by John Scalzi
Tor, Scientific American and Tor are Affiliates, 2014 (($24.99))
In this near-future murder mystery, a virus has swept the world, causing some who are infected to be “locked in” to their bodies—unable to talk, move or respond to stimuli but nonetheless aware. Technology that is developed in response to the crisis allows the afflicted to mentally inhabit robotic bodies, leaving their paralyzed human shells behind. The technology grants those locked in special powers, such as the ability to move instantly from a robotic body in one location to another far away, as well as to participate in a rich virtual-reality environment created just for them. Scalzi's tale explores whether, in those circumstances, being locked in is still a disability and whether it should be cured, among other questions of technology, ethics and politics.
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For more recommendations and an interview with author John Scalzi, go to ScientificAmerican.com/nov2014/recommended