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Nexus (Nexus Arc) [Kindle Edition]

Ramez Naam
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (537 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Book 1 of the Nexus Trilogy - Continued in Book 2: Crux

In the near future, the experimental nano-drug Nexus can link humans together, 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 - for there is far more at stake than anyone realizes.

From the halls of academe to the halls of power, from the headquarters of an elite US agency in Washington DC to a secret lab beneath a top university in Shanghai, from the underground parties of San Francisco to the illegal biotech markets of Bangkok, from an international neuroscience conference to a remote monastery in the mountains of Thailand - Nexus is a thrill ride through a future on the brink of explosion.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Humanity 2.0 | Mind Matters | Hive | This Will Happen ]


From the Trade Paperback edition.


Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Naam, an expert in new technologies and author of More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement (2005), turns in a stellar performance with his debut sf novel. Nexus is a nanotechnology that allows human minds to link up. But rogue scientists are using it to turn ordinary people into killers (shades of Richard Condon’s classic novel The Manchurian Candidate). The American government recruits—in other words, blackmails—Kade Lane, a grad student who’s been known to tinker with Nexus, to get close to the suspected leader of the mind-control program. But, as Kade soon discovers, one man’s villain is another’s visionary, and he’s forced to choose sides in a hurry, before someone else decides he’s too dangerous to stay alive. Naam has set himself a difficult challenge here: he’s telling a story in which much of the action and dialogue takes place inside the characters’ minds. But he succeeds admirably: one scene, in particular, in which a character races to make changes to the Nexus system by reprogramming it inside his own head, is nail-bitingly tense, when it could easily have come off as preposterous. The dialogue might be a bit raw in places, and there might be a slight overuse of exclamation points, but those are minor rookie mistakes. What matters here is the remarkable scope of the story and its narrative power. --David Pitt

Review

Shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke Award 

Shortlisted for the Prometheus Award

Shortlisted for the Kitschies Award

An NPR Best Book of 2013!

"Good. Scary good."
Wired

"Provocative... A double-edged vision of the post-human."
The Wall Street Journal
 
"A lightning bolt of a novel, with a sense of awe missing from a lot of current fiction."
Ars Technica
 
"Starred Review. Naam turns in a stellar performance in his debut SF novel... What matters here is the remarkable scope and narrative power of the story."
Booklist

"A superbly plotted high-tension technothriller ... full of delicious, thoughtful moral ambiguity ... a hell of a read."
Cory Doctorow

"A gripping piece of near future speculation... all the grit and pace of the Bourne films."
- Alastair Reynolds, author of Revelation Space

"A sharp, chilling look at our likely future."
- Charles Stross, author of Singularity Sky and Halting State

"The most brilliant hard SF thriller I've read in years. Reminds me of Michael Crichton at his best."
Brenda Cooper, author of The Creative Fire

"A rich cast of characters...the action scenes are crisp, the glimpses of future tech and culture are mesmerizing."
Publishers Weekly

"Any old writer can take you on a roller coaster ride, but it takes a wizard like Ramez Naam to take you on the same ride while he builds the roller coaster a few feet in front of you."
John Barnes, author of Directive 51
 
"Michael Crichton-like."
SFX Magazine

"An incredibly imaginative, action-packed intellectual romp!"
- Dani Kollin, Prometheus Award-winning author of The Unincorporated Man

"The only serious successor to Michael Crichton."
- Scott Harrison, author of Archangel

Product Details

  • File Size: 609 KB
  • Print Length: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Angry Robot (December 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009U9S6B2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,732 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
(537)
4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
76 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What does it mean to be posthuman? December 18, 2012
Format:Paperback
What does it mean to be posthuman? It means with the right software, you can fight like Bruce Lee and perform like Peter North. It means your mind can network with those of other posthumans. It means your intelligence is vastly superior to that of mere humans. But can humans and posthumans coexist? Does the rise of the posthuman necessitate the death of the human? The questions posed in Nexus aren't new, but they have rarely been explored in such an entertaining fashion.

Although it is swallowed like a drug, Nexus is a nano-structure that creates an interface between the brain and computer software. It acts as a networking platform and an operating system. It creates the potential for one Nexus user to control another. Nexus is both a regulated drug and a prohibited technology. In short, it is illegal. Should it be?

Kaden Lane is one of a select group of people who, in addition to researching Nexus, is permanently infected with it. He thinks Nexus should be available to everyone, although he's worried that some users (and some governments) will abuse it. Samantha Cataranes works for a division of Homeland Security that responds to emerging risks. She views Nexus as a risk. She could lock up Kaden but she'd prefer to enlist his help for a more critical mission: determining whether the Chinese are using Nexus to create remote controlled assassins. If Kaden doesn't want to spend the rest of his life in prison, his task is to cozy up to Su-Yong Shu, suspected of being the primary architect of China's neurotech program. She is also suspected of being posthuman.

Kaden is a well-rounded, believable character. He isn't the only one. Samantha is Kaden's backup on the mission, a role that troubles her because she will need to use Nexus.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insanely great December 18, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Insanely great fiction debut. I had the same feeling reading this for the first time that I did when I first read Stephenson's "Snow Crash" or Stross's "Accelerando" - that feeling of watching possible futures completely collapse into reality on the page. As others have noted, amidst the action thriller framework, the deep questions the book asks linger in the mind - if someone offered you Nexus at a party tomorrow, would you take it yourself?
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking & action packed science fiction December 18, 2012
Format:Paperback
In the future, Nexus is the new popular nano-drug that allows humans to temporarily connect minds & share thoughts with other current Nexus users. Kade Lane, young scientists, in his experiments radically improves Nexus. Not only he managed to make the Nexus influence/presence in human brain permanent, he also installed OS to Nexus nano-bots. So Nexus users can install addons/applications to help them in using their body (just like we now do on our phones). Don Juan app, Bruce Lee app,... (I think you can guess what they can do.) Uses and abuses of Nexus are infinite.
Such ground-breaking discovery, of course, stir-ups a lot of trouble. Politicians say that Nexus is a threat to humanity, army describes it as security risk, criminals see it as source of easy earnings... Which side will Kade pick when neither choice is a good one?

Some people described Nexus as sci-fi spy thriller. I can not disagree with them, the label fits, there sure is a lot of action, chasing, fighting etc. But that is not my favorite aspect of this book. The best thing about Nexus is that Ramez Naam poses a lot of intriguing questions. This is a great novel to be read in a book club because there will certainly be a lot of good subjects for discussion:
Is government wiser than humanity? Whose place is to choose what we can and what we cannot use? If some invention that is made for good can also be used for bad purposes, is that reason enough to censor & block it - or should we always take the chance? What is the thing that makes us human - when will we stop being human and become something else?

Nexus by Ramez Naam reminds me of my favorite science fiction authors: Cory Doctorow with dystopia/government conspiracy theme, Michael Crichton with unexpected twists and action/adventure, Arthur C.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Also: it gets Buddhism right February 23, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I won't go into too much depth on the ideas already richly explored in the other reviews here so far: Nexus is a smart, complex, gripping account of the potential impacts of technology not that far down the tubes. The carbon nanotubes, in fact! It tackles questions of selfhood, of privacy and control and consciousness and the crises soon to hit them.

What I didn't expect was how well Nexus would also integrate this transhuman narrative with aspects of Buddhism. Man, what a treat. I practice Theravadan Buddhism; Nexus spends an awful lot of time looking at these radical notions of consciousness through a Buddhist lens. Not only is it a perfect fit, it's a well-informed one. Naan has done his homework, and then some.

I won't get into spoilers here, but the idea of the Bodhisattva (a part of Mahayana buddhism)--an enlightened figure who puts off attaining Nirvana in order to stay in this world and help others find enlightenment--becomes a central part of the narrative. It's a view of the disruptive, messy, and terrifying future awaiting all of us that is infused with a beautiful and plausible kind of hope.

Also, this story reads like an action movie. There are few cultural artifacts that engage my delight both in Buddhism and in sheer kick-butt-ness. Nexus manages it somehow. Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and action-packed
Very action-packed analysis of what brain-to-brain comms and apps for your brain might do with society. Couldn't put it down - read all three books in just a couple of days
Published 4 days ago by Björn Dufwenberg
5.0 out of 5 stars You will have hard time to stop reading this book.
How about building operating system inside your own mind? This book speculates how very beginning of such technology might look. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Sebastian Bik
3.0 out of 5 stars View of potential?
A thriller, but still science fiction. A story of expansion of thought beyond our heads, and the fight over what it means to be human. Read more
Published 7 days ago by H. Carter
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
Excellent use of real science and exciting action in this excellent page turner. I recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about our brains.
Published 10 days ago by John D Black
5.0 out of 5 stars smart, exciting
Well written, smart, exciting!
Published 12 days ago by J. Mogul-King
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book
Published 13 days ago by Todd Eliot Golde
4.0 out of 5 stars A smart sci-fi thriller--can't wait to read the next one.
I was drawn in immediately by the story. The idea of software embedded in one's brain that allows telepathy is compelling. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Betsy True
4.0 out of 5 stars Good near future thriller
Well written and good subject matter. I would recommend this to any sci fi, thriller, or dystopia fan. 4 stars instead of five due to formatting issues in the e book.
Published 14 days ago by T. Roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book! One of the best next to William ...
Amazing book! One of the best next to William Gibson.
Published 17 days ago by Eric R. Lamb
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Sci-Fi Thriller!
Admittedly, I wasn't all that interest in Nexus during my first read, but only because I was in a reading funk and incapable of enjoying anything. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Kaleb Russell
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More About the Author

Ramez Naam was born in Cairo, Egypt, and came to the US at the age of 3. He's a computer scientist who spent 13 years at Microsoft, leading teams working on email, web browsing, search, and artificial intelligence. He holds almost 20 patents in those areas.

Ramez is the winner of the 2005 H.G. Wells Award for his non-fiction book More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement. He's worked as a life guard, has climbed mountains, backpacked through remote corners of China, and ridden his bicycle down hundreds of miles of the Vietnam coast. He lives in Seattle, where he writes and speaks full time.

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