Unlocked (John Scalzi)

Article by liz

Fifteen years from now, a new virus, known as Haden's syndrome, runs rampant across the globe. Everyone, everywhere, knows someone who gets sick. The disease leads to "lock in": patients are alive and alert, but completely unable to move, speak, or communicate with the outside world. Only one percent of cases becomes "lock in," but that's still millions of people in the United States alone.


UNLOCKED unfolds as a series of interviews cataloguing the response to Haden's syndrome, an oral history in the tradition of WORLD WAR Z. There's an enormous sense of reality in this novella: everything's based in the human response, in the frustrations of the medical researchers or the implications of Supreme Court cases. As an oral history, UNLOCKED weaves together the distinct voices of a huge array of interviewees, all with their own place in the history of Haden's syndrome--and whether it's the director of the CDC or a prison inmate, everyone has their own agenda. Sci-fi master John Scalzi neatly ties all these disparate voices and stories into one thread, giving us a solid look at the progression of a post-Haden's world.


Scalzi's storytelling and pacing are masterful, treating Haden's by turn as a looming villain and just an ordinary fact of life. The medical-thriller beginning is a mad, catastrophic collapse, giving the emotional triumphs of the characters' retold successes real weight. The sheer breadth of characters interviewed really creates the scope of this disease--there's no one in the world that Haden's doesn't touch, and that, more than anything, makes this universe so compelling. So many future-set books just tell you that "the whole world has changed" and move on. UNLOCKED and LOCK IN show you not only how, but why, and how humanity responds. More than that, however, UNLOCKED handles not just the human and political response to a crisis of this magnitude, but what happens after: the return to normalcy, or at least, whatever normal's become. UNLOCKED leaves you with the unsettling sense that the world has become a different kind of normal, one with staggering legal and ethical implications--to be explored further when LOCK IN, a thriller set in a post-Haden's world, debuts August 26.


UNLOCKED is available to read free online at Tor.com, and if you enjoy it, buy the ebook through our store via Kobo, DRM-free and available on any device through Kobo's reading app. On August 26 at 7PM, we'll have John Scalzi here in-store to discuss and sign LOCK IN! Pre-order your copy through our website today--and if you can't wait until August, you can read the first five chapters on Tor.com!

Unlocked Cover Image
ISBN: 9781466871793
Availability: Available Now
Published: Tor.com - May 6th, 2014

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