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The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

The Quantum Thief

by Hannu Rajaniemi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Jean le Flambeur (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,625796,663 (3.7)73
  1. 21
    Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny (Lucy_Skywalker)
  2. 00
    Glasshouse by Charles Stross (ianturton)
    ianturton: A similar world of interchangeable bodies/minds

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» See also 73 mentions

English (74)  Finnish (2)  French (2)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (79)
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
This book was definitely way over my head, but I still enjoyed it. ( )
  tntbeckyford | Feb 16, 2019 |
Most books of the distant future are surprisingly unfuturistic. If I'm not fairly disoriented with a story set thousands of years in the future, I'm disappointed. The Ancillary series is a good example of what I mean.

The Quantum Thief is the opposite. It's not clear how far in the future it is, but disorientation is the name of the game. The boundary between reality and virtual reality is never clear, after the first chapter, which is clearly in a virtual environment. The various powers at play and their history is complex and never filled out.

The downside is that it's hard to know what is and what is not possible. When dire things happen, or threaten to happen, all you can do is wait and see what rabbit is pulled out of what quantum crypto genetic hat.

The result is a book worth reading for the experience. It's helpful afterwards to visit the Wiki to get some more bits of the background. But don't expect much in terms of dramatic tension or resolution. ( )
4 vote ChrisRiesbeck | Feb 7, 2019 |
A good book that would have been better if I were smarter. Seriously, I almost understood the ending, but not quite... ( )
  amandrake | Jan 3, 2019 |
The Quantum Thief is the first book in the Jean le Flambeur science fiction trilogy. I can see where people might enjoy this book as it has some pretty creative world-building and a lot of action, but for some reason it really didn’t do much for me. I enjoyed it more in the beginning when I was learning about the world and the characters, but I lost interest as things went on.

The majority of the story takes place on Mars in the very distant future. We follow three characters. One is a thief who has been “rescued” from prison and who has lost most of his memories, another is the mysterious woman who “rescued” him but is holding him captive in her own way because she wants something from him, and the third is a Sherlock-like detective.

As I said above, the world-building is pretty creative. This is one of those books where the author drops you into things, using unfamiliar terminology without explaining anything. It wasn’t too difficult to understand the terms in context, and I liked some of the concepts. What I had more trouble with was that the world-building didn’t seem to have much of a foundation. The reader can figure out what the various technologies are for and who the various factions are, but there weren’t any real explanations to make it seem logical or believable, at least not to me. While reading this, I actually often felt kind of like I’ve felt with some of the few Urban Fantasy books I’ve read – like a bunch of random stuff is being thrown into the story without too much concern for logic or coherency, and like I’m being given a small taste of what I imagine it might feel like to be on drugs.

I liked the characters pretty well, particularly the thief and the detective, but I never got attached to them. The story was ok and I was interested in it at first, but I didn’t seem to be able to maintain my interest in it as things progressed. By the end I was happy to be done, and I don’t plan to continue the series. ( )
2 vote YouKneeK | Aug 25, 2018 |
The dénouement was somewhat weak, but overall I quite enjoyed it. I particularly liked the whole gevulot concept. I wasn't bothered by the sci fi terms and found the book to be very readable. I was more bothered by the flipping perspectives at the beginning and found them to be jarring due to the different story types. Everything was used later on, though, so I think it was necessary.

Plus there's time as currency, the underworld under the city, a Montgolfier district, and lines like, "I don't need to hit you. I have lasers." ( )
  natcontrary | May 21, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)

Rajaniemi’s pacy debut novel is set in a far future where both Jupiter and Phobos have been turned into suns in the aftermath of a war between the godlike Sobornost, who control most of the inner solar system, and the Zoku, now exiled to Mars from their Saturnian home.

On Mars all off-world tech is proscribed. The city called the Oubliette is constantly on the move, built on platforms which change their relative position as it is carried across Hellas Basin on vast articulated legs. Rajaniemi does not fetishise this creation as many another author would. Far from being almost a character in its own right the city is merely an exotic backdrop for his story, not its focus.

In the Oubliette, interactions between people (and buildings) are mediated by technology known as exomemory which captures every thought, dream and action. A filtering system known as gevulot acts as a privacy screen but is opened for speech and donation of information packets called co-memories.

The city’s inhabitants all carry Watches which store the Time they use as money. When your Time runs out, death follows. Resurrection Men decant memories and implant them in a new body in which to serve the city as one of the Quiet till enough credit has been accrued to live normally again. On occasion criminals dubbed gogol pirates deliberately kill in order to steal the deceased’s memories and enslave the minds. This is anathema to anyone from the Oubliette (but philosophically it surely differs from being Quiet only in degree.) Tzadikkim, a vigilante-type group with enhanced powers, act as an informal police.

The narrative is shared between the first person account of Jean le Flambeur, the quantum thief of the title, and the third person viewpoints of an Oortian, Mieli, who kicks the novel off by springing Jean from an unusual prison round Saturn, and the somewhat too intuitive detective Isodore Beautrelet. Both Jean and Mieli have (rarely used) Sobornost enhancements. In addition, several Interludes fill in backstory and -ground.

The text can be dense at times. Rajaniemi deploys technological terminology with a flourish; qdots, ghostguns, qupting, Bose-Einstein Condensate ammunition, quantum entanglement rings, qubits, but these can be allowed to wash over any technophobic reader prepared to follow the flow.

By implication Rajaniemi emphasises the importance of memory, not only in the idea of exomemory or the uploading/decanting of personality but also as a component of individual identity. Jean le Flambeur has hidden his past from himself and has no recall of it until others restore it bit by bit via gevulot exchanges.

Rajaniemi’s Finnish origins are most revealed by some of the names he uses. Mieli’s spidership is called Perhonen - butterfly - and he slips in a Finnish expletive in the guise of an Oortian god. There are also borrowings from Japanese, Hebrew and Russian and a subtle Sherlock Holmes reference.

“The Quantum Thief” is bursting with ideas and there are sufficient action/battle scenes to slake any thirst for vicarious violence but sometimes it seems as if incidents are present in order to fill in background rather than being necessary to the plot. The motivations of some of the characters are obscure and despite the prominence of gevulot in the Oubliette, conversations and interactions seem to be more or less unaltered in comparison to our familiar world, though had Rajaniemi presented them otherwise they may have been unintelligible.

The denouement brings all the threads together satisfyingly while the final Interlude sheds additional light on the proceedings and sets up possible scenarios for sequels - for which there will likely be an avid audience.
added by jackdeighton | editInterzone 230, Jack Deighton

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rajaniemi, Hannuprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holicki, IreneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Juhász, ViktorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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`... there comes a time when you cease to know yourself amid all these changes, and that is very sad. I feel at present as the man must have felt who lost his shadow ...'

Maurice Leblanc, The Escape of Arsène Lupin
This is for Nana
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As always, before the warmind and I shoot each other, I try to make small talk.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Jean le Flambeur is a post-human criminal, mind burglar, confidence artist and trickster. His origins are shrouded in mystery, but his exploits are known throughout the Heterarchy - from breaking into the vast Zeusbrains of the Inner System to steal their thoughts, to stealing rare Earth antiques from the aristocrats of the Moving Cities of Mars. Except that Jean made one mistake. Now he is condemned to play endless variations of a game-theoretic riddle in the vast virtual jail of the Axelrod Archons - the Dilemma Prison - against countless copies of himself. Jean's routine of death, defection and cooperation is upset by the arrival of Mieli and her spidership, Perhonen. She offers him a chance to win back his freedom and the powers of his old self - in exchange for finishing the one heist he never quite managed . . . The Quantum Thief is a dazzling hard SF novel set in the solar system of the far future - a heist novel peopled by bizarre post-humans but powered by very human motives of betrayal, revenge and jealousy. It is a stunning debut.
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Jean le Flambeur is a post-human criminal, mind burglar, confidence artist and trickster. His origins are shrouded in mystery, but his exploits are known throughout the Heterarchy - from breaking into the vast Zeusbrains of the Inner System to steal their thoughts, to stealing rare Earth antiques from the aristocrats of the Moving Cities of Mars.… (more)

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Hannu Rajaniemi is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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Average: (3.7)
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1 7
1.5 3
2 33
2.5 6
3 103
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4 179
4.5 25
5 79


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