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Lockstep

de Karl Schroeder

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26712100,194 (3.64)13
"When seventeen-year-old Toby McGonigal finds himself lost in space, separated from his family, he expects his next drift into cold sleep to be his last. After all, the planet he's orbiting is frozen and sunless, and the cities are dead. But when Toby wakes again, he's surprised to discover a thriving planet, a strange and prosperous galaxy, and something stranger still--that he's been asleep for 14,000 years. Welcome to the Lockstep Empire, where civilization is kept alive by careful hibernation. Here cold sleeps can last decades and waking moments mere weeks. Its citizens survive for millenia, traveling asleep on long voyages between worlds. Not only is Lockstep the new center of the galaxy, but Toby is shocked to learn that the Empire is still ruled by its founding family: his own. Toby's brother Peter has become a terrible tyrant. Suspicious of the return of his long-lost brother, whose rightful inheritance also controls the lockstep hibernation cycles, Peter sees Toby as a threat to his regime. Now, with the help of a lockstep girl named Corva, Toby must survive the forces of this new Empire, outwit his siblings, and save human civilization"--… (mais)
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Let's start with the obvious and work our way back from that (trust me that sentence is very funny after you read the book). I am not a science person. String theory or time travel is about my limit, everything else inhabits a hazy sort of nebulous region of "Well it sounds plausible". I thought a lot of Star Trek sounded plausible and real so that's the level of scientific gullibility I have. LOCKSTEP requires you to really think about what you're reading--not just the characters or their motivations, but how the world itself is configured.

This isn't a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. Because I had to think so hard to keep in step with what came innately to the characters I felt more immersed in the world. While Schroeder does explain the Lockstep program, the characters themselves (for the most part) live it so they discuss it in the same offhand manner someone discusses chewing gum. The idea, and implementation of, Lockstep is curious and new. Its not just a means of surviving in a universe where worlds crumble and decay so rapidly, its a religion, economic trade, punishment and political.

Toby was a surprise. Toby's family was a surprise, mostly in how that all turned out. The synopsis is being a little disingenuous and taking some of what's going on out of context for Toby's family. Toby was rational, level-headed and did not let his emotions cloud his thinking. Its not that he didn't feel, or he didn't react badly or never made a misjudgement, but he thought about everything before he made a choice. Who to talk to, who to trust, who not to trust. Toby did a lot of thinking even as he was misled.

Toby's family, as you come to find out, is a complicated mess that stems as much from time being almost a play thing as it does from the fact that those involved lack communication almost completely. Small petty things that in time work themselves out are magnified when one person thinks its been a couple months and the other has had years to stew over it. When you can't hash it out with someone it just festers and these people raised it to practically a religion.

This probably isn't a book for everybody. From a anthropological perspective this is fascinating and for hard science fiction fans the tech here is well worth pouring over. Those who don't want to keep notes on who is when and where is when, not to mention the tangled religion that gets worst the further you read, this will probably frustrate them. ( )
  lexilewords | Dec 28, 2023 |
I found the "lockstep" concept of worlds hibernating for years interspersed with weeks of activity fascinating and original, and the family history driving the story is interesting as well. ( )
  abatie | Jul 10, 2021 |
Full disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from Net Galley.

Lockstep is a fantastic, entertaining novel that I find a bit difficult to summarize. The short version is that it will probably appeal to readers of young adult and hard scifi, but existing experience with scifi will definitely help ease the process. Schroeder is most interested in the way developments like cryogenic sleep and interstellar travel might change human society, and he dives deep into almost every aspect of the “lockstep society” he’s created for this novel.

The story kicks off when seventeen-year-old Toby McGonigal goes on a fairly mundane mission to claim an asteroid for his family, who’ve settled on a far-off planet to escape Earth’s corruption. Something goes wrong with Toby’s ship while he is en route, and instead of staying in cryosleep for a short time, he wakes up to discover that a huge amount of time has passed and everything he knows has irrevocably changed. These changes are social, political and extremely personal, and the more we learn about the lockstep society, the more heart-breaking Toby’s story becomes.

The first important thing that Toby learns is that humans colonized hundreds of far-flung worlds thanks to one of his family’s inventions. However, because faster-than-light travel doesn’t exist and most of the colonized worlds are short on natural resources, the only way for the colonies to survive and trade with each other is for every world to go into cryosleep for set periods of time at the same time. While everyone is in cryosleep, ships travel vast distances and limited resources build up enough to keep them alive. In the lockstep society founded by Toby’s family, this means thirty years of cryosleep for every month of time spent awake in real-time or “fast time”.

This leads to Toby’s second discovery, which is that despite the fact that huge amounts of time have passed since he left on his ill-fated trip, some of his immediate family members are still alive. The problem is that they are now infinitely powerful, decades older than when he last saw them, and, much to his surprise, bent on killing him just for existing.

It turns out that while Toby was gone, his family members not only cemented their control over a huge society of hundreds of worlds, but also built up an intricate mythology behind his disappearance. His reappearance in their world threatens their control, and he soon finds himself running from the man and woman he used to call his little brother and sister.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Lockstep is the idea of human civilizations getting out of sync; inside the lockstep society, everything stays the same despite decades spent in cryosleep, while outside societies rise and fall in real-time. Humans slowly become post-human, intergalactic wars destroy entire worlds, and cities build up outside the gates of sleeping locksteps. A constant influx of settlers from outside worlds means that there are people born millennia after Toby now living inside the lockstep society, people who grew up their entire lives hearing about the legendary McGonigal family and their lockstep worlds.

Lockstep definitely has the young protagonist common to the YA genre, and the lockstep world is ultimately a failed utopia, but the hard scifi elements might make it hard to sell as a YA novel, which is probably why it’s not marketed as such. However, I definitely think this book would appeal to YA readers if they’re willing to wrap their head around some fairly complex world-building.

I might recommend it to someone who enjoys books like Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, but wants to read something that plays on a bit bigger canvas. Personally, I really enjoyed reading a book that explored theoretical worlds in such depth, and I highly recommend it. Also, the book definitely wraps up all of its threads at the end and feels like a very solid standalone, but I wouldn’t mind reading another story set in the same universe. ( )
  unsquare | Feb 16, 2021 |
This was a book about time and family and politics, and how all those things can spin out of your control even if you hold on tightly. It was also a fascinating science fiction book about how to create a thriving economy in a universe where faster than light travel doesn't exist: by "wintering over" or putting your entire city or planet into croygenic sleep for decades and staying awake for only a month between sleeps.

I really enjoyed this book. Once I grasped what had happened to the main character--and how the universe he found himself in worked--I kept thinking about time and change and how distance doesn't always make the heart grow fonder and how you really, truly, can't go home again, because home has changed so much you don't recognize it.

If you enjoy that sort of thing, alongside a dose of political maneuvering, some battles, space travel, cute pets, and growing up, then you'll enjoy Lockstep.

(Provided by publisher) ( )
  tldegray | Sep 21, 2018 |
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: A 17-year-old wakes up from cryo sleep to find the world has passed him by as he slept, and his once beloved siblings now want him dead in this intriguing yet ultimately disappointing science fiction novel.

Opening Sentence: Two bright moons chased each other across a butterscotch sky.

The Review:

After entering a hibernated state in order to make a trip to an unnavigated planet, Toby McGonigal wakes up thinking everything is normal. Little does he know his whole life is about to change. When his ship is rescued, Toby discovers that he was asleep for a whopping fourteen thousand years. In that time, the way the world works has completely changed. Apparently, Toby’s mother created something known as a lockstep, where everyone hibernates in a state of cryo sleep for 30 years and then wake up and live their life for a month before entering sleep again. In this way, Toby’s mother figures she can give herself plenty of time to search for Toby. Toby’s brother and sister are now in charge of the government, which would be a good thing, except they’ve put out an execution order on Toby. Now, he has to try and figure out this new world, try to find his mother, and avoid his brother and sister all while keeping his identity a secret. Life may have been a lot less complicated if he had just stayed asleep.

I thought the concept of this book was intriguing. In general, I like science fiction novels, so I was excited to start this one. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite meet my expectations. I’m not sure if I was just too tired when reading, but I had a very hard time following how the various locksteps worked. Anytime a plot point hinged on understanding how the world worked, I found myself incredibly confused, and it just yanked me out of the story. Again, it may have just been my tired brain refusing to work properly enough to understand the nuances of the locksteps, but I had a very hard time.

On top of that, the book starts off very slowly. Part of it has to do with the book needing to take the time to explain how everything works. Probably around the 20 percent mark, when Toby meets some of the main secondary characters, things pick up a bit. It still often feels like not much is going on, but at the halfway point, everything takes off, and it becomes hard to put the book down. The ending comes a bit abruptly though. I think it would have been nice to have just a few more chapters to wrap everything up in a more cohesive manner.

All in all, this book was very up and down. It had an interesting concept that was hard for me to understand, and while there were great moments in the storyline, there were lots of slow moments too. All of this led to an average rating from me. I may check out more from this author, but not in the near future.

Notable Scene:

And suddenly there were tears in his eyes.

Corva hadn’t known anything about Toby’s father. That could only mean one thing: Dad was dead. Funny thing – Toby had spent the past month knowing this as a fact, thinking that Mother was long gone, too, and Peter and Evayne. Suddenly the others were alive again, but Dad wasn’t and somehow that made him . . . more than dead. Corva didn’t even know he’d existed.

He was gone, erased from history, and somehow that was so much worse than his simply having died long ago.

Peter, tyrant of seventy thousand worlds? And Evayne, did she know Toby was alive? Had she agreed with this insane order to have him killed? It was all crazy.

He shuffled his way into the little chamber where Corva now lay like a lifeless doll and climbed into his bag. The denner watched him alertly as he zipped the bag up to his chin. “I’m alone,” he said aloud.

A little furry paw tapped him on the cheek. He turned to find himself staring into two golden eyes. His denner was small enough to be the runt of its litter and as lonely, maybe, as Toby.

Toby brought it into the bag, hugging it against his chest, and began to cry. “You need a name. You can’t go to sleep without a name.” Its purr was becoming hypnotic, and as had happened on the boat, Toby felt an answering vibration start deep within himself.

“It’s gotta be good,” he said sleepily. “Not Blacky or Midnight.” He laughed at himself.

He thought about the gods and heroes of ancient mythology, many of whom had come to virtual life in the games he and Peter played. Which of them had gone between life and death? – A lot of those crazy Greeks, actually. Persephone would be perfect, except that she was a woman and this denner was male. Charon, the boatman of the dead? Too bleak.

The song of the denner was all around him now, and he knew its name.

“You’re Orpheus,” he muttered. Orpheus, the hero whose music was so powerful that he used it to lull all the monsters of the underworld into sleep, allowing him to sneak into the afterlife and steal back his dead wife.

“All right, Orpheus. Let’s go see Hades.”

FTC Advisory: Tor/Macmillan provided me with a copy of Lockstep. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Sep 25, 2016 |
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Karl Schroederautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
McGrath, ChrisArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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"When seventeen-year-old Toby McGonigal finds himself lost in space, separated from his family, he expects his next drift into cold sleep to be his last. After all, the planet he's orbiting is frozen and sunless, and the cities are dead. But when Toby wakes again, he's surprised to discover a thriving planet, a strange and prosperous galaxy, and something stranger still--that he's been asleep for 14,000 years. Welcome to the Lockstep Empire, where civilization is kept alive by careful hibernation. Here cold sleeps can last decades and waking moments mere weeks. Its citizens survive for millenia, traveling asleep on long voyages between worlds. Not only is Lockstep the new center of the galaxy, but Toby is shocked to learn that the Empire is still ruled by its founding family: his own. Toby's brother Peter has become a terrible tyrant. Suspicious of the return of his long-lost brother, whose rightful inheritance also controls the lockstep hibernation cycles, Peter sees Toby as a threat to his regime. Now, with the help of a lockstep girl named Corva, Toby must survive the forces of this new Empire, outwit his siblings, and save human civilization"--

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