Look at me, trying new things! Based on a great review from ChainedVase https://cannonballread.com/2016/02/sci-fic-mystery-yes-please/, I went a bit outside of my rut and tried some sci-fi. What a great read!
In Scalzi’s very creative and fleshed-out world a widespread virus has resulted in millions of people being struck with Haden’s Syndrome, named for the first lady who was one of the early public victims. Haden’s sufferers (called Hadens) are “locked in” to their bodies with full mental capacity and no voluntary nervous system. Due to years of research and innovation, Hadens are able to experience the world via mechanical or human proxy while their bodies are tended by caregivers.
Chris Shane is a Haden and an FBI agent newly on the job. The central plot is a mystery surrounding the murder of an Integrator (a human proxy for Hadens) and the potential involvement of the Haden community. The mystery itself isn’t all that interesting, but the way in which law enforcment has to investigate in this new society is fascinating, thanks to the very imaginative Scalzi.
I liked a lot about this novel, especially the pace at which Scalzi revealed his world. At first things seem very confusing, but little details emerge to let you know how society is functioning with the involvement of the locked in population. It wouldn’t be very nice for me to explain how everything works..that’s where the fun lies in this book. I found myself contemplating the role of appearance, expression, and shared space in our relationships with others. There’s a paradox with vulnerability at play, too…the completely physically dependent Hadens have a vibrant community and can achieve almost super-human status that belies their weakness, but only with the support of the unaffected population. Narfna covered a very interesting note about the novel that I totally missed, https://cannonballread.com/2014/10/narfna-lock-in/, which further highlights the awesome ways in which Scalzi examines identity independent of physicality.
Thanks to the CBR community for putting this one on my radar!