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Head On by John Scalzi

Head On (2018)

by John Scalzi

Series: Lock In (2)

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3592344,714 (3.92)25



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It’s a fine mystery story. I liked it better than the first of the series (Lock In). Maybe because it’s fun sports and not economic takeover and the ending isn’t a big dialogue dump of Columbo-style “we got ya”.

But it’s definitely more of the same–nothing new but nothing broken. If John Scalzi is anything, he’s consistent with tone from series to series. And you’re 90% not likely to read the second book before the first, so just look at my review of that one for more info. It doesn’t stand out from his other works, but it stays on the themes of robots, police procedural, and disability. ( )
  theWallflower | Jan 31, 2019 |
This is an interesting take on a detective story set in a future world where some people have been locked into their bodies by a disease. The characters are interesting and the story flows well. ( )
  Velmeran | Jan 26, 2019 |
I like the general setup established in the first book, but the central story here didn't grab me nearly as much. I hope if Scalzi revisits this world again it has some of the emotional energy of the first book.
  bfister | Jan 10, 2019 |
I love this book! It's an exciting thriller, and it's got a great cast of characters, and it has a lot to say about disability politics and how government policy affects real people. I hope there will be more of this series. ( )
  lavaturtle | Jan 4, 2019 |
In 2014's "Locked In", John Scalzi wrote about Haden's Syndrome, where a person's body locks up. They can think and apparently still experience bodily senses, but can't move. In response, the world's governments developed technology to enable a Haden to inhabit a robot body (called a 'threep'). It was a pretty good novel.

This book expands on the Haden concept. A 'sport' has been invented which uses threeps, controlled by Hadens. The sport sounds pretty gruesome, the threeps fight each other with swords and other weapons. The objective of the game is to rip the head of an opponent off and throw it through the goal posts. I'll tell you, that after the exhibition game that is described in the opening of the book, I almost gave up. Games are well attended by non-Haydens, who seem a bit too blood thirsty to me. I stuck with it and was awarded by good dialog between Chris, the FBI agent Hayden and his human partner Vann as they try to determine the cause of the death of a player during the game.

A lot of death and other mayhem follow, involving actual people, but a lot of threeps get damaged along the way. The actual mystery wasn't all that interesting.

Scalzi introduces some ideas here, but doesn't really develop them enough. For example, a recent law cuts off most of the government subsidies for Haydens making it more difficult to afford their care and their threeps. Another is the idea that the technology that allow's Haydens to control threeps could work for non-Haydens as well. If you had the money, why wouldn't you want to do that? Pretty much starts to sound like the plot of the 2015 Bruce Willis movie "Vice". There is an on-line virtual reality world for Haydens as well. "Ready Player One" anyone?

As a police procedural, it was OK, as a visionary novel of the future, it was disappointing. ( )
  capewood | Dec 25, 2018 |
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Hilketa is 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.… (more)

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