Review: Scalzi locks readers in with ‘Lock In’

In this near-future thriller, John Scalzi blends his fast-paced science fiction with suspense to yield a vivid world in which a portion of the human population is locked inside itself as a result of an insidious disease, known as Haden’s syndrome.

Technology has advanced enough — primarily through research for a disease cure  — those who suffer with the disease can live virtually by integrating their consciousness into other willing (mostly) human “Integrators” or hooking into androids known as “threeps” (yes, it is an allusion to that android).

Newly minted FBI agent Chris Shane (a Haden’s victim) partners with veteran Leslie Vann and the two wind up investigating Haden-related murder, following a suspect who might have been integrated with a Haden. The investigation is pretty standard, or as standard as the world Scalzi presents, given the murder suspect lives inside another human being, but only temporarily.

While transferring human conscious is a standard SF trope — one that Scalzi explores in his Old Man’s War series as well — Scalzi does a bang-up job making the technology plausible, especially a consciousness transfer into an android. With the novel, like all good SF, or all good fiction for that matter, Scalzi puts forth the questions of “What is human? What is it to be human?” Are the threeps human? They only seem to come to life when a human consciousness occupies them. Are you fully human if you allow another consciousness to temporarily possess your mind?

Although not quite as mindbending as his Hugo-winning Redshirts, Lock In supplies you with a good mystery story wrapped in the questions of future technologies.

— Todd


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Writing in Hyperspace

You may not know that you know David Gerrold’s work. I know I didn’t know I knew. But, if you’ve ever regularly watched the original  Star Trek series,  you saw “The Trouble With Tribbles”. He wrote that episode.

I just picked up Gerrold’s Worlds of Wonder, a book on writing science fiction and fantasy. My mind’s been toying with the notion of trying to write science fiction. (At the moment it’s only a notion and most of the ideas I’ve been having are fairly derivative.)

Anyhow, after just reading a few chapters, I have to say I would recommend this book not just to those interested in the genre but to all writers. From what I’ve read so far it’s as much about attitude toward writing as it is technique.

He first notes one aspect of writing every writer at some point must acknowledge: Writing is hard. And it doesn’t get easier the more you do it.

Acknowledging that writing is hard is the first step. From there you have to be enthusiastic about the work. You have to find what Gerrold calls “stardrive”.

Of all the things I’ve ever learned about writing, this is the most important: There’s a domain of excitement and eagerness and delight that can be astonishing. It is a place of commitment and discovery and wonderment. It is the far side of passion. It is a totality of purpose, an inspired obsession. I like to call it stardrive. It’s the engine at the center of your personal starship. It’s your heart of brightness. It is who you really are. It is simply you — you are the source.