The Quantum Thief : Jean le Flambeur

  • by Hannu Rajaniemi
  • Narrated by Scott Brick
  • Series: Jean le Flambeur
  • 10 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 get up and kill himself before his other self can kill him. Rescued by the mysterious Mieli and her flirtatious spacecraft, Jean is taken to the Oubliette, the Moving City of Mars, where time is currency, memories are treasures, and a moon-turned-singularity lights the night.
What Mieli offers is the chance to win back his freedom and the powers of his old self—in exchange for finishing the one heist he never quite managed. As Jean undertakes a series of capers on behalf of Mieli and her mysterious masters, elsewhere in the Oubliette, investigator Isidore Beautrelet is called in to investigate the murder of a chocolatier, and finds himself on the trail of an arch-criminal, a man named le Flambeur….
The Quantum Thief is a crazy joyride through the solar system several centuries hence, a world of marching cities, ubiquitous public-key encryption, people communicating by sharing memories, and a race of hyper-advanced humans who originated as MMORPG guild members. But for all its wonders, it is also a story powered by very human motives of betrayal, revenge, and jealousy. It is a stunning debut.

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What the Critics Say

"He's spectacularly delivered on the promise that this is likely the more important debut SF novel we'll see this year." (LOCUS)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Starts Confusing, Gets Exciting, Ends Awesome

The Quantum Thief is a post-singularity SF novel, meaning it takes place in a future where the line between man and machine has blurred and things like memory uploads, microcomputers in the brain, and functional immortality can exist. Rajaniemi starts out this book by showing more than he tells, presenting the world of Jean Le Flambeur as he would tell it with little consideration for how little we understand of that world. Consequently, the first two hours or so of the book were utterly confusing. I had no idea what was going on, and I had lots of problems just visualizing the scenes and the environment. I began to worry that the whole novel would be told as a series of sense impressions.

A bit later, however, the writing style moves away from that extreme show-don't-tell style and it presents itself itself with detailed, character-driven scenes that caught me by surprise and delighted me to the end. The amount of detail Rajaniemi applies to his fictional future is staggering, and it's all presented in a coherent and enjoyable ride filled with enough action, intrigue, and general sensawunada to keep any SF fan happy. After having read it, I'm kind of surprised it didn't make the cut for the Hugo, if that tells you anything about how much I liked it. It's smart, and once you get into it you find it's got some panache with the way it incorporates technology, bits from contemporary culture, symbolism and tropes from literature, and homages to SF.

Charles Stross, another favorite of mine (and who writes a praising blurb on the book jacket of Quantum Thief) described Rajaniemi as "if you dropped Greg Egan's hard physics chops into a rebooted Finnish version of Al[astair] Reynolds with the writing talent of a Ted Chiang you'd begin to get a rough approximation of the scale of his talent." I find myself whole-heartedly agreeing with this estimation. I started off confused and annoyed with this one, and ended feeling like I could listen to it again and chomping at the bit for the next book in the trilogy. This was my first experience listening to Scott Brick as a narrator, and I think he did a pretty great job with it. Although at times he reminds me of Jonathan Davis in that moody, cloudy-day speech style of his (which can get a little old after a while), he performed the book instead of just reading it.
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- Matthew

non-stop semi-hard sf heist novel & plenty of fun

Rajaniemi throws a jumbled world at you and it sticks. Brick has never been one of my true favorites, but his competence and clarity help make a little sense, and his slower pace keep you from falling behind. I still might quibble on the casting, but The Quantum Thief does a lot of things well: non-stop action; semi-hard sf (it's hard sf but without the explanation, if that makes sense; as a security software engineer by day, I found the descriptions quite plausible for future privacy software and avatar interaction); but at its heart this is a heist novel. A strange (almost surreal) wall of new technology permeates the story, and we don't really stop for a breath or explanation. In the audio, character POV jumps are just one step too confusing for comfort without a few more clues -- still, as challenges go, The Quantum Thief is worth stepping up to consider and take on. Either way -- confused or exhilarated -- there's something to get out of this book.
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- Samuel Montgomery-Blinn

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-10-2011
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio