Lock In by John Scalzi

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Lock In by John Scalzi

Buy Lock In by John Scalzi at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: When a man slits his own throat it is usually an easy solution for the FBI. However, this is a future in which people can control one another; was this a suicide or murder?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: August 2014
Publisher: Audible Studios
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780765375865

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The Hayden disease started off looking like the common flu, but when people fell into comas and did not come out again we realised this was something very different. Twenty years later and society has moved on, with millions of Americans locked into their bodies a new culture has developed; one of coma patients being able to control androids or other people. So when a murder happens is it the body, or the mind that inhabits the body that is at fault? It is up to FBI agents Chris Shane and Leslie Vann to discover.

The best science fiction often takes a concept and runs with it. The book does not have to be about the concept, but can tell a compelling story with the ideas as background. John Scalzi is an award winning science fiction writer who knows all about this and his skills are shown off once more in Lock In. This is a crime thriller that happens to be set in a compelling science fiction universe.

What would happen if millions of people suddenly fell into comas? Rich American people. The chances are something would occur like in Lock In; society would look to help with such a large number of people. What makes Lock In so engaging is that the story is set twenty years after the outbreak so the mere mention of Haden's syndrome is background for what is essentially a classic buddy cop novel.

For the mixture of crime and science fiction to work, both genres must be served and Scalzi is able to do this. The Sci Fi is exceptional; realistic, yet fantastical. The crime is also well written; a murder leads to dogged police work, a series of suspects and a fun reveal. At times you forget that one of the FBI agents is a walking talking android – did I forget to mention that? Scalzi can become a little bogged down in exposition and scenes can just be talking shops of characters telling the reader what is going on. However, in as complex a world as this, some exposition can be forgiven.

It is part of the charm of the book that you take Agent Shane on face value. Scalzi is a wonderful writer of characters and the prim Shane bounces well off the maverick Agent Vann. Between them, the grizzled veteran and the cybernetic newbie have great chemistry. The best element of their relationship is how they exploit the differences. Rather than being trapped by his inability to move, Shane is actually freer than Vann. His ability to jump from android host to android host means he can move the investigation on faster, often getting to a destination on the other side of America with relative ease.

The integration of life, love and politics with a world full of Haden’s sufferers is what really makes this novel stand out. There is no handwringing or over dramatization, but a practicality of how life would be should new android surrogates exist. The subtle inferences to how life has changed really fleshes out the world and makes you want to go back to find out more.

The story of Lock In is excellent as was the narration of the audio version I listened to. Star Trek and The Big Bang Theory alumni Wil Wheaton does an excellent job of playing the various characters. The differences in how he plays the two agents is perhaps the clearest and gives the conversations between the two more life.

If you enjoyed this book you might also enjoy Afterparty by Daryl Gregory and Robopocalypse by Daniel H Wilson.

Buy Lock In by John Scalzi at Amazon You could get a free audio download of Lock In by John Scalzi with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.

Buy Lock In by John Scalzi at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Lock In by John Scalzi at Amazon.co.uk

Buy Lock In by John Scalzi at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Lock In by John Scalzi at Amazon.com.


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