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Podcast / 372 Pages We'll Never Get Back

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372 Pages We'll Never Get Back is a podcast where Mike Nelson and Conor Lastowka, both writers on RiffTrax, read books they're probably not going to like.

Thus far, the podcast has covered the following books:


This podcast contains these tropes:

  • Accentuate the Negative: Normally the point of the podcast, though the hosts do (very) occasionally find praise for aspects of the books they enjoyed.
  • Artifact Title:
    • The title refers to the number of pages in their copy of Ready Player One, the first book they covered. Later books would have more or fewer pages.
    • The segment Real or Fanfic originally had passages from actual Ready Player One fanfiction to illustrate how the prose was indistinguishable. As later books covered became increasingly obscure, they instead solicited submissions from readers intentionally attempting to mimic the given book's style.
  • Blatant Lies: Every episode the hosts pretend they have unearthed some artifact from the "dark web" that includes deleted scenes, recorded conversations between the author and their editor or agent, and dramatisations of the book, but are really comedy skits with Mike and Conor playing the parts.
  • Call-Back: Quite a few things from previous books have become lodged in the hosts' memories, and get brought up again even years later:
    • Referring to any sort of computer as a "hell of a rig", from their read-through of Ready Player One.
      • The inflatable cow fursuit (the source of the "hell of a rig" quote) gets brought up from time to time, and has even ended up on official show merchandise.
    • Any writing that distances a character from their own feelings or actions ("I felt myself relax" instead of "I relaxed", for example) or descriptions that are preceded by "what looked like..." or "what seemed to be..." gets described as "Clineian", after the hosts noticed Ernest Cline's propensity to do this in Ready Player One and Armada.
    • Appending "...said the robot pimp disdainfully." to any particularly preposterous dialogue, taken from a sentence in TekWar.
    • Any unnecessary or dubious fact is sourced to, since it was the only prominent online source they could find which backed up The Mister's (false) claim that Albanian cars do not have seat belts.note 
    • "Grandpa, no!", in response to any uncharacteristically sexual or violent scenes, particularly in the outsider-authored books. Originated in their read-through of Trucking Through Time, which had been a relatively genteel Wild West time-travel fantasy up to the point where a character is graphically scalped, dismembered, and the severed organ thrown into a fire.
    • Any time a character is described as having "slender fingers" or any similar descriptions of their hands, Conor and Mike comment on how odd that is, calling back to the first time they noticed it in Armada.
  • Caustic Critic: Conor and Mike both give a no-holds-barred beatdown of the books they review.
  • Dull Surprise: A frequent comment on books that characters react with far less emotion than events would warrant.
    • Ready Player Two has the Running Gag of them commenting that half a billion people are going to die horribly in less than 12 hours while the characters goof off throughout their quest.
  • Fake-Out Opening: In episode 66, Mike has finally had enough of slogging through the grim prose of Shadow Moon and bunks off, revealing he has paid his niece Caitlin $150 to read that week's chapters and fill in for him. She staggers through the opening, drowsy and spluttering as she's recovering from dental surgery, shows absolutely no interest in the book or the podcast, and can't even stay on topic. By this point, we're 10 minutes into the episode and it's turning into a complete train-wreck, until finally Caitlin walks out, leaving a sheepish Mike to come back and resume the podcast. He takes a break to read that week's section of the book, the theme music plays again and the episode starts afresh.
  • Narm Charm: invoked Discussed. The hosts admit that sometimes there are aspects of the books they read that are charming despite the poor writing, particularly the self-published titles written by amateur and hobbyist authors.
  • Once per Episode:
    • Conor issues a firm "settle down" to something which is overwrought, too cute by half, or just a bit extra.
    • Conor has to complete a "sonic challenge", imitating a sound or voice exactly as it's described in the book.
  • Poe's Law: The premise behind the Real or Fanfic segments.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: invoked Done for celebrity authors and their ghost-writers in Tek War and Shadow Moon. William Shatner and Ron Goulart becomes "Shatlart", whereas George Lucas and Chris Claremont are "Clucas".
  • This Is Reality: A lot of their jokes are based around what would be the actual consequences of events.
    • A Running Gag with Ready Player One and Ready Player Two that the world is a Crapsack World on the verge of collapse (as mentioned by the text) but the characters are distinctly unconcerned about it.
    "Only a few dozen people died while you were golf clapping over your new avatar."
  • Running Gag:
    • Conor's inability to pronounce "Ogden".
    • Any reference to "goods" gets expanded to "goods and workers", or "goods and services" calling back to a noticeably vague description in Ready Player One.
    • Any and every random sentence of Modelland sounds like a line from a Tom Waits spoken word piece.
  • Self-Deprecation: Sometimes they pause and point out many of these books are wildly successful and way more read than their podcast criticizing it will ever be.
  • Stylistic Suck: Many of their parodies are designed around invoking what they mock in the books they do.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: This frequently occurs in the podcast, given the type of material they're reading. Whenever they do "Fanfiction Or Real", they'll usually groan whenever realizing a particularly bad passage came from a future chapter of the book they're reading.
  • Too Bleak, Stopped Caringinvoked: Discussed in regards to Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff, in which every character is a despicable, grotesque and hateful weirdo; and the "plot" (insofar as it exists beyond word salad and Sean Penn ranting about his strange political views) is a parade of pointless violence, bizarre sex, and recent atrocities (Hurricane Katrina, Afghanistan War, 9/11, etc). They point out that the book is intended as a Black Comedy, but none of the jokes are actually funny and mostly just stupid if not themselves repulsive, which only adds to the malaise.
  • We Didn't Start the Billy Joel Parodies: The end of the Ready Player One review has a song called "1980s Reference!" that summarizes the plot of the book.
  • Wham Line: Some of the lines in books just knock them for a loop.
    • Ready Player Two: Sorry I copied your wife.
  • Zeerust: They get a lot of mileage out of TekWar's cover blurb about being "gleaming with insight" into the future. Most of it amounts to this, either in lazy form (just slapping "plas-" or "Sector" onto random words) or insufficiently-advanced seeming technology (such as robots having chest-mounted inkjet printers).