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Read a book, win a car: Austin author Ernest Cline designs book-inspired contest for Ready Player One

Ernest Ernie Cline Austin author DeLorean Ecto 88
Ernie Cline Courtesy of Ernest Cline
Austin photo: News_Ernie Cline_Ready Player One

How do you get nerds to put down their game controllers and pick up a book? Offer them the chance to win a fully-restored 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 like in Back to the Future, complete with a Flux Capacitor.

In order to sweeten his upcoming book tour for the paperback release of his New York Times bestselling sci-fi novel Ready Player One, Austin author and ultimate fanboy Ernest Cline announced Monday on KXAN that he is hosting a golden-ticket contest that brings the heart-pounding excitement of his fiction into real life.

In Ready Player One, Cline paints a dystopian pastiche of other futuristic worlds where the only escape from the ugliness of real life is in a virtual utopia obsessed with the nostalgic reminders of yesteryear.

The story's protagonist, Wade Watts, braves a digital quest that bleeds into the real world in order to solve puzzles and unlock clues that can help him escape his doldrums.

In an inspired move, Cline invites his flesh-and-blood readers to enter a similar multimedia journey that expands upon the virtues of the book and bleeds in to the virtual world.

Hidden in the novel is a coded "Easter egg" that will lead readers to a website with a series of increasingly more challenging video games. The first person to make it through all three games will win the grand prize of the DeLorean.

Cline admits that this is the second DMC-12 in his possession; he bought the first one for Ready Player One's hardcover edition release. His personal DeLorean — which he named Ecto 88 — has been turned into the ultimate "time-traveling, knight riding, ghost-busting jet car" with additions inspired by Buckaroo Banzai, Knight Rider, Ghostbusters and, of course, Back to the Future.


Fans will get to see the new DeLorean in person at every stop along the Ready Player One book tour, which includes stops at BookPeople Tuesday at 3 p.m. and Austin Books & Comics on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

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