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Quantum Confessions Paperback – 18 Jul 2014
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"Quantum Confessions is an original, thought provoking tale." The International Review of Books
"To set this kind of dystopian exploration in a very near and recognisable future is a stroke of masterwork by Oram." Katrina Northern
"By any stretch of the imagination, Quantum Confessions is an excellent debut and one that demands your attention. Hopefully the first of many releases from Oram, it is recommended without reservation!" Book Viral
"Quantum Confessions by Stephen Oram is a book that makes one stop in their tracks and think. I love the metaphysical, other-worldly element throughout the book which makes us all ponder the question: Who are we? And what is the truth?" Gisela Dixon - Readers' Favorite
"Though his fiction debut, Stephen Oram manages with the very first work to bring some great questions and present the dark, but a grandiose picture of dystopian future. Great is the author's idea to put on same side believers, equally those that believe in the divinity and science, opposing them with the mighty group that banned the absolute truth in any form - in that way Oram cleverly achieved that his novel is not only another one in a series of works where the future conflict emerges between religion and science." Amazon Top 50 Reviewer
"Exciting, dystopian and a heady mix of family, physics and futurism!" Celia Wade-Brown - Mayor of Wellington, New Zealand
"Exciting, intelligent and poignant." C R Dudley, author of Fragments of Perception
About the Author
Stephen Oram writes science fiction and is lead curator for near-future fiction at Virtual Futures. He's been a hippie-punk, religious-squatter and an anarchist-bureaucrat; he thrives on contradictions. He is published in several anthologies and has two published novels, 'Quantum Confessions' and 'Fluence'. His collection of sci-fi shorts, 'Eating Robots and Other Stories', was described by the 'Morning Star' as one of the top radical works of fiction in 2017.
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Quantum Confessions is a clever exploration of this idea, demonstrating the theoretical problems that could come of a society of individuals with little or no shared purpose. The reader is led to question: Is our innate desire to form connections with others vital to our survival? Is the joy arising from shared experiences what makes us human? How would we cope without a structure to make us feel secure, and how long would it take us to adapt if it were to be removed from right under our feet?
This is a reality lived out by characters Aled and Grey, who have alternating chapters to show different perspectives. Both have come of age during the changing political climate described above, and both are testimony to background and childhood experience affecting what we think and believe as adults. Both have difficult choices to make, battles to fight in and outside of themselves, and ultimate tests of faith to face
Along with social philosophy, Oram bravely takes on the concept of the observer effect which is particularly relevant in modern physics. Put simply, this is the idea that the mere act of observing a phenomenon changes its effects. In the quantum world, observation changes something from a possible to an actual occurrence. Heisenberg stressed that the observer only has the function of registering decisions and not influencing them, and that it could just as easily be a piece of apparatus as a human being. But there are groups of people who have taken this scientific development to mean the observer is a subjective force in nature, consciously or unconsciously choosing the reality that is played out. These differences in belief behind what is essentially the same scientific research are illustrated very nicely in the core plot of the book.
I found it refreshing to read an intelligent contemporary novel that builds on popular theories of our time. There are some interesting thoughts about forthcoming advances in technology and culture in here, and although the story is set in the future they are all easily conceivable which makes the subject matter all the more poignant. There are some nice changes of setting throughout the story too: the contrast of a Buddhist monastery in China and the urban-dystopian streets of London is very effective.
In summary I consider this to be an exciting debut novel, dealing with several complex ideas with admirable ease. Although I didn’t come away feeling I had read anything spectacular in terms of artistic prose or structure, the impressions it left behind were meaningful and lasting. I look forward to reading more from this author.
In his impressive debut, new author Stephen Oram explores the challenges placed on a society that has lost sight of certainty, in which a powerful ruling group (the ‘Liberalists’) have outlawed any kind of absolute truth, undermining the simple faith everyone places in belief of one kind or another, be it religious faith or scientific proof.
Oram avoids the simplistic faith/science dichotomy by rather cleverly putting atheists and scientists in the same camp as believers (the ‘Absolutists’) – people who have hitherto relied on axioms, received wisdom or demonstrable proofs to underpin their faith in existence. The awful result is the disintegration of society; as the Liberalist agenda takes hold, more and more groups, one of the biggest being the Disintegrates (‘Ds’), who are little more than catatonic, become unable to cope.
Quantum Confessions poses the intriguing conundrum of a link between quantum physics and faith in a supreme being, which is the heart of the adventure story which unfolds around Aled, a young man of faith, increasingly beleaguered in an officially godless world, and Grey, a young woman recruited into an at first reasonable-sounding and later decidedly sinister organisation called simply The Project. Its ostensible aim is to find ways of putting society back on a constructive path by blending quantum physics (with its understanding that all states of being can co-exist simultaneously) with a kind of time-travelling trance state, for which it needs to recruit Aled.
The novel uses two first-person protagonists, Aled and Grey, who each tell the story from their own viewpoint along a conventional time track (during the 2020s and 30s). This makes for compelling reading and moves the story along at a decent pace.
From my point of view, the most interesting aspect of the plot is the implied criticism of an attitude which insists that there are no absolute truths, that everything is as valuable or worthy as everything else and that every choice is equally valid. I’m happy to say I detest the moral relativism this kind of thinking leads to, the kind of thinking that insists that, for example, that we in the west have no right to ‘impose’ our view of human rights on others (as if the Enlightenment didn’t espouse universal values), or that we cannot criticise the treatment of women in other countries because it’s ‘their culture’. This a book rich in other themes as well, though – culture, politics and sexuality all add to the mix.
I think Oram might have underestimated the power of cognitive dissonance at times; the unravelling of the Catholic Church after the Pope is discovered to have doubts seems a little swift and a bit unlikely. Human beings are notorious for ignoring that which threatens their closely-held beliefs. But no matter, this is set in a nightmare future we can only hope will never come about, and we can allow him to be a little cavalier with reality in developing his intriguing story.
Stephen Oram might not have been catapulted up there with the Orwells and the Atwoods just yet, but Quantum Confessions is a cracking good start.
I hope Quantum Confessions attracts a large readership because it stacks up well against established Dystopia fiction. I think it would make a great film!