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The Coming of Quantum Cats Mass Market Paperback – 1 May 1986

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Mass Market Paperback, 1 May 1986
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Spectra (1 May 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553257862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553257861
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 10.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,867,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
The problem with having written as many great works of science fiction as Frederick Pohl has is that sometimes that opus can overshadow a title or two. While not entirely neglected, this novel is usually not ranked alongside such classics as 'The Space Merchants,' 'Gateway,' and 'Jem'. Perhaps it does not measure up to these works, but it is nonetheless an enormously enjoyable book.

Set in the then-contemporary world of 1983, the novel follows the different incarnations of three characters - Dominic DeSota, Nyla Christophe, and Larry Douglas - as they deal with their counterparts from alternate worlds. Pohl uses the premise to posit some very different Americas, but the real focus is on the very different people these characters became within these worlds - one Dominic is a senator, another is a meek mortgage broker, a third a major commanding an assault force. These characters confront each other as their different timelines clash - and face the increasing danger posed by the unintended consequences of travel between their worlds.

The greatest strength of the book is not in the alternate worlds Pohl describes (many of which are satirical takes on the America of his day) or in his use of historical personages, but in the characters he creates. Though his premise is based on developing different permutations of just a few individuals, he nonetheless makes each of them distinct and interesting. Through them the reader is offered an interesting mediation on how different circumstances can shape character - all within the context of a novel that ranks with the best works of alternate history.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth searching for 13 Aug. 2014
By Dan'l Danehy-Oakes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
You can't say enough good about the late Fred Pohl to please me. I've never read a bad story by him. Yet, somehow, a number of his books have remained unread on my shelves. He was always a second-tier writer for me: not quite up there with Heinlein and Le Guin and Wolfe and Delany.

And he was a genuinely kind person whose company I was privileged to enjoy only a few times.

So I pulled this one off the shelf this week, partly in belated memorial to Fred.

It's a twisted story of the multiple-realities interpretation of quantum mechanics, in which multiple, very different and yet similar, versions of Dominic Sota exist in multiple timelines - which begin to collide because the America of one timeline wants to use paratime to make deadly surprise stealth war on its Soviet Union. But there are other timelines with their own agendas...

The story gets complicated quickly, and that Pohl can pull an ending out of his hat is a credit to his skill as a plotter. All the Dominic Sotas we meet really are versions of the same person, but distinct another amazing trick. And he makes us care about them.

Well, this is second-tier Pohl, but it's still a damn fine read. I may have to rethink my writer tiers.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable characterization by a master of science fiction 23 Mar. 2008
By MarkK - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The problem with having written as many great works of science fiction as Frederick Pohl has is that sometimes that opus can overshadow a title or two. While not entirely neglected, this novel is usually not ranked alongside such classics as The Space Merchants, Gateway (Heechee Saga), and Jem. Perhaps it does not measure up to these works, but it is nonetheless an enormously enjoyable book.

Set in the then-contemporary world of 1983, the novel follows the different incarnations of three characters - Dominic DeSota, Nyla Christophe, and Larry Douglas - as they deal with their counterparts from alternate worlds. Pohl uses the premise to posit some very different Americas, but the real focus is on the very different people these characters became within these worlds - one Dominic is a senator, another is a meek mortgage broker, a third a major commanding an assault force. These characters confront each other as their different timelines clash - and face the increasing danger posed by the unintended consequences of travel between their worlds.

The greatest strength of the book is not in the alternate worlds Pohl describes (many of which are satirical takes on the America of his day) or in his use of historical personages, but in the characters he creates. Though his premise is based on developing different permutations of just a few individuals, he nonetheless makes each of them distinct and interesting. Through them the reader is offered an interesting mediation on how different circumstances can shape character - all within the context of a novel that ranks with the best works of alternate history.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Doppleganger 14 Oct. 2004
By Sir George Martini - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In my opinion, "Coming of the Quantum Cats" is Pohl's best book. In an alternate America ruled by Arabs, Nicky DeSota is a timid real estate agent who gets arrested for swimming topless with his girlfriend. Agent Nyla "No Thumbs" Christophe interrogates Nicky about surveillance pictures taken of him breaking into a secret laboratory. He has an alibi and she releases him, but he knows he's in trouble. How could the person in the pictures look exactly like him? Nicky covertly visits a former movie star named Ron Reagan who may be able to help, and the adventure begins.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Standard SF genre fiction about interesting idea 27 Feb. 2006
By Jason Mierek - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I first read the beginning half to two-thirds of this story in serial form, back in the days when I subscribed to Analog. Having re-read the story almost twenty-years later, I'm sorry to report that this is a standard genre SF novel. It explores the possibilities of the multiple-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, which is not bad at all, and the author even has fund creating "alternate reality" variations on the characters, but there's nothing outstanding about the novel either.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great sci-fi 27 April 2001
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
By far Pohl's best book. I read a lot of sci-fi and this is one of my all time faves. If you like good character development and solid quantum theory with people jumping between alternate earths then read this book. It's out of print but worth finding!
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