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Belisarius is a quantum man, an engineered Homo quantus who fled the powerful insight of dangerously addictive quantum senses. He found a precarious balance as a con man, but when a client offers him untold wealth to move a squadron of warships across an enemy wormhole, he must embrace his birthright to even try. In fact, the job is so big that he'll need a crew built from Belisarius is a quantum man, an engineered Homo quantus who fled the powerful insight of dangerously addictive quantum senses. He found a precarious balance as a con man, but when a client offers him untold wealth to move a squadron of warships across an enemy wormhole, he must embrace his birthright to even try. In fact, the job is so big that he'll need a crew built from all the new sub-branches of humanity. If he succeeds, he might trigger an interstellar war, but success might also point the way to the next step of Homo quantus evolution.


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Belisarius is a quantum man, an engineered Homo quantus who fled the powerful insight of dangerously addictive quantum senses. He found a precarious balance as a con man, but when a client offers him untold wealth to move a squadron of warships across an enemy wormhole, he must embrace his birthright to even try. In fact, the job is so big that he'll need a crew built from Belisarius is a quantum man, an engineered Homo quantus who fled the powerful insight of dangerously addictive quantum senses. He found a precarious balance as a con man, but when a client offers him untold wealth to move a squadron of warships across an enemy wormhole, he must embrace his birthright to even try. In fact, the job is so big that he'll need a crew built from all the new sub-branches of humanity. If he succeeds, he might trigger an interstellar war, but success might also point the way to the next step of Homo quantus evolution.

30 review for The Quantum Magician

  1. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Homo Quantus: "The Quantum Magician" by Derek Künsken A Quantum brain! I don't think evolution would have ever be able to produce such a complex computer, made of tissue. Think about how a Quantum computer work; it's happening in our heads! I swallowed a transformer toy back in the eighties so I'm ahead of the curve on this one. Roughly speaking, quantum information is unique: you cannot destroy it, you can teleport it, but you cannot cl If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Homo Quantus: "The Quantum Magician" by Derek Künsken A Quantum brain! I don't think evolution would have ever be able to produce such a complex computer, made of tissue. Think about how a Quantum computer work; it's happening in our heads! I swallowed a transformer toy back in the eighties so I'm ahead of the curve on this one. Roughly speaking, quantum information is unique: you cannot destroy it, you can teleport it, but you cannot clone it. The superposition of quantum states has a range from zero to fully entangled in the context of many measurements. The states are associated with the range of energies. The superposition speaks about the collective, correlated dynamics of the states in the context in which the energies of the states are defined.

  2. 4 out of 5

    William

    5-Stars! Outrageously Imaginative! On Sale in the UK for 99 pence today! Delicious hard science, even to the mysteries of quantum unknowns, quantum possibilities. Great prose, fabulous characters, far better than any "Oceans 11" rip-off you could imagine. Rigorously founded in real science, and extrapolating wonderfully into sci-fi; I'm happy to watch various physical laws be broken now and then for such a great heist plot! As usual with my reviews, please first read the publisher’s blurb/summary 5-Stars! Outrageously Imaginative! On Sale in the UK for 99 pence today! Delicious hard science, even to the mysteries of quantum unknowns, quantum possibilities. Great prose, fabulous characters, far better than any "Oceans 11" rip-off you could imagine. Rigorously founded in real science, and extrapolating wonderfully into sci-fi; I'm happy to watch various physical laws be broken now and then for such a great heist plot! As usual with my reviews, please first read the publisher’s blurb/summary of the book. Thank you, NetGalley and Solaris for this ARC. Some amazing world-building here, and the relationship between the "Puppet" race of humans and their "Divine" masters, the Numen, is extraordinary. I’ve never read such an incredible master-slave-race construct before. This is a heist story, with each extraordinary character fulfilling a role in the crime, each one amazing and full-bodied in behaviour and thought. The heist barrels along, with unexpected but quite plausible twists and turns, and rockets to a dramatic and satisfying climax. Perhaps the last 20% of the book could do with tighter editing, a bit more clarity. The pace is so high and the sci-fi quantum spiel is perhaps a bit too complex for this ending. But that’s a minor quibble to a truly extraordinary book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. -- Belisarius sold legal and illegal Puppet art and was curating the first exposition permitted by the Theocracy. Smell, lighting and sound influenced the aesthetic of Puppet religious experience, and for the exposition, Belisarius had laced the lobby with the faint citrus odor of Puppet sweat. Quantum Qutrits ... Very, very esoteric! Bel considers the Union request - They were going to die. They were all going to die if they faced the Congregate navy, and they needed him to get to a place where they could die. The Inspiration of Saint Matthew, by Caravaggio Saint Matthew was probably the most sophisticated AI in civilization, the first of the long-sought Aleph-class of AIs being developed with the considerable resources of the First Bank of the Plutocracy. Bel considers cards and gambling - Cards possessed a kind of purity. The apparent evenness of the probability was Platonically untouchable. Politics, violence, foolishness, poverty and wealth meant nothing to probability. (a random card magician picture, apologies to Kevin McMahon) As intelligence was an emergent property of life, so games of controlled chance were an emergent property of intelligence. Intellect was an adaptive evolutionary structure, allowing humanity not only to sense the world in space, but to predict future events through time. Games of chance tested that predictive machine—so much so that games of controlled chance discriminated consciousness from unconsciousness far better than Turing. Artist's concept of a quantum wave function ... Marie the explosives expert - “Happy for help,” Marie said, looking at them, wriggling her fingers. “This’ll be a three-or four-finger job.” Gates-15 frowned at her. “What’s a three-finger job?” “It’s how many fingers get blown off before I get it right. It’s way easier if we spread that around. Many hands make light the work,” she said cheerily. click here for: Underwater Explosion at 120,000 FPS A.I. Saint Matthew - What if I’m the tool by which He actually ensouls machines? That would certainly force us to redefine the role of humanity in His plan. Imagine if humanity was just scaffolding for the creation and ensoulment of machines.” Cassandra ponders love - [Bel] smiled. And some of the weight on her chest lessened, until she realized that his smile was a lie, to make her feel better, and that only a month ago, she wouldn’t have known the difference between a smile and its imitation. (just a lovely thought) Notes: 3.0% ... pretty good so far. 6.0% ... wow, delicious hard science, virtual particles and such. The prose is very good, so good you happily ignore the violation of thermodynamics. 20.0% ... very clever and literate. 39.0% .... the plot deliciously thickens! 50.0% ... Risk and daring were a matter of calculation and feel, forceful attacks and timely folding, and lacing every choice with misdirection. 51.0% ... another fabulous plot twist. 59.0% ... wow, Puppet worship of Numen is really creepy, repulsive. 74.0% Intelligence was the first sense to see through time instead of space. 76.0% ... the Numen-Puppet relationship is unlike anything I've ever read before in science fiction. 96% ... word should be "precessing" She measured her rotational speed and angular momentum against the stars, solving the differential equations to know how to extend her arms and legs to spin without processing. Derek Künsken

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    I have no problems raving about this book. It has everything I love about SF and then I get the best things I love about the thriller/mystery genre. HEISTS. At first, I believed this was written as a homage or a more accessible version of Hannu Rajaniemi's Quantum Thief, and I was right... to a degree. It forwent the truly odd stuff and gave us a readable and full explanation of quantum mechanics and name-dropped a few more while throwing us into a more widespread future that never quite touched I have no problems raving about this book. It has everything I love about SF and then I get the best things I love about the thriller/mystery genre. HEISTS. At first, I believed this was written as a homage or a more accessible version of Hannu Rajaniemi's Quantum Thief, and I was right... to a degree. It forwent the truly odd stuff and gave us a readable and full explanation of quantum mechanics and name-dropped a few more while throwing us into a more widespread future that never quite touched the singularity. In other words, it had odd cultures and odder branches of humanity but it still felt a lot like everything we know. Bruisers coming in the form of gene-modded humans able to withstand punishing pressure, a technician in the form of insane AI who think he is a Saint from three thousand years ago or an inside man who is a part of a whole people modded to worship everything about self-torture as a religious experience. Add our mastermind who is a broken quantum computer (in the old sense) who ought to be able to go into a fugue state and savant his way through any difficult problem except for the tiny detail that it hospitalizes him, and we've got an MC who needs a social challenge big enough to tax his brain without busting it. There's a lot of great gallows humor here. A truly wild backdrop of space-opera with wormholes, big space-fleet conflict, and empires who all think they're the most formidable foes in the playground. What could go wrong? Well, as it turns out, a lot, but the ride is fun as hell. After all, it's a HEIST! :) :)

  4. 5 out of 5

    David Katzman

    I’ve read several science fiction/fantasy novels recently that all springboard off quantum physics (while at the same time reading several actual science books about quantum physics). At a high level, I’d summarize them as follows: Quarantine (Subjective Cosmology #1) by Greg Egan is a mind-blowing far-future series that starts with a very hard-science premise grounded in quantum physics theory and then pushing the theory to an extreme. The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi (and the entire I’ve read several science fiction/fantasy novels recently that all springboard off quantum physics (while at the same time reading several actual science books about quantum physics). At a high level, I’d summarize them as follows: Quarantine (Subjective Cosmology #1) by Greg Egan is a mind-blowing far-future series that starts with a very hard-science premise grounded in quantum physics theory and then pushing the theory to an extreme. The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi (and the entire Jean le Flambeur series) is a surrealist thriller that is only loosely based on real physics, but it’s a blast as a picaresque fantasy. The Quantum Magician by Derek Künsken, the book I’m reviewing here, references quantum physics as a touchpoint, and legitimate aspects of theories are referenced. But just as in The Quantum Thief it’s only loosely inspired by them. Rather this is more of a fantasy/sci fi thriller heist story that has the most traditional character-based drive of the three quantum-inspired stories that I've read. Not a bad story, but for my taste, the least interesting of the three. The Quantum Magician is rather like a cross between The Sting and a space opera. A con man named Belisarius is hired by a small military force to help them pull off a massive con that, in some unknown way, will help them achieve advantage in a galactic power struggle. In the end, I found it decent but not remarkable. Being as character driven as it is, a significant part of my reaction to it is how I felt about the characters. The characterizations were reasonably believable, but not particularly compelling. The emotions didn’t ring deeply true. When a book depends so significantly on character, I have a very high bar for how real the characters have to feel. There was something lacking in Künsken’s work here that failed to elevate this to the literary level. Acceptable as pulp characters but not elevating to a higher standard. As far as space opera goes, it’s entertaining and rather dark. You never know who is really allied with who, motives are obscured, and power struggles abound. I can tell you that I enjoyed it…modestly. I would recommend it to fans of space sci fi dramas. The con artist plot structure isn’t perhaps as suspenseful as it could be because so many aspects of it are based on hypothetical far future science that aren’t particularly realistic. Unless those levers are extremely clearly delineated in advance, they can feel a bit too deus ex machina. The plan succeeded because of this magic science-y thing I made up! Overall, it’s good. Just not great.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    Originally posted at https://1000yearplan.com/2018/10/06/t... The multifarious, space-faring human civilization Derek Künsken envisions for his debut novel The Quantum Magician relies on a network of wormholes to move from system to system. Powerful patron nations control all the wormholes while subordinate client nations must contract with patrons to use them. The Sub-Saharan Union, a small client nation, longs for independence from the hegemonic Congregate, which controls access to the only wor Originally posted at https://1000yearplan.com/2018/10/06/t... The multifarious, space-faring human civilization Derek Künsken envisions for his debut novel The Quantum Magician relies on a network of wormholes to move from system to system. Powerful patron nations control all the wormholes while subordinate client nations must contract with patrons to use them. The Sub-Saharan Union, a small client nation, longs for independence from the hegemonic Congregate, which controls access to the only wormhole to and from their planetary system. For decades the Union’s Sixth Expeditionary Force, made up of obsolete, second-hand warships, developed advanced weapons and propulsion technology in secret. To launch their attack before the Congregate learns of its existence, the Sixth needs to cross a wormhole axis controlled and defended by the Federation of Puppet Theocracies. The Puppets want half the Union’s souped-up warships as payment for passage across the axis, a price too high for the Union to pay. Trying to force their way across the axis would end with more of their ships destroyed or damaged than they would have lost if they had made the deal. Enter homo quantus Belisarius Arjona, one of an engineered human sub-species whose brains are essentially quantum computers. Belisarius is an exile from his own people, a free agent who uses his quantum intellect to pull off complex confidence schemes for paying clients. The Union hires Belisarius to do the impossible: move the entire Sixth Expeditionary Force across the Puppet axis without the Puppets knowing it. To do so, Belisarius needs to assemble a team comprising all the various sub-species humans have engineered over the centuries, each bringing a unique skill set to the table. But Belisarius has something more personal at stake in the outcome than he can let on, and the slightest miscalculation could mean sacrificing himself and everyone he cares about. The future history Künsken conjures is a dizzying miracle, so expansive and packed with detail, yet we still get the feeling the author is only scratching the surface. The structure of the heist story, in which “getting the band together” occupies a significant portion of the narrative, is perfect for sneaking in plot-dependent infodumps: someone always needs something explained to them in such scenes. Meanwhile, Künsken keeps dropping brain-blistering science-fictional concepts on the reader, because why settle for one cool idea when several dozen will do. The Union’s ships are powered by virtual particles that jump in and out of existence and carry an inflationary force akin to the expanding universe. It's the kind of concept sci-fi authors build entire novels around, but Künsken just tosses it into the bin like he’s got plenty more to spare. Crime caper stories are reliant on sleight of hand; the plot of The Quantum Magician features the requisite double blinds and bait-and-switches, disseminated with a proficiency and confidence expected of a veteran author (Künsken has been publishing short fiction for over a decade). I must admit that I preferred watching the dominoes line up to watching them fall. Once Belisarius and his crew set the plan in motion, the story hits all its marks, but the execution feels a little perfunctory. What the novel gets right, though, is that its band of gene-engineered ne’er-do-wells, and especially Belisarius, are desperate to find meaning in their lives and willing to risk everything to get it. Pulling that off is the long game The Quantum Magician plays well.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bandit

    Some books you know almost immediately aren’t going to work for you. And yet the obsessive compulsive reader might feel compelled to finish them anyway. And that kinda sucks. And yes, I am such a reader, a completist by nature. And this one had such a promising premise and title and turned out to be such a chore to get through. From page one it was just too…sciency, for the lack of a more appropriate word. Sure it is science fiction, some science is to be expected, but this was positively overlo Some books you know almost immediately aren’t going to work for you. And yet the obsessive compulsive reader might feel compelled to finish them anyway. And that kinda sucks. And yes, I am such a reader, a completist by nature. And this one had such a promising premise and title and turned out to be such a chore to get through. From page one it was just too…sciency, for the lack of a more appropriate word. Sure it is science fiction, some science is to be expected, but this was positively overloaded with the techy aspects, so that it was in fact top heavy. But the time you get to the bottom, fiction in this case, you’re tired and kind of indifferent. In fact it wasn’t until about quarter of the way in that the plot actually got interesting enough to engage me. And actually the character writing was very good and the characters themselves, particularly the terrifically belligerent Stills, were pretty great. The plot itself involved a sort of intergalactic con job on a huge scale. That also worked. So that basically edited in a different way, slimmed down, trimmed down, this would have been lots of fun. Instead it was a dense plodding slog through space time continuum that took sheer will power and effort to finish. Thanks Netgalley.

  7. 5 out of 5

    HBalikov

    “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?” Robert Browning Will you like this book as much as I did? Let’s find out. You must have your geek on and be ready for one of the most challenging “whitewater rides” you have ever taken through genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, nano-technology, astrophysics, exo-biology, and a plethora of planets and species that stretch the term “human.” Belisarius Arjona is a self-described con man. He is also part of an augmented “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?” Robert Browning Will you like this book as much as I did? Let’s find out. You must have your geek on and be ready for one of the most challenging “whitewater rides” you have ever taken through genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, nano-technology, astrophysics, exo-biology, and a plethora of planets and species that stretch the term “human.” Belisarius Arjona is a self-described con man. He is also part of an augmented human species dubbed Homo quantus. Others seek him out because they see his skill verging on the magical. He orchestrates “a con” reminiscent of Ocean’s Eleven but jacked up a few orders of magnitude. "“So all Homo quantus are built this poorly?” “It’s fair to say I’m the sum of many generations of flaws.” “You can barely navigate zero grav, you get sick when you try something unusual, and you missed the Mutapa,” she said. “Our own navigation could have come closer.” “I get it,” he groaned. “You don’t agree with the decision to hire me.” “Correct.” “Then don’t hire me if you don’t think I can do the job.”" The “job” is massive, in every sense of that word. It involves getting a fleet of very special ships through a wormhole that is completely controlled by their enemy. To accomplish this takes a team as varied and as different as you might imagine. No, I’m not sure anyone but Derek Künsken could imagine this group which includes experts in so many fields including mayhem and deception. This may not be the most beautifully written book, but the reader is being moved through the plot at “warp speed” and the writing is more than adequate. Some of the things that Künsken gets right include: - A well-conceived “world” with a full measure of complexity - Characters that have depth and complexity (and stay in character) - Species that have significant and consequential back-stories - Technology that could be part of our future - An in-space battle that is not like anything you have come across - Individuals with layers of motivations - Terrifying and shocking behaviors that are not just add-ons - Surprises all through the novel Okay, I hope I have given you enough of the story for you to determine if it will work for you. For those who want to risk knowing more, I have now added some material that I feel makes the case for how extraordinary this book is. (without spoilers, I believe) 4.5* [I was reminded of this introduction to an old radio show because I feel The Quantum Magician actually achieves what was promised: “From the far horizons of the unknown come tales of new dimensions in time and space. These are stories of the future; adventures in which you'll live in a million could-be years on a thousand may-be worlds.”] This book is the first of at least two books with Belisarius Arjona. ...................................................................................................................... As I have asserted above, this book, though not massive in size, is massive in what it wants to convey. I am skating on thin ice, but my intention is not to spoil the experience for you, but to induce more of the readers of this review (who love good SF) to give it a try. There are four major “human” species in play in this novel. The “normal” humans and three that have been created for various reasons: the Puppets, the Mongrels and Homo quantus. There are also several varieties of A.I. including The Scarecrow and St. Matthew. These are distributed, but not equally, among the empires and hegemonies that are in constant competition. Getting some type of enhancement advantage is a way to shift the balance of power, but it may have unintended consequences. "Anglo-Spanish genetic manipulation had made caged monsters of the Homo eridanus, religious slaves of the Homo pupa and intellectual automata of the Homo quantus. All things considered, humans had done a terrible job of directing their own evolution." Since Bel is part of Homo quantus there is more description of their home world, the Garret, and what it means to be a quantus. This may be the apex of the author’s imaginative brilliance. See below: "The Garret wasn’t like that. The Homo quantus sought knowledge. They didn’t threaten anyone. But what would the Homo quantus do if someone threatened them? She honestly didn’t know. Human history was a concatenation of power struggles and people trying to get away with whatever they could, until someone strong enough came along to stop them. That was the world she’d stepped into." "THE QUANTUM INTELLECT coalesced in the absence of the Belisarius subjectivity. Millions of magnetosomes fed the intellect billions of qubits and qutrits of magnetic and electrical information. The intellect constructed a map of the signals, in all their mutually exclusive, superimposed richness. Quantum perceptions bloomed in an array of overlapping probabilities." "Most of the processing power of the quantum intellect was consumed in the constant navigational adjustments to the shape of the induced wormhole;" "Even in his normal state, Belisarius could have mentally pictured five dimensions. In savant, he could picture seven- and eight-dimensional objects and complex state space geometries. The rendering programs had notations made just for the Homo quantus that allowed them to go past even this, to see the eleven-dimensional geometries that approached the complexity of wormholes." "In the same way he could have played cards with even the most advanced computers and soon found the rules governing their choices, so he could have done with the living computer that Cassandra had become in the fugue. The objective intellect she became was not conscious in even the most rudimentary sense. She was a machine of flesh ridden by a web of algorithms that could in no way even be called a person. Cassandra did not presently exist, having been temporarily snuffed out by an electrical and biochemical lobotomy." "She tumbled. But she was still in savant. She measured her rotational speed and angular momentum against the stars, solving the differential equations to know how to extend her arms and legs to spin without precessing." "The Tribe of the Mongrel were promiscuous users of the foulest words from every language, from français 8 back to français 1, to most forms of Anglo-Spanish, Mandarin and Trade Arabic." (Which gives the author license to use invective, profanity, scatological references, curses, etc. and do so with some inventiveness.) "Saint Matthew’s quantum computing capacities and hard positives on every sentience test made him advanced, even among the Aleph-class." "She hadn’t experienced any of what her brain had done in the fugue. She couldn’t have. Cassandra the person had not existed for those hours. But she could review the memories of what her brain had seen and sensed and done, and she could try to understand it all. It was like revealed knowledge." "He’d pass out if this kept up. So he was playing smart. Their pings had gradually told him the kind of kit that was hunting him. They sounded like programmed defensive tech in mid-sized torpedo casings. He’d built a profile of their sense-and-search algorithms based on their pings and positioning, slowly improving his diversions and using cover better." Every member of Bel’s “team” was tempted with some inducement (which of course included a massive amount of money). But that wasn’t always the prime factor: "“The nature of the job is not as important as the context. Do you ever feel a sense of fate?” “All the time,” Saint Matthew said. “In fated times,” Belisarius said, “miracles are not only possible, but logically necessary.” “Go on,” Saint Matthew said. “Your coming to me twelve years ago can’t be an accident,” Belisarius said. “What I hadn’t figured out, until now, was where your mission had to start, or what my role was.”" "“Things seem to be going well here,” Belisarius said. “Yes. The batches of autonomous robots are at generation six, and are evolving quite nicely.” “You didn’t want to design them directly? This is going to take longer.” “I’m a craftsman, Mister Arjona, not a hack. Iterative design by the mutation of replicating units is better. Emerging complexity and self-assembly are too useful not to exploit. And it’s the only way to see if I could evolve robotic species with souls.” “What?” “I admit, it’s a long shot, but while I’m evolving autonomous robots for one reason, why not test whether I can give them souls too?”" "“I’m glad you asked. I’m bored of trying to help Bel with his love problem and Matt with his god complex.” “They’ll shit sunshine when they hear you’re going to stop helping them.” “I decided to help you.” “You can start by washing my ass.” “I’m figuring you out. You’re one of those dish-it-out types but you’re not interested in taking it.” “Are you a mongrel whisperer now?” “Let’s say I am. I think the whole Way of the Mongrel code is this big defensive screen, putting yourselves down before someone else does.”" Another area where this book shines is in imagined technology: "An inflaton drive. He wondered if she was lying. He usually could tell, but he didn’t think she was. She was tamping down her own pride in the telling. How did they do it? Inflaton particles carried the inflationary force that caused the ongoing expansion of the universe. In some theories, a wave of inflation was self-reinforcing, a runaway effect. Their own drive could destroy them. And the energy cost must be enormous. Then it clicked. “Virtual inflatons,” Belisarius said. Iekanjika started. Virtual particles were pairs of particles and anti-particles that could jump into existence as long as they vanished back into nothingness quickly enough." "In front of the ship, a pocket of space-time bulged at right angles to the three dimensions of space. Semi-melted space-time distended like a questing pseudopod. The shape and focus of the magnetic field pushed the tube of space-time across dimensions accustomed to being curled. The questing finger reached down, around the intervening space, until a narrow, unstable bridge reached a point far to galactic south. Then the display greened. They had induced a wormhole." "At twenty-two kilometers below the surface, the view opened on one side. The tower of carbon containing their elevator carried them past slush dotted with moving icebergs, and then into the dark, open water of a protected bay. At this depth, the frame of the elevator creaked as it endured eight hundred atmospheres of pressure. If any of the systems failed, they would be crushed instantly." "The thinnest of vines wrapped up a narrow, smooth-barked tree trunk. Transparent gossamer leaves sprouted from it at regular intervals…(he was led )… up the leaves. They fluoresced as…(h)is brain ripped apart the engineering in the stairs as he followed…: plant cells engineered to grow carbon nanofilament, probably reinforcing the xylem and phloem to steely hardness. And likely colonized intracellularly by bioluminescent bacteria that glowed under pressure. Lovely." "….had a computational and robotics lab, equipped with atomic force microscopes and X-ray lithographers for the nano-level engineering of parts he needed. He grew other parts and tools in small bioreactors. Various pieces of equipment ran, their fans humming softly. The bready smell of yeast floated on the air. Little multi-legged robots scuttled on the floor like polished insects." And then there is the “con:” "He was... worldly, dishonest, money-chasing. Or he was lying. He said he wanted the data as badly as she did. They were going to try something never before tried. They were going to touch the inside of an Axis Mundi in ways that no Homo quantus ever had. Who was he telling the truth to? Maybe he didn’t tell the truth to anyone." "You do not make all the choices, and not one this big.” “ Would you ever play poker as part of a committee?” “Do not insult me, Arjona. I do not appreciate whatever comparison you are making.” “I’m playing against the psychology of the Puppets. You more than anyone else can understand what it is to stare down someone across the table.” “I bet my stake, on my cards, against my opponent.” “That’s what I’m doing, Antonio.” "He had the start of an idea for getting the Expeditionary Force to the other side of the Puppet Axis, but that was just navigation, playing the cards. The larger problem would be playing the Puppets. They wouldn’t be easy marks." “And if the Puppets do not swallow your bluff?” “They will,” Belisarius said. He felt an icy certainty slipping into his voice." "You meant to con me, but you were telling the truth.” “I said it because it was meaningful to you, like my nonexistent soul,” Belisarius said. “Just because neither exists to me doesn’t mean they don’t exist for you. I’m Homo quantus; I live in an observer-dependent world where very important things can exist and not exist at the same time.”" "“You never really needed me. You didn’t need to be a con man, either. You were always made for more.” Belisarius shook his head. “I was built wrong, Will. If I hadn’t found cons, I would have died a long time ago. You saved me.”" Description "Hemoglobins were remarkably sensitive to partial pressures because they flexed from one shape to another as they functioned: fold to grab the oxygen, unfold to let the oxygen go." "But the space above the Free City was alive with artillery explosions and chaff. Lasers heated up any debris in their firing arcs. Small fighter craft, tough old Anglo-Spanish Mark 21 Daggers and bigger cast-off Congregate Perceuses, flew nasty." "The poised watchfulness that had ill-fit her in civilian clothes now suited, as if a hard gem had been returned to its setting." "Nothing in the memories of the Belisarius subjectivity was helpful. The Belisarius subjectivity’s memories of each discussion of his plans were deceptive and contradictory, and even occasionally self-deceiving. The Belisarius subjectivity operated on multiple levels of deception, with overlapping realities and narratives, interacting and interfering so that knowledge was less factual and more probabilistic, similar to superimposed quantum waves. The quantum intellect could not cede this decision to the Belisarius subjectivity." Humor "“Happy for help,” Marie said, looking at them, wriggling her fingers. “This’ll be a three- or four-finger job.” Gates-15 frowned at her. “What’s a three-finger job?” “It’s how many fingers get blown off before I get it right. It’s way easier if we spread that around. Many hands make light the work,” she said cheerily. Cassandra resisted a shiver."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    I was overjoyed to come across this on a 'best books of October list' that I instantly grabbed a copy as it sounded right up my reading street. I have a soft spot for science fiction so long as it has an original and intriguing premise, and this most certainly did. I mean, what could be better than the heist of a lifetime... in space? Trust me, you have never read a book like this before. Make no mistake, this is hard science fiction at its absolute best, and a simply magnificent full-length deb I was overjoyed to come across this on a 'best books of October list' that I instantly grabbed a copy as it sounded right up my reading street. I have a soft spot for science fiction so long as it has an original and intriguing premise, and this most certainly did. I mean, what could be better than the heist of a lifetime... in space? Trust me, you have never read a book like this before. Make no mistake, this is hard science fiction at its absolute best, and a simply magnificent full-length debut! If you're a lover of Yoon Ha Lee's 'Ninefox Gambit' or think you'd enjoy Ocean's Eleven set in space, then I urge you to pick this up! Being a total nerd, I loved the scientific discussion throughout the story from which it was evident that the author knew exactly what he was talking about. The inclusion of the science-y parts made the whole thing feel wonderfully authentic and more believable. The characters are beautifully drawn, and I really cared what happened to each of them. I also appreciated the humour that was sprinkled through the pages. Intelligently written, suspenseful and a wholly satisfying conclusion - this was a fun read! If you're a fan of the genre and in particular scientifically accurate sci-fi, this is absolutely unmissable! It ticked every box in what I look for in a book from this genre. It deserves a wide readership as it's a pleasure to read, exciting and had me thinking that it would make a perfect series. Stunningly imaginative and grounded in real science/physics which makes it all the more interesting, there isn't a single aspect of the story I didn't enjoy! I feel I really can't get over just how great this book, so if it sounds like your cup of tea, just read it! In my opinion, Künsken has shown he has the potential to have a long and distinguished writing career. I for one will keep my eyes open for more from him in the future. Many thanks to Solaris for an ARC. I was not required to post a review, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Allison Hurd

    I thought this was a lot of fun. If you like Sherlock Holmes but also say "that is NOT POSSIBLE," whenever he inducts something far fetched again, and heist stories, this is a good'un. CONTENT WARNING: (view spoiler)[ body horror, enslavement, coercion of will, bodily humiliation, non-con of both doms and subs, medical experimentation, ableism. (hide spoiler)] Things to love: -The universe. So, the stuff Sherlock Holmes does is impossible...for a human. You'd need to be a quantum computer to do wh I thought this was a lot of fun. If you like Sherlock Holmes but also say "that is NOT POSSIBLE," whenever he inducts something far fetched again, and heist stories, this is a good'un. CONTENT WARNING: (view spoiler)[ body horror, enslavement, coercion of will, bodily humiliation, non-con of both doms and subs, medical experimentation, ableism. (hide spoiler)] Things to love: -The universe. So, the stuff Sherlock Holmes does is impossible...for a human. You'd need to be a quantum computer to do what he does. So what if a quantum computer was a human? And if we have that level of genetic manipulation/ bioengineering, what else could humanity do? What WOULD it do? What other sorts of crazy stuff might we have? All of this was really thought through and I liked all the wacky novel-to-me twists and turns the author's mind wandered inventing this. -The heist. Like all good heists, you know it's not going to go to plan. Seeing it fall apart and recongeal was tons of fun and masterfully woven. -The stakes. As yucky as some of the fallout was, I was glad that there WAS fallout. There were consequences, complications, and people got hurt in believable ways. -A satisfying ending. I liked where things came to rest. And that it came to rest? Why don't stories f***ing end anymore?? Kunsken puts a neat, well-earned bow on his story and that was appreciated. Things that might confound enjoyment: -The moralizing. Some, sure, we want to think about what all this means to humans if it were to occur. But philosophy can be extremely heavy-handed if not delicately handled. Kunsken didn't even try. Just full on wrecking ball of classical thinking from the foulmouthed minds of humanoid aliens. And then, we add 3 different dogmas/religions into the mix. Oy. -"Brain damage." So there are a lot of ties here to conditions such as Autism referred to regularly as brain damage which is kinda yikes. I think it was because the state that mirrored a lot of autistic elements was induced and brought with it fevers and such, but yeah. I don't think that's the word we wanted. -The science. It's not right, okay? But it is internally consistent, and did give us rules for the world, so I still liked it. This is science fiction, emphasis on the fiction. -The fascination with sexual humiliation. I'm not kinkshaming here. This is a real thing and I don't see it as often in books as I see fetishes of dominance and dubcon (although, there was non-con stuff here so, not sure what I'm supposed to make of this). But it did make long stretches very uncomfortable for someone without that proclivity. I also didn't find it believable that everyone discussed it so openly? Like...isn't the shame part of the fetish? Idk. The whole Puppet thing was meant to be uncomfortable and was. I'm not sure if that means it succeeded or made it weird in a way that was weird even when we're discussing non-standard human approaches to life. -The French and cursing. A tiny little baby nitpick here, but it is suuuuper confusing hearing joual and French conflated. The accent isn't the same, the words often don't mean the same thing....Calisse is not really a swear in French-French. (désolée à mes amis Québécois pour le maudit, là) While I love the idea that joual or Acadien or something takes over French in the future, I'd have liked it if we'd sort of discussed this, then? Also, there was a distinct lack of puta/putain in a novel with lots of cursing in French and Spanish lol Lots of fun. I'd recommend this to many (in fact, I have!) but I'm also not sure I need to read more? So I guess 3.5 stars, rounded up because I did enjoy it and found time to read it outside my normal reading times.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    This is a good debut novel that could have been better with tighter editing. Inside this 480 page book is a first-rate 300 or 350-page novel struggling to get out. Still worth reading, though Künsken seems to assume that 21st century physics (the Standard Model) will persist into the indefinite future. OK, there's plenty of great superscience stuff too, some halfway plausible. I always love to see inexplicable Forerunner tech, here an ancient Wormhole subway system that provides FTL links to the This is a good debut novel that could have been better with tighter editing. Inside this 480 page book is a first-rate 300 or 350-page novel struggling to get out. Still worth reading, though Künsken seems to assume that 21st century physics (the Standard Model) will persist into the indefinite future. OK, there's plenty of great superscience stuff too, some halfway plausible. I always love to see inexplicable Forerunner tech, here an ancient Wormhole subway system that provides FTL links to the Great Powers. But the hard-SF goodness gets diluted by filler. And the pacing, for a caper story, sags badly in places, for info-dumps and philosophical musings. It does come to a first-rate ending, with exploding spaceships! , superscience weapons, a big payoff for Our Heroes, and hooks for the sequel. So: 4 stars for the cool SFnal ideas, 2 stars for the caper and editing. Your mileage may vary: read some other reviews too. Gary Tognetti’s is a good one: https://1000yearplan.com/2018/10/06/t... I’d previously read and liked his 2016 novelette “Flight from the Ages”, set in this same universe: Two sentient AI reps of the Bank of the Plutocracy race to save the universe! “The blistering sheets of x-rays. The thrumming of space-time shuddering with gravitational waves.” Marvelous fun, 4.5 stars. Reprinted in Dozois #34, and which led me to read the novel.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    It's a heist story. A simple heist story where one party needs some thing(s) moved from A to B at the risk of upsetting the authorities. A simple heist story set in the future. And in space. A simple heist story where humans aren't only human anymore. Not all of them anyway. So it's a simple heist story set in the distant future, in space, with humans and sub-species of humans. Sub-species suggests a hierarchy, which would suggest resentment and the potential for conflict. Maybe this isn't that It's a heist story. A simple heist story where one party needs some thing(s) moved from A to B at the risk of upsetting the authorities. A simple heist story set in the future. And in space. A simple heist story where humans aren't only human anymore. Not all of them anyway. So it's a simple heist story set in the distant future, in space, with humans and sub-species of humans. Sub-species suggests a hierarchy, which would suggest resentment and the potential for conflict. Maybe this isn't that simple after all. But it is. This book is smart but not too smart. Hard sci-fi with the accessibility of [insert blockbuster Hollywood movie title]. Künsken manages to interweave big sci-fi ideas into a simple heist story without breaking away horribly from the tried and tested formula or feeling clunky and bloated. It's masterfully done. I'll be reading this again and again over the coming years. __________________________ Previous reviews: The problem with this book is that it finishes. Didn’t want to leave this universe, but I hope to return to it. Great stuff. 29/03/20 Reread I need to write a better review of this masterpiece.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hank

    Just how I like my sci-fi, weird, techy, made up words and space! This is an Oceans Eleven in space (except there were only 8 of them) with space guns and space ships and space people and tons of modified humans. It really was fun even if it was heavily inspired by the movie above. A sweet con job with all the geek stuff that I love. 4.5 stars.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lowell

    Full disclosure: Review ARC provided by Netgalley.com, in kindle format. I was unable to finish this book. I read the first 25% and was interminably bored by the setup. While the plot seems to be the setup of an ensemble heist story, more than the first quarter of the book is just a setup to that ensemble. The main character is a flat stereotype without any personality, and the side characters (bar one) lack any hooks that would make me think there is something to them. There is neither humor no Full disclosure: Review ARC provided by Netgalley.com, in kindle format. I was unable to finish this book. I read the first 25% and was interminably bored by the setup. While the plot seems to be the setup of an ensemble heist story, more than the first quarter of the book is just a setup to that ensemble. The main character is a flat stereotype without any personality, and the side characters (bar one) lack any hooks that would make me think there is something to them. There is neither humor nor sadness, joy or pain or suffering or any emotional involvement. It is clear that the author did a significant amount of worldbuilding, however, instead of focusing on the interesting parts of the universe and galaxy he's created, we are railroaded into a story which might focus on one very small piece of the puzzle. Further, the book is overly long, and in need of some serious editorial focus, with questions like on "what story are you telling?" being the key to making it a tighter and more compelling read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    3.5 stars. This debut novel from Derek Künsken has a lot going for it. In particular, some creative and quite unusual hard sci-fi concepts, much of it based on the bio-engineering of specialized human sub-species, some fascinating world building, plus an interesting heist themed plot. However, the storytelling suffers to some extent from overdone character stereotypes and frequently trite dialogue. Also, with a ton of characters, locations, factions, alliances, and more twists than you can shake 3.5 stars. This debut novel from Derek Künsken has a lot going for it. In particular, some creative and quite unusual hard sci-fi concepts, much of it based on the bio-engineering of specialized human sub-species, some fascinating world building, plus an interesting heist themed plot. However, the storytelling suffers to some extent from overdone character stereotypes and frequently trite dialogue. Also, with a ton of characters, locations, factions, alliances, and more twists than you can shake a stick at, I was often left scratching my head wondering what exactly was going on. To be clear, this is a thoroughly enjoyable and exceedingly fun story, with some of the makings of greatness.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kara Babcock

    For a while now, I’ve been eschewing posthumanism. Walking on the wild side of nanotechnology was starting to get too much like science fantasy for my tastes. The Quantum Magician is an exception that I’m happy I made: Derek Künsken’s story of a genetically engineered con artist is delightful, and it explores posthumanist ideas in a way that feels fresh. Although I wouldn’t say any of the characters (not even the protagonist) endeared themselves to me, the plot is enjoyable and thought-provoking For a while now, I’ve been eschewing posthumanism. Walking on the wild side of nanotechnology was starting to get too much like science fantasy for my tastes. The Quantum Magician is an exception that I’m happy I made: Derek Künsken’s story of a genetically engineered con artist is delightful, and it explores posthumanist ideas in a way that feels fresh. Although I wouldn’t say any of the characters (not even the protagonist) endeared themselves to me, the plot is enjoyable and thought-provoking. Full disclosure, I received this through NetGalley! Send me all ur free books. Belisarius Arjona, or “Bel” to his friends, is a Homo quantus. In this far future universe, humanity has tinkered with genetic engineering, producing such offshoots as the Numen (who created the reviled Puppets), the Tribe of the Mongrel (aka Homo eridanus), and Bel’s own subspecies. The Homo quantus have biological adaptations that help them sense not just magnetic fields but quantum states. Bel is capable of entering a fugue state where his consciousness decoheres, leaving an intellect of pure quantum computation. Bel has parted ways with the project that created him, and he lives on his own, pulling cons for organizations large and small to keep his brain occupied. When a military hires him to con their fleet through a wormhole junction, he has to assemble a rag-tag group of misfits to pull it off. Oh yeah, there’s a “getting the team together” part to this book, and it delivers. The Quantum Magician actually is rather formulaic when you look at it from a macro view. The thing about formula is that it’s good when it’s used the way Künsken uses it, i.e., to ground the reader in an otherwise unfamiliar setting. The same might be said for something like The Lies of Locke Lamora , wherein Lynch likewise exploits the familiar tropes of a con artist team in order to spin a much more fantastic yarn. That’s what’s happening here: strip away the fancy terminology, the genetic engineering, the AIs who think they are reincarnated saints … and you just have a con. You have a caper. It’s Ocean’s Eleven but in space in the far future and with wormholes and so, so much better as a result. I love the pacing in particular. The book builds and builds and builds, but it never feels like it’s running slow. Künsken never infodumps. Each chapter is a new scene, a new place, as we follow Bel on his travels to assemble his team, and each visit brings new ideas and new information to the forefront. It’s like a whistle-stop tour, and it hints at this big, rich universe beyond that we don’t get to explore as much as we might want. Leave them wanting more! Finally, after we have the team and the walkthrough and the twists and betrayals, there is an action-packed climax that actually got me worried for a moment about how the con would go. There are a lot of moving parts, and I’m impressed with how Künsken brings everything together. As I mentioned earlier, the handling of posthumanism is quite well done. Obviously there’s Bel himself. We meet another Homo quantus, old flame Cassandra, whose opinions of their genetic engineering are very different from Bel’s. This juxtaposition is really nice, and it lets us consider the pros and cons of what Bel and Cassandra are capable of doing. It also sets up a romance that is, in my opinion, quite well done because of its subtlety. It’s there, but it isn’t a big focus in the story. In addition to Bel, each member of the team embodies other posthuman qualities. Some, like Del Casal and Maria, might not be as obvious—they are closer to baseline human, but they live in a posthuman world and are used to interacting with posthumans. William’s conversion into a faux Numen, and his relationship with Gates-15 and the other Numen–obsessed Puppets, takes us down quite a chilling and disturbing rabbithole. Then we have Stills, the Homo eridanus, in whom Künsken explores how far from baseline human we can get and still be “human”. While we learn relatively little about the origins of these projects, who oversees them, etc., it’s clear that in this universe, humanity remains a dynamic, fractured, squabbling civilization that just happens to have some wormhole junctions nowadays. It’s fantastic. If, like me, you are a sucker for a good con story, you need to check out The Quantum Magician. It’s posthuman SF blended with con artistry, with fun characters, lots of swearing, and perfect pacing and action. My reviews of The Quantum Evolution: The Quantum Garden →

  16. 4 out of 5

    G33z3r

    A fast-paced action-oriented space opera that at its core is a heist/con, like Oceans 11 or The Sting. Like all good such stories, the reader is never quite let in on the whole plan. Set in a far-future with a number of imaginatively genetic- and bio-engineered races, and a motley gang of misfits, thieves & crazies pulled together for a really big job. The diverse characters are each unique, a bit wacky and engaging. The societies created by the various engineered races of humanity equally imagi A fast-paced action-oriented space opera that at its core is a heist/con, like Oceans 11 or The Sting. Like all good such stories, the reader is never quite let in on the whole plan. Set in a far-future with a number of imaginatively genetic- and bio-engineered races, and a motley gang of misfits, thieves & crazies pulled together for a really big job. The diverse characters are each unique, a bit wacky and engaging. The societies created by the various engineered races of humanity equally imaginative. Although billed as "book 1", it stands on its own just fine.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    The Quantum Magician is the debut sci-fi novel from Derek Künsken. It’s a book nominally about a heist and a con, moving some impossibly precious things from one place to another without interacting with the intervening authorities. But it’s also a story about humanity and transhumanism; about the way people are willing to change themselves or others to adapt to an environment, and about the costs that are born out of that decision. It’s about old friendships and new alliances – the trust you ca The Quantum Magician is the debut sci-fi novel from Derek Künsken. It’s a book nominally about a heist and a con, moving some impossibly precious things from one place to another without interacting with the intervening authorities. But it’s also a story about humanity and transhumanism; about the way people are willing to change themselves or others to adapt to an environment, and about the costs that are born out of that decision. It’s about old friendships and new alliances – the trust you can put into those who have never betrayed you, and in those who have hurt you before. It’s a human story – well, mostly. One about people, the way they interact with each other, what they’re willing to do, and what (or who) they’re willing to compromise to reach their goals. But there’s also a sweeping array of space battles, and a sprawling universe out there to explore between warhead splashes. Belisarius is the centre of the story – part of a new species of human, one able to make astounding leaps of intellectual analysis by stepping away from their individuality. Belisarius is charming, thoughtful, and clearly off the map of standard humanity. He struggles with his own identity, with the sense of being himself. At the same time, he’s willing to disperse his consciousness for focus, to obviate the self for the sake of more mundane goals. There are some allusions to engineered individuals being focused on the broader concepts of the universe, unwilling to engage with the minutiae, with individuals who work within a cash economy and are willing to discourage disagreement through superior firepower. Belisarius isn’t one of these – he ties up to reality, and seems largely willing to accept its existence, despite his priorities being elsewhere. Some od that is just a desire to keep his mind engaged, to escape the cosmic unutterables of the universe and get down and dirty with the human. Bel is an intriguing creature, one struggling against a genetically engrained purpose. They are at once an endorsement of the individuality of consciousness, and a triumph, or warning, of the results of engineering. Belisarius, delightful as they are, complex as they are, struggling, human as they are, is not the only individual on the page. There are some truly startling post-Sapiens individuals. These include an individual from the deep pressure divers – built to populate a liquid pressure environment far higher than normal, and survive, never comfortable, but unable to return to the world outside – and the Puppets. The puppets are a masterpiece. A populace created to experience awe under pheremonal cues, a subservient species of man, They overthrew their masters, not in revulsion to their genetic goals, but in their service – protecting their living deities by restricting access, by refusing to obey damaging commands, by taking the personal gods thy were given and breaking them on the wheel. The Puppets are breathtaking, a species of man which works within constrains but expands, horrifyingly and understandably, beyond them. There are other characters of course. Belisarius is smart, funny, and can talk people into anything, but that’s the con. He needs people. Puppets. Doctors. Monsters. Lunatics. Each makes the heart sing and hurt in equal measure. The individual in a tank, living for speed outside their pressure boundary, fighting and killing and willing to accept a creed of death before acquiescence shares a table with an ex-Marine whose enthusiasm for explosives may be a smidge out of hand. If t hey’re not as much there as Belisarius, still they carry the full freight of humanity on their shoulders, odd as it may be in some cases. This is a story about a con, to be sure, and it has the highly tense emotional weight to prove it, the payoff which rewards you for turning pages. But it’s a story about people, as well, about the larger unions – how a client state struggles against colonialism, how it tries to overthrow its masters – and about the individual, about the self-realisation of our actors. Admittedly that realisation if often backed by explosives. If you’re not here for the imaginatively and evocatively realised universe, or the compellingly flawed characters that make up Belisarius’ flawed team of con artists and criminals, you might be here for the plot, and the wonder. It’s out there, in a larger universe, one of unexplained, ancient alien artefacts, manipulated by segments of humanity close enough to be recognisable, and odd enough to be alien. There’s immediate politics, too, backed by the kind of gunboat diplomacy that gets your attention. Then there are worlds teeming with the broken, the accepted the outcast, the strange and wonderful – and the text gives you environs which bring them to life. It’s a universe tied together by jump points, at least in part sustained by unutterably ancient and unknowable external actors. It’s an intriguing world, one which clearly has several further layers out of view, behind the transhuman cast, the foul-mouthed marines and frantic interstellar battles. The atmosphere is one of a heist, that thin wire of tension drawing you from page to page, waiting for each other shoe to drop, each cunning stratagem to either unfurl or unravel. It’s handled with a stately precision, revealed to the reader like clockwork, giving us enough room to guess what’s coming, to hope and wonder and despair – and then to be blindsided by the result. Con games and heists are always hard to write – one like this, which comes out pitch perfect, wrapped in a nuanced and striking sci-fi narrative is, to say the least, a rarity. In some ways this is a story about a con game – with segments of meticulous planning, with character analysis, with motivation a primary factor. In other ways it’s a space opera – with carefully analysed science, with high stakes and high yield munitions. In other ways it’s a character study of the ways man can rebuild man, and they way they can react. In all those ways, this is a book you want to read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Hélène Louise

    Many thanks to Solaris and Netgalley for this read :) I was very excited to read this book, but also a little apprehensive. In theory I love hard science-fi, because it seems so real, so true, so possible. But in practice, I'm easily lost: most hard science-fi books dwells on physics and, if I know that universe and space mean physics, and if I'm genuinely interested in the subject, it's alas a case of unrequited love there... I love science in general, but my kind of science is clearly biology  Many thanks to Solaris and Netgalley for this read :) I was very excited to read this book, but also a little apprehensive. In theory I love hard science-fi, because it seems so real, so true, so possible. But in practice, I'm easily lost: most hard science-fi books dwells on physics and, if I know that universe and space mean physics, and if I'm genuinely interested in the subject, it's alas a case of unrequited love there... I love science in general, but my kind of science is clearly biology  (which is not, in my opinion, enough developed in science-fi) and advanced physics are difficult for me. I went through three phases reading this book. At the very beginning I was quite happy: the story was immediately interesting, the characters were engaging, and the quantum magician seems to be absolutely there, in a human kind of way, not as a concept floating in an esoteric no-space or such as I had feared (in some hard science-fi I frequently have the impression of reading with my eyes closed, as in some dreams, when and where I can never focus whatever the efforts I make). So a good start! At about ten per cent in the story, I had quite a shock: suddenly I was facing a long explanation about the functioning of the quantum man's brain. Quite fascinating in theory, but absolutely abstruse for the reader I am. And - have I told you yet? quite long. I read on, not understanding much, till I had to stop and think about my dilemma. I clearly wasn't able to appreciate this kind of explanation, but on the other hand had really loved the story so far and really wanted to know some more. So I pondered a few minutes and finally decided, sighing sadly, that I was perfectly able to skim through unintelligible passages and understand, if not all of it, at least the general idea. Not comfortable, but manageable.  Actually, I had kittens for nothing ! Those difficult passages were very few in the books, and always useful, never gratuitous. After some more exposition I understood more and more about the quantum brain and was able to surf upon some other explanations (those less interesting in my point of view). In fact, during the book I never had another difficult moment before the final grand action, which is never my cup of tea anyway (during Still's parts to be precise). The whole read was delightful, and very supple. In the end I had just two discomforts during my read. The brainy-quantum explanation which happened in my opinion to early in the book (not to mention too long :P). Also I was also frequently discountenanced, in the very beginning, by the narration using the third person, as it had clearly a first person vibe for me. Maybe the very first had been written at the first person before being rewritten in another way? This dissonance disappeared very quickly though (so I could have shut up about it; maybe). I must seem quite a quibbler there ! If so, it's because I loved this book so much that I was frustrated by these little flaws... And also because I have a self-appointed mission: to reassure the readers who may feel lost at the same very point I was, that it won't be the general tone it the story, and that any reader may be able to appreciate it without any suffering! The fantastic points are plentiful. Firstly, absolute different voices for all the characters, which is finally quite rare. The characters are wonderful, their personalities, their stories, their interactions - just flawless! The story in itself is quite interesting, with a strong general idea around quantum people and why the main character, who differs from the quantum people's norm, decided to chose another live, one of criminal projects. The sub-story around the Puppet people is so brilliant that it could be the only reason to read the book! One particular aspect impressed me a lot and made for a wonderful read: the way the author skillfully develops its story's background, without never ever frustrating his reader. From the start some particularities of the science-fi world are exposed, as the three new human races, bio-engineered (I must confess a soft spot for this theme, what a treat here!), making the reader wanting to know more about it. Then, through future developments, all you'll need and want to know will be displayed, just at the perfect moment, without any info-dump nor artificial exposition: du grand art, vraiment :) The same thing can be said for the characters' stories, which are unveiled, little by little, with perfect subtlety. I could rave and rave for hours about this book which, despite one or two details, turned out to be exactly what I expect from a science-fi story, but I'll stop there, hoping to have help future readers! And for me, I'm looking forward reading the next author's book... Soon I hope ?  (A review copy (e-galley) of this book was provided by the publisher through netgalley) *some delicious quotes* "It actually sounded like a great way to get killed, but he needed something complicated. His restless brain gnawed on all sorts of problems he didn't want it touching whenever he didn't give it enough to do". "The homo quantus genetic engineers had engineered far more sensitivity and control into the electroplaques for their precious snowflakes. As always, the tribe got the dog deal". "And for the record, half the lies I tell are the truth" "The sinking, aching feeling of not enough intellectual stimulation was suffocating". "But sometimes feelings are so strong, that even diminished, they hurt". "He's got a lot of patience. He's a contemplative, after all". "What real con? Why won't anyone tell me the real plan?"

  19. 5 out of 5

    Quintin Zimmermann

    Belisarius Arjona was taught by a con man that there are only three bets: "Sometimes, you play the cards. Sometimes, you play the player. Sometimes, you just throw the dice." Well, as the Quantum Magician, Bel played all three simultaneously in the ultimate con. For you see, Bel is a Homo quantus, born from a scientific project founded upon the precept that consciousness collapses quantum systems into clear outcomes, as epitomised by Schrodinger's cat. A Homo quantus brain has been engineered at Belisarius Arjona was taught by a con man that there are only three bets: "Sometimes, you play the cards. Sometimes, you play the player. Sometimes, you just throw the dice." Well, as the Quantum Magician, Bel played all three simultaneously in the ultimate con. For you see, Bel is a Homo quantus, born from a scientific project founded upon the precept that consciousness collapses quantum systems into clear outcomes, as epitomised by Schrodinger's cat. A Homo quantus brain has been engineered at will to discard the consciousness and subjectivity, to enter into a quantum fugue that does not collapse the quantum phenomena and thereby exposes an array of overlapping probabilities. So begins the ultimate heist wherein he assembles a disparate team consisting of an experienced con man, inside man, demolitions expert, navigator, electronics wizard, exotic deep diver and a geneticist. I really enjoyed the diverseness of advanced life from the loathsome Puppets and Numen, sentient AI, the Tribe of the Mongrel, to my absolute favourite, Homo quantus. An eclectic cast of characters in a hard sci-fi setting where there is always a con. If you think that you know what is going on, you have no idea. If you have no idea, then you are right where you should be. An imaginative, well realised world inhabiting by the most unique characters that we revile and adore, all at the same time. Highly recommended for any sci-fi lovers wanting to read something very different.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah (CoolCurryBooks)

    There are two things you should know about me: I love science fiction and fantasy novels… and I also adore heist stories. So stories that combine the two? I have a desperate desire for. That being said, The Quantum Magician should have been a slam dunk. A far-future sci-fi story about a proto-human conman pulling off a heist? As soon as I heard the premise, I ran to request an ARC. Unfortunately, The Quantum Magician didn’t do it for me. Belisarius is the titular quantum magician, a proto-human en There are two things you should know about me: I love science fiction and fantasy novels… and I also adore heist stories. So stories that combine the two? I have a desperate desire for. That being said, The Quantum Magician should have been a slam dunk. A far-future sci-fi story about a proto-human conman pulling off a heist? As soon as I heard the premise, I ran to request an ARC. Unfortunately, The Quantum Magician didn’t do it for me. Belisarius is the titular quantum magician, a proto-human engineered to be able to function as a quantum computer. Only, utilizing the full extent of his abilities requires losing himself and handing control over to the quantum intellect, which has no care for Belisarius himself. To keep himself at the ideal level of intellectual stimulus (too much risks the temptation to awaken the quantum intellect, too little is not sustainable), Belisarius pulls off cons. Then he gets offered a job bigger and more dangerous than any he’s attempted before. A small fleet of a conquered nation has invented never-before-seen technology, but they need to get their fleet through a wormhole… and the government that owns that wormhole doesn’t intend to let them cross. To smuggle the entire fleet across, Belisarius will need a crew willing to try the impossible. I think my main issue with The Quantum Magician was the pacing. I want my heist stories to be fast and gripping, but the narrative here was anything but. It practically crawled. This probably depends on the reader, but I was very uninterested in the various infodumps about how Belisarius’s quantum intelligence works or any of the other hard sciency bits. The Quantum Magician likely falls into the category of “hard science fiction,” which is very focused on the actual science underlying the story. But that’s not what I read for; I care more about plotting, characterization, and world building. The actual plot of The Quantum Magician had a lot of potential. There was an appropriate twist to the heist (although it’s fairly obvious if you think about it), and the underlying idea of “heist crew tries to smuggle a whole fleet of warships” is pretty exciting. The problem comes back to execution, as the plot got bogged down by various infodumps. I have similar feelings about the worldbuilding. There was lots of imagination, but it never quite clicked for me. I did enjoy how the author created various proto-human subspecies. There’s some particularly creepy stuff going on with this one group called the Puppets… they were biologically engineered to be a slave species that experience religious ecstasy in the presence of their “masters.” Only, they overthrew their “gods” and now keep them enslaved. FYI, there’s some pretty (intentionally) disturbing content relating to the Puppets. With heist stories, I also want engaging characters, which The Quantum Magician didn’t deliver. I thought all of the main cast needed more character development. Of particular note, the relationship issues between Belisarius and his love interest Cassandra were sort of papered over. Cassandra was probably the thinnest character of the whole cast. In the end, what I’m looking for with heist stories is something fun and twisty. The Quantum Magician may have had some twists along the way, but the ride was never that fun. I received an ARC in exchange for a free and honest review. Review originally posted on The Illustrated Page.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    This was like a four star book spliced together with one that I would barely give two stars to. It made for a disjointed reading experience; I alternated back and forth between invested and bored so much I got a little dizzy. This is a heist novel, and our con-man is Bel; a genetically engineered human who can manually enhance his brain to view quantum states. (If, like me, you barely understand quantum physics the book actually does a really good job of explaining it. Don't let this be a deal-b This was like a four star book spliced together with one that I would barely give two stars to. It made for a disjointed reading experience; I alternated back and forth between invested and bored so much I got a little dizzy. This is a heist novel, and our con-man is Bel; a genetically engineered human who can manually enhance his brain to view quantum states. (If, like me, you barely understand quantum physics the book actually does a really good job of explaining it. Don't let this be a deal-breaker for you). But the thing with heist stories is, they need someone charismatic to lead them. They need a Locke Lamora or a Danny Ocean, and Bel doesn't even come close. He has the confidence but none of the swagger. The rest of the team (assembled in the time-honoured tradition of a getting the team together montage) fare better. Marie the bombs expert is a delight, Stills the deep diver grows on you, against all odds, and the two form a prickly sort of bond that I enjoyed watching develop. Saint Matthew, the AI who believes he is a saint, is delightful, William, Bel's one time mentor, is steadfast and likeable, and Gates-55 is... Well, he's a puppet. I mean that quite literally. Bel isn't the only kind of mutated human in this world. Stills is another, basically an unholy mix of a man and manitee, and then Gates-55. Originally of a race bred to be like miniature sized humans (ie, puppets) and biologically hardwired to serve the specific race who created them. And of course they eventually realised that the best way to serve them was to rise up and enslave them. Keep them nice and safe in cages. The whole thing with the puppets was the best part of this book, in a horrific kind of way. I don't want to go into too much detail because the way the full implications of the puppets and their deal is slowly revealed is just a treat. A really fucked up treat. The little snips of world-building, the visceral revulsion the book makes you feel towards them even though logically you know you should sympathise; it's compelling stuff. But, sadly, it's not all there is to the book. There's another team member I didn't mention yet; Cassandra. Another quantum-freak like Bel. And his love interest, I guess. I mean the book tries really hard to sell that, but there is absolutely no chemistry between them, and Cassandra is one of the most boring characters I've come across. Her sections are basically endless repetitions of is Bel lying? Why is he lying? Why did he leave home? Is he lying to me? Why is he lying? On and on and on and ugh. Nothing about how Bel feels about Cassandra, or the home they grew up in (which he left, and she didn't) feels real. All tell, no show. And considering it plays a big part in his ultimate motivations, that's a problem. There's a fun and compelling heist story to be found here, with some really fantastic world-building. But it's dragged down by a flat main character and jarring swaps to pages of hard science that don't gel at all with everything else.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    My background in quantum theory consists of understanding about one sentence in three in the quantum theory chapter of Goedel, Escher, Bach (which I thought was reasonably good going). And that was some years ago, so I am far from qualified to talk about the physics of this book. That didn't matter to my enjoyment of the story; I just took the various bits of esoteric physics as sufficiently advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic, and concentrated on following the complicated hei My background in quantum theory consists of understanding about one sentence in three in the quantum theory chapter of Goedel, Escher, Bach (which I thought was reasonably good going). And that was some years ago, so I am far from qualified to talk about the physics of this book. That didn't matter to my enjoyment of the story; I just took the various bits of esoteric physics as sufficiently advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic, and concentrated on following the complicated heist. I do enjoy a good heist, and this is definitely one. There's the "assembling the team" sequence, the planning, the mini-heists gathering resources, the things that go wrong, getting in, getting out, the moments when we learn about plans beneath plans, the team member who betrays the crew... all the classic elements are here. I will say that I could have done with more clarity about exactly why the client needed the mastermind's help, and the topology of the journey they were trying to make, but even though it wasn't really clear to me until late in the piece where they were, where they wanted to be, and how the two were connected, I enjoyed the ride. The characters all tend towards the haunted, miserable end of things, though not all of them are without idealism or a higher purpose. And the Puppets (genetically engineered miniature humans created to have a reaction of religious awe towards the people who created them, who have turned on those people and imprisoned them in order to protect them) creeped me all the way out; that was a nasty situation, complete with torture and abuse, and I personally could have done without it. I also didn't love the foul-mouthed genetically engineered undersea being. But I can admire an author's skill without enjoying all the things he does with it, and the whole complex book was managed with great skill - and came to a conclusion that I found satisfying, in the end. I received a copy from Netgalley for purposes of review. The author and I both participate in the same writers' forum, which is how I became aware of the book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Koeur

    Publishing Date: October 2018 Publisher: Rebellion ISBN: 9781781085707 Genre: SciFi Rating: 4.7/5 Publisher’s Description: Balisarius is a quantum man, created to serve, made for a world that requires every moment to be monitored. He flees—his creators, his supposed place in the world, his purpose—to curve out a normal life. Now, he is the world’s most infamous con-man. When a client offers him untold wealth to move a squadron of warships across an enemy wormhole, Belisarius must embrace his true nat Publishing Date: October 2018 Publisher: Rebellion ISBN: 9781781085707 Genre: SciFi Rating: 4.7/5 Publisher’s Description: Balisarius is a quantum man, created to serve, made for a world that requires every moment to be monitored. He flees—his creators, his supposed place in the world, his purpose—to curve out a normal life. Now, he is the world’s most infamous con-man. When a client offers him untold wealth to move a squadron of warships across an enemy wormhole, Belisarius must embrace his true nature to pull of the job. Review: It has been a long time that I have been this excited for the evening to come in order ply the pages of a scifi novel. Wow, was this good. The ideas presented follow the author’s understanding of physics and what might become in the near future. This cognitive resonance interacts with characters that are set in a wondrous universe of the weird. And I mean fukin’ weird, as in a genetically designed race of beings called the Puppets (Homo pupa). No way am I giving this one away, just read it and shudder along with the rest of us. Creepy doesn’t even begin to describe these freaks. The Homo eridanus in the form of Stills was so funny I almost pooped my pants. Wrap all this strangeness and hilarity around a cogent and well thought out story line and you have novel gold. So much of this novel could be spun off to create a varied and entertaining universe. You could have a whole series on just the Puppets but you would probably throw up. The Eridanus with their in your face belittling via curses and put downs would be very entertaining. The Homo quantus will need to continue it’s expansion in other novels, as we have not quite reached a culmination of self-discovery. This author has a great future so get on board early. You can check out all of my reviews,here.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Don Dunham

    Mr. Kunsken channeling Iain M. Banks. A great caper story set in the distant future in a solar system far away. Hard-ish Science Fiction. Rated PG-13 for language and adult situations. Definitely waiting for this Author's next book. Mr. Kunsken channeling Iain M. Banks. A great caper story set in the distant future in a solar system far away. Hard-ish Science Fiction. Rated PG-13 for language and adult situations. Definitely waiting for this Author's next book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine

    Really effective twisty heist where you never know what the real-real-real-real plan is, a vivid cast of characters, and a fascinating SF world with no aliens, but humans bio-engineered to the point that really you can't tell. (No bio-engineer in this world has ever glanced at an ethics class.) Page-turner to read that legit kept me distracted at the covid-test clinic, for which I will be forever grateful. There is some really fascinating care put into the impact that bio-engineering would have Really effective twisty heist where you never know what the real-real-real-real plan is, a vivid cast of characters, and a fascinating SF world with no aliens, but humans bio-engineered to the point that really you can't tell. (No bio-engineer in this world has ever glanced at an ethics class.) Page-turner to read that legit kept me distracted at the covid-test clinic, for which I will be forever grateful. There is some really fascinating care put into the impact that bio-engineering would have on a culture once you start messing with both bodies and brains and that leads me into point two of this. This is a spoiler but is a huge aspect of the plot so uh, the Puppets and Numen. (view spoiler)[I should mention that a lot of the plot turns on an entire race of people who were enslaved and bio-engineered as to view other people (also bio-engineered) as gods, who then took that to its logical conclusion, rose up and enslaved their gods to keep them from destroying themselves. While also trying to synthesize the holy scriptures that are every word spoken by their enslaving, and then enslaved, gods. While being biochemically unable to leave their gods or really reform their scriptures because of the way they've been bioengineered. This is a really interesting idea pushed to its logical end-point and where it ends is an entire masochistic and sadistic (and slave-owning) society that is unable to meaningfully give or receive content because of the bioengineering, some plot points that are real close to body horror, and a character who went into his part of the con expecting to die (more spoiler) that you're relieved at the very end they manage to kill instead of the sickening horror of staying alive in his captivity. (hide spoiler)] I stayed up to finish the book (because heist! And I needed to know what happened!) and then I had to stay up and play music for another hour so my exhausted brain wouldn't replay the scenes that I had just read. Very well-written, very vivid, i'm-not-used-to-reading-books-for-adults stuff! What a good heist though, I wish Marie every joy and all the explosives.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    3.5 Stars This is a mind bending futuristic heist story… set in space! The science in this book was certainly hard and admittedly quite a bit of it went over my head. I have always been fascinated by quantum theory, but I don't have enough background in the scientific field to fully grasp those concepts. The author clearly enjoys writing about those heavy concepts and I have no doubt this book would be a treat for a more technical minded person.  Thankfully, readers do not need to grasp all the sci 3.5 Stars This is a mind bending futuristic heist story… set in space! The science in this book was certainly hard and admittedly quite a bit of it went over my head. I have always been fascinated by quantum theory, but I don't have enough background in the scientific field to fully grasp those concepts. The author clearly enjoys writing about those heavy concepts and I have no doubt this book would be a treat for a more technical minded person.  Thankfully, readers do not need to grasp all the science in order to enjoy this book. While this is set in space, the novel followed all traditional narrative beats of a classic heist story which should be familiar to most readers. The story started with the offer of a job with an enticing payout. Then there was the gathering of the thieves with all the necessary skills. Finally, there was the completion of the job itself. I expected this novel to be more action packed, but instead found it rather slow paced. There is quite a bit of humour in the novel with a lot of banter between the characters. The jokes didn't always land for me, but humour in books is very personal. I didn't fully connect to the characters, which kept me from getting fully immersed in the story.  Other reviewers have labelled this book as a space opera, but I would not classify that way. The story felt more intimate than epic, with a small group of tightly connected characters.  I would recommend this one to any science fiction readers looking for a fun heist story. If you have an understanding of quantum mechanics, you will likely love this one a bit more than I did. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Rebellion Publishing.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Let's Geek

    Read the full review also on my blog Let's Geek: https://lets-geek.blogspot.com/2018/1... The Quantum Magician is Oceans Eleven in Space, on steroids (I thought I was especially clever but turns out other people called it this before as well, damn it!) Total Rating: 8.1/10 Originality: 8/10 Language: 8/10 Atmosphere: 8/10 Characters: 9/10 World building: 10/10 Fun: 7/10 Predictability: 7/10 Believable: 7/10 Relevancy: 8/10 Cover: 9/10 Genre: Sci Fi Time It Took Me To Read: approx. 5 hours Are you a science f Read the full review also on my blog Let's Geek: https://lets-geek.blogspot.com/2018/1... The Quantum Magician is Oceans Eleven in Space, on steroids (I thought I was especially clever but turns out other people called it this before as well, damn it!) Total Rating: 8.1/10 Originality: 8/10 Language: 8/10 Atmosphere: 8/10 Characters: 9/10 World building: 10/10 Fun: 7/10 Predictability: 7/10 Believable: 7/10 Relevancy: 8/10 Cover: 9/10 Genre: Sci Fi Time It Took Me To Read: approx. 5 hours Are you a science fiction fan? Then do not miss this one out. I was on fire when I got this book to review for free - because I really wanted to read it anyways, having heard so much good stuff about it. And oh boy, this is not like any other book I've read before. It is intense and difficult to chew. It has many pages. But it is still delicious. THE BOOK: Belisarius is a Homo quantus, a genetically engineered human with quantum senses, is a con man. When he gets the biggest opportunity of his life for a never-seen-before con, he assembles a team to make it happen. Originality: 8/10 The idea of a team assembled for an epic heist is nothing new - but that is not what makes this novel so original, rather the world it is in. As the title suggests, this is Book one of the Quantum Evolution, and the heist is just a "small" story line in a much bigger picture. Language: 8/10 The language is hard. Occasionally I felt like I was reading a scientific paper in physics (and I dropped out of physics as fast as I could). I do not know what was pseudo-science, what was real, what was simply made up. Put it seemed incredibly scientific though. "The magnetic field of the Stubbs Pulsar, although weak as far as pulsars went, throbbed against the magnetosmes in Belisarius' cells, imposing a reassuring polarity on the world and feeding his brain rough navigational data. After fifty-six point one minutes, a new magnetic field pressed on his magnetosomes, swallowing them." "His restless brain counted the stones of the arcade, measured the angular errors in the joints of walls and buildings and roofs, and tracked the gradual deteriorations that no one fixed. The magnetic organelles in his cells felt the unevenness of the electrical currents in the neighbourhood, and his brain assigned national probabilities to different service failures." Yes. Digest this. One thing that drove me absolutely mad was the use of first names in dialogues. "We're cursed, Cassie, just like the mondrels and just like the Puppets." "We're nothing like them." "Our genetics built us a new way to starve, Cassie. The mongrels die if they leave the pressure of their oceans. The Puppets die if they're too far away from the Numen. You know what we need, Cassie." I get it. Her name is Cassie. Atmosphere: 8/10 Despite being complex and hard to chew, it feels like the novel is always ahead of you. Things do not make sense immediately, concepts are not understood, characters not fully explored, while the novel seems to know it all already. So I felt like the whole novel felt like a chase - which is incredibly intriguing and unique, but at the same time got frustrating at times because it felt like so much work to keep up. Characters: 9/10 Belisarius (I stumble upon his name every time and in my head it turns to Beli-saurus like a dinosaur) brings together characters that support him in his heist. None of them is particularly deep, but we get a bit of a comic relief through some of the character interaction making the book a bit less dry and easing it up between the hard-core scientific paragraphs. World building: 10/10 This should not be called world-building, but universe-building. Imagine how difficult it is to make a realistic world in a novel, now imagine the scale of the universe compared to it. I am taking my head off, Mr. Kuensken, as a sign of respect. Fun: 7/10 The reason fun does not get a full 10 points is simply because I am too dumb for many of those concepts in this amazing novel. It flew way above my head. I do like SciFi and have read SciFi before, but never something so hard core on space and based on scientific facts, conversations and concepts. If this is your type of thing, you probably will give this book 11/10 in Fun. It is a long novel with complex concepts and language, that makes it a lot of work. Predictability: 7/10 I did not understand half of what was happening, so it was not difficult to not predict things either. Sounds maybe harsh, but that is how I felt! Believable: 7/10 The world is so well build and thought through, that I did not question anything, despite not understanding most of it. Relevancy: 8/10 I think there is a lot hidden below the surface in this novel. We learn about Puppets, a race of humanity which was created and genetically engineered to worship another, called the Numan. We have the genetically engineered Homos quantus, who are in the end also just slaves to the way they have been engineered. Cover: 9/10 The cover is pretty and indicates the degree of epic-ness you are about to encounter. Total Rating: 8.1/10 This novel is not for everyone - but if you love sci fi, and the quotes from the novel that are in this review do not scare you away, you should DEFINITELY give this book a try. Read the full review also on my blog Let's Geek: https://lets-geek.blogspot.com/2018/1...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bee

    This was an odd one. A hard scifi con game with really big stakes. I found this a little rushed, the timing not quite sitting right with me, but the concepts kept me going. It was worth it in the end, the Homo Quantus story line was really cool. But yeah, an odd one, i dont really know how to review it tbh

  29. 4 out of 5

    David

    The title of the book is apt, as this is one of those SF novels that treats "quantum" as a handwavy analog for "magic." Belisarius is one of several subraces of genetically engineered humans in the far future, a Homo quantus whose brain is basically a quantum computer. He fled the ivory research tower of his fellow Homo quantuses to find meaning and purpose in his life outside of pondering all the particles in the universe. He found that purpose in ripping off space casinos and conning interstel The title of the book is apt, as this is one of those SF novels that treats "quantum" as a handwavy analog for "magic." Belisarius is one of several subraces of genetically engineered humans in the far future, a Homo quantus whose brain is basically a quantum computer. He fled the ivory research tower of his fellow Homo quantuses to find meaning and purpose in his life outside of pondering all the particles in the universe. He found that purpose in ripping off space casinos and conning interstellar banks. Then one of the spacefaring nation-states comes to him with the job of a lifetime, and the payment is a super-advanced starship of his own. In order to smuggle a fleet of ships past a wormhole, Belisarius has to assemble a crack team of specialists, meaning, a representative of each of the other genetically engineered subraces. There's another Homo quantus, who happens to be his teenage sweetheart; the violent, foul-mouthed fish-person; a mutant "puppet" (the puppets are a genetically engineered midget slave race); a dying man who will be modified to simulate a member of the "master" race that created the puppets; an insane demolitionist; and an AI who believes he's the reincarnation of Saint Matthew. Yes, the Saint Matthew. The Quantum Magician is a heist story/space opera mashup. Belisarius is the George Clooney of this gang of violent, super-competent and super-unstable band of misfits. He masterminds his way through double and triple-crosses, and there are many explosions and a lot of Jack Chalker-esque alienish-human weirdness. An enjoyable romp with a lot of twists and a universe open enough for plenty more stories. I can't say this was the most memorable SF novel I've read this year, but it was enjoyable enough that I'll probably read more by this author.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nadja Miller

    I was given an advance copy to write an honest review. This book has wonderful world building. If you like Oceans 11 you will probably like this book (by the way I never liked any of those movies). Arjona is a quantum magician, this means that he has a computer for a brain but really wants to be a “real boy”. I do not know if Arjona is a play on words for the hero of the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna, who had a dilemma about fighting Arjona is asked to transfer some ships through a gate. He gathers a tea I was given an advance copy to write an honest review. This book has wonderful world building. If you like Oceans 11 you will probably like this book (by the way I never liked any of those movies). Arjona is a quantum magician, this means that he has a computer for a brain but really wants to be a “real boy”. I do not know if Arjona is a play on words for the hero of the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna, who had a dilemma about fighting Arjona is asked to transfer some ships through a gate. He gathers a team to do this which includes an explosive expert, an AI that believes he is a reincarnation of a saint, a human who has been modified to dive to extreme depth and a few more characters. They are all quirky and most have history with Arjona. This as my favorite part of the book as the author introduces the team and the world where they are found. The book was not bad and t was well written. The characters were engaging. That being said I did not really like any of them or the con but that is more reflective of me that the book. As I mentioned if you like the Ocean movies you will probably like this

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