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Cover of my copy. Yes, I'm gloating again. :)

Cover of my copy. Yes, I’m gloating again. 🙂

Lock In is fabulous. I bought a hard cover in the dealers’ room at SwanCon 40 for the signing, and it didn’t last more than two hours[1] on the flight back to Canberra.

There will be no spoilers in this review. I think that this is a book, and a world, that should come at you cold.

The pacing is fast, the world building solid, and the murder mystery elements work entirely within the rules of the world as established in good time[2]. Science fiction murder mysteries are hard; the temptation to introduce a MacGuffin that magically solves it must always be there.

That doesn’t happen in Lock In, and the book is much stronger for it. This isn’t new ground for me – I’ve read similar from Isaac Asimov and Larry Niven – but Lock In tackles at least as well as anyone else that I’ve read has.

In this review I mostly wanted to talk about was the handling of disability. As some of you may recall I was somewhat uncomfortable about this aspect of the Yuuki Yuna is a Hero finale, particularly with the healing of the disabilities.

That’s a fairly fraught area, and it’s one that John Scalzi not only directly acknowledged in his Guest of Honour speech at SwanCon, but that he wanted to avoid.

Healing disabilities has been done, and sometimes in a way that makes a person with a disability less than a person. John wanted to avoid that, and did so magnificently to my non-disabled perspective[3].

Instead there is a recognition that disability can generate something more, something different, something quintessentially human. This isn’t entirely new in science fiction either.

John Varley tackled similar ground in The Persistence of Vision but the result there was definitely other than human. Arguably The Ship Who Sang series by Anne McCaffrey et al tackles some of this as well, but that’s much more superficial not to mention with a definite ableist bias.

Lock In, at least in my opinion[4], avoids both traps producing a disability culture that is equal, unique, intimately connected to humanity and does so whilst telling a tightly crafted murder mystery with compelling characters.

Albeit one of whom may have grounds to compare his insurance premiums with the Lovely Angels

Definitely recommended, pick up Lock In if you haven’t already. Oh, and like Redshirts before it, Lock In has its own theme song:

[1] OK, three hours once you allow for dinner.

[2] And, no, I’m not going to tell you what those rules are. Go read the book yourself .

[3] Obligatory Disclaimer: I am willing to be corrected on this. If you have a different perspective, and think I’m talking out my arse here, please sound off in the comments. I’ll do my best to listen.

[4] See previous comment.