Written By: John Scalzi
Published by: Tor Books
Reviewed by: Shannon Allen
Head On is an interesting take on the possibilities of our own relationship with not only our human connectivity by also our cyber one. The story starts off with a news report detailing the death of sports star Duane Chapman. Now, Duane is not your run of the mill sport star, he is a Haden who plays the violent sport of Hilketa. So even though millions watched him cease to exist, no one saw him die.
Enter FBI investigator Chris Shane. The one person who can bring perspective and experience to this case. Like Duane Chapman he is a Haden, a person who suffers from Haden’s syndrome, a disease that leaves your mind alive and active, but your body is nothing more than a locked in shell. Their only way to navigate the world is through neural implants that allow them to control an AI unit called a Threep. There are advantages to being a Haden but also disadvantages which becomes all to clear to Shane. As a reader, you fell like you are taken along on the FBI ride along with Shane and his partner Leslie Vann, to investigate the not so clear-cut death of Duane Chapman. With each page you are pulled further into a world of sport and the ultimate of wearable tech where they uncover more questions than answers. You are left turning the next page to find out what twist or turn will be reveled only to find you can’t put the book down until the last page.
Head On is a novel that takes you down the hallways of one possiblity of “what if”. It address’s the sport fan culture, the ethics of business and the dynamics of relationships. It is a rollercoaster of action and detection in a world that could very well be ours in the not to distant future. This novel is a wonderful hybrid, like it’s characters, of murder mystery and science fiction. To label Head On would be a great disservice to the story and John Scalzi.