After nearly a decade, Ernest Cline is getting ready to publish a sequel to his debut novel, Ready Player One. Aptly named Ready Player Two, the new book picks up shortly after Wade Watts wins control of the OASIS after completing James Halliday's complex scavenger hunt of pop culture nostalgia. If Cline gets his way, however, that won't be the end of the story. Chatting with Entertainment Weekly, the bestselling author revealed that he's got an idea for a prequel novel about Halliday and his business partner Ogden Morrow.
"It's a coming of age story. It won't be called 'Ready Player Three' it'll be more like 'Ready Player Zero,'" Cline said. "I do plan to take a break, but someday I'll write that book too, which is more based on my own childhood – growing up, playing Dungeons and Dragons and video games as a kid. It's like Stand By Me. It's a huge part of my childhood being immersed in all the escapism so that I could write Ready Player One."
He went on to joke: "There might be a Ready Player Seven from my daughter, but probably not."
During the creative process for Ready Player Two, Cline was able to seek advice from the storytelling master himself: Steven Spielberg. The legendary director was a major influence on the first book, and ended up adapting it for the big screen in Spring 2018. Like fans, Spielberg was eagerly awaiting to read the next chapter in the story, which sees Wade discovering another technological advancement hidden away in the OASIS.
"I knew everybody would even be going into this story with expectations, including me and including Steven Spielberg," Cline said. "He would call occasionally and ask if it was done. Nothing will light a fire under you like getting one of those phone calls ... Getting to bounce ideas off of him and get his reaction was really valuable. He lived in that world of the book for several years and knows it as well as anybody."
Cline even convinced Spielberg to let him read the unpublished screenplay for 2001's A.I. Artificial Intelligence, which began as a passion project for Stanley Kubrick, who died in 1999. A.I. is one of the few movies Spielberg has scripted throughout his career and the last one he wrote.
"I begged him and he finally shared it with me," Cline recalled, going on to say that "the only specific advice I ended up implementing was he asked for more of his favorite character, and I don't want to say which as it might be a spoiler. It was hard getting to that point where I was ready to let him read it and I thought I'm only going to get one chance to make a first impression."
Spielberg ended up reading and providing feedback on multiple drafts. Now, that's what we call an editor!
Ready Player Two goes on sale from Ballantine Books Tuesday, Nov. 24. An audiobook version narrated by Whil Wheaton will also be available.