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The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi
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The Quantum Thief (edition 2012)

by Hannu Rajaniemi

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1,164676,969 (3.72)52
Member:cannellfan
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
Rating:***
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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» See also 52 mentions

English (62)  Finnish (2)  French (2)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (67)
Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
This could have gotten 5 stars from me but it was just too confusing in the end. I'm a sucker for gadgetry and crazy ideas about future societies. This book was full of them. The first chapter completely blew me away but then as it got deeper and deeper I started to get more and more confused. The switching back and forth from first to third person threw me off sometimes and listening to it on audio may have increased that confusion.

The other thing was that the narrator is the narrator from the Dune audio books so I kept feeling like I was in the Dune universe (which really isn't a bad thing, just confusing).

I would definitely read more from this author but would probably avoid the audio so that I can back up easier if I get confused.

Last little note. One of the main characters names (Isadore) sounds very feminine to me (an American) so I thought the character was a woman repeatedly until I finally got used to it. ( )
  ragwaine | Jun 10, 2015 |
I like to know the meaning of the sentences I read and the definitions of all the words in them. That is not possible in this book, and at first I did not like what I was reading, but resistance was futile and I wandered on. I am very glad that I did. The chaos of fantasy physics and undefined terms pulls you in to a matrix of fascinating complexity and mystery. This is not a Perry Mason tale translated onto an alien planet. It is pure poetry and serious sensory overload. After I catch my breath, I’ll try the second book in the series. ( )
  drardavis | May 22, 2015 |
Overall, an excellent book. The action is fast-paced, the characters are enjoyable, and the future societies are delightful. It's so refreshing to see a book that posits very different technology, and that technology is actually the foundation of an equally different society, with different ways for individuals to interact. And this isn't wooly science -- I felt like I was in the right mind-frame for this book after having picked up Brian Greene's The Fabric of the Cosmos and reading a couple of chapters on the basics of quantum mechanics.

My only quibbles are relatively minor. Firstly, the pacing was a little too fast; I felt I was still towards the middle of the book at the last page. Another thing is that the characters always felt just a little removed -- there were several emotional arcs that seemed to fade in and out a little, and a couple of emotional payoffs/gut-punches that didn't have the right impact, as they didn't feel earned.

That being said, I enjoyed the book and I'm very much looking forward to the sequel. ( )
  oscillate_wildly | May 16, 2015 |
Wow, that was some ride. Far-future weirdness, a great detective story, explosions, and heart. Great characters. I hated to put it down, and can't wait for the next one. ( )
  kingmob2 | Apr 8, 2015 |
A satisfyingly rich worldscape is presented, so dense that it’s possible to immediately get disoriented and be tempted to walk away from this book, but for readers who opt to enjoy the ride cresting on the top of the fast-moving waves, and not worrying too much about the depths below, there’s a terrific thrill in store. While there is a recognizable whodunnit mystery plot at it’s core, the juiciest bits are all the posthuman concepts introduced. Or rather, never formally introduced: Rajaniemi’s style is to drop ideas, reference backstory, factions, etc conversationally on the reader as if you were as familiar with all of it as the citizens of the story. This can sometimes take many dozens or even hundreds of pages to gather enough exposition (often inferred from context) to explain, making this book a good candidate for a multiple-read approach in order to fully appreciate- perhaps with a glossary or wiki near at hand. Fortunately, it also has plenty of fast-paced action sequences and consistently well-crafted language to make a re-read welcome. The central theme is reminiscent of Plato’s Cave: In a society where every thought and every personality is digitized and mediated by ubiquitous personal encryption, what constitutes reality, ownership, freedom, or memory? In this utopia, personal privacy is so highly regarded that conversations, interactions, and even observations of an individual can be erased from all memories if that individual desires- even retroactively. Of course, such a system becomes an immediate target for corruption, so plenty of dramatic possibilities here. ( )
  SciFi-Kindle | Feb 9, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 62 (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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Epigraph
`... 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
Dedication
This is for Nana
First words
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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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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