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Monday, September 2, 2019

HEAD ON: A NOVEL of the NEAR FUTURE (Lock In #2) by John Scalzi

Published in 2018 by Tor.

In this near-future sci-fi novel, a horrible disease called Haden's Syndrome has struck, leaving many people stuck in bodies that simply won't obey the commands of their brains. The response was a technological blitz that created an online world for these people (called Hedens) accessed by a technological interface. Later, these interfaces were used to control androids called "threeps" to walk around in the real world. They can actually feel what the android feels.

And, someone figured out how to turn this into a sporting event. Two teams of threeps carrying medieval weapons line up on a football field. On each team one person is "it". The other team is supposed to go after the threep who is it, bash or cut his/her head off, pick it up and get it to the end zone for a score. It has all of the violence with none of the real world consequences because the threep pilot cannot be hurt by this.

Until one of the threep pilots dies, that is.

Chris Shane is an FBI agent who uses a threep. He and his partner, the immensely crusty Leslie Vann, are on the case to figure out how the player died when there's another death. And, that's just the beginning...

This is my first John Scalzi novel and I am a bit irritated. The book I read (the UK edition) didn't even tell me that this book was the second book in a three book series - a fact that I didn't even know until I looked at this book on Amazon before writing this review.

The mystery is pretty good. A mystery in the middle of a science fiction novel is pretty unique. The threep aspect of the story was interesting but ended up making Chris Shane a lot like a small-time superhero. Threeps can't be hurt, they are strong, they can't be killed and they have instant online access. On top of that, Hadens have the power to travel very quickly by simply logging out of a threep in one location and logging into one in another location. Yes, he has his version of kryptonite (his real-life body is pretty defenseless), but it takes some of the suspense of it.

I rate this book 4 stars out of 5. It can be found on Amazon.com here: HEAD ON: A NOVEL of the NEAR FUTURE (Lock In #2) by John Scalzi.

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