John Scalzi is the Brandon Sanderson of science fiction. He’s prolific, can keep multiple series going simultaneously, and everything he writes is interesting and distinct.
This is the second book in his Lock In series (I read the first one two years ago, and liked it a lot). I didn’t really do anything to refresh my memory of the series, but I never felt lost or in need of any reminders. I jumped right back into this world without issue.
One percent of the world’s population has contracted “Haden’s syndrome”, which locks them into their body. This inspired a moon shot program from the US government, which led to the creation of personal transport vehicles (known as “threeps”) that are basically personal robots. The main character has Haden’s Syndrome, and is the son of a billionaire. He works for the FBI, despite being a bit of a celebrity.
Head On takes place a year after Lock In, and Chris Shane and Leslie Vann are working together a lot better. Shane attends a preseason hilketa game, where his father is being courted to be an investor in the league. Hilketa is “the fastest growing sport in America”, and involves Hadens playing a soccer-equivalent, except instead of a ball, they score points by lopping the head off an opponent’s threep (called the “goat”).
Then one of the players dies. And so begins they mystery.
At its heart, Head On is an exploration of corporate greed disguised as a murder mystery. Making it very much in the same vein as its predecessor. In the previous book, a major piece of legislation designed to help those suffering with Haden’s syndrome was repealed. The fallout is starting to make its presence known here as companies are trying to find ways of monetizing Hadens technology for use by non-Hadens sufferers.
And that’s just….so real. It was such a deft touch by Scalzi, and a nice addition to the book.
If you’ve read Scalzi before, I probably don’t need to tell you to pick this book up. If you haven’t read him before….I mean, don’t start with this book (since it’s a sequel), but go read him soon. He’s the kind of writer who I am always looking to discover, but am never fully prepared for when I actually do.