Title: Lock In
Author: John Scalzi
Publisher: TOR Books (2014)
Number of Pages: 337 pages - Ebook Edition
First Published: 2014
Literary Awards: ALA Alex Award (2015)
A novel of our near future, from one of the most popular authors in modern SF
Fifteen years from now, a new virus sweeps the globe. 95% of those afflicted experience nothing worse than fever and headaches. Four percent suffer acute meningitis, creating the largest medical crisis in history. And one percent find themselves “locked in”—fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus.
One per cent doesn't seem like a lot. But in the United States, that's 1.7 million people “locked in”...including the President's wife and daughter.
Spurred by grief and the sheer magnitude of the suffering, America undertakes a massive scientific initiative. Nothing can restore the ability to control their own bodies to the locked in. But then two new technologies emerge. One is a virtual-reality environment, “The Agora,” in which the locked-in can interact with other humans, both locked-in and not. The other is the discovery that a few rare individuals have brains that are receptive to being controlled by others, meaning that from time to time, those who are locked in can “ride” these people and use their bodies as if they were their own.
This skill is quickly regulated, licensed, bonded, and controlled. Nothing can go wrong. Certainly nobody would be tempted to misuse it, for murder, for political power, or worse....
First of all, lets define what Lock In meaning really was. Locked-in was a condition when a man/woman body couldn't move at all while their brain fully awake and functioning. Imagine how frustating it was. This condition was the final, third phased, result of disease caused by virus nick named Haden Diseases. More of this disease could be found in this novella Unlocked, prequel of this Lock In novel.
So, 25 years after the virus first strikes, humanity has found it's socio-cultural-tech balance once again. For people that was locked in, there are android at their disposal. With neural networks implanted in their brains, they can freely and remotely commanding the androids, the Threeps as they called it. There are some exception though, for people that cought the second phase of the virus but bounced back to live, their brain was messed up enough so they "act" just like the Threeps, in meaning that they could subdued their concious mind and their body accept the "commands" from certain locked-in people. These people called The Integrators.
So for short, ever watched the movie Surrogate? That's what Threeps looks like, only the people who controlled it was totally had useless body. And ever watched any Possesed movie? That's what Integrators looks like, only they do not need priest to sent the demons away, it was just computer wifi thingy.
Now.... in this world building sense, an ex-Integrator-turned-cops and a Threeps rookie cops of a very famous Haden (he was the second person ever got the threeps body), was sent to investigate a murder allegedly done by an Integrator. Was it him or was it the brain he was integrated with, that was the question. But then, things got messed up, when the victim's ID was none to be found in the system, humongous part of money got involved, and a Haden drug facility burned down to the ground, suddenly it wasn't that simple anymore. Add to that formula some Haden freedom movement's activist fanatic followers start to commit suicidal terrors, and you got a very sensitive case and a lot of hidden agendas.
About this case, eventhough it's really good, had it twist and turn and quick pace that page-turners (and eventhough after about 80% read, everyone knows who's the bad guy(s) were, no suprises there), I think the good guys also were really lucky to have Chris Shane with them, coz without his father
The other characters' believeable, loveable enough, Beside Vann and Chris, there was Tony that conviniently provided the tech forensics and Tania who gave medical assistance when needed. Chris' father and mother were truly a nice parents, willing to do anything for their son. The police captain was cooperative enough, the Navajo tribes too, hell... besides Trinh, there were no bad guys here, well, accept the bad guys of course.
The world building was the gem of the story. It was really solid, a lot of tiny rich details that describe every aspect of it. As I read the Unlocked first, most of undescribe thing in this novel could be found there. The history aspect of the disease was so perfectly provided I could believe it really happened. The socio-cultural aspect was so mimic to our nowdays no wonder it will still happening in different context, and the tecnology was like to happening in near future. Greaaatt.
Next John Scalzi read: Redshirts. Let see how he mocks Startrek :)