Lock In: Or, Hardboiled sci-fi mystery with a focus on how we view disability

Lock In - John Scalzi

Scalzi is one of those writers who skips from genre to genre, and yet manages to maintain the core tone that gives each genre a distinct feel. This book has all the trappings of a hardboiled mystery, or even a techno thriller, and then throws them into a sci-fi near future setting. It is a page turning who-dunnit with a splash of action, which you would expect from the mystery and thriller genres, mixed in with the social commentary and scientific interest of a sci-fi novel. It's a lot to juggle, but it never reads that way.


There's a lot in this book around disability, which is very interesting. The subject is nuanced and multi-layered, and the plotting of the book builds off the ideas Scalzi is highlighting. One of the things I enjoyed in particular was how the main character is simultaneously nearly invincible (because he has access to robotic technology) while also being amazingly vulnerable (because his body is inert and fragile). It's a theme I felt was mirrored elsewhere in the book, and worth some food for thought.


All in all I found the characters well rounded, the world fleshed out and lived in, and the writing competent. It was a fun ride and a fast read. It would be easy to recommend this book to fans across numerous genres - you get plenty of good ideas to chew on while also getting in some fun thrills and sleuthing. This is enjoyable pulpy fiction with the added bonus of also being smart.