Head On by John Scalzi
Reviewed by Chris, Librarian at Bridgewater Library
John Scalzi, Head On. The sequel to Lock In, starring the same FBI agents from the first book, one of whom has Haden’s Syndrome (which causes the inflicted to be “locked in” to their bodies with a fully functioning brain). In this not-too-distant future, Hadens (the name for those with the syndrome) can transfer their consciousness into androids called “threeps” to function in society.
The premise of Head On is that there is a popular game somewhere between hockey, American football, and ullamaliztli, where Haden-controlled threeps compete in teams to rip the head off of one particular robot and score goals with the head. At the game our agents attend, one of the players’ human bodies goes into a seizure and dies after his threep’s head is removed, and our friends the agents must track down both the how and the why.
The book is a very quick read, almost Dan Brownian in its pace. The plot twists and turns, with betrayals and assassinations and a witness protection cat, and there is a pretty deliberate sequel hook at the end, which is good because I like the characters and annoying because unresolved details annoy me.
While I’m sure the combined might of every single editor at Tor Books tried to stop Scalzi from making this reference, someone very late in the book gets something “applied directly to [their] forehead” and I admit I put the book down for the day when I got to that sentence.