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The Quantum Magician by Derek Künsken. Book Review

June 27, 2018

Cover picture of a small spaceship flying close to a large circular structure which is light brightly at the centre by what looks like a sun and is made of rock on the inside.

Belisarius Arjona, or Bel, is a man genetically engineered to immerse himself in the complexities of the quantum world, sifting for the type of data which could take humanity to the next level. But years ago he cut himself off from the carefully managed security of his own people. Now, living as a con man, this Homo quantus exile is about to take on a job which offers him access to unimaginable wealth, but only if he is able to move a squadron of warships across a wormhole controlled by his would-be employers’ enemies. Seemingly impossible, even by Belisarius’s standards. But it is a challenge he cannot resist.

The Quantum Magicianworks really well for a broad science fiction reading audience for several reasons. It is a tale which manages to take theoretical concepts and plays with them in a hugely imaginative and entertaining way. The different cultures, and their ways of life make you feel as if someone should be getting sociologists in there to make a study of them (particularly the puppets, whose beliefs and practices are particularly disturbing). There is a rattling good plot and a terrific cast of characters. As an added bonus, each of the main protagonists, selected for their capabilities, interacts really well with each other.

All the different genetically engineered humans are represented in the scheme, the Homo quantus, the Homo puppa, or Puppets and the Homo eridanus, the people of the Mongrel (the mercenary shock pilots of the Congregate navy engineered to survive the benthic depths of another world). There is also Saint Matthew an AI who believes he is a saint. William Gander is a normal human, conman and ex associate of Bels, serving time when Bel goes to collect him. Cassandra, or Cassie, Bel’s previous love and another Homo quantus residing within the security of the Homo quantus home world is a reluctant member of the team. But there are more than Bel’s powers of persuasion at work in her agreement to go along with him. Gates-15 is a puppet who is an outcast from the Puppet community. Human Antonio Del Casal is a doctor with a galaxy-class reputation for genetic manipulation.

My particular favourites though are the foul-mouthed Homo eridanus, Vincent Stills and Marie, the mentally unstable explosives expert with a penchant for baiting Saint Matthew and is more than a match for Stills in the face-off stakes.

The Quantum Magicianis the type of book you go back to the beginning and read again once you know how everything pans out and have those “why didn’t I see that the first time” moments. There’s a great deal to absorb between the pinch of theoretical physics and the insanely complex Ocean’s Eleven-style plot. But each chapter is relatively short, allowing for assimilation of its contents before plunging into the next one.

The Quantum Magician was courtesy of Solaris.

One Comment
  1. This sounds really interesting and the cover looks amazing.

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