Quote of the Day

"We're only here briefly, and while I'm here I want to allow myself joy. So fuck it."
- Amy, Her.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

RE:View: The Quantum Thief

Yay, a book!
  The Quantum Thief is the debut sci-fi crime thriller from Finnish Scotsman (yeah, really), Hannu Rajaniemi. Set in a deep and technological world some centuries into the future, the plot follows cunning inter-planetary thief, Jean de Flambeur as he tries to piece together his lost memories on the Moving Cities of Mars, after being broken free from a cruel and relentless game-theoretic "Dilemma Prison" by the mysterious Mieli and her dazzling Spider-Ship, Perhonen. Ridiculously long sentences aside, this is a stunning hard sci-fi novel "peopled by bizzare post-humans but powered by very human motives of betrayal, revenge and jealousy."

  Starting out as a clever heist tale, The Quantum Thief soon explodes into a sprawling and engaging story of elaborate crime, twisted romance, mind-boggling conspiracy and heart-racing action, all neatly wrapped in some interesting and thought inducing high-end sci-fi concepts. From privacy gevulots and zoku tribes to exomemory and the "Quiet", the book is littered with these complicated and often unexplained terms from start to finish. In the first few chapters, things like this are rapidly dropped upon the reader, most likely leaving you with questions that will only be answered through perseverance. And although this may turn away the impatient reader, those that stick around will find great satisfaction in the way Rajaniemi unofficially reveals the meaning of his puzzling concepts, through natural character involvement and well placed dialogue.

 The characters themselves are equally as deep as the universe they populate, with the majority having complex and intricate backgrounds that shape their poignant personalities. The thief, Jean, shines as the lovable anti-hero protaganist trying to rekindle his lost memories, while using all his charm and wit along the way. His accomplace Mieli and her modest spaceship, Perhonen, are as mysterious as they are bad-ass and young martian detective Isidore adds intellect and perception to the proceedings, while implementing a cat-and-mouse element to the narrative.

 But what really shines in The Quantum Theif is the words themselves. Literally every chapter has a killer beginning, such as the very first line itself: "As always, before the warmind and I shoot each other, I try to make small talk." and my personal favourite: "It is only a few steps from death back to life.". It's these few words that will drag you in to the story, and an incetive to read "just one more chapter then...".

 Perspective-wise, the book's split in two, as in some is written in third person (when following Mieli or Isidore) and some in first (following Jean). This original style doesn't just keep it fresh, but is a nice touch from an inquisitive readers stand point, getting the best of both worlds with the thought tracking of 1st person and the unbiased views of 3rd.

 Action and drama are handled extremely well, providing a perfect balance of the two. No fight is dragged out too long, no conversation lasts more than it needs to be and the light-romance never gets soppy or awkward, resulting in a superb overall package of all the best novel elements.

  As the story unfolds, there are gob-smacking twists, awe-inspiring mysteries and hell of a lot of awesome ideas. A new race evovled from MMORPG guilds? Futuristic vigilantes? Time as a currency? There's so much here that it's an overwhelming achievement to Rajaniemi that he's crammed it all in, while keeping well developed characters and a clever but somewhat classic story intact. And what with this being the first third of a planned trilogy, you can expect a lot more from this talented new author.

9/10 - The worst part was finishing it.

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