I’ve read quite a bit of Scalzi’s work over the last year or so. Starting with Old Man’s War and the rest of the series.
I loved it, particularly Zoe’s Tale. So when I found Unlocked, the prequel to Lock In free online, I devoured it. And couldn’t wait to get my hands on the actual book.
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The prequel is about the situation that results in Lock In – a situation in which people can’t move their bodies, but their minds are still active.
The novel is different. It’s kind of a buddy cop story, and in some ways the Lock in aspect of it feels almost incidental. Echoes of Asimov’s early robot books, with the Elijah Baley character in particular. (Although I think even in the first one, he’s a lot older.) That’s what it made me think of though, I’m not sure why. It’s a very long time since I’ve read Asimov, but I loved those novels.
All in all, while Lock in was good, definitely ripping yarn detective (slightly political conspiracy) SF, going along at a breakneck pace, I actually preferred the prequel novella which had time to explore the concepts in a more involved way. Scalzi is big on action – I’d love to see a bit more reflection on some of the ideas thrown up along the way, as they are often fascinating, but there seems to be little time to really dig in. Maybe some more of these novellas alongside the bit hit fiction will be the way to go, I’m seeing more and more authors doing this sort of thing, given how easy it is to publish to an audience via the web.
I think this is good for us all. More material for readers to get their teeth into. More space for authors to explore their ideas without the commercial aspects having quite so much say. Building a more involved fan base along the way, as it’s easy to share the free stuff online, instead of having to chase someone down in person with a book they *must* read.
What do you think, is free material good all round? Or are authors being devalued by having to give stuff away free in order to build an audience? Is this alright for a big name like Scalzi, but just another way to hurt a struggling author?
Alongside that question, I’d love to see more authors with things like Flattr on their website. It’s a micro payments system. You can load it up with the cost of a coffee, and then connect it to various services, so that when you want to, instead of just liking, you can flattr. A plan perhaps?
Just a thought.
I’ve love to hear about your reading, so if you’d like to link up this week’s books, please do.