Friday, June 24, 2011

The Quantum Thief, by Hannu Rajaniemi

I had this recommended to me as good new space opera. I enjoyed it, but am a little puzzled by that descriptor. Maybe 'space opera' does not mean what I think it means. It's far-future SF, that flavor where technology is so advanced that nearly everything is mutable, and reality is several layers of artificial. The most notable idea in this novel (for me anyway) was "gevulot", privacy protocols that you can use in real life to hide your appearance and dictate just how much anyone can know or remember from their interactions with you. But there are a lot of cool ideas in here.

The characters and dialogue and settings are all great, and it never loses its sense of fun. I was totally enjoying it right up until the last few pages, when I realized that there was no way some of the big questions were going to be answered by the end (which in and of itself would have been fine--I don't need a story to resolve every mystery) but as I feared, instead of tying off the narrative, the last scene screamed "SEQUEL!" I hate that. Let the story be the story, and if you want to write another one in the same universe, fine (see Bujold, Lois McMaster: Vorkosigan Saga; Pratchett, Terry: Discworld series). But I am tired of cliffhanger series. SO VERY TIRED.

Some explicit sex and nudity, and some coarse language. The narrative also might be difficult for a younger reader to follow.

I'm withholding ultimate judgement on this until I see a sequel. If Mr. Rajaniemi can bring the thing to a satisfying conclusion--not necessarily answering all the questions, just no more cliffhangers--I'd probably let Z read it when she's about 16.

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