If you like 80’s pop culture, video games, dystopian novels and people from Austin, then Sam Houston State University First Year Experience office has an event for you. Today through Thursday, events centered around Ernest Cline, author of the book “Ready Player One” will be happening on the SHSU campus. Cline will personally be on campus tomorrow for meet and greets, book signings and more.
“Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline was selected as this year’s Bearkats Read to Succeed novel.
“This past year we received over 100 nominations, and after reading countless reviews and meeting several times, the book selection subcommittee narrows it down to 10 books for the committee to read over the winter holiday break,” Kay Angrove, Director of First Year Experience, said. “Cline’s book was popular due to the huge appeal for the students and the fact that it was also a book that was adopted by a couple of other universities with great success.”
Angrove said the New York Times Bestseller helps introduce the SHSU experience prior to the semester beginning.
“The entire campus adopts the book, and SHSU’s First-Year Experience office provides incoming freshmen with their first college academic experience before they even set foot in a classroom,” Angrove said. “The Bearkats Read to Succeed common reader program gives students a copy of a book to read over the summer. This book is then integrated into some of the classes they take through lectures, a film series, participation in discussion groups, and course assignments.”
“Ready Player One” is a novel that follows the character Wade Watts in the year 2044.
Watts lives in his aunt’s trailer in the stacks outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The stacks are literally stacks of trailer homes piled on top of each other and are where many of the lower income families live in 2044.
Wade spends most of his time in the virtual world of The Oasis, playing video games and studying 80’s pop culture. This is because when The Oasis creator James Halliday died, he sent out a challenge.
“Three hidden keys open three secret gates. Wherein the errant will be tested for worthy traits and those with the skill to survive the straits will reach The End where the prize awaits,” the novel states.
The person who can find the Easter Egg, a hidden message or item in a movie or game, Halliday planted in The Oasis will inherit Halliday’s fortune. When Watts becomes the first person to find a clue years after the hunt began, the competition becomes far more dangerous and the fortune is no longer the only thing on the line.
Cline is an Austin-based author where he lives with his wife and daughter. Along with having written “Ready Player One,” his first novel, Cline wrote the screenplay, “Fanboys”.
“Fanboys” is about a group of “Star Wars” fanatics who decide to road trip to George Lucas’ ranch so their dying friend can see “The Phantom Menace” before it is released.
The events will kick off today at 3 p.m. in Lowman Student Center room 320 where Andy Bennett, the SHSU director for Center for Excellence in Digital Forensics, will speak at the panel for “The Tradeoff Between Anonymity and Accountability.” There, he will discuss the consequences of online behavior in the real world.
At 5 pm. in the LSC Art Gallery, the “Ready Player One” juried art show and reception will take place where three artists will be selected as winners. Best in show will receive $250, second place will receive $150 and honorable mention will receive $100.
The event will continue Wednesday when Cline will start the morning meeting with selected faculty and students for breakfast. Then, he will visit the Workshop in Art Studio and History program where he will speak with the students about their “Reality Inflatable” art projects.
At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Cline will be in front of the LSC where he will meet and greet students accompanied by his DeLorean.
He will visit the LSC Art Gallery at 1 p.m. and then give a keynote address at 3 p.m. in the LSC Ballroom followed by a book signing at 4 p.m.
Thursday is the final day of events and will consist of three different panels throughout the day.
“Playing Games, Making Games, Learning Through Games” will be hosted by the LSC Kat Klub, followed by the panel “Close Your Eyes, Touch Your Nose: A Vaccine for Cultural Viruses” at 11 a.m. in the LSC Theater.
Lastly, at 2 p.m. in the LSC Theater, Jesse Starkey will host the panel “Expanding Your Virtual Vision. Let’s Welcome the Fab Five!”
Putting on events such as the Ernest Cline visit and selecting the Bearkats Read to Succeed common reader are only two of the services the First Year Experience organization provides for incoming freshman.
“Drawing on campus-wide resources, First Year Experience provides academic and selected non-academic services dedicated to supporting a student’s transition into college that will lead, ultimately, to graduation,” Angrove said. “The mission of the Bearkats Read to Succeed program is to create a common academic/intellectual experience for incoming freshmen, facilitate a campus-wide cross-disciplinary conversation, and enhance the community among students, faculty, and staff.”