Ms Joanne Stagg
John Scalzi’s science-fictional Lock In universe features a world altered by plague. In this world, a highly contagious virus swept the globe, leaving 1% of its victims locked in to their bodies, but fully awake and aware. 25 years after this plague swept the globe, locked in sufferers of “Haden’s Syndrome” access the world through 3 methods: using “threeps,” cyborg bodies into which they upload their consciousness, using human “integrators” who act as living hosts for the locked-in person’s mind for periods of time or in an online alternative reality.
The books straddle two genres: science fiction and whodunnits. In the two novels in the series, Lock In and Head On, the plot centres on a Haden’s Syndrome sufferer and detective, Chris Shane investigating a death involving a Haden’s Syndrome sufferer. The books pose questions about criminal responsibility, humanity and a cyborg future.
Even more, the books break down presumptions of gender, race and ability in a post-apocalyptic cyborg future. When a consciousness rides a robot body or lives online, the Haden’s survivor can be any or no gender, any or no race and simultaneously disabled, othered and super-bodied. In Scalzi’s world, the apocalypse of the Haden’s virus not only created a post-plague world, it also threatens traditional notions of social order, crime and punishment.
Borrowing from Donna Haraway’s notion of the cyborg plus critical feminist and disability theory, this paper will consider the Lock In universe’s post-human cyborg approach to crime, punishment and social order.
Joanne Stagg is a lecturer in the Griffith Law School at Griffith University, in Queensland. In addition to core courses, she teaches Gender and the Law. Her current research interests include issues around law, gender and medicine.