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Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome (Lock In, #0.5)
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Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome

(Lock In #0.5)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  7,301 ratings  ·  881 reviews
A new near-future science fiction novella by John Scalzi, one of the most popular authors in modern SF. Unlocked traces the medical history behind a virus that will sweep the globe and affect the majority of the world’s population, setting the stage for Lock In, the next major novel by John Scalzi.

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ebook, 63 pages
Published May 7th 2014 by Tor Books
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Rai FG I started with Lock In, then Unlocked - the novella doesn't spoil anything in the novel, it's some extra world-building for introducing the setting Lo…moreI started with Lock In, then Unlocked - the novella doesn't spoil anything in the novel, it's some extra world-building for introducing the setting Lock In then takes place in. I don't think I missed out on anything getting to these two in reverse order either.(less)

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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
I like to think I'm reasonably well read in the science fiction genre, but I've never read a John Scalzi book. After reading this online novella, I can tell this is clearly a major personal shortcoming that I'll have to rectify as soon as possible.

John Scalzi has written this novella, free online at for free online Tor short fiction!!--to introduce a world changed by a widespread and highly contagious disease called Haden's Syndrome. This world is explored further in Scalzi's 2014 b
Sep 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome was published a few months ahead of his brilliant 2014 novel Lock In.

Crafted as if it were a series of monologues from Haden’s researchers, technicians, engineers, medical personnel, and Haden’s survivors, this novella traces the beginnings of the flu-like virus, through its devastating pandemic, the ravages left after 400 million people globally had died and the discovery of the percentage of survivors who are “locked in”, effectively trapped in th
May 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
(Free to read here)

If you want to sell something, you have to give it away for free.

Or at least that is what I am assuming the thought was behind Tor's release of this novella. And as far as I am concerned, it worked on me, I am now really looking forward to Lock In, the book this novella provides background for.

This read much like World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, though highly compressed. Several paragraphs, at most, instead of pages from a whole slew of different people. Given t
Dec 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Lock In
Everyone says that if you read Lock In, you must read this little supplemental book called Unlocked. I am going to be the one dissenting voice and say that you don't.

If you want more on the world, if you want more information about Haden's, especially about the science behind both Haden's and threeps, then go for it.

Frankly, I found it rather boring, since it isn't really a story - it's a history. It's like a long newspaper feature article, or something.

Also, people say: You should read this bef
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent start to the series! I'm so glad I read this before starting the first book in the series. This novella provides a genesis story of Haden's Syndrome. I love that it was an oral history. The different perspectives worked so well in creating a fully fleshed portrait of this disease from the very beginning to what happens as a result of it's outbreak. I cannot wait to start Lock In!! ...more
Maria Dimitrova
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
This is classified as prequel to Lock In but personally I think it's better to read it after you're done with the novel. While it won't spoil the plot in any way, it does destroy the slow immersion into the world. However, I recommend reading it because it helps a reader to understand the nature of the Hadens plague and gives a look at what the world was like when it first hit. It also showed the best of humanity in the way they banded up to fight it, preserve and change the world so those affli ...more
Mogsy (MMOGC)
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

If you haven’t read Lock In yet and have concerns about being overwhelmed by the details of Haden’s Syndrome, or if you’ve finished the book and would like to know more, I highly recommend checking out this companion novella that you can actually read online for free here.

Told in an epistolary format in the form of collected interviews, Unlocked features narratives from many different people, all in one way or another inti
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this a lot. I liked how we heard different perspectives from different points in the chronology of the epidemic. (Reminded me of World War Z.)
Feb 07, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a TOR short piece which acts as more of an introduction rather than a prequel for John Scalzis' Locked In novel. Its presented as a series of conversation exerts charting the initial out break and development along with the milestones along the way.

Presented from perspective of 25 years after the outbreak it reads very much like a transcript from a documentary which considering Mr Scalzi that is hardly a surprise since he is well versed with various media as well as being an accomplishe
Feb 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: sffbc-tbr-17-aux
Nice background-slash-companion piece to Lock In, and the multiple voice actors give it a feel of authenticity. Tells the history of Scalzi's Lock In universe, making some sense of how the world came to be.

Came as part of the audiobook I read for Lock In -- the final two-ish discs. My text copy did not have this "bonus novella" included.
Fantastic prequel/companion to Lock In series. It made me think. Which Haden I'd be: the one spending more time in a cyber fortress of solitude or the one with her Threep chatting with friends in a cafe. Lots of moral and political dilemma when it comes to a global massive virus outbreak so the speculative fiction side of this near-future SF is fascinating.

This novella is written in an epistolary form (as seen from the title), which I really enjoyed. The awesome zombie outbreak novel World War
Jul 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2014, e-books
4 Stars

I am a Scalzi fan so I looked forward to reading this novella. It is an interesting near future story and post apocalyptic type of event. I was slightly put off when I found out that this "Oral History" was done very much the same way as World War Z, a book that I do not care for. But, this is Scalzi and he is a brilliant writer.

I look forward the new novel...
Peter Tillman
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding novella, which turns out to be something of a prequel to the pandemic we're now in. Except the fictional one is more contagious, more fatal, more weird. But not so weird as real life! Here, we spent $3 trillion on... "stimulus payments." Which don't seem to have been terribly effective. Which is what the fictional USA spent on -- well, that would be telling. Do read it, if you haven't already. Highly recommended.

I'm glad I finally got around to reading this one, which I thought was m
Diane S ☔
Nov 22, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 a prequel novella explaining the beginnings of Haden's Syndrome. Very interesting since it reminded me of the panic and unpreparedness, we on the states were for Ebola. That is where the similarities ended because this killed and killed fast. Some who survived were later locked in. What happens next is the subject of the book. Some strange and scary stuff. ...more
Di Maitland
Nov 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5*s This is not a story. It is a geeky delight for all those as obsessed with the Lock In universe as I am. The chapter, The New World, really made me question the importance of reality.
"The other thing to consider is that, after a while, the physical world just becomes depressing. Look, in the online Haden space, I have what you could call a house. It's a permanent chunk of a server that I own. I'm able to build and create there. So my house is a log cabin in about six square miles of virtual
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I read that this was in the broken up interview form similar to WWZ, I had doubts. It's not a style I usually care for. In this case, it was great, though. I've read both "Locked In" & "Head On". I enjoyed both enough to give them 4 stars, but it was both for a good mystery & the neat world. In this case, there was no mystery & I already knew how it would end. I already knew much of the information or so I thought.

I was both right & wrong. While I did know basically what happened, I didn't
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm so glad that I read a review for LOCK IN that recommended reading this novella first. I was thoroughly impressed with the history of this fictional disease and how much information Scalzi was able to provide in 60+ pages, while maintaining some really emotional aspects.

This wasn't just a dry historical telling of something. The characters had personality and some of the stories brought me to tears.

I was already looking forward to reading LOCK IN - now I really can't wait!
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
Short snippets from various perspectives on the disease, the efforts to combat it, and it's ramifications. Much of the information presented here can be gotten directly, or indirectly, from the story itself. ...more
Kara Babcock
For the three and a half of you who don’t know already, Unlocked is the companion novella to Lock In , John Scalzi’s thriller set in a future where Haden’s syndrome leaves millions locked in their bodies, conscious but incapable of voluntary movement. Where as Lock In was a mystery set within this world, Unlocked explains how Haden’s developed and how the technology and culture around Hadens sprang up.

This is billed as an “oral history” and comes across that way. It’s snippets of transcribed
Kaethe Douglas
It's seems I'm a fan of the fictional oral history, having read and really enjoyed the only two examples I've heard of (this andWorld War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War). I'm not surprised that Scalzi has produced a plausible history of an imaginary plague, but I am delighted. It makes for a good introduction and way to pass the time until I get a copy of Locked In.

Personal copy.
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting well constructed back story to the series. Science was all very well built up and politics a little to real.The whole thing is in an epistolary style, with short snippets from interview or transcripts presenting the while history.
A nice add on the the series
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: to anyone that wants to read Lock In
Tonight I decided to read Lock In by John Scalzi but then realized I needed to read this prequel first. It was kind of boring and I found myself wishing that someone could have summed it up for me. Some people have started reading Lock In and were a little confused because they didn't read the prequel. Well, I'm going to save you the trouble of having to read Unlocked (that is..if you had rather not). If you want to read the backstory then please stop reading now. You can read it here for free if you want: http:/ ...more
May 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Note: This story can be read for free on:

Executive Summary: An interesting short story that has me excited for Lock In later this month.

Full Review
I held off on reading this one until it was closer to the release of Lock In, and I'm glad I did. It did it's job, namely promoting that book and whetting my appetite. But now I have to wait.

The story takes the form of a series of interviews from the people who were there, explaining the details of Haden Syndrome and doing an excellent job
Donna Backshall
Leave it to John Scalzi to make a fictional political history short such a worthwhile and heart-filled read. I'd already read both Lock In and Head On before I picked this up, and though I wish I'd read it first, reading it now was certainly no waste of time. It filled in the emotion and gave me the smack in the head I needed to fully understand how important the Lock In series is.

The trick is not to find the story of the century. You won’t miss that story when it happens. No one will miss it.
'Unlocked' is a novella, which I found it out is an introduction to his full length novel 'Lock In'. I really enjoyed the 'oral history' format where a number of people describe the pandemic that cause humans to become paralysed within their bodies. 'Unlocked' also explores the response to both the disease, and the solutions created to combat it. Similar in nature to Brook's popular 'World War Z', the accounts are not unlike the documentary style interviews you'd find on the History channel. Unf ...more
This novella is the prequel to Lock In, a scifi detective novel set in the very near future where a disease called Haden’s has spread across the globe at an alarming rate.

This novella is the history of the disease, told chronologically from when the virus is first diagnosed through about 25 years to the action of Lock In. Told in various character interviews, the style reminded me very much of World War Z.

I’m not completely sure anyone would be interested in this novella unless they were readin
Jan 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
Yeah, it wasn’t really a story, unless you consider a “history” of how society got from a virus that locks people into their brains and where it is at the beginning of Lock In by way of individuals talking about events a plot. It was interesting though. Worth it just for the background info.
This novella gives a lot of the background for Scalzi’s latest novel, Lock In. I was in kind of a reading funk, so I thought I’d try reading something short to whet my appetite for Lock In — or just fiction in general, really. It worked for me: I know what effect Scalzi is going for, and he manages to hit the sweet spot between being too technical and too much like a documentary, and offering glimpses of character (like the President) and an idea of the kinds of things in play when you get to Lo ...more
May 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this after reading Lock In, and I think that's the right order. The oral history format works well here, but this story probably isn't as interesting to someone who isn't already familiar with Haden's syndrome and interested in how the United States handled the early days. The major criticism I had is that most of the people sounded pretty similar in voice, but they each had an interesting perspective. ...more
Timothy Boyd
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Scalzi's Lock-in was the first work I read from this writer and I was an instant fan. Exceptional writing and ideas that just reach out and grab you throughout the book. I was very excited to learn he had written a prequel to the Lock-in novella detailing the back history of that story. I was not disappointed in the least!. Highly recommended along with anything else this writer has out there ...more
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John Scalzi, having declared his absolute boredom with biographies, disappeared in a puff of glitter and lilac scent.

(If you want to contact John, using the mail function here is a really bad way to do it. Go to his site and use the contact information you find there.)

Other books in the series

Lock In (2 books)
  • Lock In (Lock In, #1)
  • Head On (Lock In, #2)

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