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The Quantum Thief [Paperback]

Hannu Rajaniemi
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)

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Book Description

30 Sep 2010

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.

Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (30 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575088885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575088887
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 245,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Rajaniemi spins a yarn that ties old-fashioned adventure to cutting edge science without ever seeming contrived. The science fiction debut of the year, no contest. (SFX)

A brilliant debut. (Eric Brown THE GUARDIAN)

It is, at heart, a noir thriller in cosmic drag. In addition to its amnesiac antihero there's a down-at-heel detective and any number of femmes fatales. Wild SF concepts come thick and fast. Cities are mobile, spaceships are sentient, memories can be shared, and portions of a person's lifespan form the basis for financial transactions (time literally is money). (James Lovegrove THE FINANCIAL TIMES)

The first line of The Quantum Thief promises a lot: humour, suspense, time paradoxes, philosophical puzzles and futuristic action, all tied up in a succinct and stylish knot. All this and more, the novel delivers. Inventive, exotic, densely plotted and compelling, this is an impressive debut. (Lisa Tuttle THE TIMES)

"A brilliant first novel. The Quantum Thief, like so much of the best space opera of this century, is a prodigy house, where propositions are instant heritage, and arguments are eyeclick." (STRANGE HORIZONS)

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. (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. (SPECULTIVE SCOTSMAN)

"With its engaging narrative and characters backed by often almost intimidatingly good sci-fi concepts, it's easy to see why The Quantum Thief is being heavily, and deservedly touted, as the big SF debut of the year." (SCI FI NOW)

The Quantum Thief is bursting with ideas and there sufficient action/battle scenes to slake any thirst for vicarious violence." (INTERZONE)

Serious SF disguised as a crime thriller with great success... a fun, addictive read. (Anthony Brown TOTAL SCI FI)

He's spectacularly delivered on the promise that this is likely the more important debut SF novel we'll see this year. (Gary K Wolfe LOCUS)

A wildly imaginative SF novel. Excellent. (BBC FOCUS)

Book Description

The most exciting SF debut of the last fiive years - a star to stand alongside Alastair Reynolds and Richard Morgan.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Non-derivative science fiction - hooray! 11 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I agree with one of the other posters; this will probably become a classic. It is well written and highly imaginative, creating an original and yet oddly familiar future setting. Original in that it is refreshingly different to the well trodden space opera genre and is full of new ideas. True they are not all explained in detail and the author could have easily made the book 100-150 pages longer - but would it have been better? I'm not sure it would have been. It was refreshing to not have things explained in detail, scenes set , histories transcribed etc and to be catapulted into this strange and yet in some ways classic ie Martian setting - an almost Golden Age 1950's feel at times! It did feel slightly fragile now and then - but better that than the ponderous doorstops that get churned out all too often in this genre - and it has a welcome and subtle light touch that sets it apart from it's rivals. 4 or 5 stars? I'll give it 4 because I think he can get even better!

The best sci-fi I've read since early Banks' novels. I very much look forward to the next.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another promising writer pops up in my radar 8 April 2011
First things first, this is isn't the average book, there is a tang (maybe more) of weirdness to it. The novel is clearly space opera, but also not quite.

It starts with a prison, in fact, the Prison. A place with no clear boundaries because it can grow. It is also an unsual place because its directors make the prisioners play dangerous games and die, then its revival for them and repeat. That until the prisioners are redeemed of their criminal acts. It is from there one of our protagonist comes, Jean le Flaumber, a former thief who remembers nothing from his life.

He is rescued by Mieli and her ship, because of that he is in debt to her. The payback of the debt is what makes the story of "The Quantum Thief" and possibly of the second book, "The Fractal Prince".

Jean, Mieli and another surprise character meet in Oubliette, a peculiar city in a inhospitable planet, and problem starts brewing. It involves virtual inteligent beings, who could have come from real people or not, and even more odd things.

The novel also has a few elements of hard sf, a few quantum things, nanotechnology, among others, but nothing too detailed and hard to follow or unenjoyable, far from it, in fact.

It is original but within everyone comprehension. Definitely worth reading and waiting for a sequel.

Till next time,
M.I.T.H. (ManInsideTheHelm)
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89 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new Classic 5 Oct 2010
By Diziet TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I think this is likely to become a sci-fi classic. Considering that it's also the first published work by Hannu Rajaniemi, that is pretty impressive.

I have to admit that, for the first chapter or so, I thought this was just going to be another techno-geek gadgetfest but I was definitely wrong. Like another reviewer, I found the start pretty confusing as the author does not give you much of a chance to get to grips with his terminology, with the result that I was left floundering about but hanging in there; a feeling I'm used to after reading a lot of Tricia Sullivan and C J Cherryh. And, like those writers, if you bear with it long enough, it starts to come together and repays the effort with interest.

Along the way, the story pays it's dues to it's sci-fi ancestors. I mean, the Quantum Thief - Jean le Flambeur - really reminds me of Harry Harrison's 'Stainless Steel Rat', while other characters, and even whole scenes, bring to mind Alfred Bester's 'Tiger! Tiger!' and 'The Demolished Man'.

However, even the technology has literary and classical references - '
... Read more ›
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but hard to follow 5 Dec 2010
By Robert
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book. The first I have read by this author. I found the culture of a walking Martian city based on an idealised Paris fascinating. I am not sorry I bought it. There is a big but... Buuut...The thread of a tale can be easily broken by unfamiliar words or unexplained ideas. Several times I found myself reading a paragraph and was suddenly derailed trying to understand a concept or word. OK, a lot was explained later. But some of the plot never seemed to get explained. Which is why the last fifth of the book felt like a morass of porridge. I just could not understand what was going on. However the book was, mostly, a fun read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If only it had a cheat sheet! 12 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I mentioned on Hannus other Thief book - if this had a cheat sheet in the back, that you could if wanted to look up some of the more unusual terms and concepts he is writing about, it would make this book extremely enjoyable. However without it, it is not an easy read. Prehaps for some the concepts will all fall in to place but I think its a shame for us lesser mortal beings we can not get the same level of enjoyment.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining first novel
I was inspired to read this after reading several glowing reviews. It proved an interesting, if challenging read. On the whole rather liked it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mr. F. A. Driver
1.0 out of 5 stars Ultra hard impenetrable Science Fiction - was the hero male or female,...
This was recommended to me as an example of new SF published in 2013. So I was keen to have a read and see what was deemed to be the most creative new Science Fiction of the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sally Ann Melia
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best debuts i've read in years
Reading this was like reading "Neuromancer" for the first time in the 80s. Initially it's unsettling as there are plenty of unfamiliar terms - some based on Russian, some... Read more
Published 2 months ago by PhysFan
5.0 out of 5 stars an outstanding read
The ideas I found in here were all new to me, the book had me constantly reaching for understanding and I just loved it.
Published 5 months ago by Roland
5.0 out of 5 stars mind blowing!
Never read any book twice before and never written more than 20 words in a positive review in amazon. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Pendulum
4.0 out of 5 stars great
A great book but hard to read, a lot of made up words you're expected to know. . . . .
Published 9 months ago by Jay Kilvington
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent debut....
I first read this novel in 2011 and thought it was pretty good at the time, if a little complex in terms of the introduction of terms with no glossary. Read more
Published 9 months ago by The Patrician
4.0 out of 5 stars Wierdly Brilliant
Or maybe brilliantly wierd. Rajaniemi requires a bit of careful reading and can be difficult to follow but he has created an original world and unique stories. Read more
Published 12 months ago by C. A. Jarvis
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
This is an interesting book, however not my style as I thought it would have been, however this is not a bad reflection of the book which is excellently written, although can be... Read more
Published 13 months ago by A. Jefferys
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Creative But ...
... in some ways not an easy read. It is definitely worth persevering with this book. Rajaniemi has a vivid imagination and his writing is in itself easy enough to read, it is his... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Peter J. Holmes
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