Sunday, August 15, 2021

"Ready Player Two" is a silly book.

"Ready Player Two" is a supremely silly book. 

I advance that opinion with some hesitation because "silly" is what people said to me about my interests growing up. I think there is a whole range of quality and depth in pop culture.

But there does seem to be some distance between me and other people involved in the pop culture trade. For instance, I decided early on that I wouldn't surround myself with the trappings of pop culture at home when I was inundated with it all day at the store. From my observation, this isn't true of most writers or book, game, or comic store owners. They seem to surround themselves with pop culture wherever they are. 

I was talking to Sabrina yesterday about this and told her that I have always been somewhat "middle-brow." My taste seem to be solidly in the middle between high-brow and low-brow material and I venture into both realms at random. 

I wouldn't say I matured past fantasy--what happened to me was the I realized that I'd fully absorbed most of the tropes and memes of the genre and it was becoming too damn predictable. So I started reading mysteries and thrillers more often, with the occasional "literary" or non-fiction book thrown in.

I also realized that so much of pop culture is "nerd triumphant," which is wish fulfillment, and if you buy into that too much, it is pretty silly. 

At the same time, I've become somewhat allergic to literary tropes. Slow-moving character studies about abuse or drugs or alcoholism or careerism or the holocaust or any number of social problems. Pedestrian writing, lots of telling and introspection, and a seeming allergy to action or movement. Yes, I suppose that makes you a "serious" book when you deal with those subjects, but it doesn't necessarily make you a good writer. 

"Ready Player One" was a nice breezy book and I didn't think about it too much as I was reading it. "Ready Player Two" ups the ante on all the dubious aspects of nerdism and made me squirm a little. I pushed through to the end feeling like it wasn't the triumph the writer seemed to think it was, but a little scary. It made me think if nerds really did run the world, we'd be in big trouble.

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