One reader's adventure in the great sea of literature outside the comfort zone.
This is a new series I'm hoping to start on my blog. Due to work I probably won't do too many of them before the new year, but I'd like to make this a regular feature when things settle down.
My plan with this column is to introduce authors from different backgrounds or authors with works that go beyond the 'norm'. In other words, to get myself out of my comfort zone. If there's someone you'd like to see me feature, please leave your suggestions in the comments.
Ramez Naam was born in Egypt though he grew up in the U.S.. He is a computer scientist, having worked at Microsoft and founded his own company, Apex NanoTechnologies, "the world’s first company devoted entirely to software tools to accelerate molecular design". He has published four books. The Infinite Resource and More Than Human are non-fiction science books, while Nexus and Crux are science fiction.
Here's the synopsis for Nexus:
Who decides what you can put in your brain? Who draws the line between human and non-human? How do we choose between liberty and security?
In a near future scarred by the mis-use of advanced technologies, government agencies and international treaties use extraordinary powers to suppress research that could lead to new horrors. In this world, the experimental and illegal nano-drug Nexus can link humans together, wirelessly connecting brain to brain. There are some who want to improve Nexus. There are some who want to eradicate it. And there are others who just want to exploit it.
When a young and idealistic American scientist named Kade is caught improving Nexus, he’s blackmailed into spying on an eminent Chinese researcher who may or may not be weaponizing Nexus – turning it into a tool for coercion and political assassination. Bit by bit, Kade is thrust over his head into a world of danger and international espionage – with 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 Buddhist monastery in the mountains of Thailand – Nexus is an exploration of the next step in human evolution, a scathing critique of the US War on Drugs and War on Terror, and a thrill ride through a world on the brink of explosion.
You can see a fascinating talk he gave earlier this year on the science behind Nexus. (The talk ends at the 38 minute mark, after which there's a Q and A period.)