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.
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 . . .
Rajaniemi melds a caper novel, New Wave aesthetics, and theoretical physics into a stellar debut. Broken out of a quantum prison in which he'd been forced to play endless games of prisoner's dilemma, often against himself, master thief Jean le Flambeur is forced to take a job working for the mysterious and beautiful Mieli. They travel to Oubliette, a moving city on Mars where time and memory are quantifiable and transferrable goods, and privacy is paramount. Their nemesis, the detective Isidore, reports to the enigmatic tzaddiks, a group of self-appointed law enforcers. Rajaniemi deftly introduces nifty concepts: a society of quantum MMO players, public servants who have used their allotment of Time and must labor to earn more. The plot itself is straightforward, allowing the mix of multiple narrative styles and viewpoints, elegant world building, and gonzo futurism to astonish without overwhelming. The ending sets up a sequel, but the story still stands nicely on its own.
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Vivid, challenging, fun
I enjoyed this book a lot and found it well written, engaging, with strong characters and vivid locations and ideas. I like books that challenge you, don't feel the need to patronise you with explanations, but this was perhaps if anything a bit too far over my had at times...not sure I could tell you even now who ended up winning but it wouldn't stop me looking up another book by this author. Easy reading but not so easy to understand!
I had never really read anything from this genre before but found the book captured my interest quickly and left me wanting more at the end
Great new mindscape
Only half way through and it is making me think differently.. Surprisingly a real page turner