Saturday, November 12, 2011

Nick Examines One Page

In my copy of Ready Player One, I think page 194 perfectly sums up the entire book. There's an excerpt from Anorak's Almanac - as a matter of fact, it's the only full excerpt from Halliday's journals, and it's about whacking it:
"AA 241:87--I would argue that masturbation is the human animal's most important adaptation. The very cornerstone of our technological civilization. Our hands evolved to grip tools, all right--including our own."

It goes on for another quarter-page, but I think you get the drift. And, when you consider it coupled with the umpteenth instance of reference explanation below (explaining the specifics behind Wade's choice of "Max" as his system agent software), it's the whole book in microcosm. It's a condescending, detailed breakdown of what any reference means -- essentially, masturbation via words.

It fits in with the book as a whole -- namely, that the gunters are super-obsessive people prone to one-upmanship and proving that they know more than the next -- but the unfortunate side effect of all this is to end up with a book that, ultimately, has more in common with fan fiction than anything else.

There are parts of this book (the final assault, specifically) that bear an uncanny likeness to the material offered up as part of Fan Fiction Friday over at Topless Robot (minus the face-melting, mind-raping sexual perversity). Is Cline just a fanboy who got lucky with a book that shows how much he knows about Rush's 2112, or is Ready Player One about the triumph of knowledge over power?


  1. Haha, good call on picking out the wanking aspect. I think I experienced my disenchantment early on when it become clear he was sticking more the mainstream of music and TV and to a lesser but still noticeable extent, games. Once I got past my disappointment in that, it didn't bother me that much.

    There are larger themes afoot than just nostalgic geek references of a certain era but they do kind of seem to be along for the ride, laugh.

  2. I'm still upset that the ET graveyard's never utilized. A brilliant possibility, wasted.

  3. I've finished it up and moved on to more navel-gazing material (Eugenides new The Marriage Plot, which drops lit-crit references like Cline drops 80's trivia!).

    But I'll probably write one more post in which I bitch about how RP1 ultimately tries to critique our immersion in virtual worlds (there's an OFF switch!) even though its sole reason for existing is pretty much to revel in the retro.

    (also, despite my bitching, I more or less enjoyed the book!).

  4. hey all, I'm just about half way through the book, but enjoying it.

    Thanks very much, by the way, to the banana suit librarian and larryville chronicler for hooking me up w/ a copy.

    am I the only who sees lots of overlap w/ Scott Pilgrim?

  5. Hey Travis. You're welcome. If you want to blog about it, let me know, send an email address, and we'll get you hooked up with an author invite.