One of the best things about science fiction is the ability to take an Idea and extrapolate its effects onto modern society, morality, and law. These examinations of the Idea often shed light on issues we are facing in current times and gives us a greater understanding of an issue by removing it from the current day. Enter Lock In, by John Scalzi.
“Lock in” describes the effects of a virus that has swept the world in the not too distant future. Like many viruses, the great majority of those who are afflicted pass through the illness with no problems. A very small percentage of the population, however, are “locked in”–they are completely awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to any stimulus. The book takes place after society and the legal structure has evolved to address the effects of the disease.
Through this compelling murder mystery, Scalzi takes us through all the ramifications of having a population that is fully aware and able to contribute to society. There are cyborgs that can carry a locked in consciousness in human form, a vast cyber network inhabited by lock-ins, and “Integrators”, rare individuals whose encounter with Lock-In syndrome has allowed them to carry other locked in consciousnesses in their own bodies. Through his brilliant conceptualization of Lock In, Scalzi weaves the threads of identity, corporate entities, family ties, society, and morality to a stunning conclusion. Tightly-written and paced, this book shows an master craftsman at the height of his power.