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Riot Recommendation: “Back to the Future” Edition

Jeff O'Neal

CEO and co-founder

Jeff O'Neal is the executive editor of Book Riot and Panels. He also co-hosts The Book Riot Podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @thejeffoneal.

This installment of Riot Recommendation is sponsored by Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. 

It’s the year 2044, and-like most of humanity-Wade Watts vastly prefers the online utopia known as the OASIS to an increasingly grim, poverty-stricken real world. Like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual reality. Somewhere inside the OASIS, it’s rumored, are hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune-and remarkable power-to whoever can unlock them. For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late 20th century.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions-and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.


When Marty McFly opened the gull-wing door of Doc Brown’s Delorean in 2015, there were flying cars, self-inflating jackets, auto-lacing Nikes, and 3D theater marquees. While his own future was pretty sad, the Hilldale of 2015 wasn’t necessarily a dystopia. It seemed to have sorta the same problems as 1989 (the year Back to the Future II was released), but caricatured.

So for today’s Riot Recommendation, shout-out reads set in a virtual reality. Bonus points for 80s pop culture references.