Prisons. Thieves. Exomemory. Watches. Quiets and Nobles. Resurrection Men. Co-memory. Combat Autism. Chocolate.
The Quantum Thief, the first published novel by Hannu Rajaniemi, was recently released in the United States and is nominated for the 2011 Campbell Award. I had a mixed reaction to the book. The quality that made it worth reading for me was the fascinating and original setting. Also, the book contained some scenes that I found beautiful and even touching. On the other hand, at times--especially near the climax of the plot--I was confused. I am not sure whether it was me, the book, or a combination. The story seemed like it had too many layers and tried to do too much in too little time.
Briefly, a thief is broken out of prison so that he can commit another robbery, but first he must find out who he is. Also, he doesn’t know what he is going to steal or who has really hired him. The universe is so unique that the reader doesn’t even know what can be stolen. Rajaniemi starts using unique terms right from the beginning of the book and then explains them later. Normally this would irritate me, but in some ways it added to the mystery of the book. Some of these terms refer to the transfer or blocking of information and memories from one person to another. One term, Quiet, refers to individuals whose conscious has been put into a non-human form for a time, almost as a type of national service.
I will be curious to see other people’s reaction to The Quantum Thief and whether it will be nominated for additional awards in 2012. The book does have some fascinating images in it, so I would not be surprised if it is at least considered for a movie.