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The Quantum Thief (Jean le Flambeur) Hardcover – May 10, 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 261 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Jean le Flambeur Series

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Editorial Reviews


“The next big thing in hard SF. Hard to admit, but I think he's better at this stuff than I am.” ―Charles Stross

“Many an anglophone author would kill to turn out prose half as good as this…. Reminiscent of the work of Alfred Bester, who produced two of the finest American SF books of the 1950s, The Demolished Man and The Stars My Destination.” ―The Financial 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.” ―John Clute

About the Author

Thirty-year-old HANNU RAJANIEMI is from Finland and lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he is a director of a think tank providing business services based on advanced math and artificial intelligence. He holds a Ph.D. in string theory and is a member of the same writing group that produced Hal Duncan. He wrote The Quantum Thief in English.


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Product Details

  • Series: Jean le Flambeur (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (May 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765329492
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765329493
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (261 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #971,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Shurin on December 27, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi is one of this year's most celebrated debuts - a complex science fiction mystery set on a far-future Mars. Part crime, part espionage, part action thriller and all jam-packed with imaginative technology, The Quantum Thief is a daring and intricately-constructed adventure.

The plot follows, mostly, the thief Jean le Flambeur. Jean is freed from his infinite, game-theory -riddled space prison by Mieli a winged-cyber-ninja. Mieli is on a mission and needs Jean's help. Unfortunately, Jean is only a mere shadow of his former self. Before he can help out Mieli and steal something, he needs to sort himself out. His foxy robo-angel reluctantly in tow, Jean heads to Mars to find fragments of his own memory.

Meanwhile, Mars is a proper SF wonderland, with more shiny baubles than a Christmas tree. Martians (such as they are, being human) live on time - bought, borrowed or earned. When they're out of time, they go Quiet, and are put to work terraforming or doing some other form of manual labour in a temporary monstrous form. The entire Martian society is based on a system of gevulot - shared memories. You don't tell people things as much as politely agree to mutually recall a something they hadn't experienced yet. There's no history, just "exo-memory" that exists outside of individual perspective and recall.

The whole culture is so bizarre that the Sobornost, the super-technical beings that have already taken over pretty much everything, aren't even bothering to conquer Mars. It basically isn't worth the effort of figuring out what they're on about.
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Format: Kindle Edition
If The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes had a baby with The Lies of Locke Lamora and then gave it up for adoption to Neuromancer you would have a pretty good simulacrum for The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi. The book is at its heart a whodunit, or more specifically which whodunit. After finishing the book I'm not sure who did it. But I think that's the point.

The novel begins when a winged woman who talks to god rescues an amnesiac thief named Jean Le Flambeur at the request of her deity and brings him to Mars to remember. Juxtaposing this perspective is the antagonist, Isidore Beautrelet, a detective akin to Sherlock himself who in solving the murder of a chocolatier finds himself set against le Flambeur himself. Told at a breakneck pace the story follows our thief and his winged caretaker as he infiltrates Martian society to rediscover who he was and who he wants to be.

Quantum Thief takes place primarily on a Mars colonized with mobile cities. Technology has evolved to the point the line between artificial intelligence and human intelligence has blurred and an individual's consciousness is no longer singular. Rajaniemi eschews information dumps, and as a result it's easily 200 pages before you have any real understanding of the world his character inhabit. Ideas and words like exomemory, gogols, and gevoluts are pretty abstract terms that he forces the reader to define only through context.

I would be lying if i said such a complex setting did not obscure the plot. Oftentimes concepts that are barely understood become important plot devices. Some might find this off putting, and at times it can be. Rajaniemi is writing an intelligent novel for intelligent readers.
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2 Comments 73 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Posthuman acolyte Mieli springs notorious thief Jean le Flambeur from prison to complete a job with shifting goals and faceless enemies. But detective Isidore Beautrelet knows Jean's coming, and has every tool in his arsenal ready. If only the two of them knew how much they need each other, perhaps both could drop the shackles of life in Mars's moving city, the Oubliette, and recognize the truth daily life conceals.

Debut author Hannu Rajaniemi blends science fiction with Russian and French literature, Hebrew myth, and modern game theory to create a dreamscape that tests its characters (and readers) through constant frustration. The cityscape in which the characters fight shifts as fast as their goals and alliances. And their principal coin of exchange is deception, so every action rests on a foundation of half-truths and chicanery.

The story runs on questions of identity. If I can erase my past, who am I? Does life mean very much if death is only temporary? When people trade hours of life like stock certificates, does life mean you've spent time wisely, while death implies moral failure? If we make our own worlds, including our own morality, do we have a moral obligation to die? Does my existence matter if everything I know is a lie?

Everything gets called into question. Machines provide people artificially long lives, and the world is governed by shadowy agents like an Ayn Rand nightmare. But I can't tell of Rajaniemi advocates a viewpoint. Because hours of life are cash, accomplishment and wealth mean long life, while wastrels face early death--the ultimate libertarian paradise. We create value, and we live; we sponge off others, and we die.

But does that make this book a snow job? Maybe not.
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