Sunday Short: John Scalzi's Unlocked

Sunday, August 17, 2014
This Sunday's short is a novella introduction to John Scalzi's upcoming book Locked In called Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome.

I've read and enjoyed Scalzi's Old Man's War and Redshirts; I love that his satirical humor also makes you think. I am looking forward to the upcoming Locked In, so I thought it would be great to get a few into the world with this novella. 

From Tor. com, the intro for Unlocked
A new near-future science fiction novella by John Scalzi, one of the most popular authors in modern SF. “Unlocked” traces the medical history behind a virus that will sweep the globe and affect the majority of the world’s population, setting the stage for Lock In, the next major novel by John Scalzi.

Unlocked is told in an interview format, and I have to admit that it seemed to me that the format hindered Scalzi's usual humor. But, I don't think that is a bad thing in itself -- it would have been difficult to write something humorous in a story about a crippling epidemic. And there were still tidbits of humor that made me smile ('I look like C3PO!'). It reminded me of the format used in World War Z, in a good way.

I work in clinical research, so I appreciated the story's touching on the ethics of testing the neural networks at first and on who.  I also appreciated the discussion of government funding -- something that this total moderate thinks we all should think about occasionally. 

Favorite line:  
"This simply wasn’t the way things had ever been done before, and so I had to deal with CEOs and chairpeople calling me up and yelling at me that they were leaving money and profits on the table. I would remind them of just how much HRIA funding they were shoveling into their companies and that they knew what the conditions were on that money. They would respond with baffled silence. Occasionally one would threaten to go over my head and talk to the Secretary, or, God forbid, the President himself. 

I was secretly delighted when they would say that, because I had a standing order when that happened to refer them immediately to the White House, at which time the Chief of Staff would read them the riot act. A couple of times I understand the President himself got on the line to do the honors."
Overall, this novella on it's own wasn't one of my most favorite reads of the year -- but I am still looking forward to Scalzi's Locked In, which is set in a world of Integrators and threeps.  If you, like me, also are looking forward to the novel's release at the end of the month but getting impatient, has also released the first few chapters for our reading pleasure. 
Rating: 3.5/5.
Next Sunday's short will be Jo Walton's short Sleeper, available at I'd love suggestions for other short stories to read and review -- feel free to leave them in the comments below! 

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