"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.
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.
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!
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."
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!!
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