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The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

The Quantum Thief (edition 2012)

by Hannu Rajaniemi

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1,390705,480 (3.72)58
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

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English (65)  Finnish (2)  French (2)  Hungarian (1)  All (70)
Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
Charles Stross thinks this is better than the stuff he does, I am afraid I disagree.
It's enjoyable and layered but even after a reread I was still confused about the story... ( )
  jkdavies | Jun 14, 2016 |
Gobbledygook disguised as brilliant writing. Made it to about page 30. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
he author is Finnish so of course I had to read it, he has also got a Phd in mathematical physics, which shows. I was truly confused by this book at times, but do not get me wrong, it is a well-written book and it shows that it is written by someone who masters the genre. It is wondrous.

I truly do not know where to begin. It was made up from words, and I was lost at times. I felt like I was trapped in a surreal dream. And still it was one of the best sci-fi books I have read, because of the way he wrote. It is a masterful novel and if he continues to write like he does then he will be remembered.

Later I found the thing I had been missing on wikipedia, a glossary of all those terms I had no idea about. Yes he sure made up a lot of things and I did not always understand what they were. So an advice would be, check wikipedia. It will help a bit. Rajaniemi knew his world, and better than I did for sure. But if you just go with the flow you will be alright.

But do not ask me what the book is about, there are twists and turns, Mieli who has kidnapped our thief does not explain what she needs either. So we are thrown into a world and Jean needs to find his memories from before so he can figure things out. And just as he is confused what is going on, so are we. And at the end things starts coming together and secrets are brought out in the open, and I was surprised.

I also liked that he used a few Finnish words as names, and more. Yes, I truly liked that. Not to mention that it gave me more insight since they had a meaning too.

I have confused you all now haven't I? Just let me say that this is a sci-fi book to read, the world is pieced together masterfully and you get a detective/adventure story all in one. It would make one kicking movie.
( )
1 vote blodeuedd | Mar 2, 2016 |
I expected to like this more than I did. Maybe it's that I'm not familiar enough with quantum theory to really appreciate aspects of it. I felt somewhat the same way regarding Catherine Asaro's "The Quantum Rose" - the plot is supposed to illustrate the behavior of quantum particles, but to me it just seemed like a fantasy novel.
Still, I don't think my issues with the book really had to do with the math. I found the continual present tense it's written in distancing.
It's also an introduction to a very complex world, with tons of interesting and very alien tech, different cultures, even different levels of reality. It has a lot of characters. Introducing all of these smoothly; letting a reader slide into the world without didactic explanations, while still letting the reader know the essentials, is a difficult task - and one that I didn't feel was always successfully executed. I like the lack of overt explanation, but there were moments where I was confused, or just couldn't fully picture what was going on due to lack of information. This also applies to the main character, a man who can't remember significant portions of his memory and past. It can be hard to get to know a character who doesn't even know himself. More in-depth characterization in general would have been good, especially considering that so much of the plot has to do with questions of identity (who are "you" if who you are can be downloaded, edited, transferred...?)
These things aside, this is still quite a good book, especially for a debut novel. Once I started to get to know the world and its functioning, it got pretty interesting. I assume a sequel is on the way... ( )
1 vote AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
One of those books that shows that hard Science Fiction is not at all dead. Quite brilliant plotting and storytelling. Totally recommended. ( )
  Superenigmatix | Jan 16, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 65 (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 editionscalculated
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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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. 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.… (more)

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