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Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome

(Lock In 0.5)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  5,595 ratings  ·  728 reviews
In the near future--and sooner than you think--a new virus will sweep the globe. At first it will look like the flu, but then we will discover there is something else about it...something we weren't expecting. It will change society forever.

No, this isn't another zombie virus. And no, this isn't the apocalypse. It's Haden's syndrome. We'll survive it. But the world will be
Hardcover, Signed Edition Limited to 1500 Numbered copies, 96 pages
Published September 30th 2014 by Subterranean Press (first published May 7th 2014)
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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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
(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
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
Maria Dimitrova
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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!!
Mogsy (MMOGC)
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Paulo Ratz
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eu adorei demais "Encarcerados", ainda mais porque tinha a doença envolvida. Saber que existia um ebook só com a história da doença me deixou alucinado e comprei e comecei a ler no mesmo dia. É um conto de 100 páginas super rápido, mas que dá uma visão mais profunda ainda do livro que já tinha amado tanto. Vale muito a pena entender mais sobre a doença que foi o ponto de partida de "Encarcerados".
Feb 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2014
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...
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
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Ben 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 in
Alex Ristea
This is an intro novella to Scalzi's forthcoming Lock In, and my only complaint is that now I have to wait so long to get the real thing.

Haden's Syndrome is an epidemic sweeping a near-future world, and that already had me hooked, because I'm a huge fan of epidemic stories, zombies included (though this isn't a zombie book at all).

Speaking of zombies, that "oral history" in the title should remind you of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, because it's written in a very similar fashi
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.
Diane S ☔
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.
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  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: to anyone that wants to read Lock In
Shelves: scifi, 2015
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://ww ...more
May 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 o
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 novellaIs Scalzi's preamble to his upcoming novel Lock In. It tells the story of the spread of a new, nasty disease.

The epistolary storytelling is becoming more common in sci-fi, I guess, especially with post-disaster stories like World War Z & Robopocalypse. It's not Scalzi's strong point, since he isn't very good at giving his "characters" different voices, though they do have different areas of expertise (CDC scientists, patients, newspaper reporter, politician, technologist, lawyer.
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, stars-4-0
Was about to start Scalzi's 'Lock In' novel when I found this short story. So I picked this one first. Great narration and world building. I loved all the voices witnessing the different stages of the contagion and how this ultimately changed the fabric of society. Back to the novel now...
Timothy Boyd
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
S. Barker
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Qué bien se lee a Scalzi. Me ha gustado un montón.
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-in-2018
This was an interesting read, an accompanying book to Lock In which I read a few months ago.
The layout is like a factual report with interviews with the people who made the threeps and worked out how to deal with the part of the population that has fallen victim to Haden's.
I enjoyed this short read immensely and look forward to reading more from this author.
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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 (3 books)
  • Lock In (Lock In, #1)
  • Head On (Lock In, #2)
  • The Lock In Series: Lock In, Head On, Unlocked
“Attempting to use a biological agent against your enemy while avoiding its effects on you is like trying to use a grenade by holding onto it and hoping all the shrapnel flies in the direction of the person you want to kill.” 6 likes
“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. The trick is to find the story of the day and for that day make whoever reads it or hears it care about it so intensely that it doesn’t leave them. Then it becomes a story of their life. Maybe even the story of their life.” 1 likes
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