Credit: Dan Winters

Wednesday’s news that Steven Spielberg is attached to direct the big-screen version of Ready Player One was greeted near-unanimous praise online by fans of the pop culture-drenched adventure tale. But how did the book’s author Ernest Cline feel about the choice? As you might expect, he’s pretty stoked—the Austin author famously drives a Back to the Future-style DeLorean, after all.

“This is a lifelong dream come true for me,” Cline tells EW. “I never could have or would have written Ready Player One if I hadn’t grown up on a steady diet of Steven Spielberg films. His work helped to shape my whole worldview, and set me on the path to becoming a writer and a filmmaker (as well as a DeLorean owner). I keep pinching myself. I still can’t believe that my novel, which is an homage to everything I loved about growing up in the 80s, is going to be turned into a movie by the greatest film director of the ’80s (and arguably of all time). It feels like a dream. But it also feels like destiny … or density.”

And if you actually got that reference, Ready Player One is definitely a book for you.

For those who haven’t yet read the 2011 novel, it can be carelessly described as a sort of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for the digital age—a virtual reality quest story that takes a delicious dive through ’80s pop culture as a young, impoverished hero joins thousands of contestants in a virtual reality competition to win the massive inheritance of an eccentric video game developer. Yet it’s also a future-shock story as well, intuitively grasping how we might interact with new technologies at the expense of communicating with each other. That sounds like heady stuff, but the story itself is a total page turner.

The Warner Bros. film is expected to be Spielberg’s next project after The BFG.