Posts Tagged ‘Lock In’

Head On, by John Scalzi. TOR, 2018, $25.99 335 pp.)

reviewed by Zeke Teflon


I ran out of reading matter a couple of days ago, so I picked up a copy of one of John Scalzi’s new ones. He’s almost always reliable for a good read, so here we go. I’ve been critical of Scalzi at times, and it’s a pleasure to say something deservedly nice.

Head On is a very enjoyable near-future techno-thriller, and I liked it a lot better than its much-praised prequel, Lock In.

This book is near-pure escapist sci-fi, with utterly unrealistic, hero, incorruptible FBI agents — not the guys who infiltrate and entrap environmental activists, frame Native American activists for murder and then send them to the hole, forever, and planned the Chicago PD assassinations of Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. No these are the good guys.

Despite this loathsome set up, lauding the forces of repression, this is a good book. The primary character is much more than a cipher, and the main secondary character (Vann) is well drawn.

Following the set-up, Scalzi follows with a beautifully complicated, detailed plot, with all details clicking into place, regarding professional sports leagues and their criminal financial manipulations. Scalzi skillfully guides the reader through the labyrinth.

Writing skill is not the problem here. Political reality is.

Recommended with reservations (Scalzi’s worship of the minions of the powers that be). Enjoyable as long as you’re aware of it or, god forbid, agree with Scalzi’s rosy assessment of the FBI.


Lock In, by John Scalzi, cover(Lock In, by John Scalzi. Tor, 2014,  336 pp., $24.99)

reviewed by Zeke Teflon, author of Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia


This is a very good techno thriller.  Everything about it is well done: an intricate plot revolving around the technological premise (a plague that leaves large numbers of victims conscious but paralyzed, “locked in”); believable, sympathetic characters; good dialogue; and some social relevance regarding disabilities–Scalzi has evidently been paying attention to the debate in the deaf community about a possible gene-mod cure for deafness. About all that’s missing is humor, something that Scalzi is very good at (Fuzzy Nation, Agent to the Stars, Red Shirts), but that would be inappropriate here.

If you like the techno-thriller genre, you’ll probably love Lock In.  If, like me, you hate techno thrillers but read all of Scalzi’s books regardless of genre, you could find worse ways to burn a few hours.

Recommended for Scalzi completists and techno-thriller fans.