A new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. For most of those infected, it's just a few days of fever and misery. But for the unlucky one percent—millions of people in the US alone—the disease causes "lock in": Victims are fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to anything. "Lock in" syndrome strikes the young and the old, the rich and the poor, people of every color and kind. A quarter of a century later, in a world shaped by what's now known as"Haden's syndrome," rookie FBI agent Chris Shane and veteran agent Leslie Vann are assigned to what appears to be a Haden-related murder. The suspect is an "Integrator"—someone who can let the locked-in borrow their bodies for a time. As Shane and Vann begin to unravel the threads of the murder, it becomes clear that the real mystery—and the real crime—is bigger than anyone could have imagined. Their investigation will take them from the halls of power to the virtual spaces of the locked-in, and to the very heart of an emerging, surprising new human culture.
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Scalzi was born in California and spent his childhood there, primarily in the Los Angeles suburbs of Covina, Glendora and Claremont. Scalzi went to high school with noted blogger Josh Marshall; both were members of the class of 1987. After his stint at The Webb Schools of California, Scalzi attended The University of Chicago, where he was a classmate of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Auburn. Scalzi's thesis advisor, for a brief time, was Saul Bellow. Scalzi abandoned his course of study with Bellow when he became Student Ombudsman for the University. During his 1989–1990 school year Scalzi was also the editor-in-chief of The Chicago Maroon. After graduating in 1991, Scalzi took a job as the film critic for the Fresno Bee newspaper, eventually also becoming a humor columnist. In 1996 he was hired as the in-house writer and editor at America Online and moved to Sterling, Virginia, with his wife, Kristine Ann Blauser, whom he had married in 1995. He was laid off in 1998, and since then he has been a full-time freelance writer and author. In 2001 Scalzi, his wife, and their daughter, Athena Marie, who was born in 1998, moved to Bradford, Ohio, to be closer to family. On 15 March 2007, Scalzi announced himself as a write-in candidate for president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, citing disagreement with the only ballot-listed candidate's vision for the future of the organization. He was not elected.