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The Quantum Thief (Jean le Flambeur #1)
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February Discussions > The Quantum Thief-February 2014

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Donna (donnahr) I'm curious to hear what other people thought of this book.

I wanted to give up on it at 10% in because I was completely lost but I stuck with it and it did finally grab me. It felt like a rollercoaster ride, lightning fast with no chance to look at the scenery. I quite like it when an author drops me in a world and lets it unfold slowly as the story progresses but this was a bit too much. The plot was interesting and the universe fascinating but the endless barrage of technobabble without enough actual explanation left me feeling unconnected with the story by the end. I enjoyed it but I don't think I'd look for the next book in the series.

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I'm still wrapped up in my last book and I'm hoping to start it tomorrow or Tuesday. It looks odd - a good kind of odd - and your description sounds like my impression from just the blurb is correct ...

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I read the book in August 2011. I listened to the unabridged second book in December 2013.

I kind of liked the endless barrage of techno babble, but then I'm a computer programmer and it's my forte. Normally I'm a detail hound, but the author's minimalist approached worked in this case. It's also clear that the author knows science: he has a Ph.D. in Mathematical Physics from the University of Edinburgh. (That's way above me, BTW.)

I do think I favor the second book though. Maybe because it's fresher in my mind or the audio narration forced me to focus were I could have wondered in text. In any case, if you want to listen to the audio, pick the Scott Brick version. At one time there was a previous reading by Rupert Degas that is supposed to be really bad.

I'm going to read the third book, The Causal Angel, later this year when it comes out.

Maggie K I agree with Donna-I was lost for a long time, and once I started to figure it out, I started over again to as to not miss the cues. I liked it quite a bit!

Weenie I enjoyed the book due to the great cast of characters but have to admit that at times, the 'technobabble' went way over my head!

Jacob | 1 comments I liked it a lot. The thing is, underneath the world-building and terminology, the story is quite an old-fashioned crime caper with all the appropriate archetypes. I guess that's why I liked it more than the follow-up, which has a different setting and approach. But second books are always difficult to write, I guess...

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Chad (doctorwinters) I tried it last year and petered out after a couple of chapters, I probably need to give it another chance...

Nikhil Jain (njnikhil) | 20 comments Don't give up on this book, it is definitely worth the time.

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I've finally started reading this book. It's wonderful. I haven't been that confused by it yet - I like that it jumps into a post-Singularity world without any explanation and forces the reader to catch up. I'm about 18% through the book but I do see that I need to read it only when I'm paying close attention.

message 10: by Bayard (last edited Feb 21, 2014 08:55PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bayard West (bayardwest) | 5 comments I just bought the Kindle version to start reading. Almost got it on Audible but I'm (re)listening to Cyteen and was afraid my head would explode if I started switching between that and The Quantum Thief. That said, anyone listen to it?

Nikhil Jain (njnikhil) | 20 comments I don't think it is a book you can listen to, there's too much of techno jargon that will leave you bewildered unless you are ready to rewind and replay half the book.

I'm reading Stephenson's Anathem and it's turning out to be a difficult book as well, so I know.

Bayard West (bayardwest) | 5 comments I see what you mean Nikhil: It would be a tough listen. I'm at about the 12% mark (Kindle). It's great so far.

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Michael I'm enjoying it, but it is hard work... About 30% of the way through and just reading a chapter a day - there's a lot of stuff thrown at the reader.

Nikhil Jain (njnikhil) | 20 comments It's a pretty fast paced book though, or maybe there's just something wrong with me, but I couldn't sleep for the two days it took me to finish them(QT and FP).

message 15: by Bayard (last edited Feb 26, 2014 02:55PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bayard West (bayardwest) | 5 comments I'm at 40%. It seems that the desire was to write a complicated book with lots of world building / vocabulary building and interlocking threads. It's too early for me to tell if it's worth the effort, and it is an effort, to read it. I've started skimming over some of the descriptions that strike me as trying to imagine an abstract painting by someone's written description of it color by color, stroke by stroke.

On a big positive note, this is the first post singularity (after humans upload their minds to machines and back again) that I've read. If anyone knows of others, let me know. For now, this is a unique work in that regard (at least for me) and that makes it brave and new in my eyes.

message 16: by Bayard (last edited Mar 06, 2014 11:10PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bayard West (bayardwest) | 5 comments Solid editing/polish: ✔
Fun characters: ✔
Witty repartee: ✔
Great "how-it-works" technology descriptions: -
Unbelievable moments: -
Rapid head-hopping: ✔
Huge cast of characters: ✔
Great ending: ✔
Thought provoking: ✔

This book takes place in a time after the singularity (humans uploading their minds to computers and back again). In that sense, it's brave territory since that's an exceptionally difficult time to predict - our crystal balls and imagination can fail when considering a time so far in the future. It's also particularly tricky to make a story suspenseful when everyone's mind is "backed up" on a hard drive somewhere. And are human emotions universal to the extent that we'll feel the same as we do today? This is territory usually reserved for Ray Kurzweil and Vernor Vinge.

To a large extent, the novel succeeds. Could it have been better? Certainly. It seems the developmental editor gave this author a waiver: there's no exposition that might explain the terms he uses. Instead, the reader is left plowing through a huge number of made up words without enough context to guess their meanings. It leaves the reader clueless for quite some time. It might have been OK for the first chapter. A book that takes the extreme opposite approach is Cyteen, which lays out all the necessary facts as though it were an instructional video. That extreme can also be hard to read.

The prose is well done. The line editing was spot on, and the book feels polished at the paragraph level.

The characters were OK. There were too many for my taste, but that's a common complaint of mine. Their was a "love pentagon" (view spoiler)

Full review:

message 17: by R. (new)

R. Leib | 10 comments I am sorry to say the I DNF'd this book after about 30 pages. (Someone else mentioned that they felt that way at the same point.) I am willing to give an author reasonable leeway with self-arcane terms and themes, but the author has to pique my interest by page 30. This one did not. I was starting to feel obliged to pick it up and read more rather than doing so because it was interesting or entertaining.

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Books mentioned in this topic

Cyteen (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Vernor Vinge (other topics)
Ray Kurzweil (other topics)