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We’re done!!! After one last robot fight, video game speedrun, and rote recitation of a popular “geek” movie, we’ve finally reached the titular 372nd page.
Tune in for the Dumb Sentence of the Book, one last Fan-Fic or Real, Great Moments in Villains with Tiny Robots, and some extremely creative listener emails. Nathan’s alternate ending skit is available here and Taylor’s song is available here.
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Thank you for joining us on this journey! We’ll maybe be back with another title, after we take in some creative work that is actually good.
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4 Replies to “Episode 8 – 1980s Reference”
After reading this book, I had to watch season two of Stranger Things to restore some the 80’s fandom I had lost as a result of Ernest Cline’s force-fed nostalgia. It’s like if a “You Know You’re A Child Of The 80’s If” Buzzfeed List came to life and infested an otherwise staggeringly straightforward VR story. I used to be shameless in my 80’s references, but this book has opened my eyes and realized that it’s possible to go too far, and for that I thank the author whole-heartedly.
Fun fact: somebody who reviewed Ready Player One (the book) went on to review Ready Player One (the movie) and chastised the movie for leaning heavily on its pop/nerd culture basis in a desperate bid for relevancy. I believe this was the fellow from the AV Club, because the comments section had a thread which brought up this podcast and asked why he (1) never responded to the inquiry and (2) faulted the movie for the exact same reasons he had praised the book.
Instead of doing something sensible like admitting that there were faults or explaining that his subjective views and engrossment in the fantasy allowed him to indulge. He didn’t even acknowledge whether he still stood by his assessment (which, you know, entertainment is very subjective, he’s very much entitled to his opinion). Instead, he went off on a screed about how people only hate Ready Player One because of Gamergate.
Yes. Because Gamergate retroactively made Cline’s prose atrocious, throttled his characters into worhtless stereotypes, made Artemis’ performative feminism noxious, and turned Wade into a Gary Stu capable of conquering every challenge by just pulling knowledge or abilities out of his ass without even a cursory attempt to justify them.
The implication in his comments was that if you don’t like Ready Player One it’s somebody else’s fault, he’s still totally correct in it being a great book, and there’s a chance that you actually hate women if you didn’t enjoy it. (Stay classy, AV Club Guy.)
Altogether it’s probably for the best he didn’t deign to talk to you.
“The implication in his comments was that if you don’t like Ready Player One it’s somebody else’s fault, he’s still totally correct in it being a great book, and there’s a chance that you actually hate women if you didn’t enjoy it. (Stay classy, AV Club Guy.)”
So, in other words, your average AV Club article over the last several years. This is basically everything they review now.
I enjoyed this podcast. Ready Player One is a bad book and the author should feel bad. That said, there were some times when I felt Conner and Mike were really reaching for things to complain about. Talking about how many references to pop culture are made in the book is pretty pointless when everyone knew going into it that that was the book’s whole schtick.
Additionally, the book was clearly intended to pander to a specific type of geek, and several times they complain about confusing references that people who are part of the target demo would get without any problem. But the people reading the book for this podcast not getting some of the references because they aren’t part of the target demo does not make the book bad. The book is plenty bad on it’s own without having to reach for this kind of stuff.
Finally, I find it cute that the podcasters seemed to be clinging to the idea that the author had an editor right up until the end. I know that a book being published with no editing is a thing that pretty much doesn’t happen, however, beyond a certain point, when all other explanations have been ruled out, one must consider the impossible. I cannot imagine a universe where this book had any editing at all. I don’t know how Ernest Cline managed to convince his publisher to forgo the normal way of doing things but I think we have to seriously consider the hypothesis that this was the first draft.
tl;dr: If you want some extra DEEP HURTING, listen to the audiobook read by Wil Wheaton.
I read Ready Player One probably in 2015. My sister-in-law had received it as a gift, and then she lent it to me because she thought I would appreciate all the 1980s and 1990s references because of my interests in, well, 1980s and 1990s pop culture. I was however put off by the constant deus ex machina, and found the lengthy lists of pop culture entries rather boring. (I’m surprised the Ghost-Busters-emblazoned, K.I.T.T.-enhanced DeLorean didn’t come with the dog from Mad Max in the passenger seat.) Reading Sei Shounagon’s diary in college was more interesting, and that was full of lists of 990s cultural references.
It IS possible to make a bunch of humorous pop culture references without bludgeoning your audience with them. I love the TV show Psych which is peppered with references. Either you recognize them and laugh, or you don’t and you say, “I guess that was a TV show I never saw,” and you shrug your shoulders without getting lost, because it’s a quick joke and not a critical plot point.
I thought I was done with that mediocre book, but then the movie came out in 2018, and I thought, “Oh, jeeze, that looks awful!” I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ve got the RiffTrax commentary, so I’ll eventually force myself to watch it.
Then, rather late, I found out about this podcast series and decided to give the book another go, hoping Mike and Conor would make it worthwhile, and, boy, they did ever!
I decided to listen to the audiobook version this time around, and what a slog that was. It’s narrated by Wil Wheaton who brings an annoying excitement that Ernest Cline probably expects all of his readers to exhibit. Just a few minutes into Chapter 1 and I had to put my player on fast-forward, as an excited narrator like Wheaton tends to read at an unexciting pace with weighted emphasis on just about every word in order to give the listeners time to fully absorb and contemplate the thrilling lists of ’80s video games, movies, and music constantly assaulting their eardrums.
I don’t remember how much I rolled my eyes the first time I read the book, but while listing to the audiobook I thought my eyes were going to fall out of my head.
Thank you, Mike and Conor, for helping us find the good in something awful!