Ramez Naam
Nexus Cover



Thirty years in the future, we have a drug which allows brain to brain communication - and a group of hackers who upgrade this drug to a permanent sidekick. This extended groupthink is sought by governments and shady groups who want a post human future, and this novel is the action movie that results.

I first read this 9 years ago, a year after it was published. Marked it 5 stars, no review - the only book I didn't review that year. Not sure why, but thought it was time to go back and correct that. I did follow up with Naam's non-fiction book The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet and the just-published sequel. My review of the sequel didn't tell me much about this book either.

As many other reviews have noted, this book is written like an action movie (or the novelization of an action movie), with additional scenes of dialog about the morality of the situation. On reread, some of this is a bit clunky to read. For this reason, and the fact that I couldn't remember much of the story, I will reduce my review to 4 stars.

The morality message is more important now than ever. At one point, main character Kade has a conversation with monks about an analogy to his device - speech. If learning speech took a decade and he could release a device which helped people learn in weeks, would he do it?

"Even though it would surely be used at times for profanity or vile speech?"
"Even though fools might read dangerous things written by bigger fools, might follow their instructions and hurt themselves or others?"
"Even though writing might be used to describe weapons that could be used to kill others?" Ananda asked.
"Even though charismatic fascists might use the power of speech to stir people up, to incite violence, to stoke hatred, to create war?"

Kade answers yes to each question, then answers the question "Why" with, "Because I think people would use it for more good than harm."

This is a question (and challenge) we are facing with social media and free speech today, even more so than in 2012. Now to reread the sequel, then read the final book in the trilogy for the first time.