October 24, 2017
Neuromancer and Snow Crash with a heavy dose of late 20th century pop culture and gaming references abound! Excellent book for Generation X.
When it came to my research, I never took any shortcuts. Over the past five years, I’d worked my way down the entire recommended gunter reading list. Douglas Adams. Kurt Vonnegut. Neal Stephenson. Richard K. Morgan. Stephen King. Orson Scott Card. Terry Pratchett. Terry Brooks. Bester, Bradbury, Haldeman, Heinlein, Tolkien, Vance, Gibson, Gaiman, Sterling, Moorcock, Scalzi, Zelazny.
I read every novel by every single one of Halliday’s favorite authors. And I didn’t stop there. I also watched every single film he referenced in the Almanac. If it was one of Halliday’s favorites, like WarGames, Ghostbusters, Real Genius, Better Off Dead, or Revenge of the Nerds, I rewatched it until I knew every scene by heart. I devoured each of what Halliday referred to as “The Holy Trilogies”: Star Wars (original and prequel trilogies, in that order), Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Mad Max, Back to the Future, and Indiana Jones. (Halliday once said that he preferred to pretend the other Indiana Jones films, from Kingdom of the Crystal Skull onward, didn’t exist. I tended to agree.) I also absorbed the complete filmographies of each of his favorite directors. Cameron, Gilliam, Jackson, Fincher, Kubrick, Lucas, Spielberg, Del Toro, Tarantino. And, of course, Kevin Smith. I spent three months studying every John Hughes teen movie and memorizing all the key lines of dialogue. Only the meek get pinched. The bold survive. You could say I covered all the bases. I studied Monty Python. And not just Holy Grail, either. Every single one of their films, albums, and books, and every episode of the original BBC series. (Including those two “lost” episodes they did for German television.) I wasn’t going to cut any corners. I wasn’t going to miss something obvious. Somewhere along the way, I started to go overboard. I may, in fact, have started to go a little insane. I watched every episode of The Greatest American Hero, Airwolf, The A-Team, Knight Rider, Misfits of Science, and The Muppet Show. What about The Simpsons, you ask? I knew more about Springfield than I knew about my own city. Star Trek? Oh, I did my homework. TOS, TNG, DS9. Even Voyager and Enterprise. I watched them all in chronological order. The movies, too. Phasers locked on target. I gave myself a crash course in ’80s Saturday-morning cartoons. I learned the name of every last goddamn Gobot and Transformer. Land of the Lost, Thundarr the Barbarian, He-Man, Schoolhouse Rock!, G.I. Joe—I knew them all. Because knowing is half the battle. Who was my friend, when things got rough? H.R. Pufnstuf. Japan? Did I cover Japan? Yes. Yes indeed. Anime and live-action. Godzilla, Gamera, Star Blazers, The Space Giants, and G-Force. Go, Speed Racer, Go. I wasn’t some dilettante. I wasn’t screwing around. I memorized every last Bill Hicks stand-up routine. Music? Well, covering all the music wasn’t easy. It took some time. The ’80s was a long decade (ten whole years), and Halliday didn’t seem to have had very discerning…
I discovered an old Dungeons & Dragons supplement called Tomb of Horrors, which had been published in 1978. From the moment I saw the title, I was certain the second line of the Limerick was a reference to it. Halliday and Morrow had played Advanced Dungeons & Dragons all through high school, along with several other pen-and-paper role-playing games, like GURPS, Champions, Car Wars, and Rolemaster.