Imagine the world overrun by a mysterious new disease called “Haden’s syndrome.” For most who contract it, it’s no worse than a nasty case of the flu. But a small percentage of its victims become “locked in”: completely paralyzed, but also completely conscious. That’s a prospect that’s pretty damn close to the worst-case scenario for many, and it serves as the launching-off point for John Scalzi’s recent novel Lock In, which has only been out for around a month but is already in development as a potential TV series.
Published in August by Tor, Scalzi’s Lock In picks up a quarter century after Haden’s syndrome swept across the planet, long enough for society to have adjusted to the new reality the virus imposes. One of the more unusual of those changes is the existence of “integrators” — people with the ability to allow the locked in to borrow their bodies and go for a joy ride. But when two FBI agents are assigned to investigate a murder that involves an Integrator, you begin to realize how difficult upholding the law would become in a world where the person committing the crime might not be the original owner of the body.
Variety reports that Legendary TV has grabbed up the rights to Lock In and are developing it as a pilot. There are no details as to creative talent yet, but it’s definitely a concept that has lots of potential. Even aside from the specific mystery storyline at the heart of the novel, Lock In introduces a fascinating world that poses all manner of philosophical and ethical questions, questions which could easily sustain a series if done right.
Writer John Scalzi made a name for himself with his Hugo-nominated Old Man’s War series, not to mention a rather excellent blog. His star has only continued to rise in recent years, with Scalzi finally taking home a Hugo for his 2012 novel Redshirts. He also served as president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and as a creative consultant on Stargate Universe. His Whatever blog is endlessly readable, especially his ongoing “Big Idea” feature.
There’s been something of a run on his back catalog recently, with Redshirts in development as a limited series for FX and Syfy adapting his Old Man’s War books as part of the network’s rekindled interest in actual science fiction. I haven’t read Lock In yet, but I’m a huge Scalzi fan, so I’ll be keeping the project in my sights for sure. Let’s just hope it doesn’t wind up on Fox.