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Group Reads > March 2019 - Lock In by John Scalzi

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message 1: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 2334 comments Mod
Our March 2019 monthly read is Lock In by John Scalzi. Enjoy!


Oleksandr Zholud | 386 comments I've read it two years ago and really liked it, much more interesting than his The Collapsing Empire from the same year, which was Hugo nominated. There is a novella, Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome, which gives more info on how from 'our' world we go to this particular future.

I won't spoiler now but I encourage everyone to read it


message 3: by Holly (new)

Holly (hollycoulson) | 2 comments I happened to grab this in my library book sale a few weeks back! Will definitely be joining in!


message 4: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 2334 comments Mod
I also read this a few years ago & liked it very much. It's a good mystery wrapped in a near future. More recently I read the second in the series, Head On which I enjoyed just as much. I haven't read Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome yet.


message 5: by Peter (last edited Mar 01, 2019 01:48PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Peter Tillman | 95 comments Liked but not loved: rated 3 stars, really 2.5 in retrospect. One of his weaker novels, in my judgment. YMMV.
My (few) comments are here, https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
2014 read, I think. Hasn't aged well in memory.... 🙃


message 6: by RJ (new) - rated it 3 stars

RJ (hawk5391yahoocom) | 331 comments This was the first book I read by Snarky McSnarkster. I thought he spent a long time explaining the world he built, then he put in just a tiny bit of storyline (a la Michael Crichton) to keep people reading. I gave it 3 stars and I'm not in a hurry to read the sequel. The free pre-quel novella is worth reading though. I think I enjoyed it more than the book. It's told oral history style like a Studs Terkel book, or like World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War which is itself an homage to Studs Terkel's The Good War.


message 7: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 2334 comments Mod
Thanks, Oleksandr. I really enjoyed Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome. It's free via a link on the book page & fairly short, so I thought I'd give it a try. Really glad I did. It adds a lot of nuance to a really cool world. I gave it a 4 star review here:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 8: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 2334 comments Mod
What sex is the main character, Chris?


message 9: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) | 541 comments Mod
Chris?


Oleksandr Zholud | 386 comments Jim wrote: "What sex is the main character, Chris?"

From what I recall, Scalzi specifically left it unanswered, but I guess in translated versions, were languages allow to detect gender from verbs, you can find your answer


message 11: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 2334 comments Mod
Actually, it's one of the points of the book. Scalzi uses no gender specifiers at all because Chris was prepubescent when they got the disease & so it's not part their makeup.


message 12: by Marc-André (new)

Marc-André | 264 comments Cheryl wrote: "Chris?"

The main character is called Chris, I believe.


message 13: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 971 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "Scalzi uses no gender specifiers at all because Chris was prepubescent when they got the disease & so it's not part their makeup."

Pre-pubescent children, in my experience, do tend to identify with one gender or another. Other genders have "cooties".


Oleksandr Zholud | 386 comments Ed wrote: "Pre-pubescent children, in my experience, do tend to identify with one gender or another. Other genders have "cooties"."

I understand that this is not a serious comment but fyi not in all cultures cooties or their equivalent are present, at least not in three Slavic ones I know. There is still a self-separation by sex in early age, but it goes more like - 'they are not fun to play with'. And a lot of psychologist show that a person gender awareness (which is not fixed in time) appears quite early in life


message 15: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 2334 comments Mod
I think the actual science behind gender identification in children is beside the point. Scalzi simply used the idea to make a point that he's quite passionate about judging by a few of his blog posts that I've read. IIRC, he is one of the people mandating using 'ze', 'they' or something as pronouns for those who don't identify as male or female. He doesn't like the idea of forcing sexual identity on people.


Oleksandr Zholud | 386 comments Jim wrote: "He doesn't like the idea of forcing sexual identity on people. "

Neither identity nor gender roles, as his other work shows. I'm perfectly fine with that, after all if a person wants something, which won't burden you, it is better for a society that a person receives it


message 17: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 971 comments Mod
Oleksandr wrote: "I understand that this is not a serious comment but fyi ..."

I was serious that kids tend to identify with one or another gender. I was not so serious about cooties. I had checked wikipedia before posting, and the concept does appear in multiple countries. Those who aren't from those countries may be amused to learn about it. (And hopefully getting vaccinated as well.)

I don't like to use pronouns like "ze", but I'll do it out of politeness if someone asks me to refer to them that way. My comic-book reading group recently read a memoir of a person during gender transition. That book made it clear to me how using the "wrong" pronoun can seem like nothing to you and yet sometimes ruin a person's whole day because they are already feeling insecure and self-conscious.

This conversation risks going far afield from the book so I'll stop here. I don't plan to read this book, but I do plan to read the prequel.


message 18: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 2334 comments Mod
I don't think it's going as far afield as you think, Ed. It is a bit outside of the range of this book, the prequel & the 2d book, so far. I have a feeling it will become a big issue in the series at some point. The 2d book is getting more into the sexual aspects of the syndrome & what the tech allows people to do with their host bodies. It's an interesting thought.

We generally think of ourselves as rational beings, but I think Vonnegut's description is more accurate. We're badly behaving sacks of chemicals & we don't realize just how much those chemicals push us around.

As a kid growing up on a farm, I saw a lot of sex going on among the various animals. Billy goats will pee all over themselves, even in their mouths, to spruce up for their ladies. Cats do a creepy rape thing and sound like they're killing each other painfully as they get it on. Drakes damn near drown their hens as they hop aboard in the water and force the hen's head down under it. Male dogs won't even eat as they moon around after a bitch and they're ready to hump anything, but are positively miserable after they tie up and get dragged around by their dongs for 10 or 20 minutes. Sheep, cattle, and horses rarely spend much time actually doing it, although during foreplay their power and equipment are all very impressive and often on display. The actual act only takes a minute and then they don’t want much to do with each other for a while afterward.

Before I hit puberty, I did not see the attraction. Even though I knew quite early on how I came to be, the thought of sex between my parents was gross. I couldn't imagine ever wanting to do it myself. Then I hit puberty & suddenly things changed completely. It’s amazing how much hormones can change our thinking & that's just one way.

How many other chemicals are constantly changing our thinking? What if we never felt hot/cold, pain/pleasure? Would we still be human? It's one reason I don't buy fully into the uploaded mind into a machine scenario.


message 19: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 971 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "What if we never felt hot/cold, pain/pleasure? Would we still be human? It's one reason I don't buy fully into the uploaded mind into a machine scenario...."

I don't buy it either. Though I'm curious what it would be like to not have a decaying sack of meat attached to "me", if it did become possible to upload the brain I wouldn't be among the first to try it!

The first would probably be very rich people. Would they then still be legally the same person? able to control companies and invest their money? Would their morals change? These interesting ideas are explored well in an opera called "Death and the Powers".

As for sex drive, James Tiptree did an excellent story called "Love is the plan, the plan is death" about an alien creature trying to outsmart the genetically programmed drive to procreate. It doesn't end well for it.


Oleksandr Zholud | 386 comments Jim wrote: " It's one reason I don't buy fully into the uploaded mind into a machine scenario. ."

If we ever be able to recreate 100 billion neurons and as many as 1,000 trillion synaptic connections between them, adding virtual hormone effects will be easy. As for example it is done in We Are Legion - We Are Bob


message 21: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 2334 comments Mod
That looks like an interesting, so I bought it, Oleksandr. Thanks. I don't think virtual hormone effects would work very well. People would turn them off or fiddle with them like drugs.

The line between what we are & what we think are comes up often in the scientific literature about our brains all the time now. We're learning more about our weird wiring. It works well for patterns; often too well which is what makes conspiracy theories so interesting to many. We suck at numbers & time. I think those would change in any sort of hardware. Maybe not at first, but over time.

One thing Chris & his ilk have going for them are actual bodies that support their mind. Their main interaction with the world is through their robotic drones, but they're not the host. I think that's a big difference.

And then there are the Integrators. That's a creepy job.


message 22: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 2334 comments Mod
There are two audiobooks of this as I was just reminded in another group. One is narrated by Wil Wheaton & the other by Amber Benson. I've only listened to the former since it was the only one my library had at the time, but I'd like to listen to the other some time. I wonder what sort of difference it will make?

I tend to put myself in the place of the main character, regardless of sex. I found myself imagining Chris as a guy, which I think is understandable. I wonder if a female voice would change that perception at all.


message 23: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) | 541 comments Mod
The Tiptree story Ed mentions is here: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fic...
Smart and intense.


message 24: by RJ (new) - rated it 3 stars

RJ (hawk5391yahoocom) | 331 comments Jim wrote: "I tend to put myself in the place of the main character, regardless of sex. I found myself imagining Chris as a guy, which I think is understandable. I wonder if a female voice would change that perception at all."

I agree. Also Chris seems to be a name that is associated with more males than females. I don't have stats on that, I'm just going from my own firsthand experience. I wonder what would have happened if the main character had been named Pat?


message 25: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 2334 comments Mod
Why would 'Pat' change anything? I know Pats of both sexes, so it would still be gender neutral or question begging, depending on your point of view.


message 26: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 971 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "Why would 'Pat' change anything?"

Remember the awful movie based on an SNL character, "It's Pat"? The whole joke of the film was that Pat's gender was ambiguous. It was a semi-popular SNL character turned into a universally disliked film that played in 3 theaters for one weekend.

In the film, Pat dates "Chris" who is also of ambiguous gender. Conincidence? Or is Scalzi making a reference?

The failure of the film, followed by some personal tragedies, led the actress to create the one-woman show "God said Ha!" which is pretty good.


message 27: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 2334 comments Mod
No, I knew none of that. Thanks. Seems reasonable that Scalzi would know, though. I never watched much SNL & what I did see was way back in their early days.


message 28: by RJ (new) - rated it 3 stars

RJ (hawk5391yahoocom) | 331 comments Ed wrote: "Jim wrote: "Why would 'Pat' change anything?"

Remember the awful movie based on an SNL character, "It's Pat"? The whole joke of the film was that Pat's gender was ambiguous. It was a semi-popular ..."


I did not know it was a movie. But "It's Pat" is the first thing that came to mind when I heard about Scalzi's ambiguous gender character Chris.


message 29: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) | 541 comments Mod
More discussion is always welcome, and this thread is not closed!
But some of us are ready to move along to April's read, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, so join us there!


message 30: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) | 541 comments Mod
Just fyi, poll is up for May's read: https://www.goodreads.com/poll/show/1....


message 31: by Buck (new) - rated it 4 stars

Buck (spectru) | 837 comments I started this one late. Here we are at the end of our month - I'm about 2/3 done. I've just finished books 2 and 3 of Scalzi's Old Man's War series.

Had it not been for some discussion in this topic I don't even know whether or not I would have noticed that Agent Shane's gender is undisclosed. Even knowing that before I started, I still think of Chris as male. I've looked for cues and so far have found none.

I can't say that this is my favorite kind of SF (I like space operas) but I'm finding it entertaining.


message 32: by Marc-André (new)

Marc-André | 264 comments Buck wrote: "I can't say that this is my favorite kind of SF (I like space operas) but I'm finding it entertaining. "

What kind of SF is Locked In?


message 33: by Buck (last edited Mar 31, 2019 07:53PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Buck (spectru) | 837 comments Marc-André wrote: "Buck wrote: "I can't say that this is my favorite kind of SF (I like space operas) but I'm finding it entertaining. "

What kind of SF is Locked In?"


Hmm. I dunno. It's kind of a psychological thriller, I guess. The protagonist is a rookie FBI agent, like a robo-cop but without the physical super-powers.

And there's maybe an element of Tron. And maybe a touch of Minority Report.


message 34: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 2334 comments Mod
Marc-André wrote: "What kind of SF is Locked In?"

I shelved it as an SF-mystery thriller. It's pretty much a mystery novel set in a near future.

Buck wrote: "...Even knowing that before I started, I still think of Chris as male. I've looked for cues and so far have found none..."

I didn't know when I read it, but I also thought of him as male. I think that was more due putting myself into the main character as I read which I tend to do. My daughter would fit into Chris' slot just as well, though. I did look for clues in the other 2 books, but there are none that I caught.


message 35: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 2334 comments Mod
Could Scalzi be prophetic? not a good time for me to read this story.
https://www.wkyt.com/content/news/US-...


message 36: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 971 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "Could Scalzi be prophetic?"

Yikes!


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