Unlocked potential

Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome (Lock In, #0.5)
by John Scalzi 

I have a bad track record with Scalzi. The Collapsing Empire was ok-ish (my review), although I considered a DNF at the time. And I only finished Redshirts (my review) with a lot of skimming. So Scalzi is not on my list of wanted authors. Unlocked came as part of a free collection, otherwise I would not have picked it up.

A 63-page novella that tells the story of a pandemic, about a virus that locks people‘s minds in their bodies. I am not quite sure if it‘s really a prequel to Lock In or more of a companion piece that should be read after the novel. I have not read the novel yet and the story worked well for me.

I am a fan of stories building up to the apocalypse (and set during it), so this was right down my alley. Despite not usually liking the epistolary form. Here it worked well. Ok, it‘s not really an apocalyptic story, but it seems to be at first. Society and the world as we know them do not really end. But there is massive change and a high death toll.

I liked this. Not a lot of character development, which would be hard in the shortness of this novella and the amount of interviewees telling their stories in short paragraphs. The voices are interchangeable and I only managed to keep track of two or three of them. The world building was fine though. It was clear what was going on and the societal implications were portrayed in a captivating way. Heck, I wanted to be a Haden at the end.

I will check out the novel. Scalzi finally struck a nerve. I would have read this in one sitting, if I hadn‘t been so tired.

PS: Apparently I just read a novella through the viewpoint of a lenticular lens. You learn something new every day…

And here is the story for free on Tor.com.