The people have spoken. Of the 401 respondents, 202 (50%) believe that John Scalzi’s next novel is not going to rip off Heinlein, Piper, Dick, or Star Trek, but someone entirely new. Only 11 (3%) thought that he’d return to ripping off H. Beam Piper, while 23 naive Scalzi fans (6%) genuinely believe he’s going to publish something entirely new and original. That would certainly be interesting; should that unlikely future come to pass, I might even consider reading it myself.
I happened to think the majority is wrong. I assume he would publish a Midnight Star tie-in novel. But as it happens, I was wrong, as unbeknownst to most of us who don’t pay anywhere nearly as much attention to McRapey as some would assume we do, we already had our answer: LOCK IN
Fifteen years from now, a new virus sweeps the globe. 95% of those afflicted experience nothing worse than fever and headaches. Four per cent suffer acute meningitis, creating the largest medical crisis in history. And one percent find themselves “locked in”—fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to Stimulus.
One per cent doesn’t seem like a lot. But in the United States, that’s 1.7 million people “locked in” …including the President’s wife and daughter. Spurred by grief and the sheer magnitude of the suffering, America undertakes a massive scientific initiative. Nothing can restore to the “locked in” the ability to control their own bodies. But two new technologies emerge. One is a virtual reality environment, “The Agora,” in which the locked-in can interact with other humans, both locked-in and not. The other is the discovery that a few rare individuals have brains that are receptive to being controlled by others, meaning that from time to time, those who are locked in can “ride” these people and use their bodies as if they were their own.
This skill is quickly regulated, licensed, bonded, and controlled. Nothing can go wrong. Certainly nobody would be tempted to misuse it, for murder, for political power, or worse…
I can’t remember who wrote it, but apparently the answer is either James Cameron or the guy who wrote the book about rich people riding the bodies of poor people renting them out. Anyone remember the name of that one?