Nexus is now my go-to for whenever I have to recommend near-future SF.
Imagine a computer that integrates directly with your brain. Imagine if this computer was open source and you could modify/hack/patch it as you wished. Imagine…well, let’s stop there. Ramez Naam has imagined all of this, and wrote a brilliant novel to share it with us.
It’s not just the ideas behind the book (which just may be the best SF I’ve ever read)—the writing itself supports them well. Not flowery, but technical in a way that makes it clear that the author knows what he’s talking about when it comes to computers/programming/technology, but not enough to make it seem like bragging.
The chapters are short and punchy, and the story simply doesn’t let up even for a second. John Barnes explained it best with: “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 your plummeting car.” And that’s exactly what it feels like. The world opens up in front of you as you fall deeper and deeper into the story.
Honestly though, the part of the book that sealed the deal for me was the discussion on morality. It gets into issues of personal freedom, what it means to be human, and information/technology being available to the public for societal good, even though some may use it to cause harm.
But the best part is that it never gets preachy or didactic. It’s a complicated issue, and the author presents both sides of the argument in a favourable light, leaving it up to the reader to decide how they feel about the morality of it all.
And before you think, “I guess this is a cool story, but that’s it, just a story” wait until you get to the back matter. This technology is right here, right now, and the future in this book is a lot closer than we’d like to admit.
In short, go read this book right now. You’ll fly right though it and barely have time to even thank me before you pick up the sequel.