The Quantum Magician
by Derek Künsken
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 02 Oct 2018 | Archive Date 31 Oct 2018
Rebellion Publshing, Solaris
THE ULTIMATE HEIST!
Belisarius is a Homo quantus, engineered with impossible insight. But his gift is also a curse—an uncontrollable, even suicidal drive t know, to understand.
Genetically flawed, he leaves his people to find a different life, and ends up becoming the galaxy's greatest con man and thief. But the jobs are getting too easy and his extraordinary brain is chafing at the neglect.
When a client offers him untold wealth to move a squadron of secret warships across an enemy wormhole, Belisarius jumps at it. Now he must embrace his true nature to pull off the job, alongside a crew of extraordinary men and women.
If he succeeds, he could trigger an interstellar war...or the next step in human evolution.
*Following in the genre-bursting footsteps of Yoon Ha Lee's Ninefox Gambit, The Quantum Magician is not to be missed!*
"The Quantum Magician is a pleasure to read." ~Yoon Ha Lee
"Fascinatingly imaginative..." Analog Science Fiction and Fact reader.
A Note From the Publisher
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"With its audacious con job, scintillating future technology, and meditations on the nature of fractured humanity, The Quantum Magician is a pleasure to read."
~Yoon Ha Lee
"Technology changes us—even our bodies—in fundamental ways, and Kunsken handles this wonderfully."
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Average rating from 75 members
Publishing Date: October 2018 Publisher: Rebellion ISBN: 9781781085707 Genre: SciFi Rating: 4.7/5 Publisher’s Description: Balisarius is a quantum man, created to serve, made for a world that requires every moment to be monitored. He flees—his creators, his supposed place in the world, his purpose—to curve out a normal life. Now, he is the world’s most infamous con-man. When a client offers him untold wealth to move a squadron of warships across an enemy wormhole, Belisarius must embrace his true nature to pull of the job. Review: It has been a long time that I have been this excited for the evening to come in order ply the pages of a scifi novel. Wow, was this good. The ideas presented follow the author’s understanding of physics and what might become in the near future. This cognitive resonance interacts with characters that are set in a wondrous universe of the weird. And I mean fukin’ weird, as in a genetically designed race of beings called the Puppets (Homo pupa). No way am I giving this one away, just read it and shudder along with the rest of us. Creepy doesn’t even begin to describe these freaks. The Homo eridanus in the form of Stills was so funny I almost pooped my pants. Wrap all this strangeness and hilarity around a cogent and well thought out story line and you have novel gold. So much of this novel could be spun off to create a varied and entertaining universe. You could have a whole series on just the Puppets but you would probably throw up. The Eridanus with their in your face belittling via curses and put downs would be very entertaining. The Homo quantus will need to continue it’s expansion in other novels, as we have not quite reached a culmination of self-discovery. This author has a great future so get on board early.
5-Stars! Outrageously Imaginative! Delicious hard science, even to the mysteries of quantum unknowns, quantum possibilities. Great prose, fabulous characters, far better than any "Oceans 11" rip-off you could imagine. Rigorously founded in real science, and extrapolating wonderfully into sci-fi; I'm happy to watch various physical laws be broken now and then for such a great heist plot! As usual with my reviews, please first read the publisher’s blurb/summary of the book. Thank you. Some amazing world-building here, and the relationship between the "Puppet" race of humans and their "Divine" masters, the Numen, is extraordinary. I’ve never read such an incredible master-slave-race construct before. This is a heist story, with each extraordinary character fulfilling a role in the crime, each one amazing and full-bodied in behaviour and thought. The heist barrels along, with unexpected but quite plausible twists and turns, and rockets to a dramatic and satisfying climax. Perhaps the last 20% of the book could do with tighter editing, a bit more clarity. The pace is so high and the sci-fi quantum spiel is perhaps a bit too complex for this ending. But that’s a minor quibble to a truly extraordinary book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. -- Belisarius sold legal and illegal Puppet art and was curating the first exposition permitted by the Theocracy. Smell, lighting and sound influenced the aesthetic of Puppet religious experience, and for the exposition, Belisarius had laced the lobby with the faint citrus odor of Puppet sweat. Quantum Qutrits ... Very, very esoteric! Bel considers the Union request - They were going to die. They were all going to die if they faced the Congregate navy, and they needed him to get to a place where they could die. The Inspiration of Saint Matthew, by Caravaggio Saint Matthew was probably the most sophisticated AI in civilization, the first of the long-sought Aleph-class of AIs being developed with the considerable resources of the First Bank of the Plutocracy. Bel considers cards and gambling - Cards possessed a kind of purity. The apparent evenness of the probability was Platonically untouchable. Politics, violence, foolishness, poverty and wealth meant nothing to probability. (a random card magician picture, apologies to Kevin McMahon) As intelligence was an emergent property of life, so games of controlled chance were an emergent property of intelligence. Intellect was an adaptive evolutionary structure, allowing humanity not only to sense the world in space, but to predict future events through time. Games of chance tested that predictive machine—so much so that games of controlled chance discriminated consciousness from unconsciousness far better than Turing. Artist's concept of a quantum wave function ... Marie the explosives expert - “Happy for help,” Marie said, looking at them, wriggling her fingers. “This’ll be a three-or four-finger job.” Gates-15 frowned at her. “What’s a three-finger job?” “It’s how many fingers get blown off before I get it right. It’s way easier if we spread that around. Many hands make light the work,” she said cheerily. click here for: Underwater Explosion at 120,000 FPS A.I. Saint Matthew - What if I’m the tool by which He actually ensouls machines? That would certainly force us to redefine the role of humanity in His plan. Imagine if humanity was just scaffolding for the creation and ensoulment of machines.” Cassandra ponders love - [Bel] smiled. And some of the weight on her chest lessened, until she realized that his smile was a lie, to make her feel better, and that only a month ago, she wouldn’t have known the difference between a smile and its imitation. (just a lovely thought) Notes: 3.0% ... pretty good so far. 6.0% ... wow, delicious hard science, virtual particles and such. The prose is very good, so good you happily ignore the violation of thermodynamics. 20.0% ... very clever and literate. 39.0% .... the plot deliciously thickens! 50.0% ... Risk and daring were a matter of calculation and feel, forceful attacks and timely folding, and lacing every choice with misdirection. 51.0% ... another fabulous plot twist. 59.0% ... wow, Puppet worship of Numen is really creepy, repulsive. 74.0% Intelligence was the first sense to see through time instead of space. 76.0% ... the Numen-Puppet relationship is unlike anything I've ever read before in science fiction. 96% ... word should be "precessing" She measured her rotational speed and angular momentum against the stars, solving the differential equations to know how to extend her arms and legs to spin without processing.
The Quantum Magician es una novela de contrastes. Basándose en una estructura más que conocida Derek Kunsken realiza un ejercicio de ciencia ficción de ideas apabullante y en ocasiones arrollador, pero abre tantos caminos para la reflexión que solo por eso merece la pena leerlo. El hilo conductor de la novela es la planificación y ejecución de un timo. Como en El Golpe, hay un plan, un gancho, se recluta un equipo de especialistas, hay traiciones... Este guión un tanto estereotipado constituye un armazón sólido para la novela y da rienda suelta al autor para empezar a lanzarnos ideas y reflexiones de gran calado. Es una elección brillante, porque al aficionado a la ciencia ficción habitualmente le atrae más el fondo que la forma (sé que esta generalización es discutible y me gustaría que habláramos sobre ello) y al escoger esta "plantilla", tiene las manos libres para exponer otros elementos, posiblemente más de su interés. La manipulación de la genética humana ha dado lugar a nuevos tipos de personas y en The Quantum Magician se nos presentan tres nuevas especies, muy diferentes entre sí pero todas intrínsecamente fallidas, al menos desde el punto de vista de "humano base". El Homo eridanus está modificado para resistir presiones de cientos de atmósferas y por lo tanto su cuerpo apenas se asemeja a un Homo sapiens. Su ámbito de actividad se restringe a las profundidades abisales de las colonias espaciales y para desplazarse necesitan tanques especiales capaces de proveer esa presión. Y sin embargo, son quizá la raza menos truncada de los experimentos, porque tienen claro su rol y, culturalmente, aceptan su papel en el mundo. Los Puppets, sin embargo, son harina de otro costal. Modificados por los Numen para que los consideraran dioses, sienten la compulsión genética de servir a sus divinidades. Estos autoproclamados seres divinos, veleidosos como eran, han dado lugar a una estructura social profundamente depravada, donde no está claro quién es esclavo de quién. Algunas escenas son realmente repulsivas, ya que esta relación malsana se ha ido pervirtiendo aún más conforme ha pasado el tiempo. La escasez de auténticos Numen hace que los Puppets sufran incluso síndrome de abstinencia y entren en éxtasis solo con revolcarse sobre las deposiciones de sus dioses. Estas escenas son realmente perturbadoras y dejan para la reflexión particular de cada uno el verdadero significado de la religión, en este caso impuesta mediante la manipulación genética, reducida a respuestas hormonales a estímulos predispuestos. La última raza que conocemos es el Homo quantus, verdadero protagonista de la historia. Humanos con capacidades de computación cuántica que pueden entrar en un estado de fuga donde abandonan la subjetividad de su persona y se convierten en máquinas computacionales capaces de ver todas las posibilidades de la función de onda sin llegar a colapsarla. Estos seres forman una colonia ajena al resto de los mundos y dedican su vida y su tiempo al estudio del cosmos, pero quizá su propio aislamiento les impide acceder a la información que precisan para conseguir sus ambiciones. El variopinto equipo que se conforma para llevar a cabo la misión tiene un poco de todo, como en botica. Por supuesto, hay al menos un miembro de cada una de estas nuevas especies que he mencionado, pero algunas de las interacciones más interesantes se producen con los "humanos base". De nuevo, el contraste entre lo considerado "normal" y la "evolución" le da a Kunsken un espejo deformado en el que enfrentarnos a nuestros propios miedos, sobre todo el miedo a lo que es diferente, al extraño, al cambio. Sin dejar de recurrir en ocasiones al humor, como en la escena de huida de la prisión, el autor nos plantea una obra seria y meditada, científicamente verosímil (al menos hasta donde yo entiendo) y exigente a la vez en la lectura. Con estos mimbres, Derek Kunsken consigue hilvanar una historia tradicional en la forma pero rompedora en el fondo, lanzando ideas que no dejan descansar al lector en ningún momento. No digo que la novela sea perfecta, porque también existen algunos momentos en que la tecnojerga se apodera de la narración y puedes incluso comenzar a dudar de los derroteros por los que anda el libro, pero es una lectura más que recomendable para cualquier interesado en la ciencia ficción de ideas. Un autor al que sin duda habrá que seguir de cerca, al que algunos nombran ya como heredero espiritual del mejor Peter Watts.
The Quantum Magician tells the story of "Homo quantus" Belisarius Arjona, a genetically-modified human who has the ability to switch off the communication and social interaction parts of his brain in order to allow him to better focus on mathematics, geometry and the quantum world. The Homo quantus were created to provide insights to the nature of the universe, but Belisarius is using his abilities to work as a confidence trickster. Early on he is approached by Major Ayen Iekanjika to run what will, perhaps, be the ultimate con. From here Belisarius sets about putting together his team: an explosives expert, a "Homo pupa" (a “puppet”) a "Homo eridanus” (a “mongrel”), a religious artificial intelligence, a genetics expert, another Homo quantus and a fall guy. This is an amazingly richly-imagined world, which blends hard science fiction with a classic heist story. The quantum physics is, perhaps. a little heavy-going in places. I have a background in the physical sciences myself, but am by no means an expert in quantum physics. I had the sense that someone who DID might find some of the details exasperating, while non-scientists might find it impenetrable. For me, personally, I felt the balance was pretty good and, after all, this is science fiction: some disbelief needs to be suspended. The characters are well-developed and sympathetic on the whole, although the female members of the team felt under-used. In particular, the other Homo quantus, Cassandra, has an poorly-developed story. She is critical to the success of the con, but we don't really get to know her. Similarly, explosives expert Marie is a potentially fascinating character who really comes to life early on, only to be lost later in the story. Still, these are relatively small complaints in an otherwise masterful piece of science fiction world-building. If you like the sound of a science fiction heist story, give this a try.
Top-notch space opera from a first-time novelist. Hard to believe this is his first, because it's somewhat complex and very well-developed. He uses a technique to start the novel that I usually enjoy seeing when it shows up - he starts off with a brief episode unrelated to the larger work, just to give some background on the main character. It doesn't appear to be a reused short story, either. After reading this section, I thought we might be up for The Sting In Space. After the opening ends, however, it started to look more like Ocean's 11 In Space, as the protagonist goes around gathering his old cronies to assist him with this "quantum" con. This works well, as we get to meet and know each of them in sufficient depth to place them into the context of the greater story. He makes most of them unique, and he does a good job of showing them relating to each other. They stay in character as they do, and several of them grow and change as the plot unfolds. I was so caught up getting to know the characters as they started their various preparations for the con that I was a couple pages into its execution before I realized IT'S GOING DOWN NOW. Who' are the good guys? Who are the bad guys? What's the real con - the one we're told about or something else entirely? Is that "throwaway" story at the beginning relevant to the plot? You'll have to read to find out!
I was very excited to read this book, but also a little apprehensive. In theory I love hard science-fi, because it seems so real, so true, so possible. But in practice, I'm easily lost: most hard science-fi books dwells on physics and, if I know that universe and space mean physics, and if I'm genuinely interested in the subject, it's alas a case of unrequited love there... I love science in general, but my kind of science is clearly biology (which is not, in my opinion, enough developed in science-fi) and advanced physics are difficult for me. I went through three phases reading this book. At the very beginning I was quite happy: the story was immediately interesting, the characters were engaging, and the quantum magician seems to be absolutely there, in a human kind of way, not as a concept floating in an esoteric no-space or such as I had feared (in some hard science-fi I frequently have the impression of reading with my eyes closed, as in some dreams, when and where I can never focus whatever the efforts I make). So a good start! At about ten per cent in the story, I had quite a shock: suddenly I was facing a long explanation about the functioning of the quantum man's brain. Quite fascinating in theory, but absolutely abstruse for the reader I am. And - have I told you yet? quite long. I read on, not understanding much, till I had to stop and think about my dilemma. I clearly wasn't able to appreciate this kind of explanation, but on the other hand had really loved the story so far and really wanted to know some more. So I pondered a few minutes and finally decided, sighing sadly, that I was perfectly able to skim through unintelligible passages and understand, if not all of it, at least the general idea. Not comfortable, but manageable. Actually, I had kittens for nothing ! Those difficult passages were very few in the books, and always useful, never gratuitous. After some more exposition I understood more and more about the quantum brain and was able to surf upon some other explanations (those less interesting in my point of view). In fact, during the book I never had another difficult moment before the final grand action, which is never my cup of tea anyway (during Still's parts to be precise). The whole read was delightful, and very supple. In the end I had just two discomforts during my read. The brainy-quantum explanation which happened in my opinion to early in the book (not to mention too long :P). Also I was also frequently discountenanced, in the very beginning, by the narration using the third person, as it had clearly a first person vibe for me. Maybe the very first had been written at the first person before being rewritten in another way? This dissonance disappeared very quickly though (so I could have shut up about it; maybe). I must seem quite a quibbler there ! If so, it's because I loved this book so much that I was frustrated by these little flaws... And also because I have a self-appointed mission: to reassure the readers who may feel lost at the same very point I was, that it won't be the general tone it the story, and that any reader may be able to appreciate it without any suffering! The fantastic points are plentiful. Firstly, absolute different voices for all the characters, which is finally quite rare. The characters are wonderful, their personalities, their stories, their interactions - just flawless! The story in itself is quite interesting, with a strong general idea around quantum people and why the main character, who differs from the quantum people's norm, decided to chose another live, one of criminal projects. The sub-story around the Puppet people is so brilliant that it could be the only reason to read the book! One particular aspect impressed me a lot and made for a wonderful read: the way the author skillfully develops its story's background, without never ever frustrating his reader. From the start some particularities of the science-fi world are exposed, as the three new human races, bio-engineered (I must confess a soft spot for this theme, what a treat here!), making the reader wanting to know more about it. Then, through future developments, all you'll need and want to know will be displayed, just at the perfect moment, without any info-dump nor artificial exposition: du grand art, vraiment :) The same thing can be said for the characters' stories, which are unveiled, little by little, with perfect subtlety. I could rave and rave for hours about this book which, despite one or two details, turned out to be exactly what I expect from a science-fi story, but I'll stop there, hoping to have help future readers! And for me, I'm looking forward reading the next author's book... Soon I hope ?
Thanks to Netgalley & co for an early read. I'm really proud of how science fiction has developed. We've gone from very loose constructs of the dreams of Asimov to talking about quantum entanglement and Planck theory in so many ways. It's a great time to be a reader. This book was not a challenge. If you are looking for a fun tale, a story as one reviewer put, an Oceans 11 like romp, it should have easy appeal. My criticisms I'll lay bare early. There is a bit much of exposition, which was good--but I like a show don't tell more than tell. There was also a character who I thought would understand their role better but when they were put into that role, they seemed to fold like a wet napkin. It might have been proper but there wasn't any supporting evidence of it. Maybe that was a rub all along is most of the characters we learn about are pretty shallow--not in substance just in history so we don't get our hooks deep into their manifestations. Same could be said for the era the book resides in. I don't quite understand it, how it got there, or what it's really doing. It just does. It's like a pocket story in a galaxy that has far more to be explained and shared. Future books I hope? That's really it though. Easy stuff to overlook. You get dropped in fast, without knowing a whole lot. It's ok though, you'll get it later. Catching up is a part of the misdirection. Keeps you on your toes for details. Humanity has grown, split among so many lines. Humans though look to have done some further genetic works; a race that is more able to shunt themselves into aspects--savant and a quantum worker. A race that was built for deep pressures and piloting fighters. Also, a race that was built to adore their maker--which has had interesting and disturbing repercussions. Slap politics on top of that a dash of technology from a race long gone, and a need from a faction to move new technology across a contested quadrant of space. What could happen? I'm not going to give away any details--it's early enough for you to dive in and find your own way. I like the heist, the great con, the psychology of all these factions and fractures of humanity. All wrapped up in something that was really digestible while still being science-techy. Enjoy it! I did. :)
really liked this book. The initial setup was a little confusing, but the interweaving of characters and plot-lines was very well done. The book revolves around the evolution of humanity and the usual domination and subjugation of one group over another. All this plays out via a heist and a conman with unusual abilities....The setting is not unique, a group of mercenaries that don't really fit, but grow together. But the plot is very engaging and there are enough twists and turns for anyone to get whiplash. For tech nerds, there is enough quantum theory and advanced technology to keep you busy for a while. The ending was complete enough to tie the caper together, but there's enough unfinished business to suggest future tales in this universe. I don't want to spoil the voyage of discovery, so dive in and see for yourself.
Belisarius, is the apex of human genetic engineering, a homo quantus. Someone able to bridge the quantum world with the regular world. But Belisarius rejects his upbringing, leaves his homeworld and becomes a con artist. He is the best con artist the worlds have ever seen. He's presented with the ultimate con and readily accepts it. Interesting story. Great twist at end.
#netgalley #thequantummagician I found this surprisingly easy to read, with the amount of hard science and esoteric mathematics and physics, though I won’t say I completely understood all of it! But, as said, it was quite thrilling. The author effortlessly built the future world up, making it as believable, though heavier on the Warcraft than expected. I liked it more and more as more and more interesting characters were introduced and fleshed out. If you’re a fan of hard sci-fi, and even of sci-fi, you won’t want to miss this mind bending thriller!
Many thanks to Rebellion Publishing and Netgalley for a free copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. This is a fantastic work of what appears to be the debut longform hard science fiction from Derek Kunsken. In this book there is an intersection of many different ideas: classic hard science fiction with a quantum physics flavour, a rollicking con job in the vein of a Danny Ocean heist, and an exploration of deity worship with elements of body horror. It is absolutely brimming with ideas yet the book manages to remain cohesive and tell an effective story, with good pacing and not much in the way of wasted exposition. Many of Kunsken's contemporaries fall into the trap of believing that the reader will be short-changed without comprehensive world-building and setting, but keeping this to a minimum leaves the writing lean and without bloat. Kunsken's interests are wide and varied; as such he projects a lot of contemporary science into the distant future. As an example, the main character is a member of a race of humans brought about through genetic engineering given the name homo quantus, who excel in mathematical and geometric talents as well as possessing an eidetic memory. These homo quantus are able to enter into a so-called fugue state which removes all subjective behaviour and thinking from the host, leading to some of the more zany scientific extrapolation in this book. Being first and foremost a con job, the main character Belisarius (the con artist) brings together a host of characters to help him in his endeavour. Most of these characters are fairly thinly drawn, with the geneticist Dr Del Casal and his subject Gates-15 being the main exception. Their arc centres around a race of humanity called the Puppets who have been genetically engineered to worship another race: the Numen. The relationship between these two races is complex and provides the most morally complicated and nuanced aspect to this story, as well as some of the most beautiful passages in the novel. Kunsken does a good job balancing the narrative with the science; not commonplace in hard science fiction which normally prioritises concept over story. For the most part I had no trouble following along, though from about three quarters in the conceits pile up making the overall direction of the story less clear. All in all, a rewarding read and I look forward to reading work by him in the future.
I absolutely loved this book - a beautifully crafted version of the future - lots of intrigue and a number of unexpected twists - I hope there are more books to come in this series
Really imaginative science fiction which combines a cornucopia of ideas with fast paced action. Like all the best SF you are left in wonder and awe at the authors vivid imagination. I cant wait for more from this writer.
When I started reading this book I was terrified that it was going to send me into a reading slump, which tends to happen to me after I get stuck reading something really heavy. This book has a lot of science in it. I can't speak to whether the science is accurate, I honestly don't care, that's not something I tend to search for in my science fiction (I know, radical behaviour). But there is a lot of it. While reading, I likened it to being punched in the face with a particle physics textbook (but in a good way!). Because once I learned to have a lighter eye (I would say skim, but that seems rude and also a little offhand) the more science-heavy passages, this is actually a wonderfully exciting science fiction heist book. Which is far more up my alley. I thought that the characters who made up Belisarius' crew were interesting and unique. Though some of them did rub me up the wrong way on occasion, that's a matter of personal preference and I'm fairly sure everyone who reads this will have a different experience and will get on more or less with different members of the crew. My absolute favourite character had to be St Matthew (who is not a Saint but don't tell him that) the AI. The plot pretty much unfolds as you would expect this kind of story to do, getting the crew together, executing the plan, various double dealings and mishaps occurring along the way. I haven't read a huge number of heist novels, as they don't typically come up in the kind of books I'm reading at the moment, so I can't speak to how formulaic the plot is in this book but hey, if it ain't broke... All in all, I enjoyed this far more than I ever expected to, if you, like me, are a little bit new to what I would call 'heavier' science fiction then I would say that this is still worth reading, it takes a while to settle into the language and jargon that is used, but you don't need to sit with a web search open to deal with any of the terms. This was a strong story and one I would definitely recommend to a number of friends. My rating: 4/5 stars I received a digital advanced review copy of this title from the publishers for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Belisarius Arjona, or Bel, is a man genetically engineered to immerse himself in the complexities of the quantum world, sifting for the type of data which could take humanity to the next level. But years ago he cut himself off from the carefully managed security of his own people. Now, living as a con man, this Homo quantus exile is about to take on a job which offers him access to unimaginable wealth, but only if he is able to move a squadron of warships across a wormhole controlled by his would-be employers’ enemies. Seemingly impossible, even by Belisarius’s standards. But it is a challenge he cannot resist. The Quantum Magicianworks really well for a broad science fiction reading audience for several reasons. It is a tale which manages to take theoretical concepts and plays with them in a hugely imaginative and entertaining way. The different cultures, and their ways of life make you feel as if someone should be getting sociologists in there to make a study of them (particularly the puppets, whose beliefs and practices are particularly disturbing). There is a rattling good plot and a terrific cast of characters. As an added bonus, each of the main protagonists, selected for their capabilities, interacts really well with each other. All the different genetically engineered humans are represented in the scheme, the Homo quantus, the Homo puppa, or Puppets and the Homo eridanus, the people of the Mongrel (the mercenary shock pilots of the Congregate navy engineered to survive the benthic depths of another world). There is also Saint Matthew an AI who believes he is a saint. William Gander is a normal human, conman and ex associate of Bels, serving time when Bel goes to collect him. Cassandra, or Cassie, Bel’s previous love and another Homo quantus residing within the security of the Homo quantus home world is a reluctant member of the team. But there are more than Bel’s powers of persuasion at work in her agreement to go along with him. Gates-15 is a puppet who is an outcast from the Puppet community. Human Antonio Del Casal is a doctor with a galaxy-class reputation for genetic manipulation. My particular favourites though are the foul-mouthed Homo eridanus, Vincent Stills and Marie, the mentally unstable explosives expert with a penchant for baiting Saint Matthew and is more than a match for Stills in the face-off stakes. The Quantum Magicianis the type of book you go back to the beginning and read again once you know how everything pans out and have those “why didn’t I see that the first time” moments. There’s a great deal to absorb between the pinch of theoretical physics and the insanely complex Ocean’s Eleven-style plot. But each chapter is relatively short, allowing for assimilation of its contents before plunging into the next one.
Humanity is fractured into several genetically-altered type: the Numen and the Puppets who 'worship them; the Mongrel who can't live in less than 500 atmospheres of pressure; and the homo quantus, who become quantum computers. What happens when one of the homo quantus becomes a con man? You spend the entire book wondering who is getting played.....
I enjoyed this immensely. My only criticism is that I found it hard at times to keep straight all the details of who was where and doing what, particularly the locations of all the space vehicles involved. A little more exposition of the plan would have helped.
Belisarius Arjona was taught by a con man that there are only three bets: "Sometimes, you play the cards. Sometimes, you play the player. Sometimes, you just throw the dice." Well, as the Quantum Magician, Bel played all three simultaneously in the ultimate con. For you see, Bel is a Homo quantus, born from a scientific project founded upon the precept that consciousness collapses quantum systems into clear outcomes, as epitomised by Schrodinger's cat. A Homo quantus brain has been engineered at will to discard the consciousness and subjectivity, to enter into a quantum fugue that does not collapse the quantum phenomena and thereby exposes an array of overlapping probabilities. So begins the ultimate heist wherein he assembles a disparate team consisting of an experienced con man, inside man, demolitions expert, navigator, electronics wizard, exotic deep diver and a geneticist. I really enjoyed the diverseness of advanced life from the loathsome Puppets and Numen, sentient AI, the Tribe of the Mongrel, to my absolute favourite, Homo quantus. An eclectic cast of characters in a hard sci-fi setting where there is always a con. If you think that you know what is going on, you have no idea. If you have no idea, then you are right where you should be. An imaginative, well realised world inhabiting by the most unique characters that we revile and adore, all at the same time. Highly recommended for any sci-fi lovers wanting to read something very different.