Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

It's hard to distinguish between Ready Player Two parodies and excerpts from the real book

Illustration for article titled Its hard to distinguish between iReady Player Two/i parodies and excerpts from the real book
Photo: Warner Bros.

Ready Player Two, the sequel to Ernest Cline’s ‘80s reference-laden 2011 novel Ready Player One, released on November 24, with critics getting the book the same day as everyone else. That led to a flurry of activity on Twitter as readers shared excerpts from the books largely dunking on Cline’s prose.

Most of the images of the text have since been removed after copyright complaints, which, as one Twitter user observed, is somewhat ironic given that most of the book is based around characters reenacting movies, singing songs, or playing games that are someone else’s copyrighted work.

At the same time that the real excerpts were circulating, there were also plenty of parodies going around mocking Cline’s focus on geeky references. “Wow ready player two is wild,” wrote one Twitter user in a post with the lyrics of “The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny,” a 2005 nerdy mashup viral video that really does feel like a scenario that could happen in one of Cline’s books.

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In fact, it’s not too far from an actual excerpt on page 32 of the book where protagonist Wade Watts describes what he does when he’s not helping to run Gregarious Simulation Systems, the world’s biggest corporation: Making the ECTO-88 film series as a therapist-suggested creative outlet.

GSS already owned the media companies that owned the movie studios that held the rights to Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, Knight Rider, and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, and by paying hefty licensing fees to the estates of Christopher Lloyd, David Hasselhoff, Peter Weller, Dan Aykroyd, and Bill Murray, I was able to cast computer-generated FActors (facsimile actors) of each of them in my film. They were basically nonplayer characters with just enough artificial intelligence to take verbal directions after I placed them on my virtual movie sets inside GSS’s popular Cinemaster movie-creation software. This allowed me to finally bring my longstanding fanboy dream to life: an epic cross-over film about Dr. Emmett Brown and Dr. Buckaroo Banzai teaming up with Knight Industries to create a unique interdimensional time vehicle for the Ghostbusters, who must use it to save all ten known dimensions from a fourfold cross-rip that could tear apart the fabric of the space-time continuum.

Other parody tweets mocked Cline’s tendency to over-explain his references, like this one that just lifted text directly from the Wikipedia page for Dinosaurs, complete with footnotes.

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Again, the parody isn’t too far from reality. Take this exchange when the characters are trying to parse a clue about “the very first heroine, demoted to hero.”

“Rieko Kodama co-created the first arcade game with a woman as its hero!” Shoto said. “Back in 1985.” I searched my memory, but the only woman hero of a Rieko Kodama game I could think of was Alis Lansdale, the fifteen-year-old protagonist of Phantasy Star I—and that was a home console game. Released for the Sega Master System in Japan in 1987, and in the United States in 1988.

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Other parodies are more out there, like this imagined quest where Wade must reenact a scene in a 2007 manga by masturbating.

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Not only is 2007 way too recent to get that much attention in a Cline book, but a scene like that would really get in the way of a family-friendly sequel to the 2018 film adaptation. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t sex spliced with references in the book. Wade describes his blissful time with his crush Samantha early in Ready Player Two:

We lost our virginity to each other three days after that first kiss. Then we spent the rest of that week sneaking off to make the beast with two backs at every opportunity. Like Depeche Mode, we just couldn’t get enough.

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It’s unlikely that removing the excerpts from Twitter is really going to make people pay to buy the book, but it does have the effect of making a distinction between what’s real and what’s parody that is otherwise somewhat difficult to detect.

If you want more on Ready Player Two, check out our review and wait patiently for the film adaptation that’s all but assured should Cline figure out how to get the rights to The Silmarillion and all of Prince’s music.

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Send Great Job, Internet tips to gji@theonion.com

Samantha Nelson is an A.V. Club contributor, freelance food and drinks writer, hardcore gamer and member of the Critical Hit podcast.

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