The Nexus: A very fine novel by a new sci-fi talent

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews The Nexus by Richard Fazio science fiction book reviewsThe Nexus by Richard Fazio

On those occasions when I have read sci-fi, I’ve tended to stick to the familiar brand-name authors; tried-and-true old favorites such as Asimov, Bester, Bradbury, Clarke, Dick, Heinlein, Norton, Silverberg, Williamson and the like. But a recent perusal of new author Richard Fazio‘s debut novel, 2010’s The Nexus, has demonstrated that I really ought to be adventurous more often. Sporting a title suggestive of those darn Matrix films — and, of course, the kozmik whatzit at the center of Star Trek Generations — The Nexus is rather a completely fresh tale that is winningly spun out by this tyro writer. In the book’s intriguing prologue, a mother and father give the OK for a government medical unit to perform experiments on their unborn child, way back in the year … 1969. Flash forward to today, and we meet a middle-aged man with the unlikely handle of Balthazar Sykes. Sykes lives in the Forest Hills region of NYC and works in a Manhattan ad agency; in what capacity (copywriter? ad exec? art director?) the author never tells us. Sykes’ life takes a decided turn into the realm of the bizarre when he starts experiencing the thoughts of others, sensing their subconscious fears, and actually inhabiting their bodies! A visit to a Greek gypsy woman named Madame Travatsky (an homage, perhaps, to the notorious 19th century spiritualist Madame Blavatsky?) reveals that Sykes is nothing less than a “nexus,” or “someone with the ability to establish psychic ties between people, between things, between times.” And Sykes’ problems are only beginning, when the Feds get wind of their old subject’s nascent abilities…

In this book’s capsule biography of its author, it is revealed that Fazio was a native New Yorker, and man, does it ever show! His knowledge of Forest Hills (near where I live) and the NYC subway system is much in evidence; for this reader, charmingly so. Fazio has peopled his first novel with a cast of interesting characters, including a pair of Goth cyber hackers; Madge Macleary, Sykes’ feisty, older coworker; and, most especially, Alex, Sykes’ partner, boyfriend and lover. And here I may as well mention that those readers who may be concerned about the novel’s gay subject matter should not be; the relationship between Sykes and Alex is handled with both sensitivity and restraint by the author. It is a perfectly sweet relationship, in fact, in which both men are shown to be the other’s best friend. Alex is responsible for much of the novel’s humor — he’s something of a cutup — never more so than when he declares that the word “nexus” ” sounds like a shampoo to me.”

Fazio tells his story with great sweep — the book really does move along — and with its brief-chapter format, really keeps the reader flipping those pages. I read The Nexus while on a plane and subsequent ocean cruise and found it the perfect accompaniment. I was truly sorry to see it end … especially since my cruise still had a few days to go. The book certainly does leave open the possibility for sequels, and happily, I believe that Fazio HAS released that sequel very recently. His initial work is not perfect — there are some instances of faulty grammar here and there, and more typos than any book should have (granted, these are more faults of the book’s copy editor and proofreader than of the author) — but it sure is impressive. (I must also confess that a scene that I had been hoping for — Sykes confronting his estranged parents about their willingness to accept money for the government to monkey around with the Balthazar fetus — is never given us by the author; maybe in that recently released sequel?) Fast moving, unpredictable, at times psychedelic and always gripping and suspenseful, The Nexus is the product of a fine new talent on the sci-fi scene. And really, can any book that puts down the Suffolk County Police Department be all bad?!?!

Order The Nexus.

Publication Date: December 3, 2010. Balthazar Sykes is just an ordinary man who works at a New York advertising agency. But he quickly discovers he possesses extraordinary psychic abilities. His dreams become mirrors to the past, revealing his friends’ most private secrets. His thoughts manifest themselves into pure energy, giving him superhuman abilities. His search to discover what is happening leads Sykes on a page-turning adventure into the mysteries locked within the human mind. As events unfold, Sykes finds himself lost in a maze of metaphysical intrigue and immediate danger. At the center of it all is a covert genetics experiment called Project H.E.L.I.X. With the help of his closest friends, Sykes twists and turns through lies and deceptions on his quest to discover the truth about the source of his powers. Each hour, Sykes’ abilities continue to strengthen, becoming much more powerful than anything science or the military could have envisioned. His adversaries will stop at nothing to prevent him from exposing Project H.E.L.I.X. to the world.

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SANDY FERBER, on our staff since April 2014 (but hanging around here since November 2012), is a resident of Queens, New York and a product of that borough's finest institution of higher learning, Queens College. After a "misspent youth" of steady and incessant doses of Conan the Barbarian, Doc Savage and any and all forms of fantasy and sci-fi literature, Sandy has changed little in the four decades since. His favorite author these days is H. Rider Haggard, with whom he feels a strange kinship -- although Sandy is not English or a manored gentleman of the 19th century -- and his favorite reading matter consists of sci-fi, fantasy and horror... but of the period 1850-1960. Sandy is also a devoted buff of classic Hollywood and foreign films, and has reviewed extensively on the IMDb under the handle "ferbs54." Film Forum in Greenwich Village, indeed, is his second home, and Sandy at this time serves as the assistant vice president of the Louie Dumbrowski Fan Club....

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4 comments

  1. It looks like the sequel is called THE ABRAXAS STONE. Kindle only?

    This sounds like a fun, fast-paced book that’s perfect for travel.

  2. That sounds like a really intriguing book by an author I haven’t heard of before.

  3. sandy ferber /

    He’s new on the scene, Stuart, but I thought he did a very good job for his first time out….

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