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The Quantum Thief (Jean le Flambeur #1)

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  12,371 Ratings  ·  1,338 Reviews
Jean le Flambeur gets up in the morning and has to kill himself before his other self can kill him first. Just another day in the Dilemma Prison. Rescued by the mysterious Mieli and her flirtatious spacecraft, Jean is taken to the Oubliette, the Moving City of Mars, where time is a currency, memories are treasures, and a moon-turned-singularity lights the night. Meanwhile, ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by Gollancz (first published 2010)
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Eric Well it is and it isn't. Observe the book and you'll see what state its in at the time of your reading.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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There are authors who don't cotton to hand-holding, and then there are authors who drop you off in the middle of Times Square on New Year's Eve, distract you with a party favor, and then run the other way as fast as they can. Maybe you'll eventually find your way in the throng, even if you are tear-streaked and sniffling by the time you do (did I mention you are 5?). Maybe at the end of it you've learned something (most likely that there are a bunch of people in Times Square who desperately want ...more
Dan Schwent
Jan 28, 2012 Dan Schwent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, 2012
After being busted out of the Dilemma Prison by an Oortian warrior named Mieli, legendary master thief Jean Le Flambeur is taken to the Oubliette, one of the Moving Cities of Mars, and is tasked with the ultimate heist. Opposing him is a brilliant young detective named Isidore Beautrelet. But there is more to each man's quest than meets the eye...

My summary doesn't do the book justice. There are so many ideas crammed in it's slim 331 pages. Before Le Flambeur can even get started on his quest, h
Kevin Hearne
Aug 02, 2012 Kevin Hearne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the strangest book I have ever read. Here is why: I did't know what the hell was going on...but I loved it. Normally when I don't understand something—physics and calculus textbooks, for example—I stop reading and go have a beer instead. But somehow this book grabbed me and wouldn't let go.

That's not to say I never put it down. I had to put it down once in a while to let my brain heal. And my brain couldn't wait to get better and dive back in for some more words that made it hurt so good


Quantum begins with a thief in prison, endlessly reliving The Prisoner's Dilemma. Ah, but this one is different, mainly because he doesn't learn. An enhanced woman and her sentient ship break him out for reasons unknown, but before they can get far, the chase is on. In payment for freeing him, the woman and her hidden benefactor have something they want him to steal. Next stop, Mars, where he has to discover his prior identity in an idealistic, privacy focused society. Meanwhile, a young man wor
Apr 25, 2016 Lyn rated it liked it
In 2014 we went to Ireland and had a great time. While there we had the opportunity to watch some Gaelic hurling. It’s a field game played by a bunch of tall, weather beaten Irish guys and is a kind of mix of field hockey, lacrosse, rugby and aggravated assault and looks rough as hell. It was fun to watch, had lots of action, one team won at the end of it and I really never fully understood what was going on.

Reading The Quantum Thief was like that.

Being a fan of sci-fi/fantasy, I am not unaccust
Jul 25, 2014 Jason rated it it was amazing
5 Super big stars

3 times is a real charm with this masterpiece. After two rereads my love for this book is even more...

"Being about to become someone else is a thrilling feeling, a tickle of possibility in my gut. There must have been times when I flicked from one identity to another, posthuman, zoku, baseline, Sobornost. And that makes me want to be the god of thieves again, more than anything."

This is an unusual case for me in that I really found that I loved and appreciated this book so much
Doc Opp
Jan 04, 2013 Doc Opp rated it it was ok
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to take a class on quantum physics from the Swedish Chef? If so, this is the book for you. It almost reads like English. You can almost understand it. There are tantalizing glimpses of incredibly creative ideas and memorable characters. And then you get sentences like:

He set his gevulet to q-bomb the sapornov. Nano gogols shot through the web of the quantum lattice, setting a self-replicating sequence into his assailant's exomemory. Only 2 terrasecond
Tanmay Tathagat
Sometimes in the matter of a sentence or two, a book can achieve a moment of pure beauty, which can elevate it to something beyond just a heist novel, Hard SF or any other conservative branding. Example:
I take her hand. She embraces me. She beats her wings and we rise up, through the glass sky, away from guns, memories and kings.
Similar sentences and passages of great beauty and wonder pepper this the narrative of this debut novel-which would be a great debut novel, if the people the sentences
Sep 18, 2015 Mimi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Changed my mind, bumping this up to 5 stars.

* * * * *

A fascinating read about a fascinating world filled to the brim with fascinating advanced technology and mind-boggling concepts.This book completely blew my mind the moment I finished reading and kept me dazed in a book hangover for weeks afterward. I was blown away by the complex worlds (and worlds within worlds) the author created and Iwanted to experience them over and over again. But now that thoseeffects are wearing off, so are my feeling
Jun 29, 2013 Nostalgebraist rated it it was ok
There Will Be Invisibility Lotion For Ugly Lovers

This belongs to the "post-singularity" sub-genre of science fiction. "The singularity" was originally a name for a conceivable point in the future beyond which science fiction writers cannot extrapolate. Basically, the idea is that if we come to understand the human mind well enough to improve it through technology, and in particular our improvements make them better at the cognitive task of improving minds, then they'll be able to make even bette
Chance Maree
May 16, 2012 Chance Maree rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first chapter was one of the best I've read in a long time. Initially, I found it a bit of a struggle to adapt to the concepts and visuals, but the challenge was worthwhile. I ignored the glossary and list of characters on Wikipedia because I trust a good show-don't-tell style of writing. At times I had to re-read sections that twisted and fried my mind, but I consider that fun, if and only if, the reward is gratifying. And it was.

The elements of the story include a dense and fine mix of cu
What the hell even is this book.

Like, don't be fooled by the gorgeous cover and the sassy blurb on the back cover, or even the simplicity and witty intrigue of the prose if you happen to glance at the first page. This book is HELLA CONFUSING. But, like, in a super interesting and entertaining way? That I can't really explain?

This is not a book for the casual sci-fi reader, first of all. If you like heist stories and stories about con men, you will probably have an okay time, but so much of the s
May 29, 2011 Lightreads rated it liked it
I really think that selling on the strength of only a few thousand words for a rumored exorbitant amount of money is one of the worst things that can happen to a debut novel. Because let’s be honest here: nothing is that good.

Including this, a trippy and imaginative post human romp about a thief who can (and does) literally steal a moment of someone’s life away, and the detective chasing him. There is a lot of good stuff here, but it takes a while to come into play. Because seriously, when the o
Jenny (Reading Envy)
GR ate my first review, but no matter, it was a bit of a mess. This book is hard to explain to someone who hasn't read it.

In the world of The Quantum Thief, several species have made Mars their home, most living in what is called The Oubliette. Through quantum technology, people can choose what others can know, see, or remember about them. The entire planet is made of architecture that is constantly moving and changing in order to escape the phoboi, which are always trying to reinfest the landsc
Neal Asher
Feb 24, 2012 Neal Asher rated it really liked it
In a way this was more like a fast tour of the post singularity world rather than a story set in it. I’ve been reading science and science fiction for a very long time, but I often felt the need to hold up a finger and say, ‘Hang on Hannu, if you could explain –’ … but no, he’s gone like a tour guide on speed. The ideas hit you like cars in a motorway pile-up giving you no time to deal with them, absorb them. And, of course, while the ideas are hitting you like that you’re not properly processin ...more
Nov 01, 2015 Skip rated it liked it
This book was hard to define: I think cyberpunk may be the most apt classification. At heart, the novel is a mystery, but the reader is never quite sure who committed the crime nor for that matter, who are the good guys and bad guys. A thief, Jean Le Flambeur is rescued from prison, and brought to Mars to regain his memory and assist with a crime. Meanwhile, there is a brilliant detective (Isadore Beautrelet), who is brought on to stop Le Flambeur. Isadore, of course, has problems in his persona ...more
Victor Tatarskii
May 27, 2012 Victor Tatarskii rated it it was amazing
I really don't remember last time when I was excited in such way by a book.
The story is set in a post-human future, where the humankind had achieved digital immortality and god-like powers, and splitted into fractions, each with a different vision of its future. A thief, Jean le Flambeur, escapes a prison of one of the fractions and tries to find his memories on Mars, in a moving city of Oubliette, where he had hidden them from himself.
The story is stuffed (thanks to the author's physics backg
aPriL does feral sometimes


I used Google to find out the meanings of some words and names because they are non-English. Plus, I read the first 100 pages, then I went back and started reading from the beginning once more.

Speaking for myself, if I hadn't studied programming and database concepts in college, and currently maintain a subscription to New Scientist magazine, I would not have understood most of this book. Not only does it throw you bodily and without apology or explanation into a future world of digital li
Apr 14, 2012 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People not listening to this as an audiobook
The Quantum Thief is a brilliant novel, but I'm only giving it three stars. My rating is slightly unfair, so let me explain.

I generally rate books according to how good I thought they were (inasmuch as "good" can be objectively evaluated), and how much I enjoyed them; these two factors are usually closely related, but not always. The Quantum Thief, as many other reviews make clear, is an idea-dense novel. Right from the first chapter, you get terms flung at you without explanation: oubliette, Ge
Daniel Afloarei
Feb 26, 2016 Daniel Afloarei rated it it was amazing
Holy Spirit of Motherfucking AWESOMNESS! Clar una dintre cele mai bune carti citite de mine in ultima vreme, si cu siguranta una dintre cele mai stralucite si perfecte Hard SF-uri, ever! AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH! Am o nevoie acuta si resucitanta de continuare!
Liviu Szoke
Apr 02, 2015 Liviu Szoke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Da, cinci stele pentru inovație și pentru sutele de idei noi cu care Rajaniemi ne bombardează de-a lungul celor peste 300 de pagini. Păcat că n-a luat niciun premiu major, ar fi meritat din plin. O recenzie mai extinsă, zilele astea pe
May 09, 2016 Susi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Siteeraan vähän itseäni, mutta täs on kivasti fysiikkaa ja juttuja. Hieno kirja, mukava lukea. Vois hankkia jatkon hyllyyn, näissä on nii hienot kannet ja selät.
Dec 17, 2013 sologdin rated it liked it
The ultimate in nerd-boiled, maybe.

Protagonists are an Arsene Lupin and an Auguste Dupin, plus a Finnish soldier with a sentient ship (soldier and ship are great). Villains appear to be the Sobornost, which is an ancient orthodox Christian concept associated with slavophilia in the Russian Empire, a concept of the Old Right proper--nasty stuff, similar to Dostoevsky’s pocvennicestvo ideology. No surprise that the old Russian Empire is the model of the villain here, considering author is Finnish.
Nov 21, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: SF afficionados will like it best
I’ve been struggling with how to begin this review. Let me put it this way, “This book is not for the faint-of-heart”. And, just what do I mean by that? It’s fast-paced, it’s very imaginative, it has strong characters, and it immerses the reader in itself. Enough with being cryptic.

As usual, I try to avoid giving too many details that could be spoilers (even though such information is readily available). In this review I veer towards a little more detail just to illustrate a point or two. They’r
May 12, 2015 Robyn rated it really liked it
Entertaining, taut sci-fi mystery with loads of inventive elements. Enjoyed the characters, world-building & plot. This book wrapped up its main story but leaves you ready for the next instalment.
I am very surprised and delighted by this novel. I half-expected an idea or a theme from Stephen Baxter's Flux, but was thoroughly captivated by such a deeply thought-out world and a complex plot. I didn't find many issues with plot discontinuity, as such. There were quick scene changes that might have benefited by a more overt transition or two, but that is a minor issue compared to the tapestry of worlds within worlds that this author has written. Very enjoyable characters, and the twists are ...more
Jul 02, 2011 Jeffrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: science fiction fans who want to go further out there
The Quantum Thief, a stylish debut novel from Hanno Rajaniemi, is a tad difficult to follow and understand. Its also a tour de force of imaginative invention, but its no Ender's Game. This is complicated story and weird environment. Its worth the time to dig through the main part of the story and even if the ending seems a little forced, the science fiction and weirdness of the story may be enough to keep you interested.

Jean Le Flambeur is a famous thief, presently a prisoner of the Archons, whe
May 06, 2015 Justine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing book. I am so glad this was the monthly pick for the SF&F group because I don't know that I would have come across it otherwise. The story is fast paced and well written with so much imagination, and filled with characters who are colourful and full of life and personality (including the ship). The final scenes reminded me of something out of a well written Dr. Who episode with lots of twists and turns and all kinds of interesting tech involved. A wonderfully stylish SF novel.
Zachary Jernigan
Jul 14, 2015 Zachary Jernigan rated it really liked it
I nearly gave this a three, but ultimately I think it deserves a four for a somewhat sentimental ending. The book ultimately has more heart and less invention than I'd imagined when I picked it up. I'm not going to say it was a very easy read, but it wasn't as alienating as I'd imagined it might be from many of the reviews.

Still, I don't know if I'll be picking up the sequel. I might prefer this story to end, as is.
Jan 18, 2012 Josh rated it it was amazing
This one is just about perfect. An excellent combination of questions about objective reality and questions about what it means to be human (objective humanity, as it were).

This compares best to Charles Stross's Accelerando, but is better written and overall a better read. (As a side note, this is one of the very few hard sci-fi books where I prefer the American cover to the British one.)

The inner portions of the solar system, inside the orbit of Mars, are controlled by the Founders - massively
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EN: Hannu Rajaniemi is a Finnish author of science fiction and fantasy, who writes in both English and Finnish. He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is a founding director of a technology consultancy company, ThinkTank Maths.

Rajaniemi was born in Ylivieska, Finland. He holds a B.Sc. in Mathematics from the University of Oulu, a Certificate of Advanced Study in Mathematics from the University of Ca
More about Hannu Rajaniemi...

Other Books in the Series

Jean le Flambeur (3 books)
  • The Fractal Prince (Jean le Flambeur, #2)
  • The Causal Angel (Jean le Flambeur, #3)

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“The criminal is a creative artist; detectives are just critics.” 47 likes
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