Seven Different Princes Serve as Villains in ‘Ready Player Two’
In order to save the world, the heroes of the new science fiction book Ready Player Two are forced to battle seven evil versions of Prince.
Luckily, they have some pretty impressive backup: Morris Day and the Time.
As you might guess from the title, this book is the long-awaited sequel to 2011's Ready Player One, which was made into a hit movie by Steven Spielberg in 2018.
While searching for the key to break free from a virtual reality system that has become a dangerous prison, protagonist Wade Watts and his friends travel to an online world known as "the Afterworld," which is populated with every Prince reference, location and musician you could imagine.
For example, before their clash with the evil Princes, the heroes drive around in a little red Corvette that can only be driven while wearing a raspberry beret, gathering cloud guitars and gold chains that will help them win the musical battle.
When they arrive at the arena, they meet the seven versions of Prince, each dressed to represent a different era in the musician's career: Purple Rain Prince, Cloud Suit Prince (from the "Raspberry Beret" video), "Gett Off" Prince, "Batdance" Prince, Microphone Prince, Third Eye Prince and Mesh-Mask Prince, presumably from the "My Name is Prince" video.
Here's how the book describes their arrival:
As we spoke, seven large glass cylinders began to rise up out of the billowing red fog, forming a wide circle around us. Each of these glass cylinders had a metal cap at the top and bottom, like a giant fuse. And standing motionless inside each of them was a different incarnation of His Royal Badness. Each one had a different hairstyle and outfit, apparently representing different stylistic phases of Prince's career.
Before I could get a good look at any of them through the fog, all seven chambers opened and the Seven Princes emerged in unison, stepping forward into the arena. As they did so, the menacing opening guitar riff of the song "When Doves Cry" began to echo through the arena at earsplitting volume.
When the drums kicked in a few seconds later, all seven incarnations of Prince stretched out their arms as one and began to rise slowly from the ground. I craned my neck upward to see them all hovering directly above us, glaring down at us like seven angry Kryptonian gods intent on giving us a Smallville-style smackdown.
The Time soon join the fight, with Jerome Benton's mirror creating a dozen clones of Morris Day, each capable of delivering a deafening "wh-ha-ha-hawk!" sonic attack. It's difficult to explain much more without revealing the final result of the conflict, but ask yourself this logical question: Could Prince ever really be evil?
The battle takes up 10 pages of the book and seems tailor-made for a big-screen GCI treatment. But it's hard to imagine that Prince, who left his estate in disarray by not having a will prepared before his 2016 death, would approve of being used as a character if and when a Ready Player Two movie is made.
In a 1998 Guitar World interview, he described the virtual reality world as "the most demonic thing imaginable," expressing revulsion at the idea of digitally "performing" with artists who had already passed away.
"Everything is as it is, and it should be," he said. "If I was meant to jam with Duke Ellington, we would have lived in the same age. That whole virtual reality thing... it really is demonic. And I am not a demon. Also, what they did with that Beatles song ["Free As a Bird"], manipulating John Lennon's voice to have him singing from across the grave... that'll never happen to me. To prevent that kind of thing from happening is another reason why I want artistic control."