Book Review: Nexus by Ramez Naam

Nexus-144dpiWhen you think of science fiction, do you think of flying cars and space ships? Do you imagine aliens and humans in some post-apocalyptic Earth, battling for what’s left of a ravaged planet?

Or, do you think more like Ramez Naam does in Nexus—imagining what the next thirty years will be like? Do you wonder what advances will be made in science in the next three decades that will not only change how we live our lives, but may change what we are? Will science create an entirely new branch on the evolutionary tree? Will these Posthumans, endowed with superior strength, rejuvenative capabilities and technological interfaces, be mortal man’s equals, or will they be superior? Should they be embraced? Will they have powers over the rest of us that we should fear?

These are just some of the questions asked in Nexus. Kaden Lane is a brilliant, but naïve graduate student who perfects the ability to reprogram the human brain. But in the US, that type of technology is banned, and the government will stop it at all costs… unless they can guarantee they are the only ones who are allowed access to it.

Nexus dives deep into the science of the brain and the body—how it works, and how some of the changes Naam proposes could work. And lest you think Naam is just an author pulling crap out of the blue, be assured, he knows of what he speaks. He is a well-respected futurist, former software developer for Microsoft, and the author of non-fiction works on biological enhancement.

Nexus, isn’t just a fictionalized version of a textbook, however. It sets a fantastic pace from beginning to end, with likeable, multifaceted characters, and unusual locales. The technology isn’t used as a deux-ex-machina at any point… it actually seems to cause more problems than it solves, and even 85% of the way through the book, I didn’t see the end coming, yet it was completely believable when it happened.

If I have any criticism of this book, it the frequency of passive voice in the story. I’m hyper-sensitive to this because I had major issues with it in my writing, so I always finding some of it in the books I read, but this one had enough that it did frustrate me just a bit. The book could have been perfect, if not for all the instances of ‘was’. It’s a pretty easy fix once you start seeing it, but then, you become like me, and can’t stop seeing it. It tends to ruin a lot of great books for me.

But even with the above issue, I’ll still give Nexus a 4.5/5 stars. I’ll be shocked if this isn’t a movie in the next few years. If you read science fiction, you must read this—before it becomes a reality.

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