by mistake.  I ended up enjoying it a great deal – it was a short and quick read but really nicely paced and with some good character development and narration. 

  4. Also not a fan of Ready Player One.  All it seemed to do was throw 80s nostalgia at the reader in a vain attempt to get the “oooh and aaah” response, while having a mediocre story, and several Deus Ex Machina situations.

    We’re to believe that the lead character had watched over 30 different 80s TV series multiple times, read numerus 80s novels, played DND extensively enough to memorize certain modules, listen to the entire discography of the 80s at least twelve times (if not 400 times), and watch every movie that made the 80s “the 80s” at least 100 to 200 times each.

    All while going to school in his little virtual land. 

    1. I’m not a great fan either, it has structural flaws, but I don’t see why the lead is a problem.  I did most of that between 1986 and 1992.  If I’d had modern computing and been four years older, I’d have done all of it.

  5. Haven’t read the Freedom Maze, but the description reads exactly like Octavia Butler’s Kindred.

    1.  Pretty tough to manage since it wasn’t nominated for either award and the Nebula has already been awarded to “Among Others” by Jo Walton.

    2. I read Ready Player One at the same time as REAMDE, and all I could think was that  Ready Player One was the book I hoped I was getting when I opened REAMDE. Ready Player One was a lot of fun, especially when it spent time in the real world, and is an excellent first novel.  Perfect? No. But much better than the paperweight of disappoint that was REAMDE.

      1. You know what was an excellent first novel? “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” An implausible mush of console game porn sluiced though a patched-up narrative full of plot holes is not an excellent first novel. My point is that I seriously question why someone would put RPO in the group as Stephenson, Gibson and Doctorow.  I did like the shtetl of stacked up mobile homes, so there’s that.

  6. I’ve never disliked a book like I disliked Ready Player One.  The pacing is either 70+ pages of information dump, endless 80’s trivia or a summary of action. The main character is ridiculously immature, illustrated by the  stupid internet argument in his friend’s basement and the wannabe badass act in the meeting with the antagonist. The other characters are painfully unbelievable, especially the antagonists. (Wouldn’t an assassin be much simpler than wiring up explosives?) 

    It was like reading one long reddit comment that wanted to be Snow Crash. 

  7. RPO was, frankly, pretty bad. It can be enjoyed as a sort of masturbatory homage to the ’80s  or a slightly punched up kids book. But it is a seriously flawed book on many levels. Self-indulgent, sloppy pacing, spotty originality, schlocky plot devices, glossed over key points, patch work narrative, over reliant on wish fulfillment. To me it read like someone got stoned and started a “hey dude what if.. right.. what if playing video games and watching movies turned out to be really important.. and fuck the corporations!  dude” conversation, AND THEN WROTE ABOUT IT.

    There is no defense to the “oh, but it was just a fun light book.” And that is true. You want to spend a few hours on complete fluff you could do worse than RPO. But giving it an award? That really says more against the Prometheus Award then anything for RPO

    1.  Have we lived and fought in vain?

      Seriously, I think the criticisms of RPO here are largely justified, but I’m surprised at their intensity.  I thought it was somewhat flawed, but enormously enjoyable, book, and I’m pretty sure only 50-60% of my enjoyment was due to having so much in common with the author w/r/t 80s nostalgia.

      And I’m gonna win that Delorean.

  8. As an 80s kid who grew up NOT playing video games, I can tell you I got nearly no enjoyment from this book. Ugh. The part that epitomizes my dislike of the story is where the main character comments about the other giant robot pilot guys having unoriginal giant robot designs. In this world. In this book.

  9. I enjoyed RPO. Some people just want a little fluff or nostalgia sometimes. I usually read scifi’s to get away from the heavier stuff I’m reading. RPO was meant to channel your inner kid (amongst other things)… that’s all. It had it’s flaws, but overall it achieved it’s objective.  Simplicity. Congrats to both authors.

  10. Holy crap people, It’s a fun book about video games as life. The whole point of Aich is that the online persona isn’t the same as her real-world ‘person’ but, in the end, it’s the same identity and it doesn’t matter. Sure, it may not be the best written literary work ever, but – newsflash! – it’s a book about a kid that plays the world’s biggest video game. Literary criticism can wait outside the arcade…

  11. Hmm.
    “RPO sucked. It’s not nearly as good as my own first novel.”
    Oh wait, let me guess how many of the complainers have first novels that are better ….
    Never mind.

    1. That’s not a fair complaint.

      Have you been president of the United States?  No?  So you’re not allowed to criticize any president or their policies, ever, since you never did better.

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