Ernest Cline spoke at Kepler’s Books through Peninsula Arts & Lectures. Kepler’s Books is in Menlo Park, which is a trek, a 40 minute Caltrain ride from San Francisco. My friend Gib, came with me, as well as my friend, author Doug Henderson. So that’s three book nerds riding the train 40 minutes to see an author speak. However, there was a delay of some sort so our ride was more like 80 minutes. By the time we got to the bookstore, almost all the seats were taken. But we got some at the back and had a good view of Ernest Cline and the screen. The event, which was free, was well-produced. Cline had a power-point presentation, with images of himself as a child; movies, books, and video games that influenced him; and snapshots from his life (such as actors and writers in his car, a DeLorean). Cline’s presentation basically took us through the trajectory of his career. He started off as a nerdy kid who loved a movie that no one loved but ended with an implied sequel, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension! After much research and time, he wrote an unauthorized sequel to the movie, which he released online. He received such positive responses that he wrote a movie, Fanboy, about a bunch of friends who break into Skywalker Ranch so their dying friend can see the new Star Wars movie before he dies. After that, he wrote Ready Player One. Ready Player One was recommended to me through Gib, who discovered it through another mutual friend. I mention this because it’s a book that keeps getting passed around, recommended to another friend—no, recommended isn’t the right word—pushed on, and not a casual, “you should read it.” No. “Read this.” is how it’s put. “Read this. And then you’ll read it again.” So I opened up the book and read. And from the first chapter I knew I would be rereading it. When I saw that Ernest Cline was speaking, I knew I had to go. I checked the address, the train schedule, and recruited friends. I only know Cline through Ready Player One: I will be reading Armada (his second book, and the reason he’s on this book tour) shortly. But listening to him speak made me like him more. His passion was palpable. He was so grateful to find a community of kindred souls who also love Star Wars (among other sci-fi) like he does. I hope and suspect that I’ll love Armada as I do Ready Player One. I don’t have the love for Cline that I do for other authors: it would be impossible as I only have read one of his books. But I suspect that I’ll be reading everything that he writes. We got our books signed. I told Cline that I read his book because Gib had recommended it. Then I told him that so many of our friends have read his book because of Gib. As Gib was getting his new copy of Ready Player One signed, he told Cline that this was the sixth copy he has bought since he keeps giving his copy to friends to read. Cline was quite pleased with this and asked Gib if he knew where the Easter egg was hidden in Ready Player One. Since Gib did not, Cline marked it in his book!!! We waited roughly forty minutes to get our books signed. It was worth it. Oh, and the bookstore sold out of every Cline book they had! Gib and I then had 40 minutes to kill before we hopped on the train and went back to San Francisco.
It’s a special kind of friend who spends an entire evening traveling to see an author and waits to get our books signed. Not everyone is lucky enough to have such friends. Those people exist, but it’s hard to meet them because we’re all at home, hiding out, and reading.