Rich people show their appreciation through favors. When everyone you know has more money than they know what to do with, money stops being a useful transactional tool. So instead you offer favors. Deals. Quid pro quos. Things that involve personal involvement rather than money. Because when you’re that rich, your personal time is your limiting factor.
Lock In by John Scalzi is a procedural crime thriller with a science-fiction aspect. In the near future, a disease has caused a significant number of people to have locked-in syndrome. Money was spent and research was performed such that “now” people affected by the disease can participate in the larger society. One of those people is a rookie FBI agent, the protagonist of this story.
I’ve read some of John Scalzi’s stuff before: Redshirts, Old Man’s War, Miniatures, and Collapsing Empire. You don’t need to have read any of that in order to appreciate this book, though. as Lock In is the first book in a series. I tried it out because (1) it’s pretty popular, (2) I liked those other books I read by the author and (3) there’s a sequel coming out next month so I figured now’s as good a time as any to read it. From my admittedly limited experience with his work, Scalzi books tend to be heavy on dialogue, fast-paced, easy-to-read, and fun, with a slightly goofy “middle age liberal white guy” sense of humor. Lock In does not significantly deviate from that style.Scalzi is a master world builder: he sets up this future world quickly and gets the plot moving, without getting bogged down in info-dump after info-dump that slow down the narrative. With its propulsive plot and heavy emphasis on dialogue, it actually felt like I was reading the first season of a very solid new Alien Nation-like television show (without aliens). The book has Good Things to say about how it feels not-being part of the majority group and the importance of minority groups having their own communities. It provided me some insight into the mind-set of people that are deaf or blind who would choose to remain deaf or blind if there were a “fix” for those things. Those looking for a progressive-oriented, Crichton-ey, page-turning thriller should give this a read.
I really liked this book, but I didn’t love it. That’s probably more a function of my own expectations. I thought it would be a little more amusing, like the other books I’ve read by Scalzi. This novel is a little more serious despite being at around the same “reader level” as those other works. It also felt, in some areas, more on-the-nose with regards to social issues. I agree with the author’s arguments, but I would have appreciated them more had they been a little less heavy-handed and a little more subtle. Perhaps, though, that’s just the nature of the First Person POV beast: access to the thoughts of a character are just going to result in more direct statements and don’t provide as much opportunity for subtlety.
Ultimately, this book is a solid read that fans of near-future thrillers should certainly try out.
My Rating: 4 stars