Ready Player One: Movie Review

Ready Player One became available for rent on iTunes this past week so I finally got to see whether or not my theory from this post that Ernest Cline’s novel would translate better onto the big screen proved true. As always, I’ll try my best to avoid spoilers but I’m not sure how successful I’ll be.

There were parts of the movie I ended up liking better than the book and parts of the book that I liked better but I think, overall, my theory was right. For those who missed the original post, my theory is primarily based on the fact that all of the exposition that bogs down the plot of the novel wouldn’t really be an issue in a visual medium like a movie. And it’s true, in the movie all of the 80’s pop culture references that Cline spent way too much time explaining in great detail in the book were used as cool little easter eggs scattered throughout the movie that didn’t stop the plot every time they came up they way they did in the book. They even added some more modern references–Halo characters, the Serenity from the tv show Firefly, a girl dressed like Harley Quinn from the Arkham video games, etc.–which I really appreciated. All of the other exposition from the book–the background on Halliday, IOI, and the egg hunt and the like–was either explained through brief narrator voice-overs, through dialogue or through visual means making the barrage of information easier to bear than the pages and pages of exposition found in the novel…still I’m not sure I’d say that the movie was 100% better than the book.

The only reason I hesitate to say that the movie was better than the book is that the movie was so different from the book. Yeah I know that they can’t fit everything from a 400 page novel into a two-hour movie (even if it seemed like two hundred of those pages were exposition) so obviously the movie is going to change some things. However, Ready Player One the movie was so different that it often seemed like the only things they kept from the book were the characters and the bare-bones plot–by which I mean the plot if it were boiled down into the bullet points:

  • Race to find three keys to get a hidden egg
  • Winner gets control over the OASIS
  • Evil corporation is after the egg

Some of the changes were good changes–I particularly enjoyed that the movie made Parzival, Aech, Art3mis, Daito, and Sho more like team members than rivals for the majority of the story where the book really makes Parzival act like it’s more important for him to win the egg on his own than to team up with the people he considers his friends to stop IOI until he literally has no other choice. Some changes were unfortunate but necessary–the whole plot detour in the novel where Parzival gets the magic quarter is one of my favorites from the novel but it was a long and convoluted one that definitely needed to be cut for time and I think the way he gets this seemingly random but extremely important object in the movie was a pretty good solution to the problem. Even changing it so that the three gates were just sort of checkpoints and not their own separate tests was understandable. Other changes, however, were just too drastic for me to get behind. I’m talking about the fact that the whole freaking quest is different.

I don’t know, maybe they didn’t think a life-or-death game of Joust against an evil wizard was very cinematic (never mind the whole first half of the test that involved navigating a tomb full of bad guys) but then they went ahead and made a game of Adventure on Atari the last quest anyway so I don’t think that was the problem. But changing it so that some random no-name gunter found the first test, which opened multiple portals to allow all of the OASIS to attempt it (not just those who also figured out the clue), and then having the first test be a literal race–albeit a seemingly impossible one with admittedly cool easter eggs thrown in–was jarring and it seemed irrelevant to me like it had nothing to do with Halliday at all except for the fact that it was a reference to a conversation Halliday had with Morrow…which they made up for the sake of the movie. It’d be like if in the movie adaptation of The Goblet of Fire, instead of facing a dragon to retrieve a golden egg, Harry had to, I don’t know, wrestle a bear for a fish or something…cinematically interesting I guess but it has literally nothing to do with Harry or magic or Hogwarts. The second quest in the movie was a bit better than the first one–involving a sort of re-enactment of The Shining mixed with a zombie game Halliday had worked on–but it still didn’t scream Halliday to me and changing it from the test in the book seems pointless as I’m not sure it actually saved any time. The final test was actually pretty much the same as the one in the book–finding an easter egg in the Atari game Adventure–a simplified version of it of course but, again, I get that they had to do that for time-saving purposes. Overall, I enjoyed the movie but I think I enjoyed it more as its own standalone thing and not as a movie adaptation of a book–the drastic changes are less frustrating that way.

Town Line Tuesday: Daphne Pendragon Part 2 (Continued)

Hey guys, for this week’s Town Line Tuesday I’ll be continuing to answer the Character Questions I started a couple of weeks ago. The questions are all from this tumblr post by @lanqu-e. If you missed the first part you can check it out here.

Part 2: Miscellany (Continued)

 

16. What kind of job does your character want/not want? What is their dream job? What do they think of their current job? Daphne’s dream job would be any job where she can help people, and in that way, her current job as an agent for AEGIS–a secret vigilante organization bent on keeping the peace between humans and Supernaturals–is perfect for her. However, when we meet Daphne at the start of the novel, she’s had her faith in the organization seriously shaken and the novel will deal in part with her struggle to make peace between her love for the job and the unshakable feeling that maybe the cause she devoted her life to isn’t as noble as she believed it to be.

17. What are your character’s greatest fears? Weaknesses? Strengths? Daphne’s greatest fears would be being unable to save people she loves and becoming the monster so many people have accused her of being. Her greatest weakness is maybe relying too heavily on her gift–when you have such a strong innate gift it’s hard not to rely on it but it rarely shows Daphne the whole picture and relying on half a picture of a situation has and will continue to cost her. Her greatest strength is seeing all the horrible dark parts of humanity (and inhumanity) and still being able to see the good in it. 

18. What kind of music do they listen to? Do they have a favorite song? Daphne mostly just listens to whatever local pop/rock/top 40 station comes over the radio. She likes music mostly for background noise not for the lyrics so she’d probably like Lindsey Stirling and similar artists/styles. 

19. If they came from their world to ours how would they react? What would they do? Daphne’s world is essentially the same world as ours except for the fact that in her world supernatural creatures such a ghosts, vampires, demons, and angels exist and live side-by-side (mostly) with humans. That being said, if she stumbled into our world somehow I imagine she would hate it because she would feel like even more of a freak and outcast than she does in her world. She would probably do everything she can to keep her head down and not attract attention to herself as she works to find a way home. (I also like to imagine that in her search for a way home she’d find me and although I’m pretty sure she’d cuss me out for the shit I put her through it’d probably be the best day ever).

20. What personal problems/issues do they have? Pet peeves? Umm this is way too vague I’m not sure how to answer it. Daphne has a ton of issues, I mean the poor girl has recurring nightmares nearly every night, she’s haunted by her past, and she sees her dead best friend everywhere she goes. To say she’s not the most emotionally stable person out there would be putting it lightly. As for pet peeves I’d say people not heeding her advice about their future (they never listen it’s beyond frustrating) also decaf coffee.

21. What kind of student were they in high school? For all that she never ended up going to college, for the longest time Daphne was convinced that college was the only chance she had of getting out of her hell hole of a hometown so she took her classes seriously. She was an A and B student for the most part despite her teachers’ blatant dislike of her. As for extracurriculars/social life… they were practically nonexistent. Spencer was her only friend and while he did his best to invite her into his social circle she kept to herself–both out of dislike for his popular friends and out of fear of dooming him to the same social outcast standing as her.

22. What is a random fact about your character? When she was four or five, Daphne wanted to be an angel when she grew up.

23. What is their outlook on life? What is their philosophy / what do they think in general about living? Daphne’s basic outlook on life is that there’s always something worth living for–that no matter how awful and bleak it can get sometimes (and she knows firsthand just how bad it can get) there’s still beauty and goodness in it too.

24. Who is the most important person in their life? Why? Who is the least important to them (who still has an impact) and why? Most important is Hannah–Daphne’s best friend, partner, and the reason Daphne joined AEGIS in the first place. Least important is Daphne’s father…he’s important in that he affected and continues to affect Daphne but he wasn’t a good father so he earns least important.

25. What kind of childhood did your character have? Well, it wasn’t a good one.

26. What kind of nervous habits do they have? Do they have any addictions? Daphne runs her hands through her hair a lot and, while it’s not necessarily what I’d call a nervous habit, she goes for runs when she’s stressed or scared. Closest thing to an addiction she has is an unhealthy love for supernaturally enhanced coffee.

27. If they could choose their epitaph for their grave, what would they choose? “The beauty of the soul revealed.”

28. Do they want to get married? Would they ever want kids? Daphne would love to get married to someone she loves. Kids are another matter–she’s not sure she would be a good mom–but with the right person she would consider it.

29. If they could have one thing in the world, what would it be? For her best friend back.

30. Would they ever kill someone? What would push them to kill someone? She has killed people before. It’s part of the job sometimes. Granted those people are usually monsters… What would push her to kill a human? Maybe killing someone she loves…but then that would make them monsters too right?

 

 

Town Line Tuesday: Context? What Context? #4

Hey guys, I was going to continue the character questions from last week for today’s Town Line Tuesday but I got caught up in other things so instead here’s another out of context line from page 7 line 1 and I’ll get back to the character questions next week.

“…the stuff’s practically my lifeblood now. If it was gonna kill me, I think it would’ve done so already.”

 

Town Line Tuesday: 100 Pages

Hey guys! Welcome to a very special Town Line Tuesday. As you may have guessed from the title, I’ve just hit the 100 page mark on the novel. In honor of this landmark I thought I’d share with you all the first page of The Demon of New Salem. Enjoy!

Continue reading

Town Line Tuesday: Creator of Worlds

Magic and technology, kingdoms and queendoms and distant planets, alternate universes and mysterious galaxies, magical creatures and alien races, to name but a few of all the little pieces that go into building elaborate fantasy and sci-fi worlds. World-building is a key part of writing fantasy and sci-fi, it’s a fun and creative process but also a necessary one—even magic worlds of make-believe need some sort of rules and structure, without them you’ve got nothing but chaos and your readers won’t be able to follow what’s going on let alone suspend disbelief the way they should. Still, while world-building is a lot of fun when it’s all in my head—seriously I could spend all day lost in imagining worlds of my own design—I’ve found that getting it onto the page is…less fun. The problem with putting the world-building on the page is that it, by very definition, needs to be done through exposition (the placement of often very wordy explanations of important background information into a story) and honestly, I don’t much like reading exposition let alone writing it. Don’t get me wrong, exposition, while annoying, is very important and I do actually find its contents interesting (most of the time anyway) it just has a way of completely bogging down the story.

 

I’m currently reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and let me tell you, the first six chapters were a pain to get through. The prologue explaining the contest was one thing, it set up the premise of the story nicely and it was all necessary information at that point in the narrative. The next six chapters however…well as interesting as I find the OASIS and I have to admit the background about Halliday is certainly necessary for Parzival’s solving of the puzzles but nothing happens in those six chapters. Parzival goes to school and does almost nothing there and the rest of the sixty-odd pages are nothing but exposition. Maybe it’s just me but personally I’d prefer the author trust the reader a little more to figure out what’s going on through context and small bits of exposition spaced out throughout the novel and interspersed with action rather than dumping everything on us all at once at the start of the story. Maybe you like your world-building all at once at the beginning of a book because when you’re finished, once you’ve earned the action after slogging through all the background muck, you at least know what’s going on and you can sit back and enjoy the ride. But I’ve got to say, I actually don’t mind being somewhat confused at the start of the book, I relish figuring things out on my own and the twists and turns in the plot that slowly reveal the secrets of the world I’m immersed in keep me coming back for more when pages upon pages of exposition exhaust me to the point of wanting to walk a way rather than keep trudging forward.

 

This reading preference really shows itself in my writing, I like to play things close to the vest, revealing things only when the plot demands it. Sometimes this dislike of heavy exposition and descriptive language works to my disadvantage as I sometimes struggle with making sure scenes are as descriptive as they need to be but it’s something I am constantly working on. As for world-building in The Demon of New Salem, since the novel takes place in our world—albeit our world with magic—the primary pieces I have to worry about building are my fictional town of New Salem, creating lore for the Supernaturals, and of course creating a system of magic and rules for how magic works and doesn’t work—which is what I am currently trying to work out during my writing sessions at my local coffee shop. It’s funny how given that magic is something that doesn’t exist, and can therefore theoretically operate any way I want it to, has me spending quite a bit of time researching… I’m sure my Google search history from my last writing session looks like that of a novice Wicca. Unfortunately, since magic isn’t real, it hasn’t been super helpful, but at least it helps to get some idea as to what plants and incantations supposedly do what so I have a place to jump off from when creating my system. Now to figure out how to put the pieces I have worked out to paper without falling into the trap of wordy and complicated exposition. It’s all about balance I suppose.

Town Line Tuesday: Meet the Cast

They say nobody exists in a vacuum, that no one ever goes through life without being impacted and shaped by the people around them. This is of course true of fictional characters as well. No matter how brilliantly crafted a main character, their story is nowhere near as interesting if they don’t have friends and/or family to support them or enemies to challenge them. In the spirit of this, I thought I’d introduce you to a couple of the central characters in Daphne’s story so far.

Hannah Beckman

Species: Human

Age: 28

Gender: Female

Hair: Red

Eyes: Green

Occupation: AEGIS agent

Hannah is Daphne’s best friend and partner. She grew up in AEGIS–the secret vigilante organization that works to keep peace between humans and Supernaturals–her entire family having been agents of the organization for almost as long as AEGIS has existed. Hannah is a highly trained badass whose skill in hand-to-hand combat and marksmanship, not to mention her mile-wide stubborn streak, are more than a match for Daphne’s own. Even though Daphne is the one with the people-reading powers, Hannah’s even-tempered nature and easy charm usually makes her a better diplomat than often hot-headed Daphne. Especially when Daphne tells her exactly which buttons to push. Despite her lifestyle of living with a gun in her hand and blood under her nails, her hands are always perfectly manicured–even if she can’t quite lose the calluses on her palms–and she’s mourned the loss of more than one fabulous dress in the line of duty.

 

Spencer Montgomery

Species: Human

Age: 27

Gender: Male

Hair: Light Brown

Eyes: Gray/Green

Occupation: New Salem Sheriff’s Department Deputy

Spencer is Daphne’s adoptive brother. While they share neither blood nor legal familial ties, Daphne and Spencer grew up together and Spencer’s father was more of a dad to Daphne than Daphne’s flesh-and-blood one. The Spencer Daphne knew was an intelligent yet carefree man with a penchant for breaking rules in the name of having fun. In the wake of his father’s sudden death, Spencer is a new man. A more serious, more suspicious, more reckless man, and yet still every bit as prone to breaking a few rules in the name of finding his father’s killer. He still blames Daphne for leaving New Salem without so much as a goodbye and now, ten years later, she’s returned from who-knows-where and he can’t help but wonder what her true motives are for coming home.

Margaret Beckman

Species: Human

Age: 50

Gender: Female

Hair: Graying Dark Blonde

Eyes: Brown

Occupation: Lore and Logistics Admin for AEGIS

Once a field agent for AEGIS, Marge has long since hung up her sword (figuratively at least) and taken up a desk job at the organization, coordinating field missions, filing reports and researching and updating supernatural lore for the archives. It’s supposed to be a promotion but, truth be told, she sometimes misses getting her hands dirty. As Hannah’s mother, she has naturally had more of a presence in Daphne’s life as an AEGIS agent than she has with most field agents and Marge and Daphne have developed a strong mentor-student bond as a result. No one understands Daphne’s mindset at the beginning of the novel better than Margaret Beckman, even if she is worried what that grief might make her young friend do.

 

Anka Satoya

Species: Human

Age: 42

Gender: Female

Hair: Black

Eyes: Brown

Occupation: Coroner for the New Salem Sheriff’s Department

Anka is the Coroner for the NSSD and a close friend of Spencer’s. She’s confident, smart, and the best at her job–something she’s not too humble to admit. She adores Spencer so even though it could cost her her job and every instinct she has is screaming there’s something suspicious about this Daphne character who has shown up at Spencer’s side seemingly out of nowhere, she’ll do anything she can to help her friend get justice for his father’s murder.

 

The Demon

Species: Demon

Gender: Female

Hair: ??????

Eyes: Endless Voids of Evil

Occupation: None

The Demon is New Salem’s one-and-only urban legend. In a town where the supernatural has always been impossible, no one tells stories about haunted houses or bogeymen or even monsters under the bed. The Demon is the only exception because she is less a legend than indisputable fact. The Demon was a real girl once, a citizen of New Salem born and raised. But time and fear have a way of twisting things and she was a strange girl with even stranger eyes; eyes they say could tear your very soul from your body if you looked at them too long. Said to have telepathic and mind-control powers–and those being only the very tip of the iceberg as far as what she can do–The Demon is the antithesis of all that New Salem holds sacred. So when people start dying of mysterious, seemingly supernatural circumstances in New Salem, everyone knows The Demon must be the one behind it.

 

Town Line Tuesday: Context? What Context? #2

Hey everyone, sorry I haven’t been posting regularly as of late, I’ve been a bit busier than usual. I’m dog-and-house-sitting this week for a family friend and I’m just getting settled in today so this week’s Town Line Tuesday will be another short one but I will be posting another non-novel-related post later in the week and should be back to regular Town Line Tuesdays next week. For now, enjoy another out of context line from page 21 line 11.

“I just follow orders dear. And so do you, so I expect you to keep everything you learn here hush-hush.”