Abelism in Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline
This book hasn’t been roasted enough. Abelism in Ready Player Two is a big subject and we haven’t brought it up enough. It’s about time we stopped taking a look at the big game corporate publishers shitting out things that aren’t even well written. I can tell you that it won’t matter your age, or your politics – there’s something for everyone to roast in this.
This book was released on Nov 24 2020, with a movie slated to be in talks since before the release date of the actual book.
Days after winning OASIS founder James Halliday’s contest, Wade Watts makes a discovery that changes everything. Hidden within Halliday’s vaults, waiting for his heir to find, lies a technological advancement that will once again change the world and make the OASIS a thousand times more wondrous — and addictive — than even Wade dreamed possible. With it comes a new riddle, and a new quest — a last Easter egg from Halliday, hinting at a mysterious prize. And an unexpected, impossibly powerful, and dangerous new rival awaits, one who’ll kill millions to get what he wants. Wade’s life and the future of the OASIS are again at stake, but this time the fate of humanity also hangs in the balance.
Also major trigger warnings ahead, there may be some seriously jarring reviews of how the internals of the book are discussed. This is not an attack on you personally as an individual, I care about content and I wanted to make sure you as the reader were well covered.
Being that i’ve put the book in a church fair after 35 pages, rather than reading through it – my review states the feelings of how the book reads before you even get far enough to read the full book.
One of the largest things reviews are missing in the second book’s plot: The ableism is amped up. Not just for the physically disabled, but the mental health and addiction.
ONI, or OH EN KNEE – the new device painted as the next best thing since eating papaya yet not… Is one of the largest reasons why we have ethical councils. Why we’re heavily researching the reasons why we have AI, and how much these things can control our every move. We have ethical discussions over how programming, devices and otherwise will eventually become our enemy – and how are we to prevent this? This feels like classic abelism.
Well the ONI device is basically every 1980’s movie, book, trope, medical experiment gone wrong. I’m refuse to finish this book, that’s how bad this book is let alone the gross misinterpretation of human nature and how tropes gloss over everything.
This device hooks into your fucking neural network.
Wade basically ate the damn blue and red pills and becomes Elon Musk. Then GSS assumes that mental health, physical disabilities need something to be hidden away with. By visiting other people’s expeirences and feeling them as for themselves.
What about those who can’t feel, or have allergies? Let’s take away the fact for a minute this isn’t a bit of the PHYSICAL aspect of ableism and more about driving a wedge in how privacy is concerned.
I do not give two or three or more flying fucks, i give NO flying shits, fucks or whatever on how this ends. You do not write programming, to visit people’s private lives. We have Virtual Reality to give ourselves another version of our core selves. That’s different, and that CAN aid people – there are deaf people using VR chat to sign to others. The ONI device has several options, and i’m sure one of them is showing people how to have SEX, or marital affairs or even crimes?
How can you use a device to pry into someone’s life without permission? It’s not like you’re telepathic, or Jean Grey or anything.
This device hooks into your brain, this device assumes you have the reasoning not to pull it off your skull and accidentally kill every brain cell you have because you’ve been accidentally triggered by a horrible experience. This is why we have to be not only transparent and ethical in real life – but transparent and ethical in our writing.
This is a dangerous trope we walk into, and while it was a fantasy in 1983 in the year I was born… This is 2021. We’re in the same century this book is set in to and it has been written like we’re still watching War Games with Matthew Broderick. We can’t keep writing books like we’re in our mid to late forties, expecting the younger generations to get our pop culture references.
I’m not even sitting here telling you to CENSOR THIS BOOK – because it’s SO “OFFENSIVE” – no i’m telling you to censor it, set it on fire – feed it to your dog for breakfast. It’s not OFFENSIVE for the sake of it being written by a guy in his forties, some white cisgender guy who thinks one drop of non-binary is representation.
I’m talking it’s trash for it’s lack of care for the philosophy and research behind the actual words that he’s writing. There is NO SUBSTANCE in this book, there is no theory nor is there any real story. It is a trope filled , ableist piece of trash that has no need to become the movie that it was in the first book. It’s a CARBON COPY stapled to it’s original with a new cover.
And i never got past page 35 and shut it.
Penguin, you know better than to be a cash cow. So many independent authors not even being picked up by big name publishers write better than this. They cost less, and they’re getting paid far less.
The fact that there’s so many references to popular culture before 1991 – it’s become outdated before you get a chance to even question your parents what a WEEBLE IS. Trust me, at 38 I had to ask my mother what the hell it was – only to find out it was a popular 1980s toy – and I had one as a kid. Scratch that it’s a capitalistic, cultural appropriation of a Russian doll toy. It was a 1970s toy, and they still exist to this day and i’m sure not ALL of them are like that but some are just “eggs” – which well, in reference to this book is more or less about HENTAI than it actually is the shape or the toy.
Sexual references, ableism, tropes about virgin gamers. Tropes about race, ancestry – and even monetary possession. That’s just the first 35 pages. You can’t force me to read the rest for the fact i’ve now paid a dollar nearly per page to be subjected to some righteous rotten fluff garbage.
Edit: After having a discussion over facebook with a well knowledges academic individual – There is some clarification to be had here:
I think on one hand, viewing something like that with a device that’s assumed to be the cure to everything without surgery – where there’s mental health or otherwise involved is in probably more in my opinion, ableist – because it assumes that the user who wears and uses such a device isn’t able to have these experiences elsewhere. It’s assuming as a product, like facebook and otherwise that it’s going to give YOU what you need – and ergo tying you to the notion that it will save, cure etc.
I mean i’m happy to just let that be a notion of opinion, rather than fact – I know from a mental health perspective i REALLY feel like that’s an absolute abelist factor – How am i going to be “saved”/”cured” of my anxieties by living someone else’s life – There’s a difference between the avatar I play in say Final Fantasy or other games – those are mixed reality, and same with Virtual Reality – that’s mixed in that you’re playing versions of yourself – you’re acting a part in a grander world. The ONI device is attempting to take the “AVATAR” to the you’re living say for example, able bodied or not – you’ve chosen to live a life of someone who’s disabled (now i would hope most people wouldn’t do this) – to experience things like “BEING IN A COMA” or “BEING IN A WHEEL CHAIR” – it assumes that if you AREN’T ABLE BODIED you’ll be willing to subject yourself to being the one to “SURF ALONG SIDE SOMEONE ELSE” yet not be in control.
For absolute clarity this was recently commented on from Facebook, and the above was my final response. This blog post is an opinion based review, and opinions can be taken or left in the trash. I have my own disabilities of mind, and a few other things – I do not assume the ability status of others. I took this post as a role of study, review and pointing out the issues in the first 35 pages. After that I snagged my bookmark out, shut it and put it in the pile to donate to the upcoming Church Fair in May.
So if you are UNAWARE of the ONI device i’ll put a disclaimer above on what it is. This review is utterly full of spoilers for the first thirty five pages as it is.
The description i gave on facebook was:
Ok so in the first novel they have the device quite like the Occulus Rift, with haptic suits and everything. The ONI or OH ENN NI – is far more then a virtual reality device. It hooks into your neural system, via some unknown network device or computer system (this was never explained they just went from WE WON THE GAME IN THE LAST BOOK to six pages later we’re selling the ONI DEVICE TO UNSUSPECTING CUSTOMERS).
It’s evidently linked to your brain but there’s no “INVASIVE” bits to it, making it the only ‘SCIENCE FICTON” part to it – the books themselves are set about 20 years in the future. And they have “ONI FILES” for Surfing, Martial arts and many other things as an original test from the origin developer who was the previous book’s major central pivot – Halliday.
IT’s meant to be an advance “VIRTUAL REALITY” without it being virtual anymore – it takes the VIRTUAL out and just makes it not even AUGMENTED- Evidently with the ONI device you’re meant to be able to simulate food, simulate sexual activity and simulate every day life – but it wasn’t explained a page or two later as a SIMULATION as more it was someone’s actual life you were living for 12 hours at a time.
It explains no more than 12 hours of wearing or it causes brain damage or severs a neural link or something – I’m telling you that this was the device they introduced around the time they then reintroduced the similar plot from the first book, claiming a set of “KEY OBJECTIVES” as if it were a video game, or a virtual reality game like VR Chat and other games on PS4 etc.
It in the actual pages was less marketed as a humanistic device as more it was marketed as a well at first a research device ,but also a commercial device that was neither therapeutic nor entertainment, but more of a device that just exists that connects to your mind – almost like “Cerebro” from X-men, but that being a device similar was for telepathic individuals not plain individuals – unlike the ONI device which is reliving someone’s life, living or dead.
The assumption is that the book would go on to explain more but it went from tropes about gamer virginity, name dropping random African countries for someone’s heritage quest – to talking about how the reality outside these devices doesn’t exist – so we must be addicted to these bot the VR and ONI. I got to 35 pages, and couldn’t stomach anything more of that.
The novel has received a more lukewarm reception than its predecessor.
Amit Katwala of Wired labeled the novel a “tedious slog through arcane pop culture references sprinkled in [lazily],” calling it “something that’s very similar to the first book, but much more grating the second time around.” Samantha Nelson of The A.V. Club and Tom Jorgensen of IGN gave Ready Player Two a C- and 4/10 respectively, with the latter saying that “inside jokes and clear reverence toward the material keep [it] from feeling like a total misfire” but ended by saying that there is “little heart to be found.”
Felecia Wellington Radel of USA Today also called it a dissatisfying sequel.
Cline’s writing was notably negatively received. In his review for Wired, Katwala stated “an AI could write a better book,” remarking that “Cline is back with a sequel that has all the same flaws as the original, but few of its plus sides.”
An aspect that was noted but disparaged heavily was Cline’s treatment of race, culture, and identity in regards to gender. Radel stated: “It feels more like geekery gatekeeping than a showing off of knowledge and attempts to display diversity in the race and gender identity of the characters rings hollow, almost offensive. In the sequel, making a point of saying a character could be trans or is Black or gay or Japanese and then assigning stereotypical phrases…then never addressing it again does not equal inclusion.” Laura Hudson from Slate noted a sexist undertone to Ready Player Two in the novel’s treatment of women: “[There is] the idea that after reliving the recorded memories of women, supposedly clueless men experience a moment of enlightenment and now realize that women are people. It never occurs to [Wade] that he also could have come to the same conclusion about [Halliday’s misogyny] by using the greatest empathy machine of all, his brain, and running the…program that is listening to other people and believing them about their experiences.”
Readers heavily mocked it upon its first day of release, causing Ready Player Two to trend on Twitter when highly-favorited threads chided passages for their blatant pandering and poor prose. Andy Ihnatko commented that “The opening page is what it’s like to be stuck on a four hour flight next to a little kid who wants to tell you knock-knock jokes the whole time.”
Michael J. Nelson and Conor Lastowka of the podcast 372 Pages We’ll Never Get Back have riffed on the novel’s greatest shortcomings starting in November 2020 in episode 89.
Writer Laura Hudson shared an excerpt from the book on Twitter that revealed Wade hacked into Skylar’s birth certificate and found she’d been “designated male at birth”.
“Discovering this minor detail didn’t send me spiralling into a sexual-identity crisis, the way it probably would have back when I was younger,” the book reads.
Hudson added: “She’s trans – which he assures us does not make him feel weird about having a crush on her! Shitty!”
Fans also didn’t like the handling of Wade’s best friend Aech, who was revealed to be a Black lesbian using the avatar of a white male in the first book.
In the sequel, Aech heads “back to her ancestral homeland” of Senegal, with some readers feeling that Cline makes Aeche’s skin colour feel like a parody.
“I’ve never seen a line in a book that made me so sure not a single Black person was involved in not only the writing but literally any point in the author’s life,” one wrote. (https://www.digitalspy.com/movies/a34804325/ready-player-two-review-first-reactions/)
I’ve watched harry potter, and i’ve read some really bullshit fiction in my day. At least shitty zombie novels at a buck a piece on amazon have some research, have some home town glory!
I’m 38, and if i can’t even get past the last time they mention the number 42 amongst 867 5309 – and maybe a few pepe le peu references amongst a boomer whining about Dr Seuss. We’re better than this, we’re better than writing the same cash cow classic basic bullshit just for a quick buck. Because the movie’s already in the making – and we’re being sold capitalistic crap before we can even open our mouths and say YES.
This book has surfaced with nothing more than tropes, sexism and references to “vintage” culture that hasn’t always aged well. Nobody’s arguing about the cheeky additions of Jenny I Got Your Number, and Hitchhiker’s – but every single paragraph in 35 pages..? Every trope you got, I’ll be writing it! Armada was light hearted, and so was RPO – but RP2? R2-D2 doens’t care who’s the celebrity behind the commercial sell out this one is. You don’t write a sequel just because Warner Brothers wants ones. Oh wait did i just actually surface why this one was written? Lest we forget that “IN THE TALKS” for a second movie, was long before the book was written. Sure the first movie was interesting, interesting enough for me to buy the blu ray. There’s one problem here: The movie was excuseable with the same tropes, same disengenous post human transgeressions. Armada should’ve been the one in line to get a movie, becuse it’s disecretly using a video game to tell a story. Ready Player Two tells the same two stories in 35 pages, and 300 pages later you’re left after bad sex. Not interested Warner Brothers!
Other random marketing ploys: Roblox. A game we all envisioned to be some VIRUS that was a knockoff Minecraft game. It’s not, and frankly i’ve heard of it – but WHY ROBLOX? Why not VR Chat? WHY ROBLOX? WHY NOT FORTNITE IF YOU’RE GOING THAT FAR?
Think twice before engaging with a book like this, and support someone that’s not a big name author. Just because it ends up in the discount bin for lower sales doesn’t mean it’s crap.
For more plotline key information that’s still not entirely clear: https://readyplayerone.fandom.com/wiki/Ready_Player_Two. While i realise that the plot may SEEM much “SMARTER” – 35 pages in and you are acting like you’re Elon Musk. Yea no go Sir Cline.
There’s an ending explanation here: https://www.denofgeek.com/books/ready-player-two-ending-explained/.
In conclusion, I still feel like this is a myriad of bullshit. I still feel like there’s much to be built on to ride the success (and now absolute bleak future) of the franchise. Sure it’s enjoyed by some, and more power to you. But there’s disgusting tropes lined within the movie, the book and the sequal reviewed in this post. It assumes based on the final ending – that we need to LEVEL UP. Yet as someone who sat through philosophy classes in design and otherwise – who are we to build electronic devices to take our own freedoms away?
Sure they’re battling to destroy these devices in the end from what it reads in several blog posts – but it’s the same plot. They destroy an end boss like an arcade game and there’s damsels in distress. Not only is the book sexist, ageist and now ableist but it’s trash.
More references down below here: