Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Quantum Thief

Nominated by Peter W, chosen by Rodney (one of our increasing number of remote members), the book for this month is The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi, which is described as a far-future thought experiment SF detective novel.


'If you dropped Greg Egan's hard physics chops into a rebooted Finnish version of Al Reynolds with the writing talent of a Ted Chiang you'd begin to get a rough approximation of the scale of his talent. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I read it. Hard to admit, but I think he's better at this stuff than I am. And The Quantum Thief is the best first SF novel I've read in many years -- Charles Stross
TQT has been heavily trailed as 'the' big SF debut novel of the year. These accounts are correct. The Quantum Thief is a crazy joyride. It's the sort of book you'd get if Scott Lynch and Greg Egan teamed up, with the characters and black humour of the former mixed in with the hardcore physics of the latter. The story unfolds briskly with barely a pause for breath, the plot is gripping, the ideas complex but thought-provoking, and there are all the requisite shocking revelations and intriguing plot twists you could wish for. The Quantum Thief is a bravura debut novel, a confident and accomplished work that reinvigorates the genre. It is easily the best SF debut since Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon --The Wertzone
Comes together piece by piece in the mode of M. John Harrison's Light - and it's every bit the equal of that modern-day genre masterpiece. Beneath the science, you see, beneath the staggering speculative wonder of it all, Hannu Rajaniemi has a knack for spare, no-nonsense storytelling that approaches the poetic at times. The Quantum Thief is a revelation, in the end, and make no mistake: we have here the sci-fi debut of 2010 --The Speculative Scotsman

Product Description/Blurb

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.
Regarding The Difference Engine, the general consensus was that the stories were well written and enjoyable with plenty of good ideas, but would have been better if there was a plot as well...

When I get a spare moment I will finish off my overview of Steampunk genre and culture and put it on the website for your interest.

Meanwhile, while you are waiting for your new order to arrive, don't forget the Hugo short stories (http://sfbk.blogspot.com/2011/04/book-club-short-story-vote.html). Please let me have your votes by the 28th. If you don't like reading them on the computer screen or smart phone, Tony has some hard copies which he promises to hand on this weekend. If anyone else has printed them off please let the group know.

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