Cover Reveal: Lock In

Hey, look! It’s the cover to my next novel!

I really like this cover, which I think captures the feel of the book, a near-future thriller involving a disease that causes people to be “locked in” inside their own bodies (I could tell you more, but… no). The art design is once again by Peter Lutjen, who made the cover of Redshirts so memorable.

For those curious, the current scheduled release date for the novel is August 26, 2014. And yes, it’s the one I’m currently writing and which I hope to have done by the end of the month. One of the nice things about having a cover for it already is that I feel like the book actually exists, and now all it’s doing is waiting around for me to add in my bit. I’m on it, guys.

Update: Over at, Tor art director Irene Gallo offers some behind-the-scenes pictures of the production of the cover. Whoa.

75 Comments on “Cover Reveal: Lock In”

  1. Job well done by Peter Lutjen, I’d be curious about the story even if I didn’t see your name on the cover.

  2. Tasha Turner Lennhof:

    There’s catalog text out there, but it’s purposefully vague. Let me finish writing the book, then I will let you know what it’s about.

  3. Michael J. Martinez – the Garden State – Husband, father, writer, homebrewer, half-decent cook, pretty good barbequer, avid traveler, and interested in far too many strange and disparate topics. Most recently, a science-fiction/fantasy author!
    Michael J. Martinez

    Very compelling. A bit creepy, even. It’ll stand out well on the shelves. Kudos to Peter for a sweet cover!

  4. Great cover art!

    As for the content…well, “Locked-In Syndrome” is a real thing, and one of my personal nightmares. A disease that causes it? I think I would kill myself if there were cases on my continent, to avoid the possibility of getting it and not being able to kill myself.

    So I dunno. Might be too scary for me. I’m pretty sure you’re not writing it as a horror novel, but it might be one for me.

  5. Damn you, John Scalzi, I think you just created a new phobia for me! Actually, it’s related to my phobia of being conscious, but appearing comatose to the outside world. Fark. It sounds awesome, but I know reading it will be detrimental to my ability to not be constantly scared.

  6. There is an disease called ‘locked in’ disease. I take it this comes from that. There was a novel written by a french journalist who had it. He could only blink his eyes. So he had someone write down the letters. he would blink to represent letters. It was turned into a movie. The disease is horrifying. You can’t move, but you can feel everything. So if you get an itch, you can’t scratch it and its near impossible to tell anyone. Its worse than being parapalegic or being locked in an underground prison.

    sounds interesting john.

  7. Guess it’s up to me to wear the Internet Grammar Pedant hat today… how about ‘Hugo Award-winning author’? The hyphen, man, it’s so overlooked…

  8. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang (A Ding A Dang Dang) Terhune


  9. Donna Leonard – Southern California – I like to write, read, knit, crochet, watch movies, watch way too much television, listen to music and play Drawsomething 2 somewhat obsessively, not necessarily in that order. You can find my irregular blog at: 3 kids: Twenty-three-year-old boy/girl twins, and a thirteen-year-old girl. 3 cats: fourteen-year-old female, three-year-old female, and a two-year-old male
    Donna Leonard

    Love the cover. Scary premise, preying on some of our worst fears.

  10. scifireviewsandgiveaways – I’m a decade long veteran of the for-profit and non-profit publishing industries. I’m the owner and editor-in-chief of this website, and I still do freelance editing for businesses and authors of all stripes.

    Reblogged this on sci fi reviews & giveaways and commented:
    I’m so glad… finally something for new release in sci fi besides the same old thing…space operas, time travel…with no extra juice. “Thriller.” I”m thrilled!

  11. Meh. Got it off Pirate Bay and read it already. Not your best work. But keep writing and I’m sure it will be a hit in some alternate future universe, from which Amazon will gladly sell me a “used” eBook copy without paying you any royalties in any universe because silly you, you didn’t insist on an “alternate universe/time travel” clause in your contract. Guess it’s time for your once and future agent to pony up the $$ for that time machine. It’ll pay for itself after just a few novels. Good luck with the writing! (And maintaining the illusion of free will.)

  12. ottojschlosser: Guess it’s up to me to wear the Internet Grammar Pedant hat today…

    First, you’re right about the hyphen. But second…I don’t think it should be a hat, do you? I think it should be a medallion. This will confuse the masses and allow you…well, OK, us…to show off our superior knowledge!

    Andrew: I don’t think it should be a gauntlet, do you? :-)

  13. Oh, John, John. You don’t know me as well as I wish you did.

    The books I own but haven’t read are a very small set indeed (and are mostly gifts from misguided relatives, the middle book of a trilogy, things like that). None of them, not one, says “Scalzi” on the cover. I expect this to remain the case (except for the brief interval between buying a book and voraciously consuming it).

    Also, my current economic situation makes this unlikely. I will consider it should things change, however.

  14. I love that, probably enough to get me to buy the hardcover version instead of the ebook. How much input do you give on these covers? Or do you just trust the artist completely and let them do their thing?

  15. Or Hugo(hyphen)Award(en dash)Winning Author…

    I keep thinking of Marcia Muller’s Locked In in which her series detective Sharon McCone is shot and develops locked-in syndrome, which they can’t fix, until they can. ?!? (Been reading the series for decades…)

  16. Looking forward to it. Unfortunately, I need to wait 10 months. The odds are I will love it, since the only Scalzi novel I didn’t like is The God Engines.

    On a different topic, my mother used to get “locked in” for several hours when she would be given certain pain medications in the hospital. She appeared to be in a coma, but could see and hear everything around her.

  17. Kerry – Hello! I grew up in Portland, OR and now live in London. I am an editor and I enjoy travel, history and beer.

    It’s made me want to read the book while having zero idea of what it’s about, so…cover success?

  18. Might be too scary for me too. Xopher and I can not-read it together. Great cover, though.

    Is “fixing locked-in syndrome” one of the 101 Uses For a Dead Goat?

  19. I think I’m glad I’m not the only one who is afraid of your new book. It is definitely hitting a very basic nerve.

  20. A scary premise and a disturbing (in a good way, of course!) cover make for feverish anticipation. To say I’m looking forward to this book is the understatement of the year – or maybe of the century… :)

  21. I don’t wanna know what it’s about… yet. Just let me know when it is between the covers… or available on Nook… whichever comes first.. because: Intrigued by the cover.*

    *that ol’ BS statement about not judging a book by its cover? meeeeeeeeeeeeeh… sometimes yes.. sometimes no. More than once, a cover has gotten me hooked into a book I normally would have not picked up. Nice art adds to the experience.. at least for this hick.

  22. Tor already has a cover for a book you haven’t finished writing? They must have a lot of confidence in your ability to deliver on deadline – which is a good reputation for a writer to have :)

  23. @Xopher:

    The books I own but haven’t read are a very small set indeed

    A quote I use a lot is “Who wants a library full of books you’ve already read?” Interestingly*, I couldn’t remember the source, went to Google it just now, and found it attributed to both Harlan Ellison and Ray Bradbury.

    *Not really that interestingly.

  24. My mother-in-law has ALS. 3 years ago she was a vigorous 59 year old who took daily long hikes, played piano professionally, and never stopped moving from the time she was awake until she fell into bed after each absurdly productive day. Now she’s confined to a wheelchair. Can’t move any of her limbs. Is, at this point, nearly impossible to understand when she attempts to speak. She’s unable to do any little thing for herself. It’s a horror story — dignity becomes something you have to use all your willpower to cling to. And I can imagine that treating this subject with compassion is a real struggle for a writer.

  25. Ooooh, ahhhh, cover art eye candy :)

    Does the disease paralyze the voluntary muscles the way curare poisoning does or does it attack the motor cortex the way seizures sometimes do? Is the person with key knowledge to finding a cure locked in? Since my dad’s side of the family is prone to certain diseases of the nervous system, though not that one, I find neurological thrillers both fascinating and haunting.

  26. Ummm… I dunno. Doesn’t really seem to catch my eye or attention. To me, it’s a “meh” cover. I seem to be an exception, though.

  27. brucearthurs:

    You’re not alone, I’m not crazy about the cover either. But since I get almost all new books as ebooks these days, it won’t be much on my radar.

  28. Are the red people supposed to represent the locked-in? Because their are an order of magnitude too many, The description says 1% are locked in, but 7 out of 56 are red, or 12.5% (if I did the math right). Catchy cover though.

  29. It seems like a lot of people are interpreting this title rather literally. Given the sci-fi angle, this could be something different. Consiousness transfer related, perhaps?

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