Review: Nexus / Author: Ramez Naam / Publisher: Angry Robot / Release Date: Out Now
Smart and believable sci-fi is always welcome, and Nexus is certainly both. In the near future, a drug called Nexus allows people more control over their own bodies and minds. The drug, based on illegal uses of nano-technology, is being stamped out by the authorities, but a band of pioneering scientists want to use it to elevate mankind to a new evolutionary step.
The author, Ramez Naam, is very familiar with the subject of how technology can utterly change mankind; his day job involves researching exactly that. This makes Nexus extremely engaging; the author knows exactly what he’s talking about and thus the story is very believable. The ideas are explained plainly and well; the technobabble isn’t offputting and moves the narrative forward. Naam mixes scientific know-how with emotional intelligence to create a gripping page turner.
This is a book that is as much about the definitions of humanity as it is about world-shaking technologies, and both aspects are handled with empathy and sympathy.
It is a little flabby; the main appeal of this book is the well thought out and clever concepts; the science behind a technology that allows an artificial form of telepathy is a strong concept and carries the book well. Most of the fat occurs when the tale becomes more of a thriller than a sci-fi novel; it simply works better as a tale of emerging technologies changing the human condition rather than an adventure about governments trying to suppress human endeavour. By attempting to be both, this makes the work over-long.
However, it is still worth the journey. Nexus is a strong debut novel; its central premise is interesting and Naam draws us into a highly detailed and technologically literate world. Fans of The Matrix, Strange Days or Wild Palms will find this an interesting read which will make you want to learn more about the issues raised.