Getting locked in to a new book…

So, Jennifer and I got to have an interesting night out a couple of weeks ago. :-)

One of our favorite authors is John Scalzi, who wrote the Old Man’s War series and the homage to Star Trek called Redshirts. His latest book, Lock In, was released a couple of weeks ago, and he kicked off his book signing tour here in Houston at Brazos Bookstore. We had gone to the book signing for Redshirts when it was released, and it was fun enough where we knew we had to go to this one. :-)

There was a pretty good crowd for a Tuesday night, and it ended up being a lot of fun. Scalzi read two sets of materials, then did a Q&A. Afterwards, he went ahead and began the signing. Jennifer and I both got our own copies; Jennifer went first, and told him how she earned her geek credentials by introducing me to his work. (This is true, as she introduced me to Old Man’s War a few months after we started dating.) He made sure to note that in his autograph. As for me, his first question to me was, “May I ask how you acquired that shirt?”

It was a fair question, as the t-shirt I was wearing had the logo for a game called Midnight Star, for which he had written the story. I replied that I had won it in a Twitter giveaway, and that I was looking forward to the game. His autograph reflected the shirt, and also made reference to Jennifer as well. ;-)

As for the book itself, it’s a really good read. The one thing I’ve always liked about Scalzi’s work is (as he pointed out himself during the reading) is that it’s very accessible and easy to read, yet it doesn’t dumb anything down for anyone. It’s not uncommon for me to start reading in the evening and power through to the end in one sitting; in this case, by the time I had finished it was 2 AM. :-)

The book is a sci-fi noir story, taking place in the near future. The background of the story is that a flu-like disease had ravaged the planet, and that a small percentage of survivors experienced a permanent state of “lock in”, where they no longer have control over their bodies and are trapped, unable to move or speak. A whole industry popped up as a result, to give “Hadens” (those afflicted with lock in) access to the world. Hadens can either use “personal transports” (robots controlled remotely), or in rare cases, Integrators (humans who can allow Hadens to use their bodies remotely). The story follows a new FBI agent who is himself a Haden, investigating a murder possibly committed by an Integrator. The twist comes with no one knowing if the Integrator himself committed the murder, or if he was under someone else’s control at the time.

I really can’t recommend this book enough, especially if you happen to like mystery stories. As far as I am aware, this was the first noir mystery story Scalzi has written, and yet the story flows like he’s very familiar with it. The characters are all interesting, and their motivations and behaviors are understandable and well-explained.

I know there are TV series coming out based on both the Old Man’s War series (titled after the second book, The Ghost Brigades) and Redshirts. I’ll be honest: I would be disappointed if Lock In didn’t find its way to a TV series as well. It’s a great novel in its own right, but the depth of the underlying setting means that this does not have to be the only story in this world.

In short, even if you can’t get out to a signing, be sure to get yourself a copy of the novel anyway. :-)