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May 31, 2012 • Books, Preview • • Comments (0)

Preview: Episode 1

Ready Player One/The Magicians book covers

The inaugural episode is about the novels Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and The Magicians by Lev Grossman. My guest Art Tebbel (Box Office Democracy) and I discuss the books and their adaptation potential, with a few tangents thrown in for good measure.

If you’re unfamiliar with the novels, here’s what you need to know:

READY PLAYER ONE

In the year 2044, the world is such a terrible place that most people spend the majority of their time plugged into a massive virtual universe called the OASIS. It holds thousands of planets, has its own real currency, and gives every user the opportunity to be anything they want. The creator, James Halliday, leaves puzzles¬† throughout the OASIS leading to an Easter egg, and upon his death the world was informed that whoever was the first to obtain the egg would inherit the OASIS and Halliday’s unparalleled fortune. To have any hope of solving the puzzles, players would have to become scholars of Halliday’s life and interests, most of which surround pop culture from the 1980s. Five years pass without anyone making any progress, then eighteen year old Wade Watts solves the first puzzle.

Suddenly, the hunt for Halliday’s egg is back on with a vengeance. Wade finds himself in a race to beat several other “gunters” (egg hunters) whose Halliday knowledge gives him a run for his money. But they’re not the only ones he has to worry about. ISP company IOI has created a fleet of mercenaries known as Sixers to find the egg on their behalf, and these guys aren’t above killing gunters in the OASIS or the real world.

THE MAGICIANS

Having grown up on a series of novels about a magical world called Fillory akin to The Chronicles of Narnia, high school senior Quentin Coldwater never quite outgrew a wish that magic was actually real. So when he stumbles into an entrance exam for a magic college in Brooklyn called Brakebills, he can hardly believe his luck.

But after passing the exam and beginning his magical education, Quentin soon realizes that magic in the real world is a lot different than it was in his favorite fantasy novels. It requires painstaking study and painful physical manipulation of his hands that leaves him exhausted yet always wanting more. One of his classmates, introverted Alice, seems to take to it preternaturally, while another, punk Penny, pursues his studies with such intense effort that it seems to drive him a little crazy. After the student body endures a traumatizing incident, the head of the school, Dean Fogg, explains that there are other worlds and magic is the key to accessing them. He cautions against any attempt to contact these other worlds, but the message Quentin gets is, “Fillory is real.”

After a strange journey to Antarctica for an even stranger semester at Brakebills South (both involve transformation into animals), Quentin and his friends return to Brooklyn and finish their studies. They graduate and enter an aimless, hedonistic period that threatens to tear their group apart until Penny arrives one day with a magic artifact capable of transporting them to Fillory.

But once again, Quentin’s left to realize that the reality of Fillory is quite different than the fantasy version he’s carried around for years. It’s darker and more dangerous, and he may even be lucky to escape with his life.

The episode posts tomorrow, so tune in then and enjoy!

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