John Scalzi’s latest book, Lock in, is one of those works of science fiction that just seems like a cool story at first, but then as the reader thinks more on it, realizes there’s a lot more going on that says something about our world today and where it’s possibly headed.
It is the near future and a highly contagious virus has swept across the globe. For most of the world population, it is nothing worse than a heavy case of the flu, but for the unlucky one percent, it causes a condition known as “lock in” or “Haden’s syndrome” where victims are fully awake and aware but their bodies are completely paralyzed. But there are “threeps,” mechanical human-looking bodies that these victim’s consciousnesses can be downloaded into and used. Then there are “integrators,” special people who after suffering from the virus who have the ability to have someone’s consciousness downloaded into their minds and have their bodies taken over for a limited time.
The story focuses on rookie FBI agent Chris Shane on his first case with tough partner Leslie Vann, investigating a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel. The victim is also an Integrator which complicates things greatly. In a world where everyone has an opinion about Haden victims and they are about to lose some significant government funding, Shane finds himself involved in a seminal case that will have a great influence on how Haden victims will be seen and viewed by everyone.
Lock in is just good science fiction, with a diverse cast of men and women who feel real, living in a very real world. It forces the reader to question their thoughts and feelings on anyone with a disability. Scalzi poses perhaps the most important thought in the book when there are those looking to “cure” Haden’s syndrome, while Haden victims just want to be accepted into society as fellow people. Science fiction is supposed to make you think and question the status quo and Lock in does this very well.
Best TV Shows:Orange is the New Black, Orphan Black, Key & Peele, Brooklyn Nine Nine Best Books (fiction):The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss, Pines by Blake Crouch, S. by J. J. Abrams, The Martian by Andy Weir Best Books (non-fiction):The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert Best Albums: ‘The Endless River’ by Pink Floyd Best Comic Books / Graphic Novels:Saga Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan, The Wake by Scott Snyder, In Real Life by Cory Doctorow
Alex C. Telander writes the column, Book Report, for Forces of Geek.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
In addition to creating the first fantasy epic, inventing a complete and insanely, thoroughly detailed world, and even making up its own language and alphabet, as well as teaching for decades, the great J. R. R. Tolkien also wrote a translation to the famous epic Old English poem “Beowulf.” Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary edited by his son, Christopher Tolkien, reveals this translation in its entirety for the first time, and so much more.
Tolkien completed his first translation of “Beowulf” in 1926, but he was by no means done with the poem. Over the ensuing years and decades he continued to make changes and updates and lectured greatly on the epic alliterative poem. Christopher Tolkien presents this ideal translation from Tolkien, and then includes his father’s vast commentary painstakingly collected and organized. The book features notes on how Tolkien translated specific words and stanzas with plenty of additional notes. Included are also lectures and lecture notes Tolkien gave on the epic poem. Finally, the great author even penned his own poem (in both modern and Old English) that acts as a precursor to “Beowulf” as a sort of fairytale written in the same style, but not within the history.
Compared to Seamus Heaney’s very well known and popular translation of the same poem, Tolkien goes for a much more literal adaptation, where some of the moving alliteration is perhaps lost, but the true sense of the poem and the meaning the author or authors were intending is possibly better comprehended. With the description and vocabulary, Tolkien does a great job of making the reader feel as if they are there at Heorot with Beowulf and Hrothgar and the comitatus. He uses an older language of “doths” and “thines” because of the time he is writing in, but also to give a sense of age to the poem, which can be a helping or a hindrance for the reader. Nevertheless, Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf is a very welcome one that will be enjoyed by many and likely taught and studied in future medieval and Old English classes to come.