Deadly sequels

I was horrified to learn that Ernest Cline had written a sequel to Ready Player One, creatively titled Ready Player Two. The original was one of those books I could not believe got published, it was so badly written and was such a weaponized pile of 80s nostalgia trash, but then Steven Spielberg went and turned into a big budget CGI-rich movie (I have not been able to read the whole novel, or watch more than a few minutes of the movie), and I was shocked yet again. But now Cline has spewed out another. He’s like the Dan Brown of our decade, an inexplicable popular phenomenon that provides a constant stream of bad quotations on the internet.

But there’s an even worse prospect ahead of us: Jordan Peterson is trying to publish Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life..

Jebus. Who knew there was such a large market for shit? And that publishing houses would be so eager to line up and shell out cash for it, in spite of the fact that their employees are up in arms about it?

Four Penguin Random House Canada employees, who did not want to be named due to concerns over their employment, said the company held a town hall about the book Monday, during which executives defended the decision to publish Peterson while employees cited their concerns about platforming someone who is popular in far-right circles.

“He is an icon of hate speech and transphobia and the fact that he’s an icon of white supremacy, regardless of the content of his book, I’m not proud to work for a company that publishes him,” a junior employee who is a member of the LGBTQ community and who attended the town hall told VICE World News.

Another employee said “people were crying in the meeting about how Jordan Peterson has affected their lives.” They said one co-worker discussed how Peterson had radicalized their father and another talked about how publishing the book will negatively affect their non-binary friend.

“The company since June has been doing all these anti-racist and allyship things and them publishing Peterson’s book completely goes against this. It just makes all of their previous efforts seem completely performative,” the employee added.

Of course executives defended the publication! It’s capitalism, it’s all about the money! And of course the employees, who won’t see a penny over their fixed salaries and hourly wages, have the luxury of principles and can protest the unscrupulous decision.

It’s a self-help book by a guy who published an earlier self-help book, and then went on a self-destructive binge of drugs and weird, destructive dieting and ended up in a coma in a Russian clinic trying to cure his own self-harm with radical, expensive treatments. The only question is, did he end up in such a state because he followed his own stupid “rules for life”, or because he’s such a bad guru that he didn’t follow them? Either way, he shouldn’t be paid to dispense advice, and only a fool would listen to him.

It’s too bad that we have tens of millions of fools in 2020 America eager to lap up the corrupt drippings of bad writers.


  1. gijoel says

    With his benzodiazepine addiction I wouldn’t be surprised that it’s being (ghost) written by his daughter.

  2. edmond says

    I thought the biggest pothole in Ready Player One was the fact that you lose EVERYTHING if your character dies. There would be some way to bank your winnings, especially in the future. Even Minecraft lets you put your stuff in a box.

  3. raven says

    … publish Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life..

    I can tell this will be horrible. And likely quite popular. Just guessing based on Peterson’s past behavior.
    Rule 1. Don’t become addicted to benzodiazapine type drugs.
    Rule 2. Avoid induced comas in Russian clinics. IIRC, their cure for his addiction didn’t work but he did catch pneumonia.
    Rules 3-9. Girls are icky.
    Rule 10. Atheists are evil.
    Rule 11. Nonbinary pronouns are evil.
    Rule 12. Nonwhites, nonxians, LGBT, progressives, women, and everyone not a white, cis het, male right wingnut are icky and evil.

  4. hoku says

    I feel like people miss the point of Ready Player 1. It’s about how nostalgia and pop culture are just empty ways to pretend society isn’t collapsing around us.

    The whole thing is a society stuck in the past as their world dies. And instead of trying to fix it, the big battle is about keeping Facebook free. As they run out of fossil fuels with no good replacement they’re going to war over microtransactions vs subscriptions.

    I’m not saying it’s a great book, just that it’s critical of the nostalgia, not a celebration of it.

  5. bcw bcw says

    But Clines ideas are classic literature. Well, borrowed from, fresh and new in 1601….
    In English, the expression dates back to at least William Shakespeare’s Othello (Act 1, Scene 1, ll. 126-127, c. 1601–1603):[1]
    I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs.[2]

    The earliest known occurrence of the phrase is in Rabelais’s Gargantua and Pantagruel (c. 1532) as the phrase la bête à deux dos. Thomas Urquhart translated Gargantua and Pantagruel into English, which was published posthumously around 1693.[3]

    But neither Shakespeare nor Rabelais conceived a brilliant forced union with Depeche Mode to create a bastard beast with a downbeat. So there.

  6. says

    It will be interesting to see if Peterson actually has success with his new book. He was out of action for most of 2020, so some of his cult may have moved on.

  7. raven says

    Peterson is just a routine garden variety hate merchant, reflecting his fanboys’ hate back at them for money. He is no different from Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Donald Trump, or any Fox NoNews commentator.
    And after his several year junket through addiction, illness, and a desperate search for a cure, he is likely broke and needs another book for more money.

    Once again, a repeat of some of Peterson’s greatest hits.
    Jordan Peterson is a sick puppy!!! No matter how horrible a human being you think he is, the reality if far worse.
    The poster below on quora has some Peterson quotes. I normally don’t like to copy other people’s comments but in this case it’s important enough that I will with attribution. The sources are at the original article reached by the link.
    My replies are in bold.

    Riley May
    Answered May 4, 2018 · Author has 70 answers and 83.4k answer views
    Because he says things like:
    ..women have a subconscious wish for brutal male domination
    This is bullcrap. He doesn’t know this.
    ..that it’s unfortunate that men can’t control women who say crazy things because they aren’t allowed to hit them
    How about crazy men like Peterson. We aren’t allowed to hit them either.
    Peterson admires violence and is frustrated that he can’t be violent towards women.
    Guy is a sick puppy.

    ..young women are outraged because they don’t have a baby to suckle
    Gibberish. He doesn’t know this. It’s just a misogynistic insult.

    ..if a woman doesn’t want to have kids, there’s something wrong with her
    Gibberish. It’s an opinion or an assertion without proof. It’s also wrong.
    It’s a sick puppy thing again.

    ..and says “The idea that women were oppressed throughout history is an appalling theory.” – despite women lacking basic human rights and legally being owned by men throughout history
    The oppression was/is blatantly true and obvious.

    ..says stuff like “Men cannot oppose pathological women because chivalry demands they keep their most potent weapons sheathed” on twitter
    That violence thing again. I would be very surprised if Peterson doesn’t have a history of violence against women, children, and pets. Anything smaller and weaker than himself.
    There is lots more. Pages and pages of sick garbage like this.
    No matter how ugly and vicious Peterson seems, the reality is going to be far worse.

  8. drew says

    That the film version of the first one that upset “purists” was wonderful. Also, it much more completely turned the story into a nostalgia vending machine. It was brilliant, not because of Spielberg’s intent but despite it. It managed to cheapen and lampoon itself in ways I didn’t expect.

    A sequel that flops and flops hard will be an added delight.

  9. microraptor says

    Ready Player One felt like… cyberpunk fanfiction that completely missed the point of cyberpunk.

  10. Miserable Git Says says

    Hey leave off the Ernest Cline Ready Player One criticism. If you have bad things to say about that book you come and say them to my 10 year old’s face. This is his favourite book and he will defend it’s simplistic plot, poor character development and soppy ending.
    p.s. if you have better book recommendations for a voracious book reading 10 year old please share

  11. thrymskvida says

    @hoku, #4

    Ready Player One completely failed to critique nostalgia and slavish devotion to pop culture. Everything focused on the main characters’ obsessive knowledge of 80s garbage, and they were rewarded for it at every turn. In the end, even when they have the opportunity to change things, they do not. Basically all they do is keep the Oasis a freemium game and tell people “hey it’s good to occasionally go outside into the ruined hellscape our world has turned into.”

    The book is utterly uninterested in the lives of its characters beyond being vehicles for references and fanservice. At one point, the main character’s only living relative is killed when the shipping container stack she lives in collapses, and this is never mentioned again.

    RP1 is American Psycho without any self-awareness or societal commentary (at least, intentionally).

  12. PaulBC says

    microraptor@11 I didn’t read it but watched the movie adaptation with my daughter while she was in the hospital. That description sounds right to me. First off, nothing is going to make the 80s cool, not then, not now, not in the future. I lived through them, and I can tell you this with confidence.

    I was especially irritated by the witless reference to Buckaroo Banzai, because that’s a movie I enjoyed with friends at the time. It was, if only briefly, a cult classic. My friends 15 years later informed me that it didn’t age well, and I can see that. But the point is its quirkiness, not whether you can cosplay the title role.

    The Laura Hudson tweets suggest something similar: all surface reference, no comprehension.

    MGS@12 Many things are forgivable at age 10. In fact, you might as well get the schlock out of the way first. How will you recognize something better later on?

  13. ruthseid says

    When Cline decided he had to tell us that the reason that the group was called “The High Fives” is because they are the five highest scorers (because, apparently, we couldn’t figure that out for ourselves) I finally gave up.

  14. says

    Miserable Git, right off the top of my head, Binti by Nnedi Okorafor.

    I read Ready Player One as a parody of incel gamergaters, and enjoyed it. I was quite disappointed when I learned it was, in fact, serious.

  15. brucegee1962 says

    I read the Cline book (well, I listened to Will Wheaton read it on audio).
    There seemed to be two messages:
    1) Societies that base themselves on obsessive nostalgia rather than developing their own culture are sick and doomed, and
    2) hey, weren’t the 80s objectively the best decade?

  16. hoku says

    @thrymskvida 13

    But what they do is keep pointing out how bad the real world has become and how everyone is just playing this game. For example they’ve reintroduced unregulated debt slavery, need armed guards to travel between cities, Columbus Ohio is the center of the world, and people consider in game elections more important than the thing.

    The main character is obsessed, so we see everything from his perspective. But that’s because one insane billionaire hijacked the culture to make it that way. And it’s explicitly pointed out that said billionaires obsessions made him miserable and reclusive.

    And in book we don’t know if the characters change anything, because they’ve only had the ability to do so for something like 15 minutes when it ends.

    Also, it sounds like the most insanely exploitative freemium model I’ve ever heard of. Would not recommend.

  17. says

    Why would anybody take Peterson serious on life advice. The only advice he can give is “don’t do what I did”.
    That’s like taking business tips from Trump. Oh, wait…

  18. kurt1 says

    Rule 13: Only eat beef
    Rule 14: Get addicted to Benzos
    Rule 15: Let Russian doctors put you in a coma
    Rule 16: Get Pneumonia
    Rule 17: Write 12 more rules, because you need 12 more money
    The best thing Peterson did, was being labeld as a profound and important thinker by David Brooks and the like, so we don’t have to listen to anything they have to say ever again.
    Funny and in depth piece about Peterson: Nathan J Robinson – The Intellectual We Deserve

  19. PaulBC says

    I think he’s onto something with the medically induced coma. While I would have missed a few good things, believe it or not, over the past four years, I could probably sit out most of the time from Nov. 4 through January 20. (Note: I don’t live in Georgia)

  20. PaulBC says

    microraptor@22 Despite being born in 1965… and probably because I’m the youngest of a large family with older siblings… I consider the 60s to be the gold standard. When I put on music in the car, it’s usually something from before I was born or shortly thereafter, like The Byrds or Donovan. It doesn’t occur to me (or wouldn’t except for my obsessive traits) that it’s like listening to Irving Berlin in the 70s and thinking of it as “modern” music.

    I will listen to songs I know from college because America’s Top 40 (in the dorm dining hall) or MTV were going in the background, but even then it was at best just a crap guilty pleasure. (And I was never into punk, so I’m sure others can claim something was great about the 80s. I still don’t like punk, but I like Billy Bragg from that time period).

    The 70s. I dunno. I think they are an underrated era in some ways. I may be one of the few people who thought Whit Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco was a memorable film. From my perspective, the 60s were a movement against the establishment and against conformity “Do your own thing.” The 70s just kind of took it to extremes, mostly the unfortunate use of polyester, and the 80s was pure backlash where we were all going to be investment bankers. So that makes the 70s kind of a peak in my view.

  21. kurt1 says

    If you are in a coma you will miss all the cool cabinet appointments: Goldman-Sachs person, dude who thinks torture is fine (if you do it to foreigners), guy who covered up the police murder of black teenager, E. Warren, and many more!

  22. says

    Lots of people think the ’80s were cool. Just look at things like the synthwave genre of music, which is blatantly ’80s influenced. Of course there’s a strong tendency to ignore how much ’80s pop culture was overtly or covertly influenced by the fear of nuclear war. Even as the decade was drawing to a close and the Eastern Bloc was fading you could still produce a film like Miracle Mile, revolving around the outbreak of nuclear war, and no one blinked an eye at it.

  23. PaulBC says

    timgueguen@26 If you’re a fish you don’t know you’re in water, or something like that. There are fewer things more boring to me than the 80s, and it’s not like I failed to notice how much was influenced by nuclear war. Actually, it was right after the end of the Cold War that I read Richard Rhodes’s The Making of the Atomic Bomb and thereafter anything I could find about the Manhattan Project in my university’s library (including pretty obscure work’s like Otto Frisch’s memoir What Little I Remember). It kind of made Los Alamos feel like an artists colony to me. It is very strange, and maybe a little disturbing, to think that I would have wanted to be there to relive those times.

  24. says

    Some movies are “popcorn all the way down”, good or bad doesn’t really apply. I have actually seen RPO twice. It’s a fun movie if you can just ignore the idiots that take this stuff seriously. Yeah, it’s pretty cheesy, but Spielberg ain’t no rookie either. So it looks good and has a good “flow” throughout.

    As for the eighties: YOU WEREN’T THERE MAN! I’ve seen things.

  25. birgerjohansson says

    Meh. There is sooo much good science fiction out there, and they somehow get in the shadow of this?

  26. velociraptor says

    Gawd DAMN this is so pathetic.

    The Wokes on this page simply can’t enjoy the novel for what it is – a fun book reminiscing about when some of us grew up.

    And you dumb Wokes wonder why you lose elections.

  27. says

    Yes, the fact a bunch of people are snarking on what appears to be a badly written book and its sequel had a big impact on elections.

    Is that you, Mr. Cline?

  28. Aoife_b says

    Since it looks like the excerpt of Cline’s book got copyright struck, I just want to point out that Ready Player 2 has a part where a characters stalks a girl, tracks down her birth certificate from her school records, learns she was assigned male at birth, then pats himself on the back for not freaking out because he’d had cybersex with a female avatar.
    I would hope it doesn’t need explained why this is fucked up

  29. PaulBC says

    velociraptor@32 Is it possible just to complain about bad writing without (necessarily) concealing a “woke” agenda? While I might find reasons to complain about the ideological stance of RPO, I got enough from the movie to conclude that it is drivel–a formulaic exercise in pushing nostalgia buttons. Note that I don’t condemn anyone if that’s what they’re into. In fact, all I’d ask is that people consume works of fiction that are not drivel as well.

    I also really don’t need any help reminiscing about the 80s.

  30. hemidactylus says

    Donnie Darko was partly period piece actually set in late 80s (Bush-Dukakis) and featured some decent music I wasn’t into at the time. I never read or watched Ready Player One as I’m not a gamer and the thing seems superficially offputting. I’d rather watch cheesy 80s movies, Miami Vice or read stuff on Ollie North’s ingenious subterfuge.

    Miracle Mile? Wasn’t that Tangerine Dream? Epitome of 80s. Film ambience music as New Age cult genre. Jan Hammer. Vangelis. Kitaro was better as actual music.

    Jordan Peterson escaped his pot of boiling water? Crap.

  31. hemidactylus says

    60s- Hippy Hallucinators at Woodstock

    70s- Disco Ducks at Studio 54 on coke and heroin

    80s- New Wavers clubbing on MDMA and punks slam dancing at the skate park; synthesizers (et tu Rush?); mullets and acid wash

    90s- forgetting the 80s by wearing lumberjack clothes and shants; backbeats and drop D

  32. Aoife_b says

    That “cheesy pulp fiction” has a character stalking and outing a trans character, which is a nightmare some of us are actually worried about in the real world.