Title: Lock in
Author: John Scalzi
Narrator: Wil Wheaton or Amber Benton
Audiobook Length: 10 hours
Genre: Science Fiction
Origins: Mine. All mine.
Release Date: 26 August 2014
“Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever, and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent – and nearly five million souls in the United States alone – the disease causes ‘Lock In’: Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.
A quarter of a century later, in a world shaped by what’s now known as “Haden’s syndrome”, rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is paired with veteran agent Leslie Vann. The two of them are assigned what appears to be a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel, with a suspect who is an “integrator” – someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden client, then naming the suspect for the murder becomes that much more complicated.
But ‘complicated’ doesn’t begin to describe it. As Shane and Vann began to unravel the threads of the murder, it becomes clear that the real mystery – and the real crime – is bigger than anyone could have imagined.”
Thoughts on the Novel: John Scalzi knows his science fiction stories. He always knows how to balance the human element with the science portions. In Lock in, he capitalizes on the fear all humans of being unable to speak for themselves but fully cognizant at the same time. It is the reason people fear aging and dementia diseases like Alzheimer’s. To this fear, he adds the very strange and equally frightening idea of someone inside someone else’s mind. The mix of the two create an intense and fascinatingly creative story about murder and the age-old struggle for money and power.
Thoughts on the Audiobook: Both Ms. Benson and Mr. Wheaton prove themselves more than capable of narrating this fascinating story. While each narrator understandably lends their own interpretations to the characters, the story itself remains a rich description of a future world that is scarily plausible. The differences in each narrator’s version of Chris Shane are intriguing in and of themselves. One is decidedly more macho than the other, with more to prove and therefore more at stake. This desperation finds its way into the narrative and adds a different spin on the story. The other version of Chris Shane is much more understanding and forgiving. The two are unalike and yet the same. Listening to the two versions back-to-back enhance these differences but make the reasons for the different narrators a brilliant plot twist worth listening to both versions.