Lock In by John Scalzi
Hugo Award-winning author John Scalzi (best known for his space operas like the TV-bound parody Redshirts and military series Old Man’s War) explores new ground with a down-to-earth crime thriller full of clever, sci-fi twists. Twenty five years after the world-wide spread of a devastating virus, most who caught the flu-like Haden’s Syndrome survived. Some, however, found themselves “locked in” — mentally aware, but physically paralyzed. Technological advances offer robotic bodies that sync with these victims’ consciousness, and some who caught the virus but recovered can be hired as “Integrators,” or host bodies. One of these Integrators has been found in a hotel room with a dead body and no clear memory of whether he committed the crime. Chris Shane is one day on the job at the FBI when he and his partner land the case. As the whodunit evolves into a howdunit, Scalzi finds the sweet spot between genres. His near-future world feels familiar, but is full of meticulously mapped out, imaginative detail. The socio-political backdrop he creates begs for reflection upon real-world parallels. His tech-speak is accessible without being watered down. And his cop duo is rooted in traditional crime-solving tension, but distinguished by the world they occupy and their backstories. The result is a novel that satisfies on many levels, and will find typically dissimilar readers for once on the same page.