Mike's Reviews > Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome

Unlocked by John Scalzi
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really liked it
bookshelves: novella, science-fiction, reviewed

(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 this format we don't get much character development, more like a nicely packaged and sleek info-dump. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't just an info-dump with different names attached to the paragraphs, some personalities certainly came through and the information that was being dumped was from very specific perspectives. It was a very effective technique for setting up the future society we will find in Lock In.

What I am most appreciative of this novella for is showing how seriously Scalzi is taking his near future society. The terrible epidemic that hits the world, causing death and a condition known as "locked in" (basically comas where the person has full awareness of their surroundings) results in massive social problems. Overwhelmed hospitals, death or sickness of prominent people, long term care issues for the survivors.

Instead of a miracle cure materializing out of thin air, there has to be a public policy process to organize research and allocate funds. People love the sausage, but hate seeing it made. On top of that, once some treatments and solutions are developed there are further social repercussions as locked in people navigate society through robotic avatars, facing a unique challenges and developing their own culture (Scalzi makes a smart analogy to deaf culture in this regard).

I applaud Scalzi for embodying the essence of science fiction, taking some technological advancement and extrapolating its impact on society as a whole. I am very excited to read more about the world he created.
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Reading Progress

May 13, 2014 – Started Reading
May 13, 2014 – Shelved
May 13, 2014 – Shelved as: novella
May 13, 2014 – Shelved as: science-fiction
May 13, 2014 – Shelved as: reviewed
May 13, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies Loved the Zombie manual, hated World War Z. I don't do info dumps, and the first few chapters was like. Well, this happened. Then the zombies spread to that place. Then the other place. Yawn.


Mike Then this certainly isn't the novella for you, but you may like the book it is linked to. I am a big fan of Scalzi and the world he looks to have made here is quite fascinating.

So keep an eye out for Lock In reviews, it might be a nice break from your usual fare (though I will let you know if there are too many shadowy government/corporate conspiracies).


Hannah Awesome review! I agree completely, although I read Lock In before this novella. I think this is a perfect introduction to the world, and I almost wish I had read it before reading Lock In.


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