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Nexus: Mankind Gets and Upgrade
by Ramez Naam
Angry Robot 
Book Reviews
Reviewed by Fire Erowid, 9/25/2015

Ramez Naam’s 2012 book Nexus: Mankind Gets an Upgrade, takes place in 2040, where a new drug called “Nexus 5” is under development. This drug takes the form of psychedelic nanotechnology that helps users modify and control their brains in new and powerful ways. It not only enables telepathic and empathic connections between humans, but also infinite possibilities for programming the brain and body to function at higher levels.

The choice of the name “Nexus” is meaningful, as that was a common name for 2C-B in the 1990s. Though most people won’t catch this association, and will instead understand “Nexus” to imply connectivity (indeed, the same reason 2C-B was given this slang name originally), the effects of the fictional Nexus are not unlike amplified versions of the empathogenic and psychedelic effects of a phenethylamine like 2C-B.

Naam (a founding member of Erowid Center’s Council of Electors) does a fantastic job describing psychedelic experiences and the sense of connection that empathogenic drugs can facilitate. His poetic characterizations bring the experiences of Nexus to life. He artfully incorporates these descriptions, along with musical, ritual, and spiritual elements from modern electronic dance communities and tribal culture into a believable sci-fi future.

Of course, in 2040, everyone wants control of the new tech-drug, with governments and religions around the world fighting to be the first to develop its potential. The ethical dilemmas that follow contrast the value of freedom of the mind with the ways direct brain control could be misused. Are the benefits of brain enhancement (or “enlightenment”) worth the possibility that non-enhanced humans might become a lower class?

Crux, the sequel to Nexus, was released in August 2013. Apex, Book 3 in the Nexus Arc series, came out in May 2015.

Originally Published In : Erowid Extracts
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