Lock In




Chris Shane goes through Threeps as often as most people change clothes!


AudioFile Best Voices – Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Audio Theater, 2014
A blazingly inventive near-future thriller from the best-selling, Hugo Award-winning John Scalzi.
Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever, and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent – and nearly five million souls in the United States alone – the disease causes “Lock In”: Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.
A quarter of a century later, in a world shaped by what’s now known as “Haden’s syndrome”, rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is paired with veteran agent Leslie Vann. The two of them 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.
BONUS AUDIO: Audible’s audio edition of Lock In contains the bonus novella, Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome, written by John Scalzi and narrated by a full cast.
“I love working with Audible, in no small part because they’re committed to doing what’s right, both for my books, and the people who listen to those books. There’s a really excellent reason for Lock In to have two entirely different versions, so when it came time to make the audiobook, Audible did an ingenious thing: they asked both Wil Wheaton and Amber Benson to record entire versions of the book. As the author, I’m impressed with Audible’s commitment to my narrative – and I’m geeking out that both Wil and Amber are reading my book. This is fantastic.” (John Scalzi)
2 editions. 2 narrators. 1 thrilling story. You can enjoy Amber Benson’s narration here.
©2014 John Scalzi (P)2014 Audible Inc.


It is 25 years since the disease known as Haden’s Syndrome has swept the globe, cost over 400 million people their lives and changed the world forever. Chris Shane is a ‘Haden’ who is in the condition known as ‘Lock In’ wherein he is alive, but his human body is not much more than a shell for his consciousness. He functions as many Haden’s do, through the use of personal transports known as Threeps.
Chris is the son of a very successful basketball player who is now considering a run for Senate. He is also a rookie FBI agent, and on his first day on the job he’s paired with his new partner Leslie Vann. Vann is a former Integrator, someone who is able to allow Hadens to share their body so that they might experience the types of human sensations that Threeps cannot provide.
Shane and Vann must unravel a case in which three people who were Integrators have recently been killed. Given the small number of Integrators that exist and connections to one another that Shane and Vann discover during their investigation, it becomes clear that something much bigger and far more sinister is going on.
‘Lock In’ is part Science Fiction with the ability to transmit your conscious thought into a Threep or Integrator approaching something close to what we would call the Singularity. It is also part police procedural with agents Shane and Vann working for the FBI’s Hadens division and trying to solve the puzzle of whom is behind a wave of crime.
‘Lock In’ presents us with a main character that we must think of in an entirely different way than we are used to. In the case of Chris Shane, it is all about his personality and nothing to do with physical characteristics. Shane goes through several Threeps throughout the story including damage done to four of them. This means that his physical appearance is never set in stone outside of his actual Haden’s effected body which never leaves the home of his parents.
Thankfully, Shane has a personality that makes him easy to like. He is wealthy by birth but is generally very humble. He is heroic and caring but is also tough and sarcastic. Chris Shane remains the same throughout the story despite changing Threeps as often as some people change outfits.
The police procedural aspect of the story is quite conventional, which makes for a nice balance with the more imaginative and sometimes complicated elements of science fiction. It calls for good detective work and dot connecting on the part of Shane and Vann, but it also has elements typical of more modern day cyber crime cases.
The ultimate bit of familiarity, though, comes from one undeniable truth. Even in a world that has been devastated by a horrible illness, a world that worked hard to provide Hadens with some semblance of normal lives, there are still those people driven by greed and willing to profit off of the misfortune of others. The greed consumes them to the point that they are even willing to orchestrate that misfortune if that is what is necessary.


I like what John Scalzi has manged to do in ‘Lock In’. He has created a world that exists in a future that is not too far away from where we are now, and that serves to provide the science fiction elements of the story. At the same time, he is telling a traditional police procedural that works with the science fiction elements he has provided. This makes for an imaginative scenario that still manages to feel comfortable and familiar to fans of police procedurals. Scalzi should be commended for doing such a good job of blending the two genres and staying true to both of them.


Wil Wheaton does a good job with the reading. I don’t know if I can easily explain what I mean, but to me Wil’s normal speaking voice is absolutely perfect for the story itself and the general tone the author uses to tell it. Audible was right on the money when they selected him as the male narrator.
He does put a lot of acting into his performance, making sure to do things like sigh when that’s what the scene calls for. Usually, breathing on a track is bad, but not when it is done because that is what the situation calls for.


The production is an outstanding piece of work. This is mostly due to the inclusion of the bonus novel ‘Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome’ which is well put together and features a full cast of many well known audiobook narrators. Truly a nice touch.
There are music cues to open and close the book but otherwise no music or other sound effects are used on the track. Chapter stops appear at the beginning of each book chapter as well as each part of the bonus novel.


It might take a bit of time to fully understand the way the world of ‘Lock In’ is supposed to work. How do Hadens interact with Threeps? What can an Integrator do and how is that different from a Threep? Even so, once you get used to the concepts, the story moves at a nice pace and does not overstay it’s welcome.
I am a big fan of when genres such as Science Fiction and Police Procedural come together and is done correctly. ‘Lock In’ is done correctly from the story itself to Wil Wheaton’s performance and Audible’s production.
A sequel to ‘Lock In’ is in the works. It will be fun to enter into a world of Threeps, Integrators, Leslie Vann and Chris Shane for a second time.


Title Author Narrator Publisher Genre Release Date Running Time Score
Lock In John Scalzi Wil Wheaton Audible Studios Science Fiction 08/26/2014 9 hours, 57 minutes 8.5/10


A second version of ‘Lock In’ narrated by Amber Benson is also available.

A copy of ‘LOCK IN’ was purchased from Audible for review.

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