By John Scalzi
John Scalzi, who won the Hugo Award for his novel Redshirts, may be the most entertaining writer in SF today. His books are cover-to-cover fun, and Lock In shows him once again at the top of his game.
In the near future a virus dubbed Haden’s Syndrome has shut down the bodies of millions of people while leaving their minds unaffected. Luckily, technology has advanced to the point where “Hadens” can either occupy robot chassis (dubbed “threeps,” after C-3PO) or enter the consciousness of human hosts known as “Integrators.”
What happens when Chris Shane, a new FBI agent with Haden’s Syndrome, partners with Leslie Vann, a former Integrator, to investigate a murder in Washington’s Watergate building? Well, things get complicated. Luckily Agent Shane comes from big money, and so can afford to replace all of the threeps he’s going to have shot out from under him.
Lock In can be read as a plea for political tolerance (the Hadens as disabled), or a satire of people who have their heads stuck too far up the web (the Hadens as super-nerds), but mainly it’s an exciting police thriller built around the traditional odd-couple buddy plot, albeit this time kitted out with lots of interesting upgrades.
However you want to approach it though, it’s one of the best SF novels of the year, and one with substantial crossover appeal for non-genre fans as well.