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4.3 out of 5 stars
Nexus
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 15 November 2013
Nexus is an nano drug that takes the mere human and make them into a transhuman; able to interconnect with others, is far more aware and is permanently connected to the web.

Kade, the main character has just upgraded it to Nexus , and is trailing it when he is pulled in by the ERD, an American organisation charged enforcing the Copenhagen agreement and stopping these technologies becoming widely available. Three of his friends are pulled in, by an ex special ops guy escapes. As part of the plea bargain he agrees to help them spy on a Chinese researcher who has developed a similar technology. His partner in this sting operation has also taken the drug, and they are always in conflict as to whether it should be released to the public, or restricted. Other parties are looking to use his knowledge and after surviving an attempted abduction, the pace and action starts to increase until the explosive final scene.

I really enjoyed this. The technology is really cool, from the weapons that are linked to the DNA of the user, to the stealth items. I found that the technology was plausible, even though we are a few years away from realising it. The pace was fantastic, after some of the scenes I'd need to take a breath before ploughing on with the next.

Great book, will be getting the next one soon.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
We now know where the post-human weirdness so beloved of modern science fiction will begin; inevitably, a bunch of bright kids messing about customising a mind expanding nano-tech drug. The current street version (Nexus 3) gives a temporary neural network interface with other users in the vicinity; great for parties, no doubt. The authorities, just for a change, see it as dangerous and a threat to the status quo so a special unit has been created to prevent the proliferation of Nexus and its derivatives. Not surprisingly, and suitably hypocritically, the authorities are themselves enhancing the drug to turn their operatives into super-agents and for military applications. Nice.

So the scene is now set. Young Kade and his chums have developed Nexus 5 which persists in the brain and allows permanent connection to other users in the locale while the aforementioned government heavies (the ERD) try to track them down and generally bust them. What ensues is a splendidly taut sci-fi conspiracy thriller and while not multi-threaded, the narrative is by no means linear with enough well developed characters to maintain plausibility while the pace generally bowls along at a cracking rate. There is a bit of a lull in the action mid-way during the conference in Bangkok but it is necessary for the introduction of a raft of new characters & motivations and to get them into position for the blistering finale.

Needless to say, I really enjoyed this book. Proper speculative near-future science fiction, well written by an author who has plainly put a great deal of thought into the background science but without feeling the need to show off or bore the reader with huge info-dumps. Excellent stuff and the sequel, Crux, is now on my wish list although I’ve got to wait until April 2015.

Thanks to Amazon’s apparent trend in stocking fewer ‘minority-interest’ books (hoping, I expect, to boost sales of E-books & Kindle thingies), I bought my proper paper copy via the splendid BookDepository dot com. Interestingly, I believe that BookDepository is now owned by Amazon so I’m sure they won’t mind me plugging them in an Amazon review.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 April 2015
There's a lot to like about this book. It zips along, uses credible scientific language, and emphasises entertainment. I thoroughly enjoyed. On the negative sides, there are some longish sections were the reader is given 'infodumps' (I didn't mind when these were presented as 'briefing' chapters, but the scenes where characters are just exchanging information do go on a bit), and there are some proofreading/formatting problems (inconsistent italics, misplaced spaces), but these are certainly outweighed. A fast-paced, fun read, with some interesting projections about our electro-neuro future.
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on 29 July 2015
The idea at the centre of Ramez Naam’s debut novel, Nexus, is actually rather a difficult sell despite obvious fictional antecedents and the proliferation of technology in the real world, and he does a superb job in making it feel both believable and important. The occasional info-dump aside, he also manages to do so while ensuring his narrative is always moving, only pausing for breath when hammering home the uncertainty at the heart of his debate. It veritably tears along, and explores the potential in his proffered speculations fully enough to promise some very interesting things to come.

The disappointment is, if anything, his characters: Sam is the closest thing there is to a driving presence, and she’s actually quite unlikeable for the majority, with Kade simply a narrative tool to be bounced from one experience to the next. Wats, easily the most compelling character in the book, is sidelined to a 'and this is what Wats got up to' postscript on most chapters, and really no-one else – not the various groups of arbitrary bad guys, not the genius tech wizard, not the clone army, not even the people Kade is supposed to be so desperate to protect – gets a look in. For something so rooted in its devastating/wonderful effect on humanity, there is very little humanity on show.

There is a lot here to admire – the 'Briefing' chapters are a lovely idea, never exploited as a lazy back door to force more plot in, supplying context in a manner not unlike the adverts from Frederik Pohl’s Gateway – and while you do finish it acutely aware that this is the end of Part One, I have every intention of going on to Part Two. I do recommend that you read it, just don’t expect to be blown away at this stage. That, however, may be on its way...
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on 4 March 2015
Nexus is about an experimental drug capable of linking human minds together. It has mixed reactions with the human population. Developers like Kaden Lane a PhD candidate in neuroscience wants to see where he can take it, while others, like the government, want to get rid of it entirely. When Kaden is caught illegally developing Nexus he suddenly becomes plunged into the life and death world of international espionage and playing for very high stakes.
Nexus provides some very credible extrapolations off what is currently possible with technology and intelligently weaves these technical details in with a very human story of betrayal, trust and the value of friendship.
Setting the story in 2040 allows enough historical time for the technology to be feasibly developed. Nexus 5 is a type of programmable nanotechnology drug into which software can be loaded and developed. As a plot device it is used to great effect, not only in very dynamic and credible action sequences where the protagonists use it in life-threatening situations, but also to demonstrate both the benefits and terrible cost it might have on the human population and that it needs to be used wisely. But the book also injects humour while making a point. A test of some seduction software that goes hilariously wrong and the hero trying to get to grips with ‘Bruce Lee’ a programme that enables the user to become an expert fighter clearly demonstrates the difficulties in the development and successful interface of new technology with human biology. The sheer inventiveness and determination of the human mind is also evident in some of the more technical sections of the story.
Nexus uses the notation of regular date and time checks to make the narrative feel as if it is ticking away like a bomb and the plot very much rattles along like a freight train towards an explosive and thoughtful conclusion. The dénouement of the whole plot leaves an intriguing conundrum as to the ethics of developing biotechnology.
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on 23 April 2014
I picked up Ramez Naam's "Nexus" on a whim after an Amazon recommendation pointed me in its direction. I rarely post reviews about anything, but I think I need to make an exception in this case.

If you've an interest in well crafted techno-thrillers or the potential implications (both positive and negative) of transhumanism, you need to read this book.

Naam has penned several more academically focused examinations of transhumanism before, but his first foray into novel writing tackles many of the same topics even as it wraps you up in its convincingly fleshed out near-future world and plausibly motivated, (mostly) likable characters.

His descriptions of the mechanisms/effects of the titular empathogenic smart drug "Nexus" are genuinely fascinating, Naam's expertise in the field shining through with his considered examination of the benefits and potential pitfalls such a revolution in technology could bring.

It's a rare and excellent thing when a piece of fiction can inspire such soul searching in the reader. I've found myself pondering the issues tackled in its pages many times since I closed the book a week ago.

TL;DR: Nexus is an excellent book. You should probably read it. And then talk to me at considerable length about it, please.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 July 2014
A solid near-future action thriller, with some nice techomagickery (indistinguishable from science), well-written fight scenes featuring badass augmented superspies, some cursory philosophising and a cast of engaging characters. It's easy to read and a lot of fun, if not nearly as profound as it seems to be trying for.

For a little light reading, it's worth checking out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 July 2014
Definitely a good read and worth my time and money. Explored an interesting area but as usual could have been much longer. The bad guys could have been portrayed as being more strategically complex, with more pragmatic objectives. I hate when the baddies have one single minded goal. The hero/heroine adapts but the bad guys don't.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 8 February 2013
This book is right up my street. Essentially a technothriller set in the near future where nano-based drugs have enabled people to build an OS on top of the brain and interconnect. From that setup we're sent around the world in an international espionage mission. There's a few subplots too addressing various issues centred around the military. Throughout the characters are put into difficult situations and tested to the maximum. Ramaz Naam clearly knows his science and manages to squeeze in a lot of 'could happen' extrapolations without bogging the story down too much with dull facts or explanations.

I would have given the book 4 stars, but I'm afraid I was annoyed by the editing and formatting. I'm used to a few errors in ebooks as it seems most publishers still haven't nailed the process yet, but this one had so many errors within it (I can't speak for the print), that I was frequently pulled out of the story.

For the benefit of the publishers the errors were: typos, inconsistent formatting of internal/nexus dialogue, hyphens where there shouldn't be any, and sometimes none where there should, missing words, and inconsisten italics. The hyphens were mostly a problem in the Thai names; sometimes they were there, other times they weren't (in the same name).
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2013
A stunning "what if" view of future human development and evolution and a morality tale about modern "security" concerns regarding the web and internet free speech issues.
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