Ready Player Two Gets DCMA’ed

Publisher removes excerpts of the novel from Twitter as users turn it into a meme

Author Ernest Cline released the sequel to Ready Player One last week, and promptly stepped in it on Twitter.

You can read a really thoughtful review of the aptly-named Ready Player Two here. It seems that what was redeemable in the debut has disappeared, leaving behind what our reviewer Daniel Cohen calls “cheap introspection disguised as trenchant insight.”

Social media has been even less kind to Cline, especially about the book’s extremely cringey sex scenes and anti-trans storylines. One excerpt about a character named Skylar, a female player who the protagonist spies on through her camera and by digging through her documents, reads: “She’d been DMAB—designated male at birth. Discovering this minor detail didn’t send me spiraling into a sexual-identity crisis…Thanks to years of surfing the ONI-net, I now knew what it felt like to be all kinds of different people, having all kinds of different sex…Passion was passion and love was love, regardless of who the participants were, or what sort of body they were assigned at birth.”

Ana Valens writes a really nuanced examination of the book’s “nonbinary sex” at The Daily Dot. One Twitter user summed up the lighter criticism of Cline’s writing very nicely:

“I’m ashamed that I liked Ready Player One on first read, Ready Player Two confirms what I suspected, Ernest Cline’s writing is woeful,” tweeted user @usopp007 with an excerpt of the novel that includes countless pop culture references—even 8-6-7-5-3-0-9 and “Jenny, I’ve got your number”—in a style that readers say is quintessential Cline.

Writer Laura Hudson has a really good thread detailing some of the novel’s pitfalls. And that thread has taken Ready Player Two from a panned sci-fi novel to a certified Twitter controversy. Publisher Ballantine Books is removing dunked-on excerpts of the novel from social media under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, called DMCAing. You’ll notice they’d DCMAed only some of Hudson’s excerpts. It looks to be ones that could be the most ripe for cancelling, instead of just bad writing.

Coming from an author whose whole thing is referencing better pop-culture tokens than his own novel—and, arguably, stealing a number of plot points from major sci-fi canons—DMCAing is rich.

And in a world that can truly only hold onto a meme for about 24 hours at a time, Twitter kicked it up a notch: users are now tweeting other unfortunate or altogether made-up passages, and passing them off as excerpts from Ready Player Two. It’s pretty obvious which excerpts are from the novel and which are fakes when the publisher is taking the real ones down left and right.

“I genuinely cannot tell who is posting real excerpts from Ready Player Two and who is posting fake meme excerpts. All of it seems plausible,” tweeted user @yenos17.

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Katie Smith

Katie Smith is a Philadelphia-based writer. Find her on Instagram @saddy_yankee for cat pics.

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