Hilketa is a violent pastime where players attack each other with swords and hammers. The main goal of the game: obtain your opponent’s head and carry it through the goal posts. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible. But all the players are “threeps,” robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden’s Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real and the crowds love it. Until an up-and-coming athlete drops dead on the field. Is it an accident or murder? FBI for Hadens affairs agents Chris Shane and Leslie Vann are called in to uncover the truth—and in doing so travel to the darker side of Hilketa, where fortunes are made or lost, and where players and owners do whatever it takes to win.
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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.