Book: Head On – A Novel of the Near Future

To clean my palate after reading Comey’s A Higher Loyalty, I settled onto the couch on Sunday after my run and gobbled up John Scalzi’s Head On: A Novel of the Near Future. It was delicious and I gave it to my partner Ryan McIntyre at dinner last night (he and Katherine are in a nice rhythm of taking care of me Sunday night when Amy is away.)

If you don’t know Scalzi, he’s one of my favorite near-term sci-fi writers and joins a list that includes Hertling, Peper, Gibson, Suarez, Howey, Cline, and Weir. If those names aren’t familiar, and you like sci-fi (or want to get into it) that should keep you busy for a while. If you know those names and have others to add, leave them in the comments for me to enjoy!

Head On is the sequel to Lock In. But it’s a magical sequel (I think the official name for this is a “standalone sequel”, but I find them magical so there) – one that doesn’t require you to read the first book. If you want to quickly get into Scalzi, just read Head On, then go back and read Lock In. This morning, I discovered there is an adjacent book in the series called Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome which I just grabbed.

Here are a few tidbits for you.

Haden’s Syndrome results from a virus where 1% of people exposed become Locked-in and end up in a pseudocoma. The solution, in the near future, is surgery that results in a neural network implant, that connects the person’s brain to the Agora (a virtual world for Haden Syndrome sufferers) as well as a normal-ish existence in personal robotic transports (called Threeps).

Hilketa is a futuristic football-like game, but with swords and hammers. The two teams are made up of threeps and the only players – so far – are Hadens. The goal is to decapitate the “goat” (one of the opposing team’s players, randomly chosen throughout the game) and get it through the goalposts. No one has ever died yet during the game, until about page two of the book.

Just go read it. It’s awesome.

I’ve started training for my next marathon (number 26), which means its time to go running. Hopefully, this one will be a little better than the 5:59:59 last one in South Dakota.


Also published on Medium.