The Quantum Thief - Hannu Rajaniemi

The cover quote says 'Hard to admit, but I think he's better at this stuff than I am' - Charles Stross, which gives you an idea of what we're talking about. It's post-singularity space opera, that fits somewhere near Accelerando or Glasshouse. The cover describes it as 'hard SF', but, er, there's plenty of made-up science in there. Quantum gets you lots of magic, like atom-sized intelligences, for example. Not exactly Egan. (Yes, I know Egan does some very, very speculative stuff, but he pulls it off extremely effectively)

So, is it better than Stross? Not really. The post-human aspects are pushed harder, but the post-humans still have human drives, and aren't quite as alien as the post-humans of Egan's Diaspora, for example. However, this makes the whole thing a bit less fun and engaging than Stross's stuff (excepting the origin of the zoku being reasonably silly). The downside of uploaded people covered in the book adds a little bit of Alistair Reynolds depressingness to it, but the Action Man main character simultaneously pushes it towards Neal Asher fluff.

All this is perhaps slightly harsh criticism. It's actually all fine stuff, and pretty heavily inventive. Some things fall flat - prisoners dilemma doesn't create cooperators, it creates, well, beings willing to cooperate, but both happy to exploit and punish where appropriate. But, as I said, there's a lot of inventiveness, the main plot is fun enough, and it's all pretty competent and enjoyable. It's unfortunate that Stross's work is there for comparison, really.

Posted 2013-07-27.