The Quantum Thief is a Kirkus Reviews Best of 2011 Science Fiction & Fantasy title. One of Library Journal's Best SF/Fantasy Books of 2011
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 stealing rare Earth antiques from the aristocrats of Mars. Now he's confined inside the Dilemma Prison, where every day he has to get up and kill himself before his other self can kill him.
Rescued by the mysterious Mieli and her flirtatious spacecraft, Jean is taken to the Oubliette, the Moving City of Mars, where time is currency, memories are treasures, and a moon-turnedsingularity lights the night. What Mieli offers is the chance to win back his freedom and the powers of his old self-in exchange for finishing the one heist he never quite managed.
As Jean undertakes a series of capers on behalf of Mieli and her mysterious masters, elsewhere in the Oubliette investigator Isidore Beautrelet is called in to investigate the murder of a chocolatier, and finds himself on the trail of an arch-criminal, a man named le Flambeur....
Hannu Rajaniemi's The Quantum Thief is a crazy joyride through the solar system several centuries hence, a world of marching cities, ubiquitous public-key encryption, people communicating by sharing memories, and a race of hyper-advanced humans who originated as MMORPG guild members. But for all its wonders, it is also a story powered by very human motives of betrayal, revenge, and jealousy. It is a stunning debut.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
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.
A Gripping Tale of the Far Future
“The Quantum Thief” is a wild ride! Hannu Rajaniemi drops the reader directly into this complex story of the trans-human post-singularity future with no exposition. You must try to begin understanding this incredible and complex future setting strictly from the context of the narrative.
The lines between virtual and real are often unclear, and with the high level of future technology, maybe meaningless. The story mainly takes place in the Oubliette, a future city on Mars that strides across the landscape supported by the Atlas Quiet. It is pursued by the Phoboi, ravening beings who seek to destroy it. These are the castoff smart weapons of a revolutionary war that may not have occurred.
Our anti-hero is the master thief, Jean le Flambeur. He is seeking to regain his memories which he seems to have hidden from himself in the Oubliette. He is serving an Oortian operative who is herself in service to a great power. He owes her a debt for freeing him from a fractal prison.
After having read this novel, I still am unsure of a lot of what is going on here. I have figured out some things about this future setting, but much is still obscure. It was pretty difficult in the first half of the book, until contextual clues aided my understanding, and a gestalt of facts built up. As this is the first book in a triology, I expect more will be revealed in the next volumes. I am looking forward to “The Fractal Prince.”
This is the best science fiction book I have read in the past twenty years. It's the evolution of Neuromancer with elements of bothFrankenstein and The Matrix but with warmth and soul and life in a fantastic and consistent world that is completely original. There are moments of genuine revelation regarding the future and the author's created world that will thrill you--if you give this book the time and careful attention. Easy to read but harder to grasp--some awareness of quantum science helps much in understanding the science within the story and how it merges with the plot. Wonderfully satisfying and I can hardly wait for the sequel, The Fractal Prince.
The Quantum Thief
Weaving a story of spun neosites. Phase-shifting between 18th century Russian lit and Count Zero, this is a chaotic beam of mostly coherent images. Sometimes a wave sometimes a particle. Take it for a ride and see where you land.