22 December 2014

Out With A Bang: A Review of Lock In, John Scalzi

By the end of September I had accomplished my reading goal of reading 45 books with the final total rounding up to be 53 for 2014. Unsure why I find book tallying so satisfying but I do it every year more as a personal censes than a motivational tool. Reviewing my list, I see that while this was the year of the mystery novel, it was more so the year of reserved admiration. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed myself, there wasn't one book that completely freaked me out like The Rook or Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. Sure, there was the fourth in the Expanse Series, Cibola Burns, which I have to reiterate is the best of the series, the very best and if you have not picked up Leviathan Wakes yet, you clearly are not the space opera junky you claim to be. 

Thankfully, at the very end of this year, gifted to me on my birthday I received the hard copy edition of John Scalzi's novel, Lock In; suddenly, I find myself having something new to rave on (bully may be more accurate) about at social gatherings this holiday season. I just love to demand people to read books, it is rather a slight problem and it may be prudent that I review my current persuasive technique. I am beginning to doubt the effectiveness of the phrase "What do you mean you haven't read Dune. You are dead to me." People seem less likely to then listen for the next little diddy in which I bubble over with enthusiasm for my newest, funnest little book addiction, clearly expecting all around me to leave that instant for a bookstore or library to procure the very novel I am frothing at the mouth over. I really am not invited to a lot of parties.


The science fiction of Lock In is near future stuff, stuff that is just a little too close to present day for my taste, making it more a prediction of coming events than a humble sci-fi story. Humanity is recovering from a devastatingly incurable disease that at its extreme locks a person's mind into their inanimate body. In response to Haden's syndrome, the U.S has spent 3 trillion dollars to first find a cure and when it appears to be incurable, free those trapped inside themselves. Technology has advanced to such a state that those with Haden's syndrome have neural networks surgically inserted into their brains allowing Haden's to participate three ways in society: through The Agora, an on-line city, through the use of robots (threeps),  or by "riding" trained professionals who have the capacity to download Haden's, allowing them to control their bodies. I know!

This book has a lot going for it, a plague, science, high-level politics and murder. Yes, in the end it happens to be a mystery novel!  Some found Lock In difficult to read, (not sure how, as I basically found it to be crack) and recommend the back-story novella that Scalzi posted on Tor.com. Being a complete moron, I had no idea about this little gem until I started researching for this post (i know, I research!). In my humble opinion, you don't need to read it first as I like a book to reveal itself slowly rather than slapping the reader in the face with too much information. 

Before I sign off for 2014 let me add just one more thing, would you just read The Expanse series already.