Lockstep

Category: Novel
Page count: 351
Language: English
Author: Karl Schroeder
Publisher: Tor
Year of publication: 2014
ISBN: 978-0-7653-3726-9
Toby McGonigal wakes up from hibernation and apparently a whole lot of time has passed by and there are whole civilizations based upon hibernation technologies first pioneered by his family. These societies live in lockstep, harvesting resources for thirty years while everybody is sleeping, and spending them all in the span of a month. To other human societies, these lockstep cities and worlds are the stuff of legend, a bit like old stories about the fairies. This system simulates faster than light travel by having everybody sleep while people travel from one planet to another, enabling interplanetary trade and civilization. Will 17-year old Toby find friends to cope with this bizarre environment? Young adult novel ensues.

Review
The lockstep idea is really interesting and I bet there will be plenty of other writers to explore its possibilities.
- The novel relies on a series of unspoken assumptions, the first of which is that a whole lockstep civilization can survive thirty years of various historical, geological and astronomical events unscathed. There are workarounds - for example, the 360/1 lockstep could have made symbiotic deals with other lockstep civilizations, everybody watching the others while they sleep. But really -in this future, is there no violent species or civilization that would be glad to invade sleeping worlds?
- Ever since Timothy Leary had cryonic suspension enter into the public consciousness, there has been no shortage of people who wanted to be cryopreserved, if that is really a thing. Let's imagine a world where the 1% decide to skip the next two hundred years, leaving only enforcer bots in charge and teeming masses of scientists working tirelessly to revive them. The world would be ruled by dead people waiting to be revived and made immortal.
- Let's say you are old and lonely. You could skip time between visits from your relatives. Just be alive when your children come and visit you. Yes, that is creepy.

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