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Tuesday, May 7, 2024

The Fractal Prince (Jean le Flambeur, #2)The Fractal Prince by Hannu Rajaniemi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Re-Read 5/7/24:

I've said it before and I'll say it again: this series has got to be one of my all time-favorite SFs ever.

If anything, the second book is better than the first. Or perhaps, I just LOVE story-within-story stories more than anything else.

But here's the real scoop: There's nothing about this novel that I don't love.

That's right. It feels like perfection. It has wild future tech and a post-singularity universe, but it feels like a glorious romance right out of The Arabian Nights while simultaneously being a continuation of a hardcore Arsene Lupin novel.

I love everything about the Earth here. The wild code, the stories, the great tragedies, the Wrath.

But the end? My god, it blew me away.

This is going to be one of those novels I will always treasure.

Original Review:

“On the day the Hunter comes for me, I am killing ghost cats from the Schrödinger Box.”

I luuuuurve this opening line. His craft is exquisite, so far.

Update: The imagery is almost better than anything I've read in either sci-fi or fantasy. If you took out the better and deeper images from all thee matrix movies, threw them up against the wall with jinn and fairies and the greatest heist mysteries, heavily spiced it with near-impossible mathematical concepts and theorems that really need some deep explanations you're not going to even remotely get in this text, (save S. cat, but he gives a quick explanation for this one, although its been done in sci-fiction a lot already), you stir in planetary intelligences, diamond cities that crashed to earth, slow and quicktime peoples, AND warring sisters, then maybe you've got the first gorgeous fifty pages of this book. And don't forget to keep a copy of your mind before you read, or you might just lose a copy of your prime iteration. I want to give this 6 stars. Have I been waiting for something like this all my life since Singularity Sky? Maybe. :)

A quote:

"So. Sightseeing instead. How about watching a transhuman mind have a Hawking orgasm? From afar."
Mieli smiles. A warm rush of relief washes over her.
"I bet you say that to all the girls," she says.

The entire novel is poetry and math and all told with brilliant imagery. I've decided to bone up on my quantum physics, too, just so I can appreciate the story more. I may be relatively unique in this respect, because I don't really believe that general readership of sci-fi novels just "decide" to understand quantum physics in order to more fully appreciate a novel they had just read. Well, to be fair, I've read popular accounts in the past and have enjoyed them immensely, even if I pick up on less than one-tenth of the math. Ok, maybe I'm not that odd after all in wanting a greater understanding. At least, in this case, I feel really justified and encouraged after reading this brilliant work of math/fiction.

So I finished it and I can only say: Wow.

Well, I can say a lot more, because wow doesn't do it a third of justice. Or even an irrational third of justice.
What I will say is that these two books have now jumped to my top ten favorite books list. Together, because I don't want to cause other injustices to stories, and I have a very great feeling about the next book.

While I ought to recommend this book to everyone, I doubt it will be to everyone's taste. But then does everyone like Blake, Shakespeare, Manly P Hall's Secret Teachings of All Ages? Of course they should... But they are all very very different than this piece which might need to be its own genre from now on. I'm tempted to just transcend here and put an end to my misery.
Read em, peeps. Just read em, perhaps three times. You'll see.

Update, second read.

I laughed and I cried. I got more out of the whole story angle than I did the first time, all of the stories within stories, minds within stories, stories coming to life and eating your children, your children coming back from the dead to birth stories that would later eat the Earth and help the dead child become the God King of the Gogols? OH YES. Yes, yes, yes. A thousand times yes. He turned a fundamentally metafiction concept into a hypercube and spun it out with such verve and beauty as to kick my mind in its ass. I cannot say how much I loved this book. Again, much better the second time reading than the first, if possible, but I can't regret a single instant.

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