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The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

The Quantum Thief (edition 2012)

by Hannu Rajaniemi

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1,047618,051 (3.73)47
Title:The Quantum Thief
Authors:Hannu Rajaniemi
Info:Tor Science Fiction (2012), Edition: Reprint, Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library, Star Base Andromeda Book Discussions
Tags:science fiction, SBA Book Discussion, hard sf, read2013

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The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

  1. 10
    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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English (53)  French (2)  Finnish (2)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (58)
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
Based on a lot of other people's reviews i thought this book was going to be a chore, bogged down with so much techno jargon and new words that muddling through it would take a month of sundays and a cliff notes opened next to me...

I am happy to report that not only did it not take that long, but that the journey from start to finish was rather enjoyable. I had some days at work that i couldnt wait for lunch break or to get home to read some more.

We have a story told by a few characters, the main character being the thief, Jean Le Flambeur (main because he is the titled character and because all of his POV is in the first person). Introducing other characters as the story progresses we have the detective, Isidore who is trying to hunt the thief, Mieli who sprung the thief out of a rather cool prison for her own reasons, the Gentleman who is one of the tzadikkim (basically a bunch of Zorros running around the city as installed by a higher power to try to control the situation). As it happens the story can sort of be described as the thief describes on pg 200 of the Hardcover:

"Fighting a cabal of planetary mind-controlling masterminds with a group of masked vigilantes"

Sounds interesting, and it is. I wont spoil anything else, because there are some plot points and twists that surprised me and i dont want to give away any background info unknowingly. But suffice to say, the concepts were very new to me, and althought the new world and the new terms to describe certain things took some time to get used to(i still dont really understand everything about the whole gogol thing, although the gevulot makes enough sense), i eagerly await the Fractal Prince later this year as the book ends with quite the setup for the next chapter of the story.

Things and concepts i liked: the backstory was handled with a series of Interludes, that played out mostly 20 yrs ago and the reader should be mindful of these as they are very helpful in understanding the story; The author allows the characters to make revelations, then cut to the next scene allowing the reader to catch up before letting another character somewhat explain the revelation; lastly, the idea of Watches and quantum time being used as a barterig system at the end of which you 'die' and have to serve time as a municpal worker until ur allowed to get back into another life/body.

As a note, the author being Finnish has a good command of the english language and at no point does the reader have to stop and think about what and how it is supposed to be meant in english. ( )
  T4NK | Sep 30, 2014 |
Really impressive merging of a story of a thief and his relationships with an amazing world informed by the mergings of bits and atoms, the physical and the digital.

This book is hard sci-fi that is more about data than rockets and with a warm beating heart. ( )
  nnschiller | Sep 18, 2014 |
Really impressive merging of a story of a thief and his relationships with an amazing world informed by the mergings of bits and atoms, the physical and the digital.

This book is hard sci-fi that is more about data than rockets and with a warm beating heart. ( )
  nnschiller | Sep 18, 2014 |
Wowza. Throughout the first half I kept wondering if I was going to finish the book -- so many weird concepts, so little explanation. And then suddenly the second half became gripping and I raced through to the end. Hannu's unwillingness to explain things is definitely a challenge, right through the epilogue, but in the end worthwhile because I can't get the book out of my head. ( )
  AlexDunae | Aug 30, 2014 |
For a book that isn't thick the story is nice and dense. There are ideas in it that are not new but they were used to good effect in the story. The reader is plopped down right in the middle and you have to keep up there is no spoonfeeding any back story to the reader at all and it was a nice change of pace. Straight up SF novel and that was certainly a change of pace for me. Not sure if I will pick up the next one as soon as it comes out or wait until the third one and read them back to back.
( )
  Glennis.LeBlanc | Jul 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (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 (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hannu Rajaniemiprimary 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
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Book description
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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Broken free from a nightmarish distant-future prison by a mysterious woman who offers him his life back if he will complete the ultimate heist he left unfinished, con man Jean le Flambeur is pursued in worlds where people communicate through shared memories.… (more)

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