The New York Times bestseller, Lock In , is a blazingly inventive near-future thriller from the Hugo Award-winning John Scalzi.
Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe.Read more...
The New York Times bestseller, Lock In, is a blazingly inventive near-future thriller from the Hugo Award-winning John Scalzi.
Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent - and nearly five million souls in the United States alone - the disease causes "Lock In": Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.
A quarter of a century later, in a world shaped by what's now known as "Haden's syndrome," rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is paired with veteran agent Leslie Vann. The two of them are assigned what appears to be a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel, with a suspect who is an "integrator" - someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden client, then naming the suspect for the murder becomes that much more complicated.
But "complicated" doesn't begin to describe it. As Shane and Vann began to unravel the threads of the murder, it becomes clear that the real mystery - and the real crime - is bigger than anyone could have imagined. The world of the locked in is changing, and with the change comes opportunities that the ambitious will seize at any cost. The investigation that began as a murder case takes Shane and Vann from the halls of corporate power to the virtual spaces of the locked in, and to the very heart of an emerging, surprising new human culture. It's nothing you could have expected.
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Blame it on the robots
An intriguing hybrid of Asimovian I, Robot-flavored sci-fi, the quasi-contemporary speculative fiction of William Gibson and the enjoyable detective/crime procedural work of . . . well, countless writers, John Scalzi’s latest novel, Lock In, interweaves the threads of a number of familiar genre conventions to impressive effect.
Exhibit one: the society-threatening plague—in this case, a highly contagious virus called Haden’s Syndrome that has left millions “locked in,” fully conscious but incapable of any movement or response to stimulus. Then there’s the allusion to the well-trod sci-fi terrain of A.I. and androids: The plight of the locked-in has led to the creation of embedded neural nets and Personal Transports (dubbed “threeps,” after a certain golden robot of the silver screen). Finally, Scalzi brings it all together in that most fleet and engaging of forms: the whodunit.
Lock In introduces readers to FBI agents Chris Shane (a Haden) and Leslie Vann as they arrive at a crime scene. The victim lies dead in a room, and the chief suspect is the Integrator in the room with him. (Integrators have the ability to allow Hadens to experience physical sensations.) From there, things get complicated in all the ways one wants detective fiction to get complicated.
Through it all, the Hugo Award-winning Scalzi shows that being a master storyteller isn’t so much about finding new ingredients as it is about combining old standards in ways that are fresh and engaging. But here Scalzi does both, and his novel twist on robot lit alone would make Lock In worth the read.
Scalzi’s world-building is deceptively simple, accomplished while keeping the reader fully enmeshed in the murder mystery that propels the story. Ultimately, the Hadens and Integrators of Lock In each may be as fanciful a construct as the more standard sci-fi fare of androids and aliens. But thanks to Scalzi’s talent, it certainly doesn’t seem that way.