"Nexus is the most brilliant hard SF thriller I’ve read in years. It’s smart, it’s gripping, and it describes a chilling reality that is all-too-plausible. Ramez Naam is a name to watch for." (Brenda Cooper, author of The Silver Ship and the Sea and The Creative Fire Mankind Gets an Upgrade)
In the near future, the nano-drug Nexus can link mind to mind. There are some who want to improve it. There are some who want to eradicate it. And there are others who just want to exploit it. When a young scientist is caught improving Nexus, he’s thrust over his head into a world of danger and international espionage, with far more at stake than anyone realizes.
©2012 Ramez Naam (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
* Excellent opening, chapters, starting at a californian rave and spreading across the planet.
* Fresh idea of post-human intelligence; The Silicon valley trans-humanists übermenschen are dismissed in a single line in favour of more subtle, collective models of mind enhancing technology
* some fun parallels between various religions and various approaches to posthuman intelligence (theravada buddhism and christianity mostly)
* very contemporary flavour of technological speculation; more or less, some ravers port linux to run on brains, and consequences ensue when wider society gains interest in the diabolical applications of the technology. Absolute candy for today's crypto-nerds.
* characters feel a little flat. The cast might be laudably multinational, but most characters substitute an ethnicity for a personality: Japanese sensei skimming stones while talking in metaphors... Loyal magical negro who would sacrifice everything to help the white protagonist... revolutionary Russian immigrant who write political tracts about how american security obsession is eroding liberty. etc. The privileged white male protagonist is a little too bland to be relatable; the female secret agent is a little better, but the childhood trauma reliving scene (won't say any more to avoid spoilers) was a little forced and clean-cut to keep me convinced
* very filmic violence; Every time someone falls over, their gun lands just out of reach and there is always time to step on their hand before they reach it, and so on. Plot would be improved if every character in this book invested in some velcro straps.
* plot is rip-roaring but not satisfying; while the philosophical themes the author starts with are hella fun and could really go somewhere wild, most of the action thereafter is driven by the more traditional plot mechanics of a covert military team doing covert military things with lots of filmic violence
Overall I enjoyed this book, but found the earnestness and unidimensionality of the characters a bit of a drag, and the plot was gripping enough, but without doing the subject matter justice.
This feels like a first novel. I'm excited by a lot of the world the author has built, and the author is presumably still honing his craft; interested to see where he is going with his career.
p.s. the reader was enthusiastic but *ooh*, some of those accents were a little awkward.
Say something about yourself!
This first-in-a-series novel is Ramez Naam's fiction follow-up to his nonfiction works such as More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement (in which he argues that one day we will view genetic modification and other post-human advances as commonplace). It's fitting, then, that in this novel he portrays a recognizable near-future (beginning in 2040) in which post-humans are a reality. This is definitely a dystopia, but it shows none of the tired technophobia so rampant in the genre. The science isn't the cause of evil; the regimes that seek to limit it are.
In Nexus -- as in the real world -- science is amoral, capable of being greatly used and abused. Naam's larger point is that change will happen, and governments are not only unjust but also unrealistic when they act to suppress it. The best case scenario -- that is, the most innovative, helpful, and exciting uses of technology, including the nano-drug described in this novel -- will only arise in an environment of freedom.
His suggestion that the United States would be dreadfully behind the global curve on allowing such freedom is, I fear, not implausible.
I'm not a great fan of fast-paced action-thrillers that rely on explosions and fight sequences to get from Point A to Point B. That said, Naam's writing is solid enough for this genre, and I found the action less eyeroll-worthy than I could have, thanks to the compelling core of ideas at the heart of this work. Naam never loses sight of the Big Picture, and it's a very important one.
The narration is mostly acceptable. Sometimes the Asian characters sound a bit like racial clichés, however, which is off-putting, and the most "badass" (for lack of a better word) character sounds like a cartoon. A word of warning: the sequel is performed by another narrator, and he pronounces some of the names of main characters completely differently. That does not make for a smooth listening experience transitioning from one book to the next!
I'll let Nexus character Ilyana Alexander's final recorded message speak for this novel:
"By drawing a box around humanity, those in power are telling each of us what we can and can't do with our minds, with our bodies, and in the interests of our children. They're saying that they're smarter than we are, that we need their protection from ourselves.
"Needless to say, I disagree....
"The laws that limit human capabilities are exercises in control. They stem from fear -- fear of the future, fear of change, fear of people who might be different than we are, who might make themselves into something new. The result of that fear is the corrosion of our liberties, the corrosion of our right to determine our own futures, to chart our own destinies, to do the best we can for our children.
"That corrosion has consequences. If you're watching this, it's had consequences for me."
I purchased this book two months before I listened to it. I was suprised how soon I was cought up in the story line. Excelent reader, and story make for a wonderful time. I have already started the second book. Great example of near future sci-fi!
Nexus explores the best and worst in humanity, as the characters and organizations struggle to make sense of emerging technologies. Naam's characterizations feel very real- from the sensual joy and emotional fulfillment of connection to the murderous rage or chilling certainty of a soldier doing her job. There are no one-dimensional characters here, which made me connect with all of them, even while I disagreed with some. The story is fast-paced and thought provoking. I couldn't help but wonder what I would do with the technology presented within. The book left me with excitement and optimism for where humanity can go, tempered with a clear understanding of how things can go wrong. Not bad for a sci-fi thriller! I'm eagerly awaiting the next book.
The narrator did an admirable job with an international set of characters. A few of his voices were a bit annoying but it makes for a very diverse world so I think those were actually great choices.
Overall, it was an excellent story combined with a great narrator. Sci-fi fans will love it, and Naam makes the technical details easy for anyone to understand, so I believe that it can have an even wider audience. A great, thought-provoking read, highly recommended!
I was pretty disappointed in NEXUS, especially considering some of the endorsements this book has received. My biggest disappointment was that the beginning of the book sets the story up really well. The entire into to what NEXUS is, the characters, how things work, what they're capable of on the drug was really compelling and interesting.
And THEN the characters go to Thailand and things just become a mess.
Seriously, I just could not follow it. The two main characters go to a trade show in Thailand and what ensues is an endless stream of new characters, kind of boring gun battles, trippy mind melds, and characters who inexplicably keep changing their core beliefs. I really could not wait to be finished with this.
He was mostly good except for the voice he uses for this one Chinese clone special forces character. I mean, I know the guy is Chinese, but he is also supposed to be this laboratory created special forces military man. Why does he sound like the most hilarious chinese waiter/Bruce Lee's opponent's henchman?
It was a really good idea that just doesn't deliver the good in the overall story.
I had a hard time not turning this off and couldn't wait to get to the end. I think some of the stream of conciousness/group mind stuff was just especially tough to follow in the audio format.
a humble, seeking, loudmouth, Jesus lover, and sometimes heretic explores his questions, concerns, and varied interests through books.
Very good SF novel! Set in a not too distant future there is a new nano tech drug that allows people to link their minds, upload software, etc. Some want to expand and explore this capability, some want to exploit it, and as always some fear the advancement of new unpredictable ideas.
My only complaint would be too much sex that does nothing to advance the story. This is a good story and didn't need that kind of filler.
The author seems to be very pro Buddhism. Mainly talks a lot about the serenity of meditation which can be quite helpful.
Anyone who likes a good action pack sci-fi novel will enjoy this book!
Luke Daniels does a great job narrating.
Violent Psychedelic Revolution
I don't have a favorite character.
Lane's revelation at the monastery.
I really like the message of this novel, and the vision presented of how this type of technology will interact with the different forces at play in the world, to drive humanity forward, ready or not. It was a very interesting read for me; although I do not know Ramez Naam personally, I am one degree separated from him and many of my views on the topics explored in his writing were formed during the same period of time with an overlapping group of friends.
Ultimately, this novel is far more violent than I prefer, but I do not feel the violence is gratuitous given the story being told and the forces at play. For those sensitive to such things, prolonged periods of graphic violence is something to be endured.
Revolutions don't usually have happy endings for those at their center, nor are the implications for the future ever clear in the aftermath. Thus book 1 comes to a close and I find myself full of hope for book 2.
My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.
Nuts and Bolts
I like tech books for the wonder of science and what it can accomplish. I don't care to hear about how everything works. This book concentrated on the nuts and bolts too much for my tastes. As mentioned by other reviewers, the characters in this book are flat. Another reviewer mentions that Naam has a bright future and I agree, but I was bored by this book.
Avid audiobook listener and reader. I work in the tech industry, but like to go outside my comfort zone with fiction and non-fiction.
No. The performance was rather boring. He did an ok job with the voices, but it was just not up to my expectations, which threw the story off.
Yes, if the narrator was different
Used better inflection, tone, and personality. He's got a voice for radio and narration of non-fiction, but it was monotone and dull.
Yes and no. The concept and ideas introduced were great and I had high hopes, but just didn't feel compelled to finish it.
Nope. I thought the book was good overall, but nothing about it was extraordinary or noteworthy enough to warrant a second listen.
I didn't leave feeling as desperate to get to the next book as I have in other series. It wasn't much of a cliff-hanger
I liked the concept of the story, the near future in which computers can be integrated into your brain, and the big brother trying to restrict it, it has potential.
"Pleasantly surprised by the quality"
For the early chapters of the book I felt both the author and narrator were struggling to find their feet and I didn't find it easy to immerse myself in the tale but knowing now that they both hit their stride I'd go back and re-visit those early chapters.
The book has made me re-evaluate some human concepts that I simply took for granted, it makes you think a little outside of the human comfort zone in a way that not even another sci-fi book has done before.
Stick with it if like me you find the early chapters a little less than stellar - it improves significantly as the book goes on. I'm halfway through the sequel now and it's excellent.
"Great Concept. Delivery and style not my taste"
I'll write my short review in the style of the book.
Nexus, a book, for reading, to read, and now... Have read. It has content... science, fiction, drugs, the future, factions, government, plans... Some... Good.some...bad.the book... not that good after the initial story didn't progress past fighting, chase g, fighting g again, chasing, hiding, thinking, developing into... Nothing. Shame, sad, wanted... More... Maybe... Next time.
"loved this book from the start to the end"
loved this book from the start to the end listened to it in 48 hours could not take my headphones out
"A great plausible premise and full of twists,"
Seems to paint a future not too far away but with profound consequences for Man. The technology explored seems plausible and the way people/societies react to it equally so, That's what made this a great read for me.
Can't compare it to anything else I've read, it was quite refreshing.
Not sure I've heard Luke before, but he did a great job characterising the various players, really brought the story to life for me.
Rather than a book that I listened to "as and when" I had the chance, I made time to listen once I got hooked into it. That's rare for me.
Shame it had to end!
This book came as a recommendation from the podcast Buddhist Geeks, I did not know what to expect, it was a fantastic mixture of story and amazing "around the corner" technology.
Well worth a listen!!
"Not my thing"
It jsut lost me, it's not a rubbish book or story but it just did not engage me.. 60 mins left and we'll I cannot be bothered to finish it.. The general idea of the book was good but just did not deliver
"Shallow Suffering Porn"
The majority of this book is a series of needlessly brutal, utterly pointless, depressing, forgettable fights. Listening on the train, I fell asleep during yet another gratuitous firefight in which the main characters are beaten to bloody pulps yet again. I woke up 20 minutes later, the same firefight is still going. Nothing of consequence has happened, but a lot of blood has been spilled and apparently that's the main thing that happens in the technologically-augmented future: suffering and tedious fights.
I have three hours left now, and I'm going to have to leave this. I hate not finishing a book, but this is just crushingly depressing, utterly needless, constant suffering. The moment you think you might start to care about a character (not a lot), that's because they're about to suffer and / or die. The possibilities of the technology are barely explored - where they are, it's in a tropey, hardly-veiled-drugs-metaphor way, then boom, a wall explodes and in come the soldiers for another big bloodletting.
It seems that 'thriller' means 'constant fighting'. Good scifi tries to look at what the core premise might do to transfigure the world. In this book, you could swap 'nexus' for 'cocaine' in about 90% of the scenes, motivations and character actions. Massive let down.
The narration, at least, is solid.
"The great and the good"
Some great ideas here with good execution. Looking forward to the next two books in the series.
"slow start, but gripping story"
Great story, it took me a couple of chapters to get into it, but really gripping once there. I also struggled with the narrator's voice at first, it was good for in character voices, but unnatural for the narrated parts. I got used to it after few chapters
"Started strong, but fell fast"
I am sure there are a lot of people that will enjoy this story. Alas, I am not one of them. I got this on a recommendation from my book club. It started off well, and I had high hopes. I have been to Bangkok a number of times, and work in the tech industry. These were positives. However the story descended into a failed thriller which resulted in big fights.
The narrator was okay, but nothing special. There is a sequel, but I think I will avoid that for the time being.
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