Monday, April 23, 2018

Head On (Lock In #2), by John Scalzi (author), Wil Wheaton (narrator)

Audible Studios, April 2018

Chris Shane, FBI agent and most famous Haden (survivor of Haden syndrome, "locked in" to their own body and navigating the world in robot bodies, "threeps"), is attending a hiketta game with their parents. The Shanes are billionaires, only in part because Marcus Shane was a star NBA player.

[We continue to get no hint of Chris's gender, and if you get the audiobook, you can choose between Wil Wheaton or Amber Benson as the narrator. I chose Wheaton because I like him as a narrator, but those who choose Benson seem equally pleased.]

Hilketta is a quite violent sport really only possible with threeps, because the teams score points by tearing off the heads of opposing players and moving the head through the goalposts. The league wants to expand and needs new investors, and Marcus Shane has been approached as a potential investor who would bring both money and good PR. This is the last pre-season game between the Boston Bays and...I don't remember. What can I say; even in a fictional sport, it's the Boston team that matters to me! And near the end of the game, Dwayne Chapman, a Bays utility player, has his head torn off for the third time in that game--and dies. This is not just unusual, but unheard of, because of course Chapman's physical body isn't even there. It was his threep's head that was torn off.

And then, at least as strange, the league deletes the entire feed of Chapman's bio data from the "Haden view" that the league sells to any interested fan for $30 a pop.

Chris and their partner, Leslie Vann, start out suspecting some form of fraud, and soon find themselves investigating multiple murders and a much bigger conspiracy than they had thought possible. The passage of the Abrams-Kettering law has made threeps too expensive for many Hadens who don't already have extremely good incomes, and the makers of them need a different kind of market. The hilketta league is also marginal economically, unless something changes.

There's business intrigue, international intrigue, and romantic intrigue involved, and bureaucratic conflicts inside the FBI as the cherry on It's complicated, absorbing, and filled with compelling characters who continue to grow and develop.

Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook.