Thursday 27 March 2014

Nexus review

Nexus by Ramez Naam


This book has been nominated for several different awards and I can kind of see why. It is a very thought provoking read, dealing as it does with human evolution, transhumanism and post humanism, and is also a sometimes gripping action thriller.

I didn’t devour this book though and at 400+ pages it did actually feel a little long for an action book. The worldbuilding is mainly done via “briefings” scattered throughout which felt just a little like infodumps and the author spends a lot of time telling you how the characters feel.

In the near future there are transhumans and posthumans in a world where gene splicing and augmentation is available from governments and black markets. There is a nanobot drug called Nexus which allows mind to mind communication and the book revolves around Kaden Lane a hacker who has upgraded the nano drug by giving it an OS and making it a permanent upgrade to those who take his version. You can run some programs on it and the book opens with a vaguley amusing party at which Lane is running a “romantic” program to make him into a pick-up artist, which goes wrong. All is not drugs and parties though as the government is waging a war against “Emerging Threats” and Kade is dragged into an espionage plot against the Chinese when attending a conference in Thailand.

The main part of the is set in Bangkok and having visited there last year it was nice to see the city explored. The action is kind of comic book in places – people slammed into brick walls and the walls coming off worse etc. But a very imaginable world of semi-autonomous drones including spider-drones, augmented government agents, shoot-outs and fistfights and aerial dog fights. When Naam plays to his strengths it’s very, very good.

Overall – Entertaining & worth reading, if Naam’s writing ability matches his imagination in future books then they will be pretty special, a writer to watch.

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