When Ernest Cline’s sci-fi book Ready Player One first came out in 2011, many sci-fi enthusiasts became obsessed. The premise follows the ever-successful formula of a bleak future with limited resources and universal poverty that the teenage main character must confront.
The book stands out because of its virtual reality, OASIS, the characters’ primary method of escapism. Riddled with the 80s and 90s pop culture elements and following teenage protagonist Wade Watts in his quest for an Easter egg, Ready Player 1 became a New York Times bestseller.
A sequel, Ready Player Two, came out almost a decade later, in 2020. Compared to its predecessor, Ready Player Two received mixed reviews with a 3.52 rating on Goodreads, as many felt it was not as original and exciting. Nevertheless, the interest in the fandom is still strong: the first book got a movie adaptation in 2018, while the Ready Player Two film is already in the making. But is a Ready Player Three book also on the cards? After all, YA dystopian trilogies have become the norm in recent years, and given the delay between Ready Player One and Ready Player Two, fans naturally speculate.
In a recent interview, author Ernest Cline answered questions about his return to the world of OASIS, his collaboration with Steven Spielberg, who directed the film adaptation, and a possible third book in the same world. The author offered insights on his writing process, stating that he had always wanted to leave the option of a sequel open, while the film adaptation motivated him to wrap up the project in a timely manner, knowing that a film sequel could be planned the book was out.
When asked if he now considers the project as complete, or as a possible ongoing franchise, Cline stated that his vision has always involved a “trilogy of stories.” This, however, won't necessarily take the form fans might think: Cline has only ever envisioned one sequel, the recently published Ready Player Two, while the third book he is considering writing might be a prequel, making it a Ready Player Zero rather than Ready Player Three.
In his own words, this would be a coming-of-age story about “about James Halliday and Ogden Morrow in Ohio.” It will likely be based on the author’s childhood memories, including his participation in tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons.
As for the story told in his first two books, Cline views this as complete and appears slightly critical of the endless sequels of franchises like Dune even after the death of the original author.
It seems, then, that this will be the last readers see of Wade Watts for now – but not the last of the world of OASIS.