Business is getting serious in the latest chapters of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. When we last talked, Wade/Parzival had just acquired the Copper Key. His name went to the top of the scoreboard, and his avatar has become known worldwide. And that’s not necessarily a good thing. We start to learn and experience the high stakes involved in the Easter egg hunt. Let’s get to it.
Last week’s discussion left on a cliffhanger. Another avatar was present at the Tomb of Horrors and because I read ahead, I almost spoiled who it was. Oops! As many of you probably guessed before the reveal, it’s Art3mis. Wade’s crush. What I really like and respect about their relationship is that they don’t hold the lies they both told in the beginning against each other. They respect that it was part of the hunt, and I suspect Aech would feel similarly. It will be interesting to see if the hunt remains a priority over their friendship as the quest continues.
And boy oh boy, do we see Wade’s extreme commitment to the hunt. He doesn’t waste any time basking in fame or glory after he figures out the clue. Sleep? Forget about it. He makes a beeline to the next location and is able to pass the First Gate. I admire his determination but am also concerned about how much time he’s poured into the hunt. He’s mentioned playing games for hours or entire weekends, but something about knowing an entire film line by line and action by action really drove home how obsessed he is. And he’s not alone. Other gunters get through the gate before the Sixers. I mean, WarGames is a fantastic film, but wow. Side note: I would enjoy this type of video game and end up becoming as obsessed as Wade but only because I wanted to be Princess Leia. At least he has a bigger goal in mind.
Wade finally sleeps and when he does, millions of messages pour in. Parzival is famous. Even though Art3mis and Aech quickly line up behind him on the scoreboard, he was first. He’s a celebrity and is offered interviews and endorsement deals. For someone who is as poor as Wade, I can only imagine what it would feel like to have access to piles of money.
Not all that glitters is gold though and the negative side of taking first place on the scoreboard soon becomes apparent. Wade is contacted repeatedly by the Head of Operations at IOI, Nolan Sorrento. IOI is like an amalgam of every big bad corporation you can imagine. When Wade’s avatar meets with them, we learn they have no qualms about cheating. Worse, they don’t view what they do as cheating. They will do anything it takes to win the hunt and get control of the OASIS and when bribing Wade doesn’t work, they turn to violence.
That moment when Wade calls Sorrento on what he thinks is a bluff and waits to hear the explosion in the Stacks read like a movie scene. The tension will undoubtedly play well whenever the adaptation happens. The meeting marked a turning point in the book. It’s no longer just a romp through the OASIS; it’s a race to stay alive. Even though this my second time reading the book, my heart was racing. Cline did a tremendous job of upping the stakes and changing directions.
Amid the Easter egg hunt action, Cline slipped in some world-building gems that add depth. It speaks volumes that no one blinks an eye at a bomb going off and destroying several homes. And once we’re out of the Stacks, we see a bleak picture of the United States. Wade gets on an armored bus described as a rolling fortress. The journey from Oklahoma City to Columbus, a mere 915 miles, takes several days because the roads are so wrecked. Columbus is a mecca–which makes this Ohio native and Columbus fan happy–but it’s a city designed around the OASIS. Kind of like a weird extension of the OASIS in the real world.
Pop culture references
References to films, Dungeons and Dragons, and video games were still peppered throughout the text but not quite as heavily as they were previously. It makes sense. The story is getting more serious, and while I expect the ’80s will still play a huge part in figuring out future clues and passing through the rest of the gates, Wade has things on his mind that weren’t there before. You know, like being hunted by an evil corporation.
I mean, this is Ready Player One so the scale is skewed. There were still several instances that me nerd out. Wade’s apartment in Columbus is on the forty-second floor which is likely a reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
When Wade first introduces himself to Art3mis, he uses Sean Connery’s impeccable introduction from Highlander.
And if you need some epic tunes to play while you read the remainder of the post, try Basil Poledouris’s score for 1982’s Conan the Barbarian. This plays while Wade goes through the Dungeons of Daggorath game in Halliday’s room on his way to crossing the First Gate.
“Try playing on the left side.”
“Congratulations, you have opened the first gate.”
“Anyone smart enough to accomplish what they have should know better than to risk everything by talking to the vultures in the media.”
“This is much more than a videogame contest.”
Art by Kay Huang
– Wade opens up to Art3mis soon after meeting her and gives her the tip about playing on the left. Would he have done the same if Aech showed up at the tomb?
– We know Wade has plenty of free time, but do you think it’s possible for him to learn and remember so much? Do you think he has any sort of special abilities (not eidetic memory but something like that)?
– Do you know any films well enough to step into a role and repeat all the dialogue and actions?
– Wade had to make a difficult decision by calling Sorrento’s bluff. Was it the right one? What would you have done in his shoes?
– Do you think Sorrento really believes IOI’s plans won’t drastically change the OASIS?
And ead to the comments section on Part 1 and read the post from Ken about participating in the Ready Player One Easter egg while it was active. A selection from his story: “I found the clue and participated in the hunt while it was active. I was the first to complete the second gate challenge and will forever hold that place of honor in RP1 lore. There was a sense of excitement while the contest was underway that is hard to explain. Regardless of when you discovered the gates, they were opened one month apart on the first of the month, when you discovered what the challenge was and could then attempt to complete it.”
Even though I’m not strongly attached to the ’80s–it was the decade of my childhood but I didn’t come to know many of the films, etc. until the 1990s–I find myself continuing to get swept up in Ready Player One. It takes effort to put the book down. The references are delightful, but I’m hooked on the adventure aspect. Parzival is now one hundred percent devoted to his quest and so are hundreds of other gunters. Ahhh!
Go to the comments and tell me what you’re thinking after reading the latest chapters. You can answer the discussion questions if you’d like, but it’s not necessary. Ask your own questions, share your favorite quotes, all the things! If you want to take the discussions outside the comment section, use this list to talk to your fellow readers on Twitter and use the #NerdistBookClub hashtag.
Transport back for Part 3 on Thursday, March 19. We’ll be discussing Levels 0017-0024.
Featured Image Powered by DeviantArt // Artist: Kay Huang