I’ve been meaning to read something by John Scalzi for a while – something other than his blog and his twitter feed, that is. I almost picked up Redshirts after it won the Hugo, but I wasn’t sure I knew enough about Star Trek to really appreciate it.
And then Lock In came out, to general acclaim, and I knew I had to read it. Earth-based sci-fi? Check. A global virus, with far-reaching effects? Check. Solid world-building? Check. Murder mystery? Check, done, sold.
In the near future, a flu-like virus has left a certain percentage of its victims “locked in”: still conscious, still aware, but unable to move or speak. These people are called Hadens, and many of them move through an interact with the world through threeps, robot bodies they can control with their minds. Other flu victims (called Integrators) escaped being locked in, but were left with the ability to connect with Hadens and act as flesh and blood threeps. Chris Shane was locked in at age 2, and has been a poster child for Hadens ever since. Now an adult and an FBI agent, Chris’s first case is a murder – and the suspect is an Integrator who may or may not have been integrated at the time of the murder.
From there the story involves disability rights, a giant virtual reality space called the Agora, the Navajo, programming, government funding, and what it means to be human when all your interactions are through a machine.
It’s really good.
Read if you like: Sci-fi, mysteries, robots, cops, robot cops.
Don’t read if you don’t like: property damage.
-Signing off, James Gette (who wants to be a FBI Robot Cop (not really)).