Ernie Cline’s long-gestating sequel to Ready Player One — the imaginatively named Ready Player Two — is set to hit bookstores later this month, and he recently sat down to chat about it with Entertainment Weekly.
In the interview, he disclosed that he’s got at least one more project that he’s thinking about writing—a “Ready Player Zero,” which he describes as being “based on my own childhood—growing up, playing Dungeons and Dragons and video games as a kid.”
Ready Player One is a book that’s steeped in a love of all things 1980s pop culture, referencing dozens of science fiction movies, television shows, books, and video games as the Wade Watts and his friends try and uncover a series of hidden easter eggs after James Halliday, the founder of a global VR network called OASIS, dies.
The sequel, Cline says, “picks up a little over a week after the first book ends.” At New York Comic Con earlier this year, Cline noted that the book will follow the characters as they make another discovery left behind by Halliday, something that would make the OASIS more wonderful and more addictive.
That sounds a bit like Cline recycling the plot for this new book, but in the interview, he notes that while he wanted to return to some familiar territory that made the first book so popular—a treasure hunt—he says that this book will be a bit different, and that it’ll explore a bit more of the world around them.
I think I successfully did that in a very different story that takes place over a different time span than the first book, but it has all the same characters, and some new characters and I also built on the characters’ backstories, and it also builds on the technology and the world.
It also sounds as though he’s not done with the world after Ready Player Two. Noting that he’d always seen the story as a trilogy, he explained that “it won’t be called Ready Player Three,” but “it’ll be more like Ready Player Zero.”
That sounds as though it’ll be a bit more of a prequel novel, one that we might know a bit about already. In Ready Player One, we learn that Halliday was a pop culture fanatic, and that he built the huge company that created OASIS. Presumably, a prequel would explore his life and influences as he build the network.
Ready Player Two, which drops on November 24th, is the end of the story “as I currently see it,” Cline says, although he didn’t rule out someone in his family eventually writing a couple of other sequels. “But probably not.”