Lock In by John Scalzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
My enjoyment of this book is probably unduly influenced by the narrator, a certain Will Wheaton, who pulled off yet another hat trick with his friend John Scalzi. What can I say? I'm a fan of both. So how does that allow me to rank a tale on a tale's own merits?
It doesn't. Alas. I just had a good time no matter what.
So what's this about? Telepresence! It's a novel about telepresence! Yeah, yeah, there's the horrible brain-re-writing virus and the people who weren't hit so hard with it, allowing those people who were locked-in in their bodies to experience remotely through someone else, and then there's also the robot waldos for the rest of the body-locked victims... and here we've got a changed world and plenty of interesting possibilities opened up to us.
Yup! Police procedural, done STRANGE. But don't just assume that Scalzi does a paint-by-numbers. We've got political intrigue, classism, culturalism, and just plain prejudice going on here. Did I enjoy the snags that came along with having remote bodies? Hell yeah.
This is classic SF made modern and snappy and timely. There's even a bit of a virtual reality politics going on here. :)
Now, certainly, I can't continue without giving a shout-out to another one of my favorite authors that did something very similar, and did it well. More than a decade ago, David Brin's Kiln People brought up a lot of these great ideas already and even turned it into a great gumshoe yarn, but let me be clear. These two aren't the same kinds of tales. So many of the outward robot people and the fact that they're both police (or private eye) tales might make it seem so, but in truth, the two are quite different in particulars. BUT. If you like one, I do need to tell you that you'll like both. :)
A side note! This audiobook came with a great novella that outlined, in epistolary form, the outbreak and the technological and political realities that created the world of Lock In. I personally thought that it might be better than the actual novel. :) It was fascinating to see the transformation of the world one sequence at a time. :)
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