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Quantum Night

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  2,107 ratings  ·  420 reviews

With such compelling and provocative novels as Red Planet Blues, FlashForward and The WWW Trilogy, Robert J. Sawyer has proven himself to be “a writer of boundless confidence and bold scientific extrapolation” (New York Times). Now, the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author explores the thin line between good and evil that every human being is capable of crossing…


Kindle Edition, 366 pages
Published March 1st 2016 by Ace
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3.67  · 
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 ·  2,107 ratings  ·  420 reviews

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Luke Burrage
Apr 16, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody. Ever.
Full review on my podcast, SFBRP episode #302.

0.1 stars. If only Goodreads would let me.

This book isn't just the worst book I've finished in years, it's also utterly monstrous. I'm actually sickened that someone could write a book and their editor didn't say "Hold on, you're not going to put your name on this in public, right?"

Then there are these quotes from other reviewers here on Goodreads:

"And now I am really paranoid about who might be the psychopaths around me.... thank you Robert J. Sawy
Aug 30, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Those who are familiar with him know that Robert J Sawyer has grown into a vaguely conservative, late-middle-aged, sci-fi writer living in a famously soulless suburb west of Toronto. As he gets older, his work is coming more and more to reflect his circumstances. I can report that Quantum Night (2016) is definitely not among his best.

Quantum Night takes a smattering of fairly interesting speculative fiction ideas, and then proceeds to waste them in a story that is so childish as to be not credib
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, there is a good, tense plot. On the other hand, there is an awful lot of philosophizing. Now, I’m the girl who sat through two lectures in a university philosophy class and then dropped that thing like a hot potato. It seemed to me like a bunch of pointless wrangling over things that a person should be sensible enough to know to do or not do without some complex philosophical position. I’ve since learned that not everyone is that sensible and t ...more
Ashleigh Mattern
Robert J. Sawyer's newest book tackles an enormous number of dense subjects -- including consciousness, ethics, morality, philosophy, and quantum physics -- but my favourite part was seeing all the action take place on the Canadian prairies. The plot mostly revolves around Winnipeg and Saskatoon, places deeply familiar to me. I loved the hyper-local name-dropping in Saskatoon, like when the main character orders TJs Pizza or goes to the Konga Cafe. Aside from my local pride (which Sawyer managed ...more
C. A.
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will read anything by Robert J. Sawyer. And I say that even though I consider a lot of his work uneven, and many of his characters and settings repetitive. But the ideas that run through his stories, and the relentless examination of how those ideas might affect the world keep me thinking about his books long after I've put the book down. "Quantum Night," which I received from NetGalley and devoured in a day, is no different, and it is chillingly relevant.

The recap of the plot is above and I d
HA! Finally, the Trump-Followers phenomenon explained!

I didn’t love this book as much as I love just about everything Robert J Sawyer writes, but given the current political climate in March 2016 it was very entertaining… and enlightening… and frightening!!
Andrea McDowell
I am at a loss to explain how this atrocious novel was published, let alone how it found itself on the Canada Reads long list this year.

Before I get into its significant ethical and scientific flaws, I'll take a moment to point out that as a story, it also sucked. The characters were flat and gender stereotyped. The plot was nonsensical. All of the relationships in the book conveniently fit the needs of the plot; the dialogue was 95% info-dump; the main character was, besides an awful person (th
Aug 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
*Nerd Alert* - sort of like a spoiler alert to let you know that if you don’t want to read nerd stuff, please stop reading now.

I thought I’d try something new. I’ve been having a hard time being moved by anything I’ve been reading lately. As a result, I have not been writing any reviews. So, I thought I would try to apply a rating to the book as I move through it at 10% intervals. I already track how many pages I’ve read and my progress through the book and therefore, I thought this should not b
Tim Hicks
This is the 22nd Sawyer novel I have read, and I rated most of them A in my records. This one's a B-minus or C-plus.

There's a HEAP of interesting research behind this, and I don't blame Sawyer for thinking "there's a novel in this!" But I am left with the feeling that he bogged down several times, struggled, and eventually just forced it to be a novel against the flow of narrativium. It just isn't credible.

There are many individual pieces that are not in themselves incredible. They have resear
Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
A lot of interesting ideas, but unfortunately the narrative presentation wasn't my cup of tea. The narrator's tendency to constantly provide factoids (in addition to teaching classes, which we get snippets of) and, in my opinion, unnecessary amounts of descriptive specificity, put me at a remove from the story. As much as the novel concerns itself with the nature of conscience, consciousness and memory, I didn't feel particularly moved by or interested in any of the characters, which was problem ...more
Acordul Fin
5 stars for the first 40% of the book, 1.5 for the rest.
Mar 23, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I read this book a while ago and enjoyed it while reading it. However, looking back at it, I can see quite a bit that's problematic.

The main character is a psychologist whose research area is psychopathy. The long and the short of it is that he and his mentor discover that there is a way to "switch" people from "normal" to psychopath to empathic. He posits that most ("normal") people do not actually have self-awareness, and uses this theory to explain mob mentality and trends. People don't exami
Nov 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Loved it! Yes, it's a thought experiment, and a simplistic one at that. But that doesn't mean you can't make  a great novel out of it.

The idea that there might be three states of consciousness: Normal (people without actual self-consciousness), empathic and pyscopathic, is pretty much what we all think. So, never mind the current state of the science, it's a theory that basically fits the facts. But I'm sure nobody thinks it explains everything. It's just a place to start a story that does
Stacey Kondla
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I received an ARC of Quantum Night through my work and was quite happy about it! I took it home and basically read it in two sittings. Without summarizing the book, I will say that I was happy with the character development throughout the story and that the book read more like a psychological thriller than science fiction. It was thought provoking and kept me turning the pages.
And now I am really paranoid about who might be the psychopaths around me.... thank you Robert J. Sawyer.....thank you..
Joe Karpierz
Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
QUANTUM NIGHT is Robert J. Sawyer's 23rd science fiction novel. Throughout all those novels and all those years, Sawyer has explored any number of far ranging ideas, sometimes a good number of them in one book (some of his novels have so many different ideas in play it's sometimes tough to keep up with them all, let alone figure out how they all play into the particular story he is telling). One of his favorite topics to explore is the nature of consciousness, and Sawyer returns to that
subject i
Sally Ember
Robert J. Sawyer is a disruptive sci-fi writer of such great caliber I am honored even to write a review of his latest book, Quantum Night. Quantum Night> is beyond disturbing to the point of being scary-real, so intriguingly current that I had to keep reminding myself this was fiction, set in an almost present/future, not actually happening now.

No spoilers, here, but the concepts Sawyer brings in (via extensive research and conversations with great scientists, psychologists and political analysts, all list
Allen Adams

Any book reviewer will tell you that one of the greatest joys of the job is discovering a writer that had yet to be experienced. The opportunity to find an author whose work resonates with and entertains you is a precious thing.

One of the first such writers I encountered in my capacity as a reviewer was Robert J. Sawyer. The book was “WWW: Wake,” the first in a thoughtful and narratively engaging trilogy. From there, the Canadian sci-fi author had me hooke
Jim N
Apr 19, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A swing and a miss...

I've read or listened to quite a few of Robert J. Sawyer's novels over the years (Calculating God is a particular favorite) and I've rarely been disappointed but Quantum Night just didn't work for me. Sawyer's novels are always thought-provoking and this is no exception. Unfortunately, it proceeds from an interesting premise and then reduces humans to a ridiculously simple 3 types of consciousness. Once the characters settle on that worldview, it shapes their actions making
Sep 18, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting concepts. I'll be imagining I'm surrounded by psychopaths and hope I'm one of the truly conscious! Sawyer's writing is typically straightforward. Hard to suspend disbelief when main character finds he's a murderer and kinda says 'oh dear!' But a solid 3 star read.
Rahma Abdelrahman
3.5 stars.

This is a very difficult book to review because there were a lot of things I loved, and a lot more that I did not.

To start off, the concept the book is based on is quite intriguing, exploring consciousness, conscience, and morality all in one. Really enjoyed that aspect of the book.

It did take a bit to get through the first 70 pages and get used to the writing and the technical terms, but I feel the author did a good job of explaining things in simple terms, or at least as simple as
May 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read Robert J. Sawyer’s newest book in kindle format. I've previously read at least a dozen of his novels, and enjoyed most of them. In particular, I enjoy that he usually emphasizes topics in philosophy, and sometimes topics in science. In Quantum Night, that would be utilitarian ethics, and cognitive psychology.

This is hard-sf, so I’ll start with the speculative concepts. His primary concept comes from the effects of the hypothetically homogeneous quantum state of free electrons in neuron m
Simon MacDonald
May 22, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Wow, just wow.

In general I like Robert J Sawyer's brand of sci-fi writing where there is a basis of science that doesn't get in the way of an entertaining read. Books like Calculating God, FlashForward, etc but this book I did not like.

A good chunk of the book comes off incredibly preachy as the main character discovers the world is made up of 4/7 zombies, 2/7 psychopaths and 1/7 woke intellectuals. The lead character is one of the woke and seems like a stand in for RJS himself. The books seems
Horia Ursu
What I liked about Quantum Night is what I usually love about all of Robert J. Sawyer's books: his extremely detailed research work. This one was an eye-opener regarding the distinction between people's personalities (zombies, psychopaths and quicks). It made me ask myself in which of these categories I would fit in, and where would the people around me classify.
What I did not like was its protagonist, who's obsessed with utilitarianism and, because of this, comes out as a bit of a jerk. And the
May 23, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, fiction
This would make a far better science fact article, there's a fair amount of interesting science expounded in lectures and explanations by the main characters. On the other hand, the story science feels very simplistic and gimmicky, leading to the magical ending: (view spoiler) If you want to learn more about psychopaths, you are better off using the book's extens ...more
James Connolly
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Well that was a classic Sawyer headscratcher. And I read it way too quickly. And the line between his science and science-fiction were too blurry for me to ever decide what was probably real and what was maybe real. And his multiple page info dump early on didn't help. And the way the world seemed to go to hell all at once didn't read as believable. And there was way too much political message especially considering the current presidential primaries going on. But given all that, still a great r ...more
Oct 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Attack of the (Philosophical) Zombies! An interesting philosophical thriller on the nature of consciousness and morality. (See also my blog review:

I briefly met Robert J. Sawyer at Worldcon in Kansas City in August 2016 and told him I was a fan. When I mentioned that I'm a philosophy professor, he said I needed to read his latest book. Now that I've read it, I can see why.

As is usually the case with Robert J. Sawyer's work, this novel mostly takes place
Claudiu Murgan
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just finished reading "Quantum Night" by Rob J. Sawyer. The book is packed with solid research and interesting ideas. As usual, Rob is giving us something to think about. Highly recommended.
Sep 06, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A Sawyer book always has a fascinating idea, and often bobbles the execution. This one doesn’t screw up the dismount, exactly, but the idea is so frustrating that I couldn’t put this on my list of Sawyer novels worth reading even if it weren’t for the more-extensive-than-I-remember-others-being infodumps. (FWIW, the lead characters are all professors, and we totally do talk that way, so there was decent justification for the infodumps.) Basically, the book posits that about 60% of humanity are ...more
Sep 08, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: do-not-own
Lately, I've been reading as much Robert J. Sawyer as I can get a hold of if not for any other reason than to keep up with more current authors of the genre, as I tend to concentrate mostly on "Golden Age" period authors - I also plan to check out P. F. Hamilton, A. Reynolds, more Scalzy... and so many other.

My first impressive of Sawyer's latest novel was mixed. I kept thinking I was reading Dean Koontz or something... Sawyer's usual optimistic Clarke-like hard scifi that I usually expect was n
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Goodreads Librari...: Quantum Night needs a cover 5 18 Jan 15, 2017 06:54AM  

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Robert J. Sawyer is one of Canada's best known and most successful science fiction writers. He is the only Canadian (and one of only 7 writers in the world) to have won all three of the top international awards for science fiction: the 1995 Nebula Award for The Terminal Experiment, the 2003 Hugo Award for Hominids, and the 2006 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Mindscan.
Robert Sawyer grew up in
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“We’ve known since 2007 that there’s superposition in chlorophyll, for instance. Photosynthesis has a ninety-five percent energy-transfer efficiency rate, which is better than anything we can engineer. Plants achieve that by using superposition to simultaneously try all the possible pathways between their light-collecting molecules and their reaction-center proteins so that energy is always sent down the most efficient route; it’s a form of biological quantum computing.” 1 likes
“¨Kayla replied, ´And we---or the p-zeds, at any rate---copy indiscriminately, without reflection. And if the person they´re coyping is a psychopath, then their behavior ends up being de facto psychopathic, too.´ ¨” 0 likes
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