Head On: A Novel of the Near Future
Tor, 2018 (2018)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
ou can always count on John Scalzi for SF novels that are both thought-provoking and entertaining. I especially enjoyed his hilarious
Old Man's War
, prequel to
, was a combination of near future techno-thriller and murder mystery, with a unique and appealing lead, Rookie FBI agent Chris Shane.
hris is one of many that a pandemic left
to their bodies, their voluntary nervous systems paralysed (Haden's Syndrome). Technology allows them to interact with a virtual
and (through robotic bodies, Personal Transports or
) the real world. More than four hundred million died in the pandemic. Also, brain changes left a small number able to act as Integrators, allowing the
temporary use of their bodies, for a fee. Chris is partnered with Agent Vann, who was an Integrator before she joined the Bureau.
his second episode centers on a widely popular new game, Hilketa, at which Hadens excel. Think football where '
the point of the game is to rip the head off a selected opponent and then toss or carry it through a goal at the end of the field.
' All the players use threeps and feel only mild pain, so there should be no serious injuries. As
opens, though, journeyman Hilketa athlete Duane Chapman dies during a game, and Chris and his tough senior partner (who has attitude in spades) investigate.
s before, Chris goes through expensive Personal Transports steadily during his investigation - one in a burning building, another when his apartment is attacked, and one run over by a car - making him unpopular with his superiors. The investigation involves '
Two suspicious deaths, one apartment fire, a yanked data stream, an interviewee bolting, a cat with a data vault for a collar, and kinky threeps galore.
' Tons of fun along with the mystery.
f course Chris and Vann do solve it and even catch their villain, though that's a close call that requires serious hacking to succeed. I look forward to more as I enjoy every word that Scalzi writes, including his Acknowledgement that ascribes the delay in finishing this episode to the fact that '
2017 was a raging trash fire of a year, filled with horrible people trying to do horrible things and often succeeding.
' Hear, hear!
Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.
Find more SF books on our
or in our book