A river of words flowed between us.
Nolan Sorrento is the head of Innovative Online Industries and the main antagonist of Ready Player One. His objective is to find Halliday's Easter Egg by any means necessary so that he may take over and monetize the OASIS.
Sorrento is head of IOI's Oology (the science of searching for Halliday's Easter egg, originally the science of bird eggs) Division, and serves as the primary antagonist of the novel. His employee number ID is IOI-655321. In the book, he is described as having blonde hair and a hawkish nose. He was born either the 1990s or early 2000s.
Sorrento is a cold, ruthless, manipulative, and calculating individual with a bare minimum regard of human life. He will employ underhanded or even illegal tactics to ensure that he (or any one of his employees under his command) gains control of the OASIS. However, we have no clue what he was like before IOI "recruited" him.
Along with blocking access to areas where keys and gates are located, as well as using rigged visors to switch control to another user or feed him information when he cannot solve a puzzle or complete a task, Sorrento will even plan and authorize the murders of any people who come closer to finding the egg than he does, as shown with the failed attempt at Wade's life and the successful attempt at Daito's life.
Nolan Sorrento (IOI-655321) earned a PhD in video game designing, and created some games in the OASIS, which Wade described in the book as "some games were actually pretty good." At some point in his life, Innovative Online Industries, a communications company and internet provider, offered him a job in the Oology department. His knowledge of video games and James Halliday (the OASIS's designer) got him promoted to head of operations by the time Ready Player One takes place.
Sorrento writes a business letter to a Gunter (egg-hunter) named Parzival. When Parzival meets him in the chat room of the IOI Building in the OASIS, he offers to pay him to reveal the location of the Copper Key. After Parzival refuses, he reveals his real name: Wade Owen Watts. He threatens to murder Wade unless he tells him the location of the Copper Key and the First Gate. Wade, who was at his secret hideout at the time, bravely refuses, and Sorrento blows up Wade's old trailer homes (it is possible that Sorrento was unwilling to murder all those people, as a full minute passed without any explosion occurring, and that he was forced to do it by the IOI Board. Also, in the film, when Wade points a gun at him, he says that it was a corporate decision and not a personal one.). The resulting explosion kills everyone in Wade's stack and those around it, including Mrs. Gilmor. In the book version of Ready Player One, Sorrento orders the murder of Daito, who was thrown off of his apartment building and died once hitting the pavement. Though he works for IOI, it is revealed that Sorrento took the job only for the opportunity to destroy the entire OASIS (as revealed in Lacero) to "avenge" his sister and force people to face the world they've been neglecting.
At the end of the book, Sorrento and his employees are arrested by federal officers for killing Daito and trying to kill Wade. In the film, Sorrento is arrested while attempting to kill Wade with a gun.
- Nolan Sorrento's employee identification number IOI-655321 is the same as the prison identification number of the character Alex from the movie A Clockwork Orange (6655321 in the novel), and the character Plankton from the SpongeBob SquarePants episode Jailbreak!, amongst many other references.
- Nolan Sorrento's employee identification number IOI-655321 could possibly be a reference to Gregarious Simulation Systems, as represented by the 655 spelling out "GSS" on a mobile phone keyboard. GSS is the company that runs the OASIS, and IOI had attempted to take over the company multiple times but had failed to do so.
- Nolan is also the first name of an American engineer and entrepreneur Nolan Kay Bushnell, who created the video game Pong and later founded Atari, Inc. in 1972, as well as the Chuck E. Cheese's Pizzatime Theaters and chain in 1977. According to Ready Player One author Ernest Cline, "Not that I think Nolan Bushnell is a bad guy or anything. It’s meant as a subtle tribute!"
- According to Cline in an interview, author Andy Weir of The Martian had emailed him and told him to come over after he had written some Ready Player One fan fiction, wherein he had written an origin story for the villain Sorrento in Ready Player One. The story was included in a limited edition of RPO and Cline stated he considered it to be canon.
- His avatar in the movie resembles Superman, as drawn by artist Alex Ross.
- Also in the film, Nolan's avatar's eyes can change color based on mood. His common eye color is blue, has yellow eyes when agitated and has red eyes on one occasion, when he detonates the Cataclyst.