The war rages onward and the Union’s premier fighter pilots, the Homo Eridanus, start encountering deadly resistance from strange pilots on the Congregate side. Among wreckage, they find that new Congregate pilots are, in fact, Homo quantus, with strange wiring and AI connections.
At the same time, the Puppets come to the Union with offers of an alliance for a dangerous price: the rescue of the geneticist Antonio Del Casal who is a captive on Venus, with over a hundred Homo quantus.
Only one person might be able to break through the Congregate defenses at Venus, and he’s a con man.
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This excellent addition to the Quantum series (book 3 of 4) ups the tension for the various players/factions in the book. For those who have read the first two books, this progression will flow naturally, as different human “species” (quantus, Puppets, mongrels), nations (Union, Congregate, Plutocracy, Puppets), and series characters (Bel, and others) deal with pretty existential questions around freedom, self-determination, evolution, slavery, and genocide. Coupled with plenty of action (though maybe a bit too much talk). Much more than a war or caper story. I like the favorable treatment of Luc, Down-syndrome character, who provides moral balance to both the Congregate and the book. I also like the intelligence agent Bareilles, who is harsh and manipulative but also sincere in her beliefs and not a simple fanatic. I did grow uncomfortable with how she manipulates “Le petit saint” but it fit the story and her characterization. Even the Scarecrows, who could easily be stock cardboard villains, are rounded. I think that while author Künsken works to make this standalone, it would be hard to pick up this book and read it cold. It is mercifully low on data dumps of backstory but that makes it more imperative to start at Quantum Magician. And well worth it, too. I look forward to the concluding volume and the sequel to House of Styx as Künslen fills out this fascinating universe.
The Quantum War by Derek Künsken My rating: 5 of 5 stars Homo Quantus return in the Quantum War, providing us fantastically evolving humans five hundred years in the future. This is a mix of space opera, wartime footing action, and deeper characterizations than straight action. Whereas The Quantum Magician was more of a heist novel and The Quantum Garden was more of a rescue operation, The Quantum War was more of an exploitation/war-readiness moral quandary issue than either of the ones that came before. The best parts, at least to me, all revolve around the question and use of the Homo Quantus. At certain times they are highly revered, sweet people with Down Syndrome, and at other times, they're cyborged-out savants that think a thousand times faster than normal humans. And they are forced into war. Refugees, the powerful fearful, and the exploited are all forced on a very circuitous path. As always, I love Künsken's exploration of what it means to be human. Even getting into SEVERAL new branches of humanity: the kind we create or the kind we become and whatever is left behind. Shake all of this up into some wild, often highly high-brow SF possibilities (damn, I love the possibilities of that Iron) and even some timey-wimey stuff that's only possible thanks to this new evolution. If you are waiting for some great new Hard-SF that doesn't fear to push those boundaries, then definitely read these. I do recommend reading them in order even if we explore new characters. It's totally possible to read these out of publication order, mind you, but I got a lot more out of this because I was already familiar with so much of the tech, the cool combinations of AI and Human, and the big stuff on the fringes. Definitely a fun ride.