Hannu Rajaniemi: The Quantum Thief.

Somewhat reminiscent of Charlie Stross’ ‘Accelerando’, but not just because of the post singularity subject matter. There are so many ideas here, and so much plot, that it all rather comes rushing at you at once and it can be a little hard to make head or tail of what is going on. However, this seems to be a feature of singularity novels, particularly when it is perfectly possible to have two or more of the same character running around, each with different aims and motivations, time can be skewiff, if indeed it has any weight whatsoever, and location is entirely mutable at the whim of individuals, communities, or even itself.
It would seem, therefore, that the problems a reader encounters when trying to read a novel like ‘The Quantum Thief’ is broadly analogous to the problem of the author when they attempt to see beyond the singularity and write about it. The whole thing is so different that normal narrative modes seem to collapse under the weight of futurist cogitations.

This aside, the novel is a lot closer to a traditional narrative than Stross’ thought experiment, and perhaps more enjoyable for it. It still contains a lot of bleeding-edge scientific theory, and I particularly liked the reference to using retroviruses to make neurons light-sensitive, thereby allowing them to be switched on and off at will by flooding the brain with a particular colour of LED, and the possibilities that this opens up for ‘uploading’ technologies (see here: http://www.ted.com/talks/ed_boyden.html). Nicely written, although a predeliction for scientific accuracy trumps artistic merit here (not neccessarily mutaully exclusive), fast paced and entertaining. A worth-while read, but don’t blink too often or you’ll fall behind.


~ by Snake Oil on June 13, 2011.

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