September 17, 2014

I'm Falling in Love with John Scalzi's Lock In

Yeah. You read that right. I'm falling - hard - for a brand new sci-fi thriller, penned by none other than John Scalzi (of the Old Man's War series and Hugo-award winning Redshirts).

But it may not be for the reasons you expect.


Sure, the story is fun and exciting. Sure, the sci-fi tech is accessible even to an English major like me. And sure, I love the idea of characters who've become "locked in," thanks to a disease that shuts down their nervous systems but not their thought/communication processes (hey all you Ice Bucket Challengers - this part will interest you!!!). It's only through human "Integrators" or mechanical "Threeps" that these characters are able to communicate and live semi-normal lives, and it's INTERESTING.

But nope. Those aren't the reasons I'm falling so hard for this book.

A big part of the reason is this: there are two characters, Jim Buchold and Rick Wisson, who are MARRIED. Yep. You got it. Two guys, married.

And here's the BEST part, the part that makes me love this book so damn much I want to squeeze it: in this book, this lovely little sci-fi novel, the fact that Jim and Rick (two dudes) are married is absolutely NO BIG DEAL!

YES!!!!!!!

A gay, married couple, treated JUST LIKE ANY OTHER CHARACTERS!!! They're introduced as guests at a dinner party, and it goes something like this: one guy introduces himself to the main character as the other guy's husband. The main character....doesn't even comment. It's just a fact, like any other fact at that dinner party. Far more interesting than the fact that Rick and Jim are married is the discussion around the plight of people infected by Haden's, the disease causing the locked in phenomena.

Jim and Rick are not the phenomena. Not at all. They're just two guys at the party.

Later, when something bad happens to Jim's business (I'm trying hard not to give spoilers here), we see Rick make Jim a drink, just like any other loving spouse would do. When Jim doesn't drink it, Rick does instead, just like any other loving spouse would do. They're not treated any differently than any other married couple in any other book.

Look. This may not seem Earth-shattering, but it is. There are a lot of books out these days with LGBT characters. In many of them, a character's being LGBT becomes a central theme of the work. And that's good. In fact, that's great! We need to discuss these issues! It's important!

But perhaps just as important is providing characters that are LGBT, and NOT making their sexuality central to the story. By letting LGBT characters become a part of the landscape, no different from anyone else in the supporting cast, Scalzi is making a huge statement. "Hey, world, this is normal. This is no big deal. This is how we SHOULD be treating LGBT people IN REAL LIFE."

I love it. So much it hurts.

(Of course, I'm only about a third of the way into the book. LGBT themes may come into play later on. Rick and Jim might be the bad guys! I have no idea! If that becomes the case, I'll update this post, I promise. But from what I know of Scalzi and his politics, gleaned from years of reading his blog, I don't think that'll be the case.)

(Don't forget - I'm a slow reader. It may take me another full week to reach the end. So don't wait around today, expecting an update.)

But yes. Please! Go buy Lock In, and support the idea that having a gay, married couple in your sci-fi novel should be treated as NO BIG DEAL! Because YES! LOVE! EQUALITY! HOORAY!

****

UPDATE:

I finished Lock In, and I'm still in love. It was a fun read, it spoke my language (code, patches, software, hardware - years in the software industry have taken their toll on me and I love to see that world in fiction), and the ending was completely satisfying.

Was it the best thing I've ever read? Maybe not, but still, it was super-fun. I highly recommend it, especially to all my old software buddies out there!

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