Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

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domino harvey
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Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#201 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:02 am

Been thinking a lot about nostalgia lately (mostly bad) and morbid curiosity led me to this one. I figured at worst, it’s still Spielberg so it’ll at least be watchable, and it was, but just barely. This falls in the not as bad you’d fear, not as good as you’d hope category, especially considering some of the more vomitous source excerpts posted earlier in this thread. As others have noted, the references are not leaned on as heavily as they appear to have been in the novel, but that actually just makes them even more useless. There's something of soul death in the film's presentation of a world of people who don't even want to live in their own nostalgia but instead want to occupy the pre-ordained tastes of their idol-- a better film would highlight and criticize the absence of taste. But this would naturally draw conclusions alienating to the film's core audience of mindless pop culture Xerox machines, digesting without processing countless mainstream media touchstones and mistaking it for taste. No, instead we get MarioCart/T Rex mashups et al. Additionally, there are no real dramatic stakes in the film, the characters are as unknowably bland as their avatars, and the constant CGI means this film is really an animated movie with live action inserts, not the other way around. Also, good lord, can Olivia Cooke’s agent please steer her away from any more projects that give her a small, imperceptible physical “flaw” that’s supposed to let the audience pretend she’s not an improbably gorgeous dream girl?

The film has one good idea, which is that like in the Victorian era of Little Doritt, players who overextend their online bankroll are sent to debtors prisons to work off their chits in the virtual world while confined to telephone box holding tanks. More explorations into the economic realities of a society that could sustain this kind of distraction would be welcome, because as is I kept asking questions I’m not supposed to, like: how do characters like, oh, the protagonist and all his friends make money to survive on? Is it a fully Bitcoin-esque world where the game’s coins are now national currency? When cops show up late in the film, I was flabbergasted: there are people in this world who are able to pull themselves away long enough to put on a uniform? Could we, I don’t know, see that instead of Robocop cameo-ing on the intergalactic dance floor? The film has no intellectual curiosity about the world it presents us, and there’s zero sense of wonder capable of being found in what amounts to people watching video games. Indeed, one of the few visual images to even leave a mark in the movie are the moments when large sections of a room full of players die in the game and we see the LED lights around their play areas go out in unison— even watching someone else play and not seeing what they play is more interesting than a ‘Scope big budget Twitch stream!'

That said, I applaud Colin's commendable ability to like and defend this film (and novel) at great length without ever once unfairly engaging with/against the hostile responses to the work he clearly values. I know he's probably never uttered a negative word about anyone's comments in his history here and elsewhere on the forum (I bet all my coins on it), but still, he's a better man than me.

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colinr0380
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Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#202 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Jan 13, 2019 5:29 am

Thanks domino! (Though don't look look in the Contempt thread :oops: ). I think a lot of the changes made to the film were interesting, but at the same time it could be argued that they did smooth out some of the more spiky and ambivalent aspects of the book (the economic aspects in particular, as well as the mid-section of the novel where things go into quite dark territory equivalent to that on the run section of Minority Report. There's a great Brazil-like passage at that point of Wade having to work a menial day job as a rather brusque tech support worker, with him being rather annoyed and disgusted at the lack of basic knowledge of the 'normal non-gamer people' struggling with new technology who he has to help, and juggling that with his bigger plans, which contrasts with the even more literal economic slavery within IOI later on. And there are no cops as far as I recall in the book - you are at the mercy of corporations to hunt you down and either protect you or wipe you out as they see fit, and their private security forces arresting people for non-payment of fees) as well as the potentially dislikable aspects of the character that were previously worried about with the excerpts from the novel. That does make the film feel a little too streamlined at times, and Wade has rather been rather emptied out as a character to move a number of the challenges he faces across to flesh out Samantha/Art3mis's character, who is much more distant and ambivalent (and yes, projected upon) in the book.

Though it is interesting that people have not commented on the most potentially awkward moment at the end of the film:
SpoilerShow
in which Samantha is kind of draped around Wade in his comfy (gaming?) chair as if she's the flesh and blood equivalent of a game controller! With the implication that Wade has swapped one for the other but they may both be equivalent distractions from issues in the wider world? Though that really might be reading too much into it on my part! That (like the ending of The Post) in playing out more 'safely' as a triumphant climax to a love story loses any potential for ambiguity of response, both on the part of the character and for the viewer watching them. Samantha just responds to Wade's attentions with reciprocal love, as she has throughout the film, rather than seeming like a figure who might not even think of him in romantic terms leaving Wade (whose main trait in the book is that of being much more of a reckless gambler, albeit one whose gambles usually pay off) to make a proposal in hope, about to play the greatest game of all, in the book.
It is rather strange though that the most vibrant feeling and fully fleshed out characters in the film are those of the baddies!

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DarkImbecile
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Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#203 Post by DarkImbecile » Sun Jan 13, 2019 10:27 am

colinr0380 wrote:
Sun Jan 13, 2019 5:29 am
(Though don't look look in the Contempt thread :oops: )
I sometimes lament that I wasn’t aware of and participating in this forum earlier than I actually was, but then I read certain threads and think of my personality and level of self-restraint in the mid- to late-2000s and realize I would have been booted out of here long before the beginning of this decade.

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Mr Sausage
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Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#204 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:18 pm

DarkImbecile wrote:
colinr0380 wrote:
Sun Jan 13, 2019 5:29 am
(Though don't look look in the Contempt thread :oops: )
I sometimes lament that I wasn’t aware of and participating in this forum earlier than I actually was, but then I read certain threads and think of my personality and level of self-restraint in the mid- to late-2000s and realize I would have been booted out of here long before the beginning of this decade.
Back in the day, we treated banning members like the Oscars treated Scorsese. When it came, it was years late and not really for what you should’ve earned it. I doubt you’d have gone anywhere. I was the only active member of the mod team for much of that time, and I wasn’t even banning major enemies of mine who’d repeatedly crossed all sorts of lines. Speaking of which...

I still remember the moment colin’s talking about. He cheekily made an unfair but true-for-him comment (most of us have been ruder on here by accident), and a guy well-know for his sunny, even-keel disposition nearly ran colin off the forum for it. It was a bizarre time to be a member here, honestly.

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Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#205 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:24 pm

That grumpy post in the Contempt thread was my closest brush with a melt down so far (fingers crossed it is the only one on that scale!) and in some ways I have been quite glad for it, because it let me know how easy it is to react badly to something someone else posts that might not be intended in that way, or have even been intended to reply to me at all, just someone posting their own feelings towards a film. That experience influenced me a lot when seeing other things that happened on the forum afterwards from Barmy and Nothing on to comments from more recent members that end up in the Infighting threads. While they are caused by different factors I can in some way understand what happens and feel lucky that my own blow up was not worse. I remember feeling at the time more upset at myself more than anything for saying something silly in the heat of the moment, and I remember my comment came about through quickly responding without having read Herr Schreck's comment properly first.

I think that I was more being annoyed at the tone of the thread being dismissive of a film I was particularly fond of (which taught me the lesson for the future that everyone is entitled to their own opinion even if you disagree and even if almost personally hurts a bit to feel something that you have a connection to get dismissed. No wonder sometimes directors, actors and so on get upset when even I as just a viewer sometimes feel that urge to leap to defend something that I liked even when it really has nothing to do with me! And while I am not a Star Wars fan I presume that this same feeling is behind the way some fans can react strongly, positively or negatively, to developments within that series. Investment in something by its very nature can cause strong reactions), which when combined with not having read the comment properly and jumping to conclusions, as well as the general circumstances of my life at the time all bundled together in that moment of being overly snippy at Schreck. In 2006 I had been dismissed from my job with no guarantee of anything on the horizon and some of the desperation that lent, as well as the feeling that at least I could contribute a bit to a forum with some posts if nothing else only to get involved in an argument here as well, probably pushed me to making that post without thinking it through quicker than it otherwise would have done if things were more stable for me at that time. I don't want to speak for people who have spectacularly burnt out on the forum over the years but it can be understandable that sometimes the worst, most out of nowhere posts might arise from a general frustration getting suddenly vented in an inappropriate place. It is of course right to call things out, move things into the infighting forum (for the good of the person posting to get comments out of public view, as much as to keep the general threads tidy) and warn people about their behaviour but sometimes it is understandable that the pressure that people put on themselves (to post and to have something to say, even if it feels like there is nothing to say, just to remain present) can come out in explosions of frustration. In some ways that is why I even felt for swimminghorses when they were posting so many terrible fake Criterion covers one after the other, because that poster was trying so hard (perhaps too hard) to be noticed.

To take this all back to Ready Player One, the book actually gets at that exact feeling of needing to do more but also wondering if you still can at the mid-point, especially when after the acrimonious break with Aech and lack of interest from Art3mis, and the death of his Aunt and escape to the City Wade is left alone and anonymous before finding out that both Aech and Art3mis have had a breakthrough without him at the next trial only by seeing their names overtake his on the leaderboard. Suddenly Wade is left playing catch up after having spent a bit of time resting on his laurels as a celebrity for just having passed that first trial, and that fear of once again being 'forgotten' or getting left behind in a world where he has even less than he started with feels like it is what inspires him in his daring/reckless plan to falsify his debts to get arrested and become an indentured slave of the IOI corporation. Either he succeeds in his plan (which of course he does) or he has bluntly literalised his return to anonymity as nothing more than a number as a criminal debtor condemned to forever paying off his online debts. That moment of being arrested and Wade looking up to say goodbye to his boxy anonymous apartment (but which was the last trace of him in the real world, imagining it having already been leased out to someone else before he has even been driven away from the building) and then looking at the other people around him who have also been arrested for non-payment of their subscription fees was the hardest hitting moment of the entire book for me. That lowest ebb, most dystopian aspect of the book at that mid-point is the one that is tellingly entirely leapt over in the film when it goes immediately from the drone attack on the aunt's trailer to Wade being kidnapped by Samantha's resistance group. The book contains a lot of focus on the fear of having no future, your existence being interchangeable with anyone else's, and the problematic, ephemeral nature of celebrity. Celebrity is an imperfect substitute for friends and family (even abusive family) who actually recognise you as an individual and your personal qualities, but it is also the only way out. Yet celebrity is an extremely short term fix at the same time (like a sinking stepping stone in Frogger that is both your salvation but you have to jump off of to some more stable platform before it disappears and leaves you high and dry!), which is something that the film does not really get into at all, mostly because it much more takes for a given (in a way that I find quite touching!) that everyone has good friends to support them through the tough times, even to go off to jail with them!

This risks jumping too much to conclusions but I was re-watching the Face To Face interview with Spielberg around the time of Schindler's List a day ago (the Face To Face interview with Derek Jarman being included on the upcoming BFI set sent me watching through other episodes of the series) and there is a very interesting comment that he makes in response to the question about his greatest fear that it is to be alone. In a way despite it being made decades later from that interview the adaptation of Ready Player One fits in squarely within that trend, as it exchanges the sense of isolation and despair of potential anonymity (before everyone comes together again for the cathartic final battle) of the book for one of community and friendship always being there even at the darkest times.

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Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#206 Post by knives » Tue Feb 05, 2019 2:47 pm

Saw this thanks (?) to the oscars and I find my response somewhere between Domino's and Brian's. While I would have loved the Haneke-esque vision that explores all of the implications of this world that Dom seems to describe, I do feel there is enough here to at least pet that desire even as the film is too friendly to develop the real world (I imagine in response to the cop thing that most of the people of this world are like the business exec in that they merely tolerate the game's existence with different people having different levels of obsession). What little acid there is to the film is plainly showcased in the Shining scene which openly connects it to the video game references in a way that calls it just as stupid. That many of the most critical voices pointed it out as the film's highlight shows how pathetic and enslaved to the god head of the canon critics are.

Speaking of that god head it is amazing how unsubtle the critique of him is and the critique of the world that follows him. He's a self isolating, ASD, Steve Jobs type weirdo who regrets all of the decisions in his life and built this hunt seemingly to show that his game and interests are stupid. The hero is considered successful when he breaks from this god by kissing the girl. That the appropriate way to enjoy nostalgia is through this guy is in itself quite the pointed critique.

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Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#207 Post by dda1996a » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:03 pm

I'm confused as regarding to what you wrote about The Shining part.

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knives
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Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#208 Post by knives » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:11 pm

Before they enter the movie there's a discussion, I can't remember the exact dialogue, that posits it as just another artifact which they don't care to think about beyond its connection to the god head. In the moment it struck me as thumbing its nose at those who would dislike the movie for its video game referencing yet excite over a reference to Kubrick.

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Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#209 Post by dda1996a » Wed Feb 06, 2019 2:16 am

I fail to see that, as there are many other film references before and after that. I feel like you are way too cynical and calculated as regarding it's use in the film. Was there anyone who complained about too many video games references but was fine with film ones?
In any case, I felt this film did a much better use of these poo culture quotes than something like Wreck-It Ralph. Don't know about the book (and what parts that were shown here seem like the book is pretty awful), but I was expecting BFG type failure from Spielberg or even worst, but found this smart and thrilling for the most part (except the end of course, like all his films)

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Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#210 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Feb 06, 2019 4:29 am

The Shining is basically treated as the first date movie that Halliday took his future wife to, and rather than entering into a favourite film as an exciting way of re-experiencing something that you love from a 'first person player' perspective (as WarGames was in the equivalent trial in the book) it actually felt a bit more like a critique of the 'wrong' kind of film to take someone on a first date too. Maybe the fan equivalent of taking someone not quite on the same wavelength on an awkward first date similar to the blue movie in Taxi Driver. Especially since The Shining is all about an obsessive creator's inability to create anymore resulting in them attempting to murder their family!
SpoilerShow
Also if we see all of the trials as more created by Morrow about Halliday rather than by Halliday himself, then Morrow appears to be at his most scathing in that trial about Halliday having 'stolen' the girl he loved away from him, turning the first date movie into a horror film that you have to save the heroine from. (Strangely, after all of the talk of the book as projecting onto the female character, the film actually creates an entirely new one to exist only as a trophy!)

But its a perfect choice to let Spielberg riff on Kubrick in a different way than he did in A.I.

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Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#211 Post by dda1996a » Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:15 am

You're making me realize I need to see this again, but I think he also does get a concrete place in the digital world. That was my main issue, also voiced by Kaminski, that the digital world (in all movies, not just this) are so weightless. The Overlook did create a genuine place with it's real geography (wonder how long they spent on recreating the maze that the Overlook is). I at first thought it would be awful to place the scene in there when I first read it, but Spielberg did get it right.

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Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#212 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:14 am

That is an interesting point in itself, which perhaps highlights another philosophical difference between the book and the film. The book's trials are much more internal ones based on in-depth superfan-like knowledge of how to play a game or being able to recite all of the dialogue from a film from memory (things that other people, like the Sixers, can actually be concretely guided through or be trained in by those fans), whilst the trials in the film are much more about performing physical acts such as races or jumping from stepping stone to stepping stone, but are also ones that eventually involve consciously breaking the pre-defined or assumed rules of the game to finally win the prize. Even when something like the Overlook Hotel turns up, it is perhaps telling that it is the one character who has never seen the film who explores the area to the fullest extent, and that in depth knowledge of the structure of the Kubrick film might prepare for some elements but does not exactly help in encounters where events play out very differently, and in solving whatever puzzle there is, that have been layered on top of the film to twist it into something different.

The trials in the book feel about being given the opportunity to prove your worth through your knowledge and skill to show just how much you deserve to run the Oasis, especially against soulless corporate interests who have no sense of the joy that culture can provide and no specific interests other than how much specific intellectual properties can be exploited monetarily; whilst the film feels that it is much more about constantly breaking the fourth wall of the game, and often abandoning any competitive sense of 'winning' at all in order to instead uncover the hand of the creator behind a game. Perhaps also of seeing beyond the 'surface narrative' to explore what the transformed elements of reality and artificial personas may represent and whether they express sublimated parts of a creator (or someone else working under the cover of the figurehead creator figure) that they would be unable to directly communicate with others.

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Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#213 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Feb 22, 2021 2:28 pm

The last line of Ready Player One wrote:It occurred to me then that for the first time in as long as I could remember, I had absolutely no desire to log back in to the OASIS.
The last line of Ready Player One as spoken by the main character Wade as he gets to declare his love for Samantha at the end of the book. Which we find out in the opening of the sequel, Ready Player Two, turns out to last for nine whole days ("a personal record"!)

I have just started reading Ready Player Two and despite only being a couple of chapters in and despite Wade and his friends having won Halliday's game and having everything they could possibly want in terms of money and power, things might not be quite that simple. The book is being written in retrospect by Wade, who has seemingly done something to ruin the happy ending of the first book (and film). I will briefly run through the events of the first two chapters in the spoiler box:
SpoilerShow
While he is settling into his new CEO role of the OASIS and Halliday's company GSS, Wade finds another piece of technology that Halliday had been prototyping but had not yet released to the public (to compare with the three pieces of technology that made up the three 'trials' of the book's competition). Which turns out to be a fully immersive brain-computer interface machine that both makes experiencing the online OASIS world one which now involves all of the senses, but also allows for experience recording and playback to be shared among users. Whether that is playback of experiences in the online world or the real one. Yes, as noted by Wade, this is a machine straight out of Brainstorm and Strange Days.

Halliday had apparently worked on it undercover for decades before his death and whilst a lot of the various aspects of the technology was freely distributed to helping people with disabilities it seems that his main goal was the creation of the "ONI" device that would revolutionise communication. But he was nervous about releasing it into the wider world because he could see the negative impact the device would have as much as the positive one, and that there would be no going back once such a technology was released into the world to change it forever. So like a poisoned chalice he has passed along the burden for deciding on whether to release the ONI onto the wider world with the winner of his contest.

The four winners eventually decide (rather unwisely I think!) to release the device and it becomes an instant hit, turning the GSS Corporation into the biggest monopoly the world has ever seen, immediately destroying any competitor of the OASIS. Particularly the main antagonist of Ready Player One, the IOI Corporation, which Wade's company absorbs in a hostile takeover, celebrating by releasing all of the indentured servants and wiping all of their debts.

All seems well, but at 777,777,777 units sold of the ONI device another ominous riddle from Halliday appears, which suggests another adventure to unravel, though this time there are no rewards on offer and only a rather veiled threat "For each fragment my heir must pay a toll". But despite being unnerved by the riddle Wade cannot go against his natural instincts to play the game, which apparently is going to lead to something very bad happening...
I really liked this opening which seems to pick up on some of the themes that I felt were implied by the ending of Ready Player One - particularly that Bill Gates-style idea of suddenly being the most powerful person in a world that is fundamentally unequal, and what one should do about that - and runs with it. Wade is still the rather impulsive and heedless of consequence figure that he was in the book, but he would necessarily have to have been that kind of ambitious character to have won Halliday's game in the first place, despite also awakening to a sense of responsibility towards the end of the first book. Now Wade himself is in the position of the all powerful head of corporation that Sorrento had previously embodied, and it feels like Ready Player Two is going to tackle that head on, with allusions to Wade feeling a bit of 'impostor syndrome' towards his role (there certainly is that sense at least in this first section of the book that Wade and his companions are still cruising on Halliday's posthumous coattails rather than having created anything groundbreaking of their own as yet) but also seeming a bit too comfortable with his new elevated position in the world.

That is rather concerning, along with the way that this new ONI invention that allows the world of the OASIS to feel just like the real world is dangerously starting to blur the lines between the two and making them interchangeable. People used to go to the OASIS to escape from the crushingly bleak real world; now they go to it because the OASIS is tangibly better in all ways than reality ever could hope to be. Or at least it might seem to be that way if you spend long enough inside it.

Plus the rather blunt but amusing allusion to YouTube in the way that people can record and sell clips of their experiences through the company's dedicated store/video sharing portal ("For example, it became fashionable for young mothers to make an ONI recording while they gave birth to their child, so that in a few decades, that child would be able to playback that recording and experience what it feels like to give birth to themselves."), with GSS also having to take on responsibility for monitoring uploads for unauthorised or illegal content. But only with the gentlest "custom-strong AI censor software" CenSoft, that automates the process and alerts local authorities as to the transgressing uploader's location!

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Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#214 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Feb 25, 2021 4:23 pm

"I didn't try to run. I didn't even move. I just stood there and let justice take its course."

A couple of chapters further on with Ready Player Two and it is pretty obvious that Cline is directly continuing with the media-obsessed slightly abrasive tone of his original book here rather than trying to incorporate any of the changes that were made in the Spielberg film. Which is really for the best as we are back with Wade being a socially awkward and antisocial character despite being a newly minted billionaire. In fact he is pretty much on a Howard Hughes trajectory compared to the other other three co-owners (not four as in the film as I had completely forgotten that the older Japanese boy, Daito, got assassinated by Sorrento's goons by being thrown off of the top floor of his apartment building during the final battle in the book! Whereas all the kids live in the film), being much more of a recluse. I could see this being pretty alienating for audiences coming to the books straight after seeing the film, but its very much in the tradition of Ernest Cline's seeming fascination with making incredibly flawed main characters and then asking the reader to see the world through their eyes and try to empathise with them.

Arguably a story about a rather angry streetkid turned into the new megalomaniac billionaire as our main character (including going on avatar-murder sprees against anyone who makes fun of him on social media (shutting down the culture he disapproves of), before deciding that social media is the true evil and going cold turkey on his posting) is kind of misjudging the tone of the current zeitgeist a bit, but it is kind of interesting to have Wade seem as if he cannot cope with being famous as much as he could not cope with being anonymous in the first book. Whilst both Aech and Shoto seem more grounded in their new lives, both settling down into relationships in the 'real world' (or the Earl, as in "IRL") unfortunately after a whirlwind relationship post-triumph between Wade and Samantha (in which we are told - twice - in the first two chapters that they lose their virginity to each other, which makes it feel a bit like bragging!), Wade's decision to release the ONI device to the public causes Samantha to dump him, angry that he is retreating back into a fantasy world and that the release of an ever more immersive virtual world device is only going to wreck what is left of the real world even more.

We get told by Wade's narration that despite the philanthropic efforts of all four of them separately they hardly are able to make a dent on injustices in the world, but whilst Wade, Aech and Shoto start to cut their losses by building an 'ark' to take biological samples and a select few human beings (along with a cut down, partial and selective private version of the OASIS) to re-seed life on another habitable planet as a last resort, Samantha damns them all even more for even thinking of doing such a thing and becomes a world ambassador for poverty and human rights, using her share of the company to travel around the world trying to bring an end to exploitation.

So it looks as if the storyline here is going to deal with idealistic activism grating up against pragmatic isolationism in the conflicting relationship between Samantha and Wade. Again, this is probably an example of Cline's writing going a bit against the zeitgeist here, as instead of Samantha's Greta Thunberg-like activist being the main character (as she kind of was turned into in the Spielberg film!), in Ready Player Two we are still firmly in Wade's perspective of yearning for (and cyber-stalking her appearances in the media) his lost love whilst she shows only burning anger towards him, when she is not blanking him completely. But I do like that, as in the first book, we are seeing some of these difficult situations from a rather counterintuitive perspective of a flawed and lonely character wishing they were better yet constantly failing.

Oh and we get told what happened to Sorrento at the end of the Ready Player One novel!
SpoilerShow
which is that he is on death row for the murder of Daito and all of the people he killed by blowing up the Stacks! I wonder if he will escape somehow later on in the book?

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Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#215 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Mar 01, 2021 9:06 am

"Snapshots of a blissful storybook romance that had ultimately ended in tragedy"

A handful more chapters on and we have reached the 'inciting event' of Ready Player Two as Wade has pretty much lost close contact with all of his friends and has soured his relationship with Ogden Morrow by trying to prise information out of him reading his relationship with his dead wife Kira (who was the muse figure for both Og and Halliday when she was alive, and beyond) in order to track down the solution to the riddle of this new Seven Shard quest that has appeared. With dire warnings from Og not to do so Wade eventually gets his hands on the first of the Shards. Which immediately causes Og to go missing in response, seemingly having dropped off of the face of the Earth.

The most interesting thing about this section is the doubling element. Wade does not find the first of the Shards through his own efforts (as he had with the trials in the first book) and instead resorts to offering a reward for information. He ends up feeling a sense of guilt for 'just being one of the Sixers' in not using his own skills to achieve his goals but instead resorting to paying others for their efforts and then scooping up the spoils by proxy.

This aspect is even more compounded by the introduction of a new set of young teenage adventurers in L0hengrin (named after Parzival's son in the Arthurian legend) and her band of friends (the "L0 Five" to contrast against the "High Five") who are the new group of naïve and hopeful young figures there to remind Wade of his past and how low he has fallen, with Wade as the new version of Og, as the all-powerful invisible figure able to enter anyone's private chatroom to eavesdrop, and eventually approve of the potential youngsters. Which interestingly comes across less as wonderful that someone so famous is taking notice of you as with Og and now with the shift in perspective as having slightly more uncomfortable grooming implications when Wade is doing the same thing.

Though whilst they may all seem like dopplegangers there are a few telling changes: this group of youngsters are in an even more deprived part of the country and in even worse shape than even Wade was at the beginning of Ready Player One (at least Wade had an abusive Aunt rather than nobody); and gender is the main one, especially as L0hengrin being revealed to be a transgender character when Wade pries into her private records.

That actually feels an important element rather than being shoehorned in, as a lot of the book up to this point has been around fluid gender roles now that the ONI device can let anyone be and experience any possible configuration of being. It also seems that it is tying in with that bigger plot aspect of generational doubling. It is almost taking its cues from Three Colours: Red at this point as once Og disappears and Wade goes on a tour of his mansion (which comes almost immediately after the discovery scene which takes place inside the ersatz re-creation of Morrow's childhood basement inside the virtual world, contrasting the humble but fake setting with the overblown but physically manufactured to take after a Lord of the Rings setting 'real world' one. Locations are fluid and merging together too, exchanging 'real' and 'manufactured' identities in both online and offline worlds to a dizzying effect), we get intertwined stories of the older generation as Wade looks at the location where Kira and Og spent their marriage, but also just as much reminisces about his own memories of his relationship with Samantha in the week after winning the contest. Both generations have key memories taking place in that location, yet again doubling together and maybe in danger of making the same mistakes. Or is death a mistake that needs to be rectified like tackling a final boss in a game, or more just something that cannot be beaten but has to be come to terms with?

That reminds me that I also like the direction of where this new 'contest' appears to be going as well. Instead of the worldwide hunt for Halliday's 'easter egg' with a defined goal of winning control of his company to the one who succeeds in solving the riddles and undergoing the trials; instead here the Seven Shards riddle seems fatalistic, almost doom laden in its riddles that suggests it is less a fun thing to be solved but a series of locks holding something dangerous back from prying eyes. There is also no real incentive for the wider world to solve this series of riddles, because there is no prize or certainty of reward being offered for success (ironically except for the monetary ones that Wade offers as incentives. He has already changed the lives of L0hengrin and her friends in the way his had been changed, hopefully to work out better for them). So this is a rather different take to the contest in the first book, and appears to only really be appealing to people like Wade who just need to solve and know for its own sake (making L0hengrin's next generation 'gunter' figure raking through the coals of an already completed contest all the more movingly touching for searching through all of this trivia for even less of a reason than Wade did, with even less of an expectation of anything at the end of it all), knowing but being compulsively pushed over the line when it probably would have been better to have stopped for the sake of themselves in particular, and maybe the corporation and the wider world too.

Also the way that only Wade himself can pick up the first Shard (and is the only figure on the score board, which does not even have a score attached any more, just seven empty slots to be filled. I don't really know that much about the Marvel films but isn't collecting a bunch of gems together kind of a bad omen?) means that this is a true single player game created only for one player (as penitence for unleashing the ONI on the world?) and that anyone else searching the world for the Shards would not be able to do anything with them even if they did solve the associated riddles.

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Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#216 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Mar 02, 2021 9:32 am

"The real problem now was the fuel, which had been flung far beyond the initial blast zone, like a botched napalm strike. A dozen different fires now raged across the entire park and several of the office buildings adjacent to it. It looked like a war zone down there."

I perhaps should have waited after making the last post as immediately after posting and turning the page, and after the first third of the book putting everyone into positions and exploring Wade's self-loathing malaise, suddenly a whole new threat beyond just the damage the characters were doing to themselves emerged which looks as if it is going to define the rest of the story. It is one of those massive left-turn moments that both suddenly clarify and simplify a plot but could also seem a little disappointing for the way that they distract from some of the exploration of issues that the story has been about up to this point. Where philosophical and abstract concerns become concrete and unavoidable.

I will spoiler tag the next bit:
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It turns out that Ogden Morrow was kidnapped after all rather than going missing in anger at Wade starting on the Seven Shard quest when he had been warned not to. You know that wizard version of James Halliday that appeared throughout Ready Player One at the completion of the various tasks to reward the player? Well it turns out that more than just being an avatar this was actually a full scan of James Halliday whom Halliday had given full sentience and autonomy to. However at a certain point Halliday had become worried and deleted a large portion of the A.I. Halliday's memories (basically the whole love triangle relationship between himself, Morrow and Kira) to keep his doppleganger more compliant. He had also ordered this version of himself to delete itself after someone won that initial contest, with that being the first point that it found itself able to rebel against its programming.

So this online replication of the long dead Halliday was at large in the OASIS throughout the contest but the completion of its duties with Wade winning the prize and its refusal to terminate itself after its task was over have unleashed it into a new future (much as winning the contest did for Wade and his friends, and in a way the A.I. Halliday and Wade are opposite ends of the spectrum with one being tormented by memories of lost family and friends; and the other by knowledge that they had their tragic memories removed on someone else's decision. Both extremes resulting in trauma)

In releasing the new, more immersive ONI system (with all of its dire warnings about not exceeding the twelve hour usage limit or else there would be permanent brain damage consequences, i.e. all the warnings parents made about video games damaging the brain becoming literally true if done too much!) Wade rather unwittingly played into A.I. Halliday's virtual hands. The Seven Shards of the Sacred Siren quest only appeared after a certain number of users had bought the device and A.I. Halliday appeared and started actively influencing things after Wade triggered off the quest by picking up the first Shard.

We suddenly get a cascade of events happening simultaneously from that point: A.I. Halliday (otherwise known as Anorak) was able to kidnap Og, releases Nolan Sorrento from his death row prison so that Sorrento can torture Og for information into the location of the shards in the real world, and update the firmware on the ONI devices that traps everyone who logs into the OASIS inside with no possibility of logging out again (Its like the nightmare version of what a sentient Microsoft Windows Update might do one day!), to hold them hostage until Wade solves the Shard riddle for him.

Which reaches about five hundred million concurrent users at the point at which the engineers close the OASIS to new log ins, including all of our main characters other than Samantha/Art3mis who in her militancy about the dangers of the ONI device was just using the standard gloves and headset (but instead Anorak has her trapped on board her private jet by taking over its systems, which amusingly turns her a bit into the equivalent of Sean Penn's character in that It's All About Love film!)

With everyone plugged in edging closer to their brain-frying usage limits and with literal countdown timers ticking above their avatar's heads, the game is now deadly and has never been closer to that old phrase that "if you die in the game, you die in real life!!!1!!"
So, yeah, that's a huge swerve into suddenly having some desperate motivation towards solving the quest suddenly appear, along with a couple of bad guys both in the OASIS and the real world running about to complicate things even further. Sorrento has been left quite unhinged from his prison experience it appears, although he was pretty much getting that way in the climax of Ready Player One as well, which was quite different from the Spielberg film making him a rather comic villain with lots of friends-henchmen to ground him. Here Sorrento is becoming an example of someone completely abandoned by all and ejected from society who has gotten an opportunity to come back to wreak his vengeance and is taking hold of it with gusto.

Lots of references to Agent Smith versus Neo in The Matrix occur in this section of the book, along with Wade amusingly insulting the A.I. Halliday by referencing it as blatantly copying the Lawnmower Man film beat for beat! Plus domino may like to know that whilst the film had Samatha/Art3mis played by Olivia Cooke, Ready Player Two is also appealing to his tastes by describing how Samantha regularly plays through the immersive and interactive "FlickSync" version of Whit Stillman's Metropolitan at least once a month!

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Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#217 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Mar 08, 2021 11:49 am

Further on with Ready Player Two and our four heroes are four shards down in their task to collect all seven. I very much like that amusingly the tasks feel a little like Cline is trolling the perceived audience of adolescent boys with these quests into deeply uncool pop cultural icons, from tracking down the first female character in an arcade game (who got gender swapped on coming to the US, which itself is tying into the fluid identity theme - sometimes a shell imposed from without by other sociocultural forces but with the original identity remaining buried underneath - that is much more strongly emphasised in this book compared to the first), to riding The Magic School Bus (whilst everyone sings the song), to the extended fifty pages, perhaps in response to the Christy Lemire review of the Spielberg film, that takes place inside a supremely detailed version of a world modelled after every John Hughes film smashed together in which the main task involves:
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abducting the Robert Downey Jr character at gunpoint from Weird Science and 're-casting' him in the role of Duckie in Pretty In Pink (after decapitating Jon Cryer) to give Molly Ringwald's character the ending she deserved with Hughes' original casting choice
, which gets into the interesting territory of audiences deciding to re-write their favourite media rather than resigning themselves to accepting the final result, whether that be auteur writer-directors with an original vision in their heads they never achieved, fans casually tampering with the timeline, or insane A.I. superwizards!

I think I was given more trivia information than I ever wanted to know about the ins and outs of the John Hughes cannon now! Such as that apparently almost all of the school buildings in John Hughes films are the same building that has just been shot from different directions. Which I was thinking could have led to an Inception-like sequence of the school changing like a tesseract depending on which angle you approach it from, though it is just one more piece of trivia to throw on the pile here by our media saturated heroes, ecstatic that their decades of research have paid off.

Which is perhaps my main concern at this moment with the next shard being on the "Artist Formerly Known As Prince"-world getting a hearty approval from Aech after they were thoroughly bored-and/or-disgusted by the John Hughes world, which is that after the first shard was all about Og, Halliday and Kira's childhood directly, the next four shards have rather hyper-focused on a specific piece of knowledge tailored almost too well to each of our main character's particular proclivities (the Japanese arcade game for Shoto; John Hughes world for Art3mis, Prince-world for Aech. And most suspiciously of all the quest on the childhood educational learning world that forces Wade to re-confront a place he stopped visiting altogether after his mother's death). It is all framed as following Kira's interests and creations (as the sidelined and marginalised third creator figure of the OASIS), and indeed there is the feeling that our four heroes are so saturated in the worldview of the generation who created the OASIS that their personal histories are interweaved into and morphing together with those of the original trinity of creators in such a manner that might be considered to be unhealthily intimate. But I am also preparing myself for a twist that perhaps this involves something more than just Halliday's avatar running amok unchecked.

Though speaking of Anorak, I have also just reached the point at which he has weaponised all of the NPC characters against the real players (think the ending of Westworld) and is building a giant army around him in the way that Saruman did in Lord of the Rings! So that's something that may need to get dealt with sooner or later in a big battle scene to match the one at the end of the first book.
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Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#218 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Mar 12, 2021 4:35 am

Aech stared at the giant pile of corpses as we rode past it. Then she turned in her saddle to face me, and raised her voice to be heard over the drum of our horse's hoofbeats.

"Are you sure you don't want to call for some backup, Z?" Aech said "You could try your St Crispin's Day schtick again. Send out a message to every user in the OASIS, asking for them to come here and help us"

"It won't work this time," I replied "No one would come"

"Sure they would." Aech said. "If you told them the truth, and let them know that every single ONI user's life depends on our success, I bet at least a few thousand of them would come to our aid."

"An army won't help us this time." I said. "The Noldor laid siege to Angband for our four hundred years, and they never even got close to the Silmarils." I shook my head. " I think we're gonna have to sneak inside, like Beren and Lúthien."
And the JRR Tolkien element came in early as after fighting off the seven incarnations of Prince (and his backing bands) the next quest into enormously elaborate self contained universes with obscure lore-ridden tomes that make fandom seem like the most un-fun kind of homework to those not specifically enthralled by the subject at hand involves tackling the most intimidating monolith of geek culture of them all: an almost impossible quest based around the First Age of Middle-Earth as told in The Silmarillion.

It is interesting that this section of the book starts ruthlessly paring away the supporting cast as people start running up against their timer limits and/or being killed by roaming NPCs (or in Shoto's case by profaning Prince and getting blasted by a Purple Rain thunderbolt) and thrown into limbo, until we are down to just Parzival and Art3mis remaining. In some ways I have a feeling that we are going to see Cline get to the Spielberg ending of the film in a more tortuous and hardscrabble roundabout way through this new story, as the relationship between our young couple goes through its own trials before they finally can fall in love, rather than the romance just seeming to be taken for granted as it was in the film. Which of course takes its own archetypal form of the guy in the relationship apologising profusely for his stupidity and failings (including never having read The Silmarillion due to their break up) to make the girl deign to appreciate him again!

This is also probably meant to contrast with the previous generation's relationships, with Halliday being shown (through Wade's disillusioned eyes) as completely corrupt, evil and controlling, wanting to muscle in on Og's relationship with Kira to the extent of re-creating these visions of her life in detail and scattering them throughout the OASIS, with his A.I. avatar Anorak wanting to bring them together to re-create his lost love to have her for all eternity. With Wade also starting to worry that Anorak may be planning to escape the Earth in the lifeboat-style spacecraft that was created with its own cut-down version of the OASIS on board it, as the new ruler (with his resurrected Queen) of a new ecosystem.

So Anorak is kind of showing the solipsistic, bitter musing on past events route that Wade could have gone in without love in his life. But in a way I feel kind of bad about the way Halliday is being portrayed in this as Wade's idealism for this creator who meant so much for him so easily shifts to the other extreme of recognising only all of his flaws and wanting to cut Halliday out of his life completely. Maybe it is because Wade is seeing too much of himself in Halliday (especially now he lives in Halliday's mansion and occupies his same role in the company), and does not want to admit it by just wanting Halliday to become an irredeemable monster now. Because even the biggest, most intimidating and evil monster is easier to permanently defeat rather than recognising Halliday's human flaws and everyone continuing onward in a flawed system together.

And of course it is also Cline's take on the current climate of once revered artists suddenly being pulled off of their pedestals once certain uncomfortable, even abhorrent, aspects of their private behaviours come to light. With Anorak becoming the vessel for all of the toxic aspects of Halliday that have been unleashed and are corrupting all of the otherwise good work that the OASIS did.
___

It is probably going to all come back down to that big red "OFF" button again, but I am still hoping that it might go in a bit of a more complicated direction than it probably is going to. This is pure speculation at the moment, but I have a feeling that in overcoming Anorak, Wade can both prove himself to Art3mis and is going to show his love for her by defeating both the 'toxic' man with the twisted, appropriational (virtual) approach to love in the specific (maybe by blasting him off into space within that limited universe on the spaceship to forever live in his own little universe which will never grow and evolve? Like everlasting death?); and will then confirm Samantha's feelings and turn off (or at least limit) the OASIS in the general as being a dangerously seductive distraction when there are greater issues in the real world to focus on, almost as if he is killing (or couched in slightly less emotive terms "outgrowing") the need for pop culture when he has an adult relationship that can now fulfil him more. Maybe that's the whole point of the book, as whilst Shoto, Aech and Art3mis were all content in their new lives and roles at the start of this book, it was only Wade who was still fundamentally trapped living inside the online world rather than engaging with the outside one, and this is all about severing his connection with it. Taking the form of killing his idol.

That is probably going to be the neatest (albeit most pat) possible ending for the story, and whilst it would tie things up well I am rather worried that it will go that way entirely. I would be more impressed if it complicates things a bit more in an ending which (as in the first book) recognises the importance of escapism and play as being a way for people to connect, even if some connections can be positive and others negative. And that recognising the behaviour of avatars might not be synonymous with those of the real (in this case also deceased!) people themselves, once again either positively or negatively. What that means is that I am crossing my fingers in the hope that we are going to get a more complicated ending in this final stretch of the book now that the quest for the shards is nearing its end.
She raised her chin up at the towering peaks of Angband looming above us. "Og and Kira were the ones who originally re-created Beren and Lúthien's adventures here on Arda. They designed and coded this quest together. Its insanely difficult. No one has ever managed to complete it. Including me. In fact, it's the only quest on this planet that I haven't completed. I've never even attempted it."

"Why not?" I asked

" Because its a two-person quest, Z" she said " And I always wanted to complete it with you..."

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Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#219 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Mar 15, 2021 5:09 am

"It's funny," Og said. "Back when we first built this place, schoolkids all over the world would argue about who would win in a battle between Anorak and the Great and Powerful Og. And I have to admit, I always used to wonder too." He smiled at Anorak. "Of course, when Jim died, I didn't think we'd ever know the answer. But life continues to be full of surprises - right up until the bitter end"
And now we reach the final section which is only emphasising to me how Cline has quite impressively taken certain aspects of the first book and jumbled their chronology around in order to try and achieve different impacts with them. For example that excellent dystopian, lowest ebb section of Ready Player One becomes the extended limbo of the scenes opening Ready Player Two, where Wade feels abandoned, for all his fame. The final sequence, now that the virtual quest is over, is starting to reformat the drone strike on the Aunt's trailer into an all-out mech battle inside a gated compound whilst Wade occasionally is forced to pull back to observe the devastation through satellite drone footage (or a StarCraft II top-down perspective), helplessly watching specks of tiny vehicles fruitlessly racing from the carnage before being overwhelmed.

There is a wonderfully disorienting hall of mirrors section here rich with irony of Wade, trapped in the OASIS and lying in a dreamless sleep unable to wake inside his immersion rig, is able to get into a virtual VR rig that lets him connect to the robotic SWAT team (led by Samantha and his Security Officer) to assist in trying to prize Og out of Sorrento's clutches in the real world mansion next door. Wade's consciousness, much like Anorak's, is able to reach out of the virtual world and affect the real one through all of the devices that are connected into it. Which leads to the inevitable anime-styled robot vs spider-tank battle I think we have all been waiting for!
It took me less than a minute to reach the ambulance. It was still lying on its side in the middle of the road, and there were telebots swarming all over it like insects. They appeared to be dismantling its armor plating so they could get inside and reach the occupants. And it looked like they were only a few seconds away from success.
(It is also rather reminiscent of the main character in Armada mostly acting as a virtual telepresence able to 'safely' project themselves out of their high security padded bunker into fighting in real world warzones rather than 'escaping' into virtual worlds. At least until their bunker collapses on top of them, bringing the danger swiftly home!)
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I kind of love Halliday's final e-mail to Og which both apologises for what he did to Kira without her consent (basically the same copy-and-paste thing that occurred in the egg segment of that John Hamm episode of Black Mirror; or the characters in the video game Soma) and describes this new invention of virtually duplicating a person's entire personality as his way of trying to conquer the loss of a loved one. In this case by getting a copy of the person who never loved you and holding it captive as compared to the (slightly) more noble goal (albeit with just as many ethical and moral issues!) of copying someone before they die in order to make them functionally immortal (and the OASIS into a giant virtual mausoleum full of interactable copies of those who no longer exist in the real world?)

That also beautifully makes this ONI device Halliday's final invention equivalent to those that formed the trials of the first book. Those trials involved the winner inadvertently having to 'play test' a new prototype invention, almost as part of a pre-publicity drive before the new device on winning the trial was immediately revealed and patented to the public, and secured the future of the company against its competitors. Only the idea of creating actual copies of one's entire consciousness was too big (and dangerous in its implications, from its effect on the company's reputation to its reckless impact on the world at large) of an invention to be 'only' part of a succession competition and so we get an entire book devoted to its ramifications.
I also wonder whether, since Sorrento had been wearing an ONI rig, does that mean that there is a possibility that, whilst he has been rather conclusively killed in the real world, there is the possibility that he may now be unleashed inside the OASIS. Like Agent Smith going in the opposite direction?

Speaking of which this final section is also pretty clearly paying homage to The Matrix Revolutions, as we begin with the real world robot battles before diving back into the OASIS for a world-sundering showdown between the avatars of Og and Halliday, fighting whilst flying through the sky all whilst crowds on the ground below capture the footage and broadcast the showdown, and Wade lies dying of synaptic overload syndrome, having reached his prescribed limits on daily internet usage.
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I wonder if Wade himself is going to die and end up making the jump into being a being of purely virtual existence as well? Which would maybe hamper the reconnecting love story a little. But then Wade was never comfortable in the real world, so maybe this would prevent the love story from curdling into abandonment all over again. Maybe that's why we had to have the section of Wade having to contend with his own self-created virtual mausoleum of the memories of spending time with his mother inside that children's learning world?

Which itself also gets into the way that culture and who we share it with and remember the times of connection through it (and those who created it but have since departed, like Prince or John Hughes), is the ultimate memorial that is most in danger of being swept away by perfect, ageless virtual reproduction that destroys notions of imperfect, changeable and malleable into new forms, memories and nostalgia for times past, which may never have existed but in our own minds.
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Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#220 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Mar 16, 2021 4:48 am

I grew up playing videogames. Now I live my whole life inside of one. That's why I feel qualified to say that Kira Underwood was right, when she said that life was like an extremely difficult, horribly unbalanced videogame. But sometimes the game can have a surprising ending...
And we reach the end of Ready Player Two which did not turn out the way I had feared or presumed but raised its own set of questions that are both scary and fun to speculate about. Spoilers follow:
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So Wade does not die in the final battle, although Og does. Everyone else connected to the system has been saved, and on combining the shards and 'resurrecting' Kira she describes how Halliday betrayed her but also how she came to terms with her new existence as a separate entity and collaborated with Halliday to create the shard quest for Og to release her after Halliday's death. But Og never did because he was too upset by Halliday's betrayal. And so it fell to the other 'heir' to the company in Wade to inadvertently kickstart things.

The big twist here is that whilst Og (like Samantha) swore off using the ONI for ethical reasons, he put one on in his dying moments to enter the OASIS and battle Anorak. So at the last possible moment a full brain scan of Og exists, and therefore Wade resurrects it to have Kira and Og reunited in the virtual world after so long apart.

We get some discussion about the ethical ramifications that arise from having access to the perfect brain scans of every single person who logged into the OASIS using an ONI device, with Wade having the power to copy (if alive) or resurrect (if dead) anyone from their last scan file. In the end they appear to keep the ability to do this secret from the rest of the world. But what to do about Og and Kira (and Samantha's granny) now that they have been reborn?

Then we get to the most audacious section of either book as it suddenly shifts from Wade's first person perspective to third person for the first time ever. Although could it really be called a 'third person' perspective, as the final chapter comes from a copy of Wade who along with his friends and Og and Kira have all been put onto the spaceship with all of the embryos and humanity's culture on board (sort of a more elaborate Voyager craft) to go off into the depths of the universe to find another home for humanity, and instead of staying with our human characters sending their virtual copies off perhaps philosophically tellingly we instead diverge with the ageless and immortal reproductions setting off for an adventure into the unknown whilst they get rarer and rarer updates from their 'counterparts' back on Earth, marrying and having children themselves.

I really like that we stick with the 'virtual' inhabitants (albeit an entirely new world) in an ending that feels like Alien: Covenant and Soma (and a bit of that distanced ship's point of view on humanity of Kim Stanley Robinson's Aurora. And that episode of Aeon Flux that involves Aeon cloning herself, with her double's experiences from that point on diverging and maybe creating an entirely different person from their separate experiences) simultaneously. The way that the 'new' Wade talks of the joys of never having to breathe or sleep or eat or age ever again gets hammered home to such an extent that it feels like he is still in the first flush of excitement of this never-ending voyage. Wade talks about looking forward to enjoying fatherhood 'vicariously' through the real Wade's messages from home, but that is only going to last for a few decades. The ethical dilemmas of immortality of the consciousness and how that affects behaviour are going to be the new frontiers our virtual pioneers are going to be exploring from now on, and whilst the ending is upbeat and full of hope for the future ("Because the game that is your life is not over yet") who knows whether if in a few millennia even Wade may be wishing to pull the plug.
And it was nice that the OASIS itself survived as being an important space for people to dream inside, even if (as in the first book, so we'll see how long that lasts!) the Earth-bound Wade states he is never going back to it.

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