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Monday, May 6, 2024

The Quantum Thief (Jean le Flambeur, #1)The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Re-Read 5/6/24:

Now on my fourth read, and I'll be honest: few novels truly GET me the way this does. High speed plotting enmeshed in post-Singularity thievery that includes mind, time-theft, truly high-tech baubles, bodies, AI ships, and Game Theory.

Add that to truly erudite writing, clever confabulations of new words, and a truly fluid re-imagining of a society that not only can upload their minds, but can re-fashion a whole world and everyone's memories outside of their bodies -- and how it could so easily be used against them.

What I love most about it is the imagination. The exploration of themes that very well might come to pass for us if we're not careful. But most importantly, this is an exploration WELL beyond the technology we have today, done cleverly and terrifyingly.

But does this mean it's inaccessible? Hello no! It's full of Jean le Flameur, thief extraordinare, and his thief-taker always in tow. :) Funny, brilliant, and full of great truly high-tech mystery.

This late in the game, I'd kinda point fingers at Alastair Reynold's Prefect series and Bank's Culture series as similar titles... but truly, I love this best.

Original Review:

I am very surprised and delighted by this novel. I half-expected an idea or a theme from Stephen Baxter's Flux, but was thoroughly captivated by such a deeply thought-out world and a complex plot. I didn't find many issues with plot discontinuity, as such. There were quick scene changes that might have benefited by a more overt transition or two, but that is a minor issue compared to the tapestry of worlds within worlds that this author has written. Very enjoyable characters, and the twists are fully supported by the main premises. I found myself thinking of new twists that could be supported by his frame and was surprised by more that I hadn't thought deeply enough about. I think I'll enjoy reading this novel again, and not too far in the future. First, I shall read his second novel and see how much more craft he's crammed into his writing with such giddy fractal twirls.

I understand that this novel isn't for the general audience, but I'll tell you straight: IT SHOULD BE.

If you like this, then I recommend Charles Stross's Singularity Sky and Saturn's Children and especially Accellerando. Neal Stephenson's Snowcrash and Diamond Age and Cryptonomicon and Anathem. I would be remiss to leave out other cyberpunk masters, but let's face it: the good stuff is in the post-cyberpunk worlds, dealing with all of the complicated ideas and deeper developments.

The deeper exploration is where this novel really shines. From a strictly craft point of view, I loved the poetry in the techno-babble that verges on a simple techno-babel and almost teeters into complete cognizance. :) Actually, I lie. The quantum foam and Q-dots made me giggle. I loved every second of it.

Great book!

Second read was even better than the first, especially after getting to know all of the terms and players. I loved the poetry in the text, the visual imagery, the requirement for every reader to throw themselves and their souls into the story, only to come up, gasping for air, not quite realizing that the water was highly oxygenated and we could have been breathing it all along.

I laughed more times, this second read. I am almost to the opinion that everyone ought to read this book, or better yet, this trilogy, at least two times through before making a serious opinion of it. Only after thoughtful consideration have I finally come to the conclusion that this meta-tale, this monolith of story, this dire-light, this cutting of an epic gordian knot has got to be one of the classics of literature. It is dense. No doubt about it.

But it is ever so much more rewarding than I had ever expected it to be.

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