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The Quantum Thief

(Jean le Flambeur #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  20,401 ratings  ·  1,971 reviews

Jean le Flambeur is a post-human criminal, mind burglar, confidence artist, and trickster. His origins are shrouded in mystery, but his exploits are known throughout the Heterarchy- from breaking into the vast Zeusbrains of the Inner System to stealing rare Earth antiques from the aristocrats of Mars. Now he's confined inside the Dilemma Prison, where every day he has to g

Kindle Edition, 337 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by Tor Books (first published September 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.…moreWell it is and it isn't. Observe the book and you'll see what state its in at the time of your reading.(less)
Hampus Jakobsson It is a complex and amazing book but also requires a dictionary of Rajaniemi's terms :)

I made a podcast episode with the author where he explains all …more
It is a complex and amazing book but also requires a dictionary of Rajaniemi's terms :)

I made a podcast episode with the author where he explains all terms and concepts - without spoiling the story:

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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
Jul 18, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 2014 my family went to Ireland and we 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 no
Jun 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Only for hard sci-fi readers
3.5/5 stars

No spoonfeeding, nil exposition, bizarre, high concept, and compelling.

Jean Bizarre Adventure, this should be the title of the series. Let this review be an example of the author’s storytelling style; zero exposition and fast-paced. This is a short book, around five hours read because it cut every single world-building information usually contained in SFF books. Rajaniemi didn't spoonfeed his readers. He’ll push you off a cliff with his high concept, then instead of giving you a rope,
Dan Schwent
Feb 16, 2011 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,
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
Doc Opp
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Megan Baxter
Nov 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Quantum Thief is bursting with so many ideas that it is an exhilarating read. What it needs is just a little more finesse, a slightly better pace for doling out information, for letting us play in this wonderful playground he's created. It is so complete, but so alien, and I needed just a little bit more of a guide. I like to flatter myself that I'm not an unperceptive reader, and I certainly don't mind it when authors don't tip their hands all at once and want me to work for it.

Note: The re
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
It's hard to leave a review about this book without also talking of all the wonderful secrets it holds, hence spoiling some of them for future readers. Let's say this is good mystery but also an excellent science fiction novel.

One thing though, you have to hit the ground running from the first page because Jean Le Flambeur waits for no one. The first pages may catch you unaware and you will have to push through all the new terms and names thrown at you left and right, but don't worry because so


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 wo
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
3.5 Stars
This was an incredibly complex science fiction story that explored concepts of memory and privacy in very unique ways. Admittedly, aspects of this novel went over my head, but I still really enjoyed the aspects that I could wrap my head around. The main character reminded me of a Sherlock Holmes character, which I really enjoyed. My favourite section was the part when Isodore was trying to solve the mystery surrounding the murdered chocolatier. While I did not fully connect with the cha
David Katzman
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a blast! This book was highly entertaining. It’s set in a far distant future with technology so advanced that the milieu truly lives up to the dictum that sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. The world-building here is vaguely based on principals of quantum physics, nanotechnology, AI and digitized consciousness. Much of it is very likely impossible, but just as some authors like Tolkien had the gift for naming in fantasy, Rajaniemi has a gift for describing fan ...more
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
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 I wanted to experience them over and over again. But now that those effects are wearing off, so are my feelings regarding the book's ingenuity and the author's
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
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
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
Free until May 18 for members of’s eBook of the Month Club! You can sign up (also for free) and get the book here!

A Finnish Sci-Fi story whose main character is a post-human criminal, mind burglar, con artist, and trickster! Betrayal, revenge, and jealousy galore!

A book recommended for "for readers who love Star Wars, heists, Charles Stross, and never knowing what the ^%#& fish is going to happen next!"

What more can you bloody shrimping ask for, my Little Barnacles?!

Mar 13, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. Rajaniemi creates a deeply fascinating far future cyberpunk world just exploding with crazy advanced technology including near magical nanotech, transferable consciousnesses, virtual realities, ultra sophisticated embedded privacy and memory sharing constructs and so much more. Clearly he has a wonderfully rich imagination. Yet the plot, with it's many layers of intrigue and large cast of characters and shifting factions feels thin in places, the connections often tenuous. The charact ...more
Neal Asher
Feb 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Blew me away. Hits the ground running and drags you along a mad quantumly tangled (ok I made that up) space opera with wit and genuine originality.

Highly recommended for Banks, Hamilton, Herbert fans. And many more besides.

[2020 reread edit]

This really is one of my all time favourite High Concept SciFi novels. It's an unrelenting stream of far out tech and cultural experimentation taken to extremes. The Oubliette is by far my favourite future society. Their privacy laws are even more relevant th
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
Lisa Reads & Reviews
May 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
May 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
The Quantum Thief is a difficult book to describe. I suppose, at it's heart, it's a fast paced action novel about theif who is broken out of prison in order to steal something for those who helped him escape. That's true, but it hardly describes the surreal, strange world Hannu Rajaniemi has created.

It was a difficult book to grasp as the new world was never really explained and you just had to learn what a whole bunch of strange terms like Oubliette, Tzaddikim, Sobornost meant as you went along
K.J. Charles
There is literally no way I can give this the sort of attention it would need what with reality happening. I have no idea what's going on in this book. ...more
The Quantum Thief is the first book in the Jean le Flambeur science fiction trilogy. I can see where people might enjoy this book as it has some pretty creative world-building and a lot of action, but for some reason it really didn’t do much for me. I enjoyed it more in the beginning when I was learning about the world and the characters, but I lost interest as things went on.

The majority of the story takes place on Mars in the very distant future. We follow three characters. One is a thief who
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
I listened to the novel and the narrator was Scott Brick. He was adequate for the novel, but I think it could have been performed better. I found this book to be fascinating but all together too confusing. After a while it started to come together. I realized after just reading the synopsis moments ago, that I understood what happened in the novel. It's a lot like looking at two mirrors displaying reflections of themselves through infinity. I think the novel is brilliant, but it's a little too m ...more
Victor Tatarskii
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
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Dragons & Jetpacks: The Quantum Thief/Overall Discussion/**Spoilers** 24 41 Jun 26, 2019 01:28AM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: "The Quantum Thief" Final Thoughts *Spoilers* 15 185 Sep 18, 2017 03:56AM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: "The Quantum Thief" Discussion *No Spoilers* 71 251 Jan 05, 2017 06:30AM  
Space Opera Fans : THE QUANTUM THIEF by Hannu Rajaniemi 7 56 Dec 03, 2016 11:40AM  
Dawnrise: Check in! 16 13 May 02, 2014 07:05PM  
Dawnrise: So this may come in handy... 1 17 Apr 21, 2014 07:20AM  

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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

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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