Scalzi is so good at world building. I went into this book cold. All I knew was Scalzi wrote it and Wil Wheaton did the audiobook narration.
Quickly you’re thrown into a near-future world altered by contagious disease and the technology that helps to ease its effects. Millions of people in the near future have “Haden’s Syndrome,” which most often leads to death or lock in.
Technology progresses quickly to help aid people with the disease, who become referred to as “Hadens.” It’s as if having the ailment is becoming another race. Those who are locked in can remotely control “Threeps.” Named after C-3PO from Star Wars, Threeps are machines that allow Hadens to walk around their neighborhoods, go to work, or play sports. All the while, their human body remains in a medical cradle at their home.
The plot of Lock In is a police procedural, like an episode of Law & Order. Our narrator is a Haden and our story is his first week on the job as an FBI agent. Going too far into the details would certainly spoil,so I’ll leave that be in case you enjoy police procedurals.
It’s not a great story. It falls for the science fiction trap of solving made up problems with made up solutions without connecting enough to today’s humanity. Scalzi performs that connection so well in the Old Man’s War series, it hurts to see it fall short here.
The world though, is superb. I love the political undertones that motivate so many of the characters, providing depth. Threeps and Integrators (spoiler) are interesting enough that I want to read other stories where such a sudden technological change has consequences we’ve not yet predicted. I think it can be done without a technobabble resolution. We can expect at least one more novel in this universe, Head On, and I’ll read it even though Lock In was a letdown to me.
I enjoyed this in Audiobook format via Audible, read by Wil Wheaton. The production was great and I’d recommend that version as well if you want to read this one.
Lock In by John Scalzi, part of my 2017 Reading