Discover the history of Haden’s Syndrome, the virus that created the world of John Scalzi’s inventive near-future thrillers Lock In and Head On, in the prequel novella Unlocked.
Not long from now, a virus will sweep the globe. Most will suffer no worse than flu-like symptoms, but an unlucky one percent will be changed forever. Hundreds of millions become “locked in”, awake, aware, but completely unable to control their bodies. This is the story of the doctors, scientists, engineers, politicians, and heroes who remade the world. It is the story of the chaotic outbreak, the fight for a cure, the changes that followed. It is an oral history, straight from the mouths of those who survived the most dynamic period in human history.
Originally published on Tor.com in May 2014, Unlocked will be available in a new paperback edition July 24th.
In Lock In, FBI agent Chris Shane and veteran agent Leslie Vann are assigned what appears to be a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel, with a suspect who is an “integrator” – someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden client, then naming the suspect for the murder becomes that much more complicated.
But “complicated” doesn’t begin to describe it. As Shane and Vann began to unravel the threads of the murder, it becomes clear that the real mystery – and the real crime – is bigger than anyone could have imagined. The world of the locked in is changing, and with the change comes opportunities that the ambitious will seize at any cost. The investigation that began as a murder case takes Shane and Vann from the halls of corporate power to the virtual spaces of the locked in, and to the very heart of an emerging, surprising new human culture. It’s nothing you could have expected.
In the standalone follow-up Head On—available April 17th—Scalzi introduces Hilketa, a frenetic and violent pastime where players attack each other with swords and hammers. The main goal of the game: obtain your opponent’s head and carry it through the goalposts. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible. But all the players are “threeps,” robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden’s Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real and the crowds love it.
Until a star athlete drops dead on the playing field.
Is it an accident or murder? FBI agents and Haden-related crime investigators, Chris Shane and Leslie Vann, are called in to uncover the truth—and in doing so travel to the darker side of the fast-growing sport of Hilketa, where fortunes are made or lost, and where players and owners do whatever it takes to win, on and off the field.