For me, the best Science Fiction is the writing where the science takes a back seat to the fiction. In John Scalzi’s Lock In we get a straight-down-the-middle political and corporate thriller with all of the plot points and developments you would expect. The setting for this narrative is what gives Scalzi the opportunity to stretch out a little and give us a twist on the average whodunnit.
In the world of Lock In, after a catastrophic pandemic, some people are trapped in their bodies, unable to move or communicate with the outside world without the use of a neural network that allows them to interact via robot facsimilies or even human hosts.
As science fiction, this is a great premise that sits quietly in the story once the exposition has been dealt with. On the actual human story, Scalzi is at his thoughtful best addressing the social and political issues of funding disabled people as well as digging into how corporations exploit everyone for profit.
If you are a fan of political potboilers, you aren’t going to find much to surprise you in this book. It’s pretty much by the numbers and I found the ending to be a little too neatly tied up. But what set it apart for me was how the sci-fi elements were used to elevate the story and bring that much needed sprinkle of originality that is missing from the basic plot.
All in all, an enjoyable read with a gripping premise that you will likely complete in a couple of sittings.
Length of Read:Medium
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
If you’ve read Redshirts, you will be familiar with Scalzi’s style and although the narrative arc of Lock In is much more traditional than that book, there is a similarity to the style and themes that will appeal.
If you haven’t read Redshirts, why the hell not?
If you are new to Scalzi, think about Michael Crichton’s early stuff to get a sense of the style.
One thing you’ve learned
FBI partners are always hard-boiled veterans who give the newbie a hard time while harboring a traumatic secret.