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Ernest Cline | Biography


Novelist Ernest Cline was born in Ashland, Ohio, on March 29, 1972. As a child Cline was captivated by video games as well as science fiction books, comic books, and films. He watched cartoons such as Star Blazers and Robotech on Saturday mornings, played the video gaming system Atari for hours, and immersed himself in the newly burgeoning world of computers. These passions continued into adulthood. He jokingly characterizes himself as a geek: "From my perspective, it definitely seems that the geeks have inherited the Earth."

Over the years Cline held many jobs, from restaurant cook to radio personality to website designer. During the summer of 2001, Cline was employed as technical support, assisting computer users with the Internet. This job led him to speculate about the future of technology: "I believed ... [the Internet] might evolve into a sprawling virtual universe." The story for Ready Player One grew when Cline began to imagine the "sort of person [who] would create such a virtual world."

However, he first began his literary career as a spoken-word performer, competing in slam poetry competitions, where poets perform live before judges. He was the Austin Poetry Slam champion in 1998 and 2001. One of his spoken-word pieces, called "Dance Monkeys Dance," is about a little blue planet run by monkeys "who don't think of themselves as monkeys. They don't even think of themselves as animals." Cline turned the piece into a short film, which became a viral video and was translated into at least 29 languages.

Cline's lifelong obsession with Star Wars led him to write a screenplay about obsessed Star Wars fans, which was made into the 2009 film Fanboys. Cline felt frustrated with the experience because he had little creative control over the film. This experience led him to begin writing novels, where he had total creative control over the product. His first novel, Ready Player One, was published in 2011. Readers immediately related to the novel's scrappy underdog hero, Wade Watts. The book was met with critical praise and made the New York Times best-seller list. It has been published in at least 40 countries, and Warner Bros. bought the movie rights for a 2018 film directed by Steven Spielberg.

In 2015 Cline published a second novel, Armada, about a gamer who has to save the world from an alien invasion. Cline lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and daughter. His favorite video game is Black Tiger, where a hero fights enemies while finding hidden bonuses. The game serves an important role in Ready Player One, as the protagonist plays a version of the game as part of his quest.

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