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Lock In
by John Scalzi
Tor, $24.99, 336pp
Published: August 2014

This is, as is much of other SF, a pretty straight-forward mystery. It’s the world building that is fascinating.

This world has suffered through a terrible virus, yet unknown and incurable. For the unlucky 1% of victims, they are left ‘locked in’ their own bodies – conscious yet unable to move or respond in any way – they are known as Haydens. An even tinier percentage survive the virus but find themselves with a new ability – they are known as Integrators. An Integrator hires themselves out to Haydens, giving them the opportunity to experience life in a living, breathing body. In true capitalistic fashion, industries step up to cater to this 1% which represents over 4 million consumers. The ‘locked in’ have three options: they can transfer their consciousness to an android body, they can hire an Integrator who allows them the use of their physical body, and they have their own internet space – unlike anything a normal person is able to experience.

We meet a young man who has just started his first week on the job as an FBI agent. Chris comes from a very influential family and was the poster child for Haydens when he was young. Now, all he really wants is to not screw-up his first job, and get his own apartment. But he is assigned to a murder and the prime suspect is an Integrator, causing him no end of challenges. Was the murderer the Integrator or was it their Hayden client?

Unfortunately, the Integrator committed suicide so it’s not so easy to answer that question. And the more Chris pokes into things that some people would rather he didn’t, the more convoluted the issue becomes. It’s so much more than a simple murder/suicide – and it may affect the entire future of all Haydens.

This was a classic mystery plot; and very well done. I thoroughly enjoyed Chris and I really loved his FBI partner. It was also fun to see “behind the curtain” into the lives of Haydens and how they interact with each other. ~~ Catherine Book

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