Review: The Quantum what?

I finally finished Quantum Thief. For a fair review and introduction to the themes of this book, try here, and then we’ll get to my gripe. Okay?

I’ve read a fair few space operas covering singularity and post singularity themes, but nothing with an economy this bleak. It’s the Quiet: the whole concept stood out like a sore thumb that just didn’t fit! With technology like this, why not build or grow a bunch of androids to do the Quiet jobs for you? Why ‘die’ and end up a slave for who knows how many decades? Why was it such a horrible experience that the very economy itself ran on quantum linked units of time measured by your Watch? I struggled with this most basic concept of the plot for a while. The author has a Phd in Mathematical Physics from Edinburgh, so of course was not going to leave such a horrid state of affairs unexplained. It’s all in the big reveal at the end, where some major paradigm shifts finally unpack this apparent contradiction and explain it.

But not much else is. I like being immersed in a sink or swim sci-fi-scape as much as the next bloke, but it would be nice to have *some* idea of the place by the time you finish a book. Sorbornost? Oubliette? If it were not for a few good online wikis, I would only have a vague idea about these important environments. Other reviewers agree.

Even the wiki mentions this problem. “Criticism for the novel has generally centred on Rajaniemi’s sparse “show, don’t tell” writing style. Brown notes that “the author makes no concessions to the lazy reader with info-dumps or convenient explanations.” Niall Alexander, of the Speculative Scotsman, states that “had there been some sort of index, [he] would have gladly (and repeatedly) referred to it during the mind-boggling first third of The Quantum Thief “, while proclaiming the novel to be “the sci-fi debut of 2010.””

Overall, I enjoyed it, but am sort of glad it is over. For now. I’m not sure if or when I’ll get the energy for the sequels! There will probably be some more Peter F Hamilton to read by then.

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