Lock In

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Lock In
Lock In Cover.jpg
Cover of hardcover
AuthorJohn Scalzi
Cover artistPeter Lutjen
CountryUnited States of America
GenreScience fiction, police procedural
PublisherTor Books
Publication date
August 26, 2014
Followed by Head On 

Lock In is a science fiction police procedural novel by American writer John Scalzi. The book was published by Tor Books in August 2014.[1] The audiobook of the novel was released in two versions, one narrated by Wil Wheaton and one by Amber Benson.[2]

Plot summary[edit]

A highly contagious virus is exposed to the world. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu-like symptoms. For 1%, the virus causes the victims to be fully awake, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. This is known as "Lock In", and resembles the real condition known as locked-in syndrome. The illness comes to be known as "Haden's Syndrome" with its victims called "Hadens". Humanoid robotic personal transport units controlled by a Haden's brain (nicknamed "Threeps" after C-3PO from Star Wars) are developed as the primary way for a Haden to interact with the outside world.

25 years after the initial virus exposure, FBI agents Chris Shane (who is a Haden) and Leslie Vann are assigned to a Haden-related murder, with a suspect who is an "Integrator" – someone who can let a Haden use their bodies. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden, then finding the suspect for the murder is complicated. Further Integrator-Haden related murders occur, making the case larger than expected, and as Shane and Vann dig deeper, they uncover a plot to completely shake up the Haden economy.

Companion novella[edit]

Lock In is accompanied by a novella, Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome, which provides background detail about the origins of the epidemic.[3]

TV adaptation[edit]

Legendary Television acquired the rights to Lock In to adapt it into a TV pilot in 2014.[4] However, sometime before March 2017 the TV rights were given up by Legendary.[5]


Included with Scalzi's ten-year contract with Tor is the sequel to this novel, titled Head On,[6] which was announced as completed December 19, 2017 and was released in April 2018.[7]


Jane Jorgenson wrote:

There’s been a good run of fantasy and science fiction books this year. Joining the list of great fantastical reads is John Scalzi’s Lock In. Scalzi is best known for his military SF (especially the Old Man’s War series), so his latest is a change of pace. A blending of SF and police procedural that hits every note just right.[8]

According to a review in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

[T]here must be magic (defined here as a combination of skill, vision and intuition) behind Scalzi’s talent for turning out one compulsively readable book after another. Reading his novels is like watching the finest episodes of your favorite sci-fi series, with provocative ideas, high-stakes conflicts, gripping action scenes and a leavening touch of humor.[9]

An analysis at Io9 indicated that, if not for the Sad Puppies ballot-manipulation campaign, "Lock In" would have been a finalist for the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel.[10]


  1. ^ "Lock In". Macmillan Publishers. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  2. ^ Scalzi, John. "The Lock In Audiobook: Two Versions, Two Narrators. Pre-Order and Get Both". Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  3. ^ John Scalzi: Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome: New York: Tor: 2014
  4. ^ "Legendary TV Buys John Scalzi Novel 'Lock In'". Variety. 2014.
  5. ^ John Scalzi (31 March 2017). "Quick Update on Film/TV Stuff". Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  6. ^ About That Deal. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  7. ^ Head On Done. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  8. ^ Jane Jorgenson (26 August 2014). "August 2014 LibraryReads List: Lock In". LibraryReads. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  9. ^ Jim Higgins (22 August 2014). "John Scalzi's 'Lock In' tackles consciousness, identity in a thriller". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  10. ^ This Is What The 2015 Hugo Ballot Should Have Been, by Andrew Liptak, at Io9; published August 23, 2015; retrieved August 7, 2018