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Lockstep: A Novel Hardcover – March 25, 2014
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Top Customer Reviews
Way back in time in the Lockstep universe, Earth was controlled by the super-rich. In order to escape that highly stratified world, Toby McGonigal’s family buys Sedna (a real recently discovered trans-Neptunian planetoid smaller than Pluto’s moon) and sets up an independent colony. While there, Toby, the eldest child, is sent to claim one of Sedna’s moon’s and accidentally goes into suspended animation, only to wake 14, 000 years later. Soon after he had disappeared, going into “sleep” (“wintering over”) became standard practice on Sedna—the colonists would sleep for year—using up no precious resources while robots did whatever was necessary to mine/grow/process/manufacture, etc.—and when the people woke up, they’d live a good month consuming resources, trading, and so forth, then go back to sleep. Eventually this became the typical fashion for colonizing and maintaining the new worlds—everyone would be on the same “lockstep’” cycle of wintering over (for decades by now), waking and “living”, then wintering over again. This way you could travel to another planet in sleep, arrive, stay in orbit, then wake when they do, and it would be as if it took you a mere day out of your life. The system cleverly obviates the need for FTL technology.Read more ›
But that is not this book.
What we have is an intelligent, well written, and thoroughly grounded hard sci fi with a surprisingly warm heart at the core. Originally published in parts in Analog magazine, the story provides a realistic method by which decades spanning space travel can be achieved without resorting to deus ex machina speculative light year technology.
Plot: Toby awakens from a routine stasis flight to claim an asteriod - only to find that something terrible has happened while he slept. His ship never awakened him and he finds himself in a future that has both greatly changed - and yet oddly stayed the same. Now Toby must navigate the new politics of the human race - a politics heavily influenced by his own family and the emergence of a new technology. With the help of a local girl and a genetically modified cat companion, Toby will have to survive long enough to find out why his own family is so desperate to kill him off.
The conceit of the book is using long hibernation periods in order to lower resource usage and synch the long travel time between worlds to trade/sell/buy resources (e.g., a trader can leave his wife at home and travel the 100 years to do a trade run and return to her being the same age). This process, called lockstep, typically could mean sleeping up to 30 years and then being awake for a month at a time. Admittedly, the math of trying to figure out how to match up the locksteps (many operating on different sleep/awake ratios), was difficult to track.Read more ›
That was the question that poked me throughout ‘Lockstep’. Karl Schroeder expends quite a bit of effort toward explaining the theory and the math and I sort of got it. I understood the concept enough to take it as given, so I could get on with reading the story. But a sense of urgency gripped me as years floated away between periods of hibernation. On many of the planets, folks ‘wintered-over’ or hibernated for thirty years at a stretch. They’d wake for a month, burn through their gathered resources and then go to sleep again. Even though I understood it, it felt like just another night to them, I could not get over the wasted time, the years that went by unchecked. I missed them on their behalf.
When years hit the ratio of fourteen thousand real-time to forty actually lived, I had to cast myself adrift from the loss. It was too impossible to contemplate.
‘But what is the book about?’ I hear you ask.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Intriguing idea. I would enjoy a followup, perhaps from Earth's perspective. Overall I really liked the premise and thought it was a good read.Published 12 days ago by Neobeaver
Schroeder invents amazing worlds unlike anything I've read before then people's them with believable and approachable characters. A good yarn set in an incredible world.Published 3 months ago by Alan T Lehto
I think Schroeder has constructed a lovely mythology here, but the mechanics override realism in some aspects (the Cult of Toby aspects, largely). Read morePublished 8 months ago by Andrew
What a fun and unique way to explore 14,000 years of future history.
A whole vast society time-hopping ahead at one month awake for every 30 years in hibernation stasis. Read more
It didn't take too long into reading it to begin to agree with the poor reviews. While the concept of lockstep is a solid basis for interesting(and somewhat realistic) SF, the... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Max Malcolm
Once I started reading this one, I was hard pressed to put the book back down.
The author draws a vivid picture of a world, no, a universe, founded by one technology, and one... Read more
Lockstep is a wonderfully creative premise (*MINOR SPOILER ALERT*) where worlds freeze over in order to deal with the time lapse when traveling between planets that are light-years... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Anthony Wu
Excellent idea as to how interstellar space might be colonized.Published 21 months ago by James M Stiles
Interesting concept for interstellar stories in a relativistic universe, though in retrospect I am doubting whether it could be developed as a reality. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Andrew Robson