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Publisher's Summary

"As much as Scalzi has the scientific creativity of a Michael Crichton, he also has the procedural chops of a Stephen J. Cannell to craft a whodunit with buddy-cop charm and suspects aplenty - most of them in someone else's body." (USA Today)

John Scalzi returns with Head On, the stand-alone follow-up to the New York Times best-selling and critically acclaimed Lock In. Chilling near-future SF with the thrills of a gritty cop procedural, Head On brings Scalzi's trademark snappy dialogue and technological speculation to the future world of sports.

Hilketa is a frenetic and violent pastime where players attack each other with swords and hammers. The main goal of the game: obtain your opponent's head and carry it through the goalposts. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible. But all the players are "threeps", robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden's Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real, and the crowds love it.

Until a star athlete drops dead on the playing field.

Is it an accident or murder? FBI agents and Haden-related crime investigators Chris Shane and Leslie Vann are called in to uncover the truth - and in doing so travel to the darker side of the fast-growing sport of Hilketa, where fortunes are made or lost and where players and owners do whatever it takes to win, on and off the field.

©2018 John Scalzi (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

THIS is why I read SciFi! Scalzi gets into your head (be it on or off)

I don't know if you can call this a non-bias review considering I pre-ordered the book, downloaded it at 12:01am on its release date, and then promptly put in a marathon listening session to complete the book. To say that I'm a John Scalzi and Wil Wheaton fanboy would be an understatement. With that said, I did fully enjoy the book. I felt it fell slightly short of "Locked In" (think the difference between an "A" and an "A-"). As with the pervious book, the supposedly intelligent individuals perpetrating the cover up/conspiracy do some awfully stupid things (not to mention how conveniently agent Shane just happens to be in the "right place at the right time") but that is not the point of "Head On". The point is the journey and the immersive everyday details that Scalzi incorporates into the fascinating alternative Haden reality. As with all of Scalzi's previous efforts, the book is filled with snarky quick witted characters that are maybe a bit too sarcastic for their own good, but add to the enjoyable atmosphere of the book. What I really found interesting was how Scalzi raised several thought provoking issues such fidelity in Haden culture, discrimination of "normals" in the Haden culture, and even why being a Haden doesn't preclude someone from being a crazy cat owner ;) The bottom line is simply this... This IS a John Scalzi book, if you have enjoyed any of his other works, then you will enjoy this further exploration into the Haden universe.

34 of 38 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not as good as the first book.

I love this author, but this is not his best work. The plot seemed too contrived. I am feeling a little disappointed because I was looking forward to this book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not as good as the first one

Reading the reviews, I was pumped to continue the series but I have to say I was a disappointed. There were some good parts like the effects of the legislation, the extensions to the technology presented, the cool robot stuff, etc... that were pretty cool in the first book but the murder mystery side of it was pretty average. The second the murder was introduced, I knew. Some of the twists and turns were okay and kept the story going but,... I knew.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Wonderful world building

Bought the follow-up to Lock In since I greatly enjoyed the world setting Scalzi came up with (don’t miss the accompanying novella which provides more details on the Hayden syndrome and how it changed the world!) and was eager to learn more about the everyday lives of Haydens. Wasn’t disappointed in regards to that, but I wish the main characters where less 2D. While the protagonist is a pleasant fella, the “I’m the biggest asshole in the room”-attitude of his partner, already too on the nose in the first book, gets old and annoying really fast this time.

Also, while I love listening to Wil Wheaton, I wonder why they chose a white actor to voice the protagonist who is also the narrator - and a black dude.

All in all, I’d love to hear more from a world with Haydens, but then hopefully with better fleshed-out main characters so I can get emotionally invested in the story.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good Lock-in Universe Story

If you liked Lock In, then you’ll like this. Not too much rehashing of main themes. Still touches on some interesting thought experiments about a world with Lockins. Reads like a good crime novel with some good one-liners. I thought it was just a bit over complicated in the end. But in all fairness, it’s not like anybody would read the book if it was a simple whodunnit and where it took months/years to solve the mystery like it would with the real FBI.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Every bit as good as Lock In

Very good futuristic detective novel. The world of Lock In was expanded in a very good way in this novel. I finished the book in a day and that never happens for me. I can’t wait for the next novel in the series.

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

favorite new Scalzi series

I'm a big fan of John Scalzi's novels, and the Lock In series is becoming a favorite. Head On is the sequel to Scalzi's 2014 book Lock In, and I'd definitely recommend reading Lock In first, if you haven't already. The series takes place in the near future, following a pandemic flu that has left many people 'locked in' and suffering from Haden's syndrome -- they're mentally alert but unable to move or speak. They're freed from lock-in by android-like personal vehicles ("threeps") that connect to their brains through a neural network and allow them to move around in the world. The protagonist of the series is Chris Shane, a Haden who joins the FBI and solves crimes that involve other Hadens. The world of Hadens makes for a lot of interesting plot twists and some thought-provoking moments about what it means to be human.

One of the things I really enjoy about this series, and a tribute to Scalzi's talent as a writer, is that both Lock In and Head On are written in a gender-neutral way -- Scalzi never states whether Chris Shane is male or female. So it's really fun to listen to both narrations, one by Wil Wheaton (who's my favorite narrator for anything Scalzi related) and another version by Amber Benson. Both narrators are excellent, and if you can afford to get both versions of the book, it's worth listening to both.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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super good

I liked everything about it. especially agent Vans dialogue. a good story doesn't matter if you don't have characters that are interesting and enjoyable to follow. John does a good job creating those type of characters.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Average at best!

The narrative was pretty good. The story was boring and predictable. Lots of unnecessary details and all of a sudden some major changes in plot! Overall I expected more from the author of Lock in.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Loved it

I loved this book, and I am sad that it isn't part of a stupidly long series, because I want more and I want it yesterday!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Laura Brand
  • 05-09-18

Funny, original and fantastic narration

really enjoyable, the main characters are sarcastic and funny and Wil Wheaton is brilliant as ever ❤️

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Bobble
  • 05-02-18

another great listen John Scalzi legend!

cannot fault any of what I have read and listened to when John writes it comes to life I stopped reading a very long time ago and he brought back a passion for listening and reading again I listen in work and pick up the book at home and continue to read

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Ian Goodban
  • 04-19-18

Depressingly believable future gladiators

Well plotted, well written, with the new world order and the consequences well realised. And it made me laugh. Recommended

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Simon
  • 04-18-18

Heading in Anotner Direction

Not sure what happened here. Loved the premise, I have plenty of time for Wheaton's narrating and I've enjoyed previous books by the author. But from the moment this started I struggled to listen, felt it was trying to be too clever about the fictional sport and my head just couldn't take it in. I had several goes at it but no luck. In the end having made it to a couple of hours in I realised I wasn't paying attention.

Wrong book on the wrong day? Maybe, but I simply did not get on this one's wavelength for more than a minute or two at a time and even when I did I very soon slipped back under.

Sorry Wil, John, I genuinely like you as a combination but this one's going back.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Richard
  • 04-21-18

Großartig!

Man steigt in diesen SF Krimi ein und er ist spannend bis zum Ende! John Scalzi kann das hervorragend!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Karolina Patrickson
  • 11-14-18

I'm a Scalzi can now!

Great story as always and Wil Wheaton's voice is perfect for the book. Can't wait for the next book in the series.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • MR C.
  • 10-19-18

Great follow up to Lock In

My only grumble is that the books are not longer. Will Weston is a great Audible performer and I really enjoy the characters in the Lock In series, I hope there are more to come!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ms S. J. Casey
  • 10-13-18

Hooked from the start

Second book in what I hope will be a long series also hope Will Wheaton stays as narrator

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Norma Miles
  • 10-03-18

I think I need a cigarette.

The Boston Bays were a popular team, so there was a large audience to see Chapman's head torn off for the third time shortly before he died of an heart attack - not long before one of the Hilketa League's top executives committed suicide. The two deaths were obviously linked.
Hilketa was primarily a Haden game, the players robot-like threeps controlled by the human sufferers of that lock in illness, able to feel and think like everyone else but without any bodily functions and needing constant care and attention to keep them alive. They accessed the natural world through the threep bodies or lived in the virtual world that had been created, the Agora.

Chris Shane was a famous Haden, son of rich parents, and also an FBI agent. So it seemed only appropriate that he and his partner, Leslie Vann, were called in to investigate the deaths. Head On is the complex and deadly investigation into corruption and betrayal in the violent gaming world of Hilketa and corporate greed.

John Scazi paints a fascinating future world where the regular bodied and threeps mix and work together. Seen from Chris'point of view, both he (my version of the audio was related by the male narrator, Will Wheaton. There is also another, female reader, version of the book so Chris' sex is unknown) and his super grouchy colleague are wonderfully characterised, as are many of the other protagonists, especially Tony, another Haden housemate of Chris'. There is even a cat. The whole is peppered with Scalzi style banter and amusing Vann outbursts of anger when things, and people, don't go her way. The narration is superb, Will Wheaton delivering a fast paced performance perfectly matched to the text. Savour every moment. A good murderous mystery in a futuristic S.F.setting which stands alone, although this reader highly recommends the excellent previous tale, Lock In, simply because it was so good.

This is one of those times I really wish Audible allowed for an additional bonus brilliance star.

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  • LevisTheMenace
  • 08-30-18

Completely unpredictable!

A great follow-up to "Lock In" and so glad I bought the Wheaton version!

It keeps you guessing the whole way through, lots of plot thickening moments and twists. Really enjoyed this one with all its characters and nuances.

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  • Tracey Anderson
  • 05-03-18

So good. So consistently good.

John Scalzi is just fun. He can write anything. I love how underneath his fast paced and humorous stories there are classic sci-fi and, therefore, sociological and philosophical themes. So smart but, at the same time, so accessible.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-18-18

Fun

Fun book, keeps you listening and intrigued however the story is not as strong as the first.

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  • Jenny
  • 07-15-18

A sequel that doesn't disappoint!

I found "Lock In" to be intriguing and thought-provoking on many levels and was looking forward to "Head On".

Agents Shane and Van return to investigate the mysterious sudden death of a player during a "Hilketa" match; a violent gladiatorial sport developed to be played by Haden athletes operating specially designed threeps. The investigation takes many twists and turns as layers of corruption, prejudice and greed are uncovered.

The novel is a sequel but also stands on its own - while I'd recommend reading "Lock In" first, the main themes are all explained and recapped in "Head On".

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • ozgribbo
  • 07-09-18

Crime detection meets Sci Fi

Another great read from John Scalzi. There are very few in the Sci Fi world who can combine crime detection and Science Fiction successfully. The only others I can think of are Isaac Asimov and Peter F Hamilton.This follows on from "Lock in" nicely - but can be read as a stand alone. The author runs with a pretty far -fetched premise but makes it very believable. As per usual, Wil Wheaton does a sterling job with narration and characters. John Scalzi writes consistently goo sci fi and this does not disappoint.

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  • Kira Moloney
  • 06-25-18

LOVED IT!

The author listened to how annoying the first book was with "he said" "i said" ect aaaalll the time and this book was so much better! It was such an easy read (listen), it had me laughing out loud on many occasions too! I want more now!!
Not that the other book was terrible or anything but this book was an improvment and I loved it!!