Quick, whats worse than a written commentary on sports for somebody who isn’t all that interested in sports? Detailed descriptions of fictional sports. Thankfully, that’s the only major negative point I can come up with about the book, and even then it’s not too drawn out.
The sequel to Scalzi’s 2014 Lock In is a much slighter book, both in terms of size and ambition. The first part had to present an intriguing case while at the same time introduce its unusual world, where a virus locked many people into their bodies and the only way to interact with the outside world was via robots. The main character is both one of those robot-controlling locked-in people (called Hadens) as well as working for the FBI. The case from Lock In was intricately linked to the world-building and highlighted a major development (the US stopped subsidies for anything Haden-related), whose repercussion would be felt even after the case was over.
Head On, a subtle dig at what happens in the next case, is about a uniquely Haden-fronted sport, more murder among Hadens, and yet as intriguing as it is, just doesn’t has the same impact as the first case had. That said, while the sequel is less ambitious, it’s just as enjoyable as the first one. It’s quite short (my e-reader says around 200 pages), written in the usual Scalzi style that is refined dry, amusement even in the tensest situations.
While I dislike description of fictional sports (or sports in general), I did like the whole discussion about how it was financed and how that linked back to the Haden-subsidies cut off in the first part. It’s probably not the part most sports fan care about, but it’s the part I find fascinating, as the whole issue of how leagues or non-team sports are run and financed is more complicated than you would assume.
Also, the Haden-sport in the novel at times feels like an analog for esports, that right now is in a similar position, lots of hype, but few people know about its long-term viability and how to finance it.