Jeremy Garber's Reviews > The Quantum Thief

The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi
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's review
Sep 18, 11

bookshelves: science-fiction, rebellion
Read from September 17 to 18, 2011

This was a book I thought I wasn't going to like. After some grim perseverance, I ended up making it to the end intrigued. Rajaniemi, a Finnish PhD in string theory who runs a British mathematics think tank, presents a playful romp through a bizarre future that includes the godlike descendants of pasty geek MMORPG players; alien machine fascists; and the rebellious inhabitants of Mars on an 18th century European revival holiday. The protagonist is the best interstellar thief in the galaxy, who begins in an automatic mind prison where existence is based solely on the classic philosophical Prisoner's Dilemma. Things only get weirder from there.

To be fair, I am not a hardcore sci-fi reader; I usually prefer fantasy or softer sci-fi. It took a bit of time to get into the world that Rajaniemi had created. But once I did, it was fun going. What kept me in - and ultimately redeemed the novel for me - was the real humanity of the protagonist and his relationships despite their interstellar weirdness, and his fight for justice for the little guy (even if one of the ubergeeks grumpily protests against being "infected" by the "justice meme"). A fun read, maybe not worth the hype sprawled all over the front flap and the back cover, but an interesting debut by a mathematics genius whose first language isn't English - all the more impressive for both.

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