It has been awhile since I read a book that completely knocked me on my ass with its originality and excitement.
Nexus, by Ramez Naam combines the ever-changing, fast-growing world of technology with the human desire to find alternative methods of achieving a ‘high.’ At the same time, this novel is more than just a dark sci-fi story … it is a wild, action-packed thriller as well.
‘Nexus’ is an experimental drug using nano-technology to boost an individual’s consciousness. Altruistic genius Kaden Lane is developing the newest version of Nexus, Nexus-5, which allows for an individual to be connected with other individuals. It’s a cross between telepathy and telecommunication. Lane believes that enabling humans to connect on the immediate, mental level will elevate humanity to a higher consciousness and bring humanity closer together which would make the world a better place.
But Nexus is still a drug, and the government has concerns about this becoming wide-spread. Their concerns are NOT altruistic. Lane is coerced (strong-armed) into working with the government, though as the story progresses, the lines between who is on the ‘right’ side of both morality and legality, becomes blurred.
Author Naam writes the technological aspects incredibly well. His background as a computer scientist (holding 20 patents) working for Microsoft and developing email, web browsing, and artificial intelligence, has given him a certain authority to write intelligently on technological advances. But whereas too many writers who work professionally in the field have an edge in their voice that makes them come across as superior, talking down to the reader, Naam delivers his information cleanly and easily so that the reader understands what sounds as though it might be complicated.
A thriller that ebbs and flows brilliantly, what makes this a remarkable book is not the subject of the book … the combination of nano-technology and synthetic drugs … but the morality questions that Naam raises and the opportunities to look at what it means to be human and a part of the greater humanity.
Just as authors like Roger Zelazny, Philip K. Dick, Theodore Sturgeon, Harlan Ellison, and Thomas Disch brought science fiction into a new realm in the 1960’s and 70’s; and Bruce Sterling and William Gibson and Neal Stephenson did the same in the 1980’s and 90’s; Ramez Naam is forging new paths in the new millennium.
Looking for a good book? Nexus is a thrilling sci-fi ride that has restored my faith in the future of science fiction writing.
I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Ramez Naam
series: Nexus #1
publisher: Angry Robot
paperback, 460 pages