AudioFile Best Voices - Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Audio Theater, 2014
A blazingly inventive near-future thriller from the best-selling, Hugo Award-winning John Scalzi.
Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever, and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent - and nearly five million souls in the United States alone - the disease causes "Lock In": Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.
A quarter of a century later, in a world shaped by what's now known as "Haden's syndrome", rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is paired with veteran agent Leslie Vann. The two of them are assigned what appears to be a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel, with a suspect who is an "integrator" - someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden client, then naming the suspect for the murder becomes that much more complicated.
But "complicated" doesn't begin to describe it. As Shane and Vann began to unravel the threads of the murder, it becomes clear that the real mystery - and the real crime - is bigger than anyone could have imagined.
BONUS AUDIO: Audible's audio edition of Lock In contains the bonus novella, Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome, written by John Scalzi and narrated by a full cast.
"I love working with Audible, in no small part because they’re committed to doing what’s right, both for my books, and the people who listen to those books. There's a really excellent reason for Lock In to have two entirely different versions, so when it came time to make the audiobook, Audible did an ingenious thing: they asked both Wil Wheaton and Amber Benson to record entire versions of the book. As the author, I’m impressed with Audible’s commitment to my narrative - and I’m geeking out that both Wil and Amber are reading my book. This is fantastic." (John Scalzi)
2 editions. 2 narrators. 1 thrilling story. You can enjoy Amber Benson's narration here.
©2014 John Scalzi (P)2014 Audible Inc.
"Hugo-winner Scalzi successfully shifts away from space opera with this smart, thoughtful near-future thriller resonant with the themes of freedom, ethics, and corporate greed….This powerful novel will intrigue and entertain both fans and newcomers." (Publishers Weekly)
"The novel--which contains plenty of action, great character development, vivid and believable worldbuilding and a thought-provoking examination of disability culture and politics--is definitely worth the ride." (Kirkus)
"Another brilliant novel from a writer who has quickly become one of the genre’s most successful and intriguing practitioners." (Booklist)
"With narrator Wil Wheaton attacking Scalzi's text with both vigor and nuance, this story tells about a silent minority being given voice, then having that voice threatened.... Thanks to Wheaton's skillful efforts, this production is an enjoyable melding of narrator and material." (AudioFile)
In pursuit of truth, justice, and an end to spoilers!
1. The story is a crime solving procedural in a sci-fi setting, and both sides of that are very well done! If you don’t care for either of those genres this probably isn’t for you. If you like one more than the other and the plot sounds interesting then I’d say give it a go. Just don't go in expecting a dystopia or a panicked medical thriller.
2. Confused about the two narrator options? There’s nothing in one version you might miss by choosing the other, so listen to the samples and go with your favorite. They really are two readings of the same book! Yes, there’s something a bit clever behind having different narrator options, but I'll let you discover what it is on your own. Both narrators do a fantastic job, so really you can’t go wrong.
3. There’s an attached novella at the end, a faux nonfiction-style account of the beginnings of Haden’s Syndrome. It originally came out as an optional prequel so you can choose to read it first or last. If you want to jump to it first, it’s 2 h 15 min into the second download on the Wil Wheaton version, 2:58:30 on the second download of Amber Benson’s. The novella’s many narrators were a great touch but overall I found the novella too scattered to add much. I had no problem jumping into the main story without reading it first, and I'm glad I didn't bother.
As for my personal impressions? Fun book! Not too dark, not too fluffy, good pacing, likeable characters and interesting concepts -- I can see a lot of people enjoying this one. I don’t normally seek out procedurals, but the quick pace and sci-fi quirkiness kept things fresh. The Scalzi fans are going to be happy! I’m beginning to recognize Scalzi’s humorous touches and short and sweet closes. When I got to the end I wanted to talk to someone about the story, so I guess I’m going to have to start recommending this so I can! (I’d also love to know who catches the extra little bit of social commentary without being told first…. Yet another reason I need to go push this book on people!) There’s room in the world building for more stories in this setting. I don’t really expect one, but if there ever is a sequel I’d definitely buy it!
I was SO bored!!! When I read the summary I could not wait for this book to come out .I was so excited. After listening...I was serisouly let down. The story was mostly backstory. There was a tiny amount of action, an even smaller amount of mystery and little character development. It was just a basic cop book, in a fascinating setting. I think the main reason I disliked this book was because there was SO MUCH potential to be an amazing book. I cared nothing for any of the characters, and that is rare for me.
The book was mostly boring backstory, and little ittle character development.
I really enjoyed the narrator, he was one of the best I have listened to. Also, the book was set in a very amazing world
I would recommend they read it as it would be easier to ignore all of the I said, he said, she said...
Wil Wheaton did a great job with the narration though.
contemplator of typography, mixology, and archivism
As with past works by Mr Scalzi, Lock In is a light and entertaining story that doesn't quite do justice to its compelling underpinnings. In this case, Mr Scalzi has fashioned a world in which 1% of the population are physically paralyzed and escape their bodies by directing their awareness and cognitive function into alternate frameworks. Some choose a non-spatial internet; some choose synthetic android bodies; a few choose bodies of "Integrators"—healthy humans who lease-out their bodies on an hourly basis. Unfortunately Mr Scalzi treats the first category merely as a MacGuffin and thereby severely limits the novel's potential as a work of true speculative fiction. Instead the reader is treated to a standard-issue cop story with a pleasant veneer. Lock In is told competently but without the liveliness that elevated some of his past novels. Mr Scalzi proved to be deft at writing dialogue for lawyers in Fuzzy Nation and fast-talking agents in Agent to the Stars, but his ear for dialogue has failed him here: the cop-talk is stale and predictable. A more adventurous book could have survived such weaknesses, but Lock In is timid in its scope and never quite recovers from its failings.
The narrator's sex is never known, so the option of listening to a male or female performer makes some sense. I alternated between Ms Benson's and Mr Wheaton's performances, and for whatever reason, the narrator became female in my mind, so perhaps Ms Benson's voice was the more significant for me. Mr Wheaton, on the other hand, is the brisker of the two and thereby imparts some extra energy into the story. All things being equal, I would recommend his performance.
Wow. Mind bending concept, well-written.
This is not typically the kind of book I listen to, but I followed to the hype and pre-ordered. I was pulled in! I could not stop listening to this near future tale about newly minted FBI agent Chris Shane. I am not familiar with John Scalzi's writing, this being my first of his novels, but I'm sure hoping there will be another book soon following Chris's career.
Wil Wheaton did a great job, as usual, reading the novel. I have NOT listened to my other narrator option, but am saving her for the next listen. I think Wil fit the Chris character well. Not sure how I'm going to like a feminine voice narrator with a male main character narrator.
One small disappointment: The book itself is only 7.75 hours long. There is a "bonus" novella appended to the recording of Lock In. I was hoping for two more hours of action around the 7.5 hour mark, but then realized the story was wrapping up. The novella seems to be pertinent information about Haden's, which, I hope, means I sequel is coming!
Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
John Scalzi doesn't do a lot of fancy footwork with language (he's not a writer that will give you a punchy new metaphor or a lot of symbolism), but for my money he is one of the best storytellers out there. You can count on Scalzi to give you an exciting plot with a great climax and a satisfying conclusion, characters you can love and love to hate, and a great sense of humor woven into the story to keep things fun and on pace. Lock In is no exception - the story follows Chris Shane, a new FBI agent, and his more experienced and jaded partner, Leslie Vann, as they work to solve a crime and uncover a conspiracy in a world radically changed by a pandemic and the technology that has evolved to cope with the affects of the disease. As much as I enjoy traveling the universe in sci-fi, I love the occasional look at the future from planet side and Lock In does that nicely with a lot of focus on bio-engineering, virtual reality, and software programming as well as a smattering of economics, politics, and sociology mixed into a story that is at heart a fast action police procedural. Scalzi gives you just enough science and logic to buy in to his world without slowing the plot down with too much detail.
I had a little trouble getting started with the story because you enter the story about 20 years after Haden's has struck so although this is a near-future sci-fi and you will recognize some aspects of the world as similar to today, the story begins after the radical changes the virus has wrought and it took me a little time to catch up. Once I did, I couldn't stop - lots of action and great characters. There seems to be some room in here for "the continuing adventures of Chris Shane" and I really hope to see more - I was so sorry when this ended.
I have liked Wil Wheaton's narration each time I've heard him, but I think he has matured as a narrator and is even better now. He doesn't really do "character voices", but he has the perfect emotional inflection for the dialog and the narrative both. Since this story is mostly told first person from the POV of Chris Shane, Wheaton was a good fit.
The novella, Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome, which is at about 2:15 on the second download is terrific also. It is the story of how the virus struck and spread, the government and medical community response to it, the outcomes of the disease, and the beginning stages of the technology developed to cope with Haden's Syndrome. This is told sort of documentary style with a whole cast of narrators (including some of the really fun ones like Luke Daniels and Bronson Pinchot) and reminded me a little of World War Z. The novella is recorded after the book, but you could read these in either order. The book is much more action packed so it's probably a more exciting way to learn about Haden's, but I think I would have liked to have heard the novella first because I would have had a better understanding of Lock In from the beginning. Either order really is OK; neither the book nor the novella would spoil the other.
Very entertaining and a little thought-provoking - highly recommended!
Wil's reading was fine, and i couldn't make it far enough to comment on the story... but i had to stop twenty minutes into the book.
The conversational dialogue is just unbearable. Expect to hear "He/she/(name) said" every 3-8 seconds. I mean that very literally. There is no variety in designating the speaker, and very little reliance on conversational context.
Perhaps it gets better later on... but, for me, it was too much. I can't bring myself to struggle through that jarring annoyance for the remaining 9.5 hours when i have so many other books to listen though.
My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.
SHE LIVED LONG ENOUGH TO DIE A NORMAL DEATH
One reviewer said this was not Science Fiction/Fantasy. I can mention one item that makes this an unbelievable fantasy. In the story, the Jets are in the Super Bowl. That would not happen in real life. For me this had a slow start, as the introduction was nothing, but an info dump. Wheaton reads it like it is a disclaimer. It was so boring that I did not remember any of it. the story picked up big time in the third chapter and stayed strong till the end. I am not a huge police procedural type of guy and that is a big part of the story. On the other hand, a group of people who live in virtual worlds and/or live in robots, makes for an interesting story for me. Few could do it better then Scalzi, although I wanted to hear more about how they handled sex. It is a big part of most people lives, so it needed to be dealt with more then what JS did. l liked the characters and there was good character development.
YOU'RE A TRON FAN
The last two hours and 15 minutes is a related novella called Unlocked. It was two hours of interviews, which is not my favorite way to listen to a story. It started slow, but I found myself loving it by the end. I believe instead of it being a separate story, he should have used an interview between each chapter or each part as an interlude.
I waited a long time to get this with Wil Wheaton, the other narrator got put on sale twice before Wheaton did. Wheaton is the best at snarky, smart mouth, funny books. This did not have so much of that. He was good, but not great.
Say something about yourself!
Listened for Fun (Audible)
Overall Rating: 3.75
Story Rating: 3.75
Character Rating: 3.75
Audio Rating: 3.50 (not part of the overall rating)
First Thought when Finished: Lock In by John Scalzi was my first book by him but won't be my last!
Overall Thoughts: If I were to classify this story it would be a fringe police mystery. A mystery that was very strong and equally twisty. The lead case workers, Chris and Leslie were a bit old school--think Cagney and Lacey if one of them was a guy. I liked it! The world was solid and made even more so with the bonus novella. My only complaint and probably why this didn't rate higher was because of the number of times the words "said" and "say" were used. I know it is because I listened to it in audio but it clicked me out the story a LOT. Still I will be getting book 2 if this turns into a series.
Audio Thoughts This is going to be a bit different because this one had two different audiobooks and I listened to half of each! Both narrators were good but each were better at some things than the other. I have never compared the same book by two different narrators
Narrated By Wil Wheaton / Length: 10 hrs
Wil Wheaton did an excellent job with Chris and all the Heaps. He had great pacing and seemed to just grasp their personalities. I had a bit of a problem with his voice for Leslie.
Narrated By Amber Benson / Length: 11 hrs
Amber Benson was great with all the voices but her pacing was a little uneven. She nailed Leslie but Chris was a little off (though I lend that to Wil knocking his voice out of the park).
In the end, either would be worth the listen
Part of my Read It, Rate It, File It, Done! Reviews
(Just remembered that I have done it once before: Harry Potter and I would take Stephen Fry in the later books/Jim Dale in the younger years).
First and foremost, I read all the reviews and one in particular told me that this is not a sci fi book but a police procedural. I didn't believe it. Well I am here to tell you it is not a sci fi book, it is a police procedural. Second, I don't know about all the hype surrounding Wil Wheaton as a narrator. I thought he was okay. The book, eh. The author added a novella to the end of the book to help give more background to the story. Well the story was not compelling enough for me to give up more time to this lame story.
"Shorter than advertised"
Plot is basic but entertaining enough and Wil Wheaton does a great job of bringing the characters to life.
I was rather enjoying it until with 2 hours to go the book finished with the last 2 hours being some appendix being read by random people. Ultimately left me feeling rather short changed for the length of book vs cost.
"Impossible to listen to..."
If he didn't say 'said' every 5th word
Considered his use of language. Not read the book (had hoped to listen to it), but does every other line really have to be punctuated with the words 'he said' , 'she said' ? It's just awful to try and listen to.
I couldn't get past the first three chapters.
Save your money.
"Great story but uses the word "said" too much "
Really enjoyed this story but kept getting pulled out of it by the word "said" used way too much.
"Good read! Engaging, fun ride!"
I was sceptical on trying this out after a series of bad books and also being spoilt by some really good ones! I enjoyed this and found it very engaging, much more so than I had expected from the outset. Interesting concept - in a nutshell people get a flu-like disease (Haydens) that spreads and ends up with someone being "locked in" i.e. completely conscious but unable to communicate with the outside world (body is pretty much in a coma). To overcome this two alternatives are created so people can interact with the world 1) a "robot" body that a person's consciousness can inhabit 2) people can effectively rent other people's bodies. That's the basic premise and the story spins out from there from there.
I like Will Wheaton reading generally and he's well suited to this kind of sci fi book. He does a good job and is well cast as a narrator for this book.
If you liked any of the following, you'll probably like this one too:
"The Martian" - Andy Weir, "Ready Player One" - Ernest Cline, "14" -Peter Clines
Btw, I highly recommend the books just mentioned.
I loved this book. It has all the fast, edge-of-your-seat pacing of a thriller and with the addition of a Scalzi's fascinating idea - what would it be like to be in someone else's head? It is a testament to the book how frequently my mind has wandered back to this odd question since reading it.
The book uses this theme and the problems and opportunities it raises to great affect. I found myself constantly trying to guess the end, constantly trying to get in just a few more minutes of listening time hoping to hear the answer to the latest puzzle in the case.
Wil Wheaton's narration was perfect for the book. He adds realism to the emotions, in the book we are often being asked to sympathise with characters in positions it's not possible for any of us imagine but the Mr Wheaton's narration makes the feelings and thoughts feel normal and relatable.
"Fantastic world - Great story"
I have loved all the books Will Wheaton has narrated and this was no exception.
A slightly different tone for this books and more emphasis on the story rather than pulling out the individual voices of the characters, which I did find quite odd as the book is so dialogue heavy. In the beginning I did struggle to differentiate each character but once I got used to it you can hear the slight difference in each Character.
John Scalzi has created an amazing world for this story. He also doesn't treat you like a baby and lay the complexite of the world on a plate for you, your often left figuring things out your self or having to wait patiently till its explained. Some great twists and turns and I was left with my mouth open a few times. Although it didn't climax to what I expected it to, everything was throughly well wrapped up though.
Thougherly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to all, and the small novel at the end of the book added such detail to the world.
"Future Shock - a very potential future"
A science fiction of the close future and a very believable story. It wouldn't take much imagination to see this happening, it might already be happening now! I would encourage you to read and reflect on our current environment AIDS, H1N1, Ebola ... We will have a pandemic and this is one possible explanation
"Another great Scalzi book"
It should have been longer, and the conclusion was a little too neatly wrapped up, but that's not to detract from another good Scalzi story. Excellent narration from Wil Wheaton, and the inclusion of the novella "Unlocked" (benefitting from an ensemble cast of narrators) rounds out the story.
"Thoroughly enjoyable romp"
I really enjoyed this book. Wil Wheaton makes listening to a book enjoyable.
The story's a fun ride too.
I wouldn't mind my own threep to hop into now and again, take it for a spin. (totally geeked out at the star wars reference too!)
"Brilliant but wish it was longer"
The book itself is relatively short but there is a bonus to make it even more worth buying. I really enjoyed the story and it poses a lot of interesting questions.
I got this as a result of listening to Ready Player One and while I didn't enjoy it quite as much it was a brilliant follow on. I particularly liked the authors break of the 4th wall.
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