In Medias Res (IMR)

IMR | Ready Player One |The Ship Artz3val is Now Setting Sail

Parzival and Art3mis. How fast did I ship them?

Faster than Amazon on a one-day shipping sale. That’s how fast.

They barely said a word to each other and POOF! Done. The ship Artz3val is now setting sail.

Okay, let me back track because there are probably some confused readers.

Parzival is the avatar name of the protagonist, Wade, in Ready Player One. He’s the narrator, super-geek, gamer hero of this novel. He is a “gunter”—a gamer hunting for the easter egg hidden in the OASIS virtual simulation game (egg+hunter=gunter). The winner who finds the egg will inherit the game creator’s fortune.

He’s also absolutely smitten with the internet personality, Art3mis, a fellow gunter and (possibly) geek girl. Because of the anonymous nature of the gaming universe, Wade can’t be sure if Art3mis is who her avatar appears to be: a young woman his age. For all he (and the reader) knows, Art3mis could be an “obese, hairy knuckled guy named Chuck.”

But when he encounters her in the game, their interaction is so easy, so natural, I can’t help but ship them, despite “her” dubious nature. They have common interests, they’re evenly skilled, their dialogue is funny and simple.

But they’ve only met once. 

Granted, it was a whole chapter long, but they’re only talked once. Hardly enough to constitute a relationship.

Does my shipper mind care? Nope.

Better question: Should it?

In many ways, yes. Art3mis is dealing with a potential stalker, and Parzival is dealing with an internet personality of dubious nature. And so far their relationship in the novel has been purely platonic (at least the part that exists outside of Wade’s mind), the book is obviously going to hint at more.

But the virtual reality complicates things. Can a relationship exist when the people involved are wearing masks? Masks through which they can choose to filter their thoughts, character flaws, and key personality traits?

Wade talks about people who get married through the OASIS game system, without ever meeting in person. It seems wrong to have a relationship this way, because despite people saying “it’s the inside that counts” there’s an outer layer too, and I don’t think its fair to discredit that. Plus, there’s no guarantee who the other person is without meeting IRL.

So I’m shipping, but with caution. But it’s still the first ship I’ve shipped this quickly.

Ever ship a ship with caution? Which literary couple did you ship so fast you got whiplash? And can a digital connection be enough to constitute a relationship? Let me know in comments!

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