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i went into this remembering next to nothing about what happened in the first book didnt feel like a reread i only vaguely remembered that some people have robot bodies lol but thank goodness this acts as a standalone or else i would have been so lost and for a book about a sport where the goal is to decapitate people, i was expecting this to have been a littlebrutal, but the main focus was definitely on the police investigation and i wasnt too bothered by that this was your typi i went into this remembering next to nothing about what happened in the first book didnt feel like a reread i only vaguely remembered that some people have robot bodies lol but thank goodness this acts as a standalone or else i would have been so lost and for a book about a sport where the goal is to decapitate people, i was expecting this to have been a littlebrutal, but the main focus was definitely on the police investigation and i wasnt too bothered by that this was your typical crime mystery with a cool sci fi environment which made me question what i know about human rights and morals it had its ups and downs, but it was a pretty decent story, overall 3.5 stars Ein Zukunftsthriller vom Autor der Bestseller Krieg der Klone und Kollaps Kennen Sie Hilketa Bei dieser Sportart gehen die Spieler mit Schwertern und H mmern aufeinander los Das Hauptziel des Spiels Erbeute den Kopf deines Gegners und bef rdere ihn durch die Torpfosten F r gew hnliche Menschen w re ein solcher Sport unm glich Aber alle Spieler sind Threeps , roboterartige K rper, die ferngesteuert werden Alles ist erlaubtBis ein Starathlet, der einen solchen Threep steuert, w hrend eines Spiels zu Tode kommtIst es ein Unfall oder Mord Die beiden FBI Agenten Chris Shane und Leslie Vann werden zu Hilfe gerufen, um die Wahrheit aufzudecken Bald verschl gt es sie auf die dunkle Seite des Erfolgssports Hilketa, bei dem Verm gen gemacht und verloren werden und bei dem Spieler wie Macher alles tun, um zu gewinnen auf dem Feld und au erhalbEin in sich abgeschlossener Roman aus derselben Zukunftswelt wie Das Syndrom John Scalzi ist der unterhaltsamste und zug nglichste SF Autor unserer Zeit Joe Hill This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart Lock In was one of my favorite Sci Fi worlds ever I really appreciated all the thought John Scalzi put into how life would be different if the person you presented to the outside world was basically a robot The prequel Unlocked which should actually be read after Lock In was fantastic, as it was presented as a documentary on how 1% of the population ended up being locked in their minds, not able to move and how all the science was d This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart Lock In was one of my favorite Sci Fi worlds ever I really appreciated all the thought John Scalzi put into how life would be different if the person you presented to the outside world was basically a robot The prequel Unlocked which should actually be read after Lock In was fantastic, as it was presented as a documentary on how 1% of the population ended up being locked in their minds, not able to move and how all the science was done to create a way for them to get back out into the world I actually liked the prequelthan the first book in the Lock In series.What Head On has over Lock In is a better detective story to accompany all the very cool stuff happening in the SciFi world This book will be a little different For instance, we have zero idea if the Main Character Chris is a boy or a girl, even the audiobooks have two different narrator options one male and one female Since everyone interacts with Chris either in virtual space or a robot system you really don t get normal gender clues I really like that Chris is essentially genderless by today s standards.Chris and his her partner Vann are FBI agents normally tasked with crimes involving Hadens members of society who are locked in their bodies and interact with the world virtually or with a robot they pilot When there is death of a Haden player at a Hilketa match, Chris and Vann are the natural team to call in for the investigation How does the beheading of a piloted robot lead to the death of the pilot who is states awayThat threep s the goat That s the player the other team wants to rip the head off of They try to take his head, while his team tries to keep him from having his head ripped off And when the head is taken, they try to punt it through the goalposts Punt it, toss it, or carry it through, yes And everyone has swords and hammers and bats They have those because that shit s just funThe mystery plot for Head On worked for me a lot better and seemedplanned and polished Chris and Vann have a fun banter between them that makes the dialogue fun and easy to read I also like that both Chris and Vann are not flat characters but have a good dimensionality to them making themhuman But the real winner for me, at least in this series, is the world I really get caught up in what it would be like to live in a world that has C 3POesk robot walking down the street being piloted by a person who can t move and could be anywhereI did not destroy another threep, I said A car did You got hit by a car Twice So, once for the experience and twice to be sure Tony asked Hey, weren t you hit by a car when you were a kid It was a truck Same concept Three times is a fetish, Chris, Tony said Which is your business But it gets pretty pricey You might want to take up a less expensive hobby, like cocaineSo if you are a fan of cool, fleshed out SciFi worlds and also like murder mysteries then the Lock In series could really be something to put on your TBR list Wil Wheaton is the male narrator and I thought he did a fantastic job on Lock In if you are a fan of audio I received this book for free from NetGalley for an honest review This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. This is a super easy read that hits all the fun spots for all you folks who re into Sports, Mysteries, and great concept SF filled with robots designed for tele reality and virtual reality.I m one of those readers who are very partial to the SF stuff and I like a good mystery, too, so I had a great time on that alone But here s the funny part the sports aspect is unique as hell and full of some great twists Such as getting your head pulled off during the play to be used as a football As p This is a super easy read that hits all the fun spots for all you folks who re into Sports, Mysteries, and great concept SF filled with robots designed for tele reality and virtual reality.I m one of those readers who are very partial to the SF stuff and I like a good mystery, too, so I had a great time on that alone But here s the funny part the sports aspect is unique as hell and full of some great twists Such as getting your head pulled off during the play to be used as a football As part of the game Those people from the previous book, the folks who re stuck in their bodies and can only get out by using a waldo robot or by those biological peeps who are wired for it are now pretty much the only game in town when it comes to full contact sports It s all robots, of course, and transferred consciousnesses, and a wild story that s the equal of any modern mystery in that OTHER genre In a lot of ways, I think this sequel featuring our favorite FBI Lock In is superior to the first I m totally glad to have read it It s just plain good and fun Shakes Fist at John Scalzi Damn you, Scalzi We still don t know if Chris is a male or female You just like mind fucking us don t you Come on Now who s messing with us VEGAN cookies Eww no thanks, I ll have crab juice instead.Chris is out narrator and he she is in the FBI, and look, I m just going to assign Chris a gender right now because I m not writing out he she for every stupid thing I say Chris is a girl I ve declared it because 1 I want Chris to be a girl because she s so fr Shakes Fist at John Scalzi Damn you, Scalzi We still don t know if Chris is a male or female You just like mind fucking us don t you Come on Now who s messing with us VEGAN cookies Eww no thanks, I ll have crab juice instead.Chris is out narrator and he she is in the FBI, and look, I m just going to assign Chris a gender right now because I m not writing out he she for every stupid thing I say Chris is a girl I ve declared it because 1 I want Chris to be a girl because she s so freaking cool and snarky.2 Chris mentions a book that was one of her favorites as a child by author Catherynne Valente and I looked her up The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Makingis a series Seems like something girls would love.3 In the first book, when her partner saw Chris s actual body, she said that she was surprised I think she had been assuming Chris was a male.4 Did I mention that Chris is too cool to be a boy She s one of us.So, problem solved You might as well write it in now, Scalzi No, I m serious Get on this You re riding my last nerve here.Chris s partner, Leslie, is also very cool In good cop bad cop, she s always bad cop She just does it so well.The crime they are trying to solve has to do with a death during a game that is basically robot wars Robots trying to rip off each other s heads to use as a ball Strangely, this doesn t even seem silly or crazy any We all know that if we get robot bodies this will become a sport Really, how many years away can this be Scalzi is a genius hey waitit s been done Screw you, Scalzi There is tons of humor and fun while they try and solve the crime Plus, as an added bonus,people and robots die This series is a must for sci fi fans You will like it almost as much as you like goateed Mr Spock At some point in the future when early 21st century media culture is assessed in all its heedless glory a full audit of the blogger novelist phenomenon will come to pass, and John Scalzi will likely be held as one of its most successful and admired specimens By blogger novelist I don t mean novelist who blogs , or blogger who turns their blog into a book, but of a specific mutant hybrid of both mediums Scalzi has transposed all the elements of a thriving blog into his fiction writing care At some point in the future when early 21st century media culture is assessed in all its heedless glory a full audit of the blogger novelist phenomenon will come to pass, and John Scalzi will likely be held as one of its most successful and admired specimens By blogger novelist I don t mean novelist who blogs , or blogger who turns their blog into a book, but of a specific mutant hybrid of both mediums Scalzi has transposed all the elements of a thriving blog into his fiction writing career a prolific output that needs to be both urgent and memorable, that feels like a product of the present day culture s collective consciousness as much as a piece of his own brain spilling out onto page and screen A unique biochemical cocktail is required for a brain like this to squirm its way into the marketplace of ideas, a kind of ego driven charisma that relies faron generosity than selfishness, but also acknowledges that a healthy dallop of self centeredness is an essential part of the formula There s a moment in his new novel, the near future crime thriller Head On, when FBI agent Chris Shane takes a classic Catherynne Valente novel from a suspect s bookshelf during an interrogation, and both interviewer and interviewee awkwardly profess their love for it before moving on to the business at hand Shout outs to friends and colleagues are a staple of Scalzi the blogger and Scalzi the novelist, a show of warm hearted regard that accedes not only to an author s place in the production of a text, but to this author s in particular It s not just a shout out to Valente as a fellow traveler, but to Scalzi s own devoted fan base, who know that moments like these express why he loves doing what he does.Head On is the standalone sequel to Lock In, Scalzi s popular and well regarded technothriller from 2014 Lock In set up a near future scenario where a small but significant percentage of the population is afflicted with Haden s syndrome, which leaves its victims with fully active brains literally locked inside their completely inert bodies Public accommodations for this new class of persons with disabilities ensue, resulting in, alongside other technological advances, robotic vehicles called threeps that a Haden can operate remotely using a neural net attached to their brains Threeps allow Hadens to live relatively normal professional and social lives while their bodies remain stationary Lock In introduced us to Haden FBI agent Chris Shane and his partner, non Haden Leslie Vann, as they investigated a murder committed using Haden based technology In Head On, Scalzi explores the way Hadens culture leaves its mark on mass entertainment in this case a professional sports league called Hilketa, where Hadens pilot their threeps in a game where scoring depends on forcibly removing the robot head of an opposing player At the opening of Head On, a player s real body dies as its threep s head is removed, and suspicious activity by the league s front office points to a coverup Shane and Vann once again become enmeshed in a high profile case with huge stakes, big money interests, and intense media scrutiny.I ve always felt that Scalzi writes fiction with a journalist s flair for delivering information in accessible, controlled bursts The overture to Head On comes in the form of a magazine or probably webzine article, a very convincing bit of faux sports reporting for Scalzi s imaginary Hilketa league that effortlessly manages to pulls off the holy grail of genre writing the invisible info dump a way of setting the table for the estranged reader in a way that would feel organic to a familiar one It s an effective tone setter that plays on Scalzi s strengths as a writer his ability to write science fiction that appeals to SF fans without alienating non SF readers Scalzi can sometimes be overly meticulous in designing his plots, so part of the fun of Head On comes when you realize that his protagonist shares his creator s passion for methodical professionalism, but his enemy islikely akin to a belligerent fool who let one bad idea spiral dangerously out of control A snapshot of the present moment in America, if there ever was one.In many ways, Head On and its predecessor feel closer to the Scalzi of internet lore than his space operas do POV narrator Shane disseminates his tale in the same easygoing, smart and snarky manner that Scalzi the blogger is known for, and while one could say the same of his other protagonists, only Shane gets to do so in a milieu that roughly approximates present day America Because as much as Scalzi likes to make up cool stuff about things that might happen someday, he also likes to say witty things about stuff that s going on right now, and in Head On he gets to do both in the kind of quick, digestible bites that fire up the neurons without weighing the reader down In other words, Head On is about issues that matter to readers lives today, told with characters who pilot anthropomorphic robot suits Add to this the fact that he is doing so in the form of the invincibly popular crime thriller and that the deciding agent of the story is a cat named Donut, and you know you are dealing with an author who sucks up to his readers in all the right ways.As much as I find Scalzi s writing consistently entertaining, I m actually surprised at how much I liked Head On Lock In has the distinction of being my least favorite of Scalzi s novels I can say with confidence, however, that Head On won me over without diverging much from the formula its predecessor established Fans and skeptics alike should be satisfied by the time they reach the final page.Many thanks to Netgalley and the folks at Tor Books for the opportunity to read this ARC Review for Lock In.Scalzi continues the great momentum he built up in Lock In with this excellent sequel Once again the daring duo of Chris of the indeterminate gender and Van find themselves involved in a complex investigation that intersects with the Haden community In this case Hilketa, a sport that combines football with gladiatorial combat and robot bodies Of course all is not as it appears, billions of dollars in investments are at risk, and death is always just around the corner.As f Review for Lock In.Scalzi continues the great momentum he built up in Lock In with this excellent sequel Once again the daring duo of Chris of the indeterminate gender and Van find themselves involved in a complex investigation that intersects with the Haden community In this case Hilketa, a sport that combines football with gladiatorial combat and robot bodies Of course all is not as it appears, billions of dollars in investments are at risk, and death is always just around the corner.As far as the mystery goes Scalzi once again delivers a twisty turny case that meshes very well with the wider plot and makes good use of the world he has conjured up I don t want to get too deep into it, sufficed to say I had no idea what the conspiracy was until the very end and I was engaged in the story the whole time All the characters are great and jive well together I continue to love the Van Chris partnership I am happy to see there is not a whiff of sexual tension there, they are both dedicated investigators who work well together and respect each other For my money they are the best investigative duo in the SFF space.But what I would rather talk about is how Scalzi uses the fictional medical condition in this series to explore broader social ideas I have always maintained that good science fiction is a reflection on contemporary society, either how it is or how it could be In the case of this series Scalzi examines just what it means to be an outsider of society People suffering from Haden s Syndrome are physically separated from the rest of humanity, forced to interact through an online space or through robots threeps They are very much separate from the rest of humanity and rightly view themselves as a distinct minority group, even if their numbers span the spectrum of humanity.That is what makes Hilketa so interesting It is a respected space where Haden s actually have an advantage over the rest of humanity Because they have spend so much of their lives interacting through Threeps they are much, much better suited to navigating them in a competitive environment even if, in theory, the league is open to everyone It is a mark of pride for the community so when one of the players dies on the field it is a big deal.On top of that the previous book saw the repeal of many support programs and funding for Hadens We see early impact of this repeal in Head On Hadens will find itdifficult to afford threeps and be forcedandto the fringes of society Even with Hilketa and prominent Hadens like Chris they rightly fear they will become another marginalized group Compounded with the seemingly inevitable trend that would allow normal humans to also operate threeps and the Haden community in this book feels very much under siege And I found that interesting Scalzi didn t just make the disease and its effects as a convenient means of forcing Chris to drive a threep and thereby distinguishing him her from other similar characters Scalzi extrapolated just how such a community would behave and how society to adjust to their existence That exploration feeds into the stories and gives the world a very deep feel Slap on some of that trademarked Scalzi snark and you get a really fun, engaging, and surprisingly insightful sci fi mystery.If you wanted to know about Hilketa the fictional game from this book here you go, courtesy of Tor A Solid 4 Star ReadIn a world where 1% of the population interacts with the rest of the world in something akin to C 3PO this was a game that was bound to be inventedThe reason Hilketa is so popular is that the players score points through simulated decapitation, and go after each other with melee weapons It s team gladiatorial combat, on a football field, with a nerdy scoring system It s all the violence every other team sport wishes it could have, but can t, because people would act A Solid 4 Star ReadIn a world where 1% of the population interacts with the rest of the world in something akin to C 3PO this was a game that was bound to be inventedThe reason Hilketa is so popular is that the players score points through simulated decapitation, and go after each other with melee weapons It s team gladiatorial combat, on a football field, with a nerdy scoring system It s all the violence every other team sport wishes it could have, but can t, because people would actually dieI d totally watch this sport if I lived in this world.Full review to come 4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum m a huge fan of John Scalzi, having read almost all his novels, and when Lock In came out a few years ago it quickly became one of my favorite books by the author It was therefore with great excitement that I picked up Head On, which is described as its standalone sequel And indeed, you may choose to read this without having read the first book, but personally I feel you will be missing out on the subtler nuances of 4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum m a huge fan of John Scalzi, having read almost all his novels, and when Lock In came out a few years ago it quickly became one of my favorite books by the author It was therefore with great excitement that I picked up Head On, which is described as its standalone sequel And indeed, you may choose to read this without having read the first book, but personally I feel you will be missing out on the subtler nuances of the series if you skipped right to this one The world of Lock In and Head On is a very complex place and, as I will explain later in my review, reading both books will give you a fuller view of the picture.Once , readers follow Chris Shane, the series rookie FBI agent protagonist Chris is also a Haden, the name given to those individuals whose minds are locked in as the result of a devastating flu that swept across the globe several decades ago This disease killed many in the first stage of the infection, but a percentage went on to survive only to suffer acute meningitis, which affected the victim s brain and caused them to become trapped in a state of being fully awake and aware but having no control over their voluntary nervous systems A cure for this condition dubbed Haden s Syndrome after the then president s wife who was the most famous person to be affected at the time was given the highest priority, though none was ever found Instead, scientists created humanoid personal transports called Threeps into which locked in individuals were able to link their minds remotely, allowing them to interact with their world even as their physical bodies remained immobile.By the time this series takes place, personal transport technology has become muchdeveloped and advanced It has even permeated into the world of professional sports, in which Hadens pilot specialized Threeps in a fast and furious game known as Hilketa Though the sport itself is extremely violent, involving the lopping off of heads with swords and war hammers, no one technically gets hurt because the only bodies getting battered and broken on the field are the robot like Threeps However, during a high profile special exhibition game, an up and coming player named Duane Chapman suddenly dies in the middle of a match meant to attract new investors to the North American Hilketa League, his vitals disappearing off the boards for all to see NAHL officials are quick to cover up the incident, leading Chris, who was present in the skybox during the fatal match, to suspect there sto Chapman s death than meets the eye.Like its predecessor, Head On reads like a sci fi mystery thriller, following FBI agents Chris Shane and Leslie Vann as they sniff out clues and hunt down the perpetrators in Haden related crimes But unlike the previous installment, it dispenses with much of the social commentary and focus on topical themes, putting the emphasis on investigative procedures the actual crime solving Happily, the culprit also wasn t as obvious this time compared to Lock In As a result, I felt that this sequel wasexciting in terms of pacing and levels of suspense, especially since the trail to find Duane Chapman s murderer subsequently leads Chris to all kinds of strange personalities and bizarre happenings related to the dark underbelly of the Hilketa industry Uncovering everything from backroom deals to sordid affairs, our protagonist winds up being caught up in series of harrowing events that include arson, assassination, and a whole pile of destroyed Threeps Needless to say, this novel ended up being a very quick read, since all that intensity and action made it hard to put down.That said, the book also lost much of its cerebral and philosophical bite due to the diminished exploration into social themes like disability, ethics in medicine, and other discussion worthy subjects related to a world in which a significant percentage of the population suffer from an expensive and life altering condition While Head On lightly touches upon some of these issues, such as government funding for individuals with Haden Syndrome or the social perceptions of them in public, in this particular arena, Lock In still holds the edge This isn t really a dig at Head On, however after all, you can only expound upon these themes beyond the first book to a certain extent before it starts becoming repetitive As such, this is why I think it would be a good idea to read the two books in order you ll get the insightful commentary in the first one and the action and suspense in the second the best of both worlds.Head On, though, is still in every sense a Scalzi novel It has his signature style all over it in the clever premise, the slick sense of humor, the quippy lines of dialogue It s also interesting to note, while the author is careful not to reveal the gender of the series protagonist, in my mind I still picture Chris Shane as male because Scalzi can t ever seem to write a convincing enough female POV see examples Zoe s Tale or The Sagan Diary However, that s just my personal opinion and ultimately a non issue, since it didn t distract or take away from my overall enjoyment of this particular novel, whose pages I devoured while loving every moment of the story.In the end, I think I enjoyed this book just as much as Lock In, even though its tone may have shifted slightlyto a traditional mystery thriller narrative which can be a good thing, depending on the type of reader you are For me, Scalzi s stories are always a delight because of how clever, witty, and approachable they are, and this one was no exception I had a smashing good time with Head On, and whether you are new to the author or a long time fan, I think you will too In this sequel to Lock In, a Hilketa player dies during a match, and FBI Agents Chris Shane and partner find themselves drawn into a complicated globe spanning conspiracy Haden s Syndrome wasfully explained in the first book as well as in the novella