The Quantum Magician
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.

The Quantum Magician Details

TitleThe Quantum Magician
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 2nd, 2018
PublisherSolaris
ISBN-139781781085707
Rating
GenreScience Fiction, Science Fiction Fantasy

The Quantum Magician Review

  • William
    January 1, 1970
    5-Stars! Outrageously Imaginative! 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 an 5-Stars! Outrageously Imaginative! 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 CaravaggioSaint 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.
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  • Gary
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Lou
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Hélène Louise
    January 1, 1970
    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?"
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  • Bandit
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Quintin Zimmermann
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Koeur
    January 1, 1970
    Publishing Date: October 2018Publisher: RebellionISBN: 9781781085707Genre: SciFiRating: 4.7/5Publisher’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 2018Publisher: RebellionISBN: 9781781085707Genre: SciFiRating: 4.7/5Publisher’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.
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  • Mike
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    I read this as a serial in three consecutive issues of Analog SF Magazine. I believe it is coming out as a paperback in October 2018.An excellent story, far too complex for me to summarise here. In short, it is Oceans 11/The Sting in a SF context. If you like hard SF, this is the book for you - recommended!
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  • Ben Babcock
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    I received an advance copy of this book from Netgalley for an honest review.I really liked this book. The initial setup was a little confusing, but the interweaving of characters and plot-lines was very well done. The book revolves around the evolution of humanity and the usual domination and subjugation of one group over another. All this plays out via a heist and a conman with unusual abilities....The setting is not unique, a group of mercenaries that don't really fit, but grow together. But t I received an advance copy of this book from Netgalley for an honest review.I really liked this book. The initial setup was a little confusing, but the interweaving of characters and plot-lines was very well done. The book revolves around the evolution of humanity and the usual domination and subjugation of one group over another. All this plays out via a heist and a conman with unusual abilities....The setting is not unique, a group of mercenaries that don't really fit, but grow together. But the plot is very engaging and there are enough twists and turns for anyone to get whiplash. For tech nerds, there is enough quantum theory and advanced technology to keep you busy for a while.The ending was complete enough to tie the caper together, but there's enough unfinished business to suggest future tales in this universe. I don't want to spoil the voyage of discovery, so dive in and see for yourself.
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  • Miquel Codony
    January 1, 1970
    Muy chulo. La parte en la que especula con la religión es una pasada.
  • Let's Geek
    January 1, 1970
    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: 8.1/10Originality: 8/10Language: 8/10Atmosphere: 8/10Characters: 9/10World building: 10/10Fun: 7/10Predictability: 7/10Believable: 7/10Relevancy: 8/10Cover: 9/10Genre: Sci Fi Time It Took Me To Read: approx. 5 hoursAre 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: 8.1/10Originality: 8/10Language: 8/10Atmosphere: 8/10Characters: 9/10World building: 10/10Fun: 7/10Predictability: 7/10Believable: 7/10Relevancy: 8/10Cover: 9/10Genre: Sci Fi Time It Took Me To Read: approx. 5 hoursAre 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: 8/10The 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: 8/10The 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: 8/10Despite 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: 9/10Belisarius (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: 10/10This 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: 7/10The 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: 7/10I 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: 7/10The world is so well build and thought through, that I did not question anything, despite not understanding most of it. Relevancy: 8/10I 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: 9/10The cover is pretty and indicates the degree of epic-ness you are about to encounter. Total Rating: 8.1/10This 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...
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  • Lowell
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Marzie
    January 1, 1970
    The Quantum Magician is Canadian author Derek Künsken's sci-fi debut novel. Originally serialized in three parts in early 2018 in the magazine Analog Science Fiction, it's a rollicking blend of space travel, transhuman evolution, space-time travel, and an impressive heist. Employing that time-honored trope of a crew of vagabonds drawn together in space to do a job, Künsken has put together a fun tale with plenty of humor. The speculative tech fiction and very theoretical physics were also engagi The Quantum Magician is Canadian author Derek Künsken's sci-fi debut novel. Originally serialized in three parts in early 2018 in the magazine Analog Science Fiction, it's a rollicking blend of space travel, transhuman evolution, space-time travel, and an impressive heist. Employing that time-honored trope of a crew of vagabonds drawn together in space to do a job, Künsken has put together a fun tale with plenty of humor. The speculative tech fiction and very theoretical physics were also engaging and the author platformed his imagination off of real science, which is always something I enjoy in sci-fi. If you ever wanted to see a sort of Ocean's Eleven set in space, this would be your novel. But Belisarius Arjona, a Homo quantus, is a con man like none you've ever met before, as he is an engineered man capable of exploiting quantum probabilities.I'm not sure if it was the oddly paginated structure of my review copy but my one criticism of the novel is that I felt it could have been more tightly edited. Having not had the pleasure of reading the Analog serial installments, I am not sure how much re-editing went into the full length novel, which looks to be about 500 pages. There is, however, plenty of space left for further installments! ;)I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from Solaris, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Georgina Kamsika
    January 1, 1970
    This is a novel about science and factions and scheming and treachery and a heist, which sounds like fun, and it is, but it's also an intense read. This is no beach novel. The detailed science slowed me down, as did following the many different plot threads, but ultimately it was worth it for a smart and satisfying ending. There's so much in this, from the various factions of humans to their often similar but opposing goals. Most authors would have got about four books out of this one. That said This is a novel about science and factions and scheming and treachery and a heist, which sounds like fun, and it is, but it's also an intense read. This is no beach novel. The detailed science slowed me down, as did following the many different plot threads, but ultimately it was worth it for a smart and satisfying ending. There's so much in this, from the various factions of humans to their often similar but opposing goals. Most authors would have got about four books out of this one. That said, the worldbuilding is deep enough I can imagine this is the first of many.This is a whip-smart hard sci-fi heist with the smarts of Oceans 11 and the heart of The Italian Job.
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  • Rick
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to preview this book. Eventually a good story with a great finish, but too much pseudo-science and "super-human" angst. Still recommended.
  • Odo
    January 1, 1970
    3.5/5.0
  • Julia
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to write this while my thoughts where still fresh from reading it. Okay, so here is where blatant honesty comes in, I don’t read heavily in the sci-fi genre. I dabble. So what I think are fresh and new ideas, could be repurposed ideas. Knowing this, continue reading the review with that in mind. Derek Kunskin writes sci-fi like he is a seasoned pro. I felt the world building to be vast and varied. He had multi layers of different types of evolved humans. They each had their own cultures I wanted to write this while my thoughts where still fresh from reading it. Okay, so here is where blatant honesty comes in, I don’t read heavily in the sci-fi genre. I dabble. So what I think are fresh and new ideas, could be repurposed ideas. Knowing this, continue reading the review with that in mind. Derek Kunskin writes sci-fi like he is a seasoned pro. I felt the world building to be vast and varied. He had multi layers of different types of evolved humans. They each had their own cultures, and ways about how they interested with the world. It felt like he knew his genre well, and how he wanted to interact in that playground. Also is he a physicist or studied quantum theory, because it felt very sciency to me. Even if he's not, even if the science is faked, he did it well. Also I never felt lost by the science in it. I felt expanded and a little mind bent by it, but it was all in service of the story, and the world building. It was never out of place. I felt like each of the characters he introduced on the heist where different from each other. I like how the Priest at one point, says he’s not collecting necessarily the best people for the job, but the people from his past that he’s worked with. This is as much about the job, as it is about him finding connection and meaning. Let’s talk the puppets for a sec. You want a disturbing view of civilization and reverence to gods, he had one. It was like taking the religious fanatics and multiplying them tenfold. You know the types, where ‘their’ god, does no wrong, despite all logic to the contrary. The puppets when interacting with perceived gods, it wasn’t about the gods will, but their will upon the god. They were creepy as heck.I had recently come across a new to me theory, of how a lot of people treat autism like how do we get them to act more like neurotypical’s. It really made me step back and think, what if we leaned into their unique gifts, and stopped trying to make everyone the same, and embraced this other way of thinking. It could be a strength. So with this in mind I found it very interesting to see the ways in which the author had imagined us evolving as a species. Especially in regards to the Quantum realm. The turning off the social functions to access the mathematical portions of our brains. At one point a character had even referred to it as having a disorder. And I was like, that’s interesting to have one character view it as a gift, and one as a disorder, who both have the same evolution, but each a little different. My favourite character was the Mongrel. All of that smartmouthing, had me laughing hard. I also thoroughly enjoyed the girl, who made things go BOOM! These characters made me think the author had a lot of fun writing them. They had a certain amount of whimsy I could get behind. Shout out also to all the languages, and especially the French in this book. Coming from a Canadian French/English community, I really liked this representation of the future. I thought it was a fantastically well plotted book. It was a great science fiction adventure, with a look to how humanity in the future could be extrapolated. I look forward to Derek’s next work.
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  • Megan
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Elaine Aldred
    January 1, 1970
    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 woul 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.
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  • Sarah (CoolCurryBooks)
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Andy
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Netgalley & co for an early read.I'm really proud of how science fiction has developed. We've gone from very loose constructs of the dreams of Asimov to talking about quantum entanglement and Planck theory in so many ways. It's a great time to be a reader.This book was not a challenge. If you are looking for a fun tale, a story as one reviewer put, an Oceans 11 like romp, it should have easy appeal.My criticisms I'll lay bare early. There is a bit much of exposition, which was good Thanks to Netgalley & co for an early read.I'm really proud of how science fiction has developed. We've gone from very loose constructs of the dreams of Asimov to talking about quantum entanglement and Planck theory in so many ways. It's a great time to be a reader.This book was not a challenge. If you are looking for a fun tale, a story as one reviewer put, an Oceans 11 like romp, it should have easy appeal.My criticisms I'll lay bare early. There is a bit much of exposition, which was good--but I like a show don't tell more than tell. There was also a character who I thought would understand their role better but when they were put into that role, they seemed to fold like a wet napkin. It might have been proper but there wasn't any supporting evidence of it. Maybe that was a rub all along is most of the characters we learn about are pretty shallow--not in substance just in history so we don't get our hooks deep into their manifestations. Same could be said for the era the book resides in. I don't quite understand it, how it got there, or what it's really doing. It just does. It's like a pocket story in a galaxy that has far more to be explained and shared. Future books I hope?That's really it though. Easy stuff to overlook.You get dropped in fast, without knowing a whole lot. It's ok though, you'll get it later. Catching up is a part of the misdirection. Keeps you on your toes for details. Humanity has grown, split among so many lines. Humans though look to have done some further genetic works; a race that is more able to shunt themselves into aspects--savant and a quantum worker. A race that was built for deep pressures and piloting fighters. Also, a race that was built to adore their maker--which has had interesting and disturbing repercussions.Slap politics on top of that a dash of technology from a race long gone, and a need from a faction to move new technology across a contested quadrant of space. What could happen?I'm not going to give away any details--it's early enough for you to dive in and find your own way. I like the heist, the great con, the psychology of all these factions and fractures of humanity. All wrapped up in something that was really digestible while still being science-techy. Enjoy it! I did. :)
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  • Norman Neubauer
    January 1, 1970
    Many thanks to Rebellion Publishing and Netgalley for a free copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.This is a fantastic work of what appears to be the debut longform hard science fiction from Derek Kunsken.In this book there is an intersection of many different ideas: classic hard science fiction with a quantum physics flavour, a rollicking con job in the vein of a Danny Ocean heist, and an exploration of deity worship with elements of body horror. It is absolutely brimming with ideas y Many thanks to Rebellion Publishing and Netgalley for a free copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.This is a fantastic work of what appears to be the debut longform hard science fiction from Derek Kunsken.In this book there is an intersection of many different ideas: classic hard science fiction with a quantum physics flavour, a rollicking con job in the vein of a Danny Ocean heist, and an exploration of deity worship with elements of body horror. It is absolutely brimming with ideas yet the book manages to remain cohesive and tell an effective story, with good pacing and not much in the way of wasted exposition. Many of Kunsken's contemporaries fall into the trap of believing that the reader will be short-changed without comprehensive world-building and setting, but keeping this to a minimum leaves the writing lean and without bloat. Kunsken's interests are wide and varied; as such he projects a lot of contemporary science into the distant future. As an example, the main character is a member of a race of humans brought about through genetic engineering given the name homo quantus, who excel in mathematical and geometric talents as well as possessing an eidetic memory. These homo quantus are able to enter into a so-called fugue state which removes all subjective behaviour and thinking from the host, leading to some of the more zany scientific extrapolation in this book.Being first and foremost a con job, the main character Belisarius (the con artist) brings together a host of characters to help him in this endeavour. Most of these characters are fairly thinly drawn, with the geneticist Dr Del Casal and his subject Gates-15 being the main exception. Their arc centres around a race of humanity called the Puppets who have been genetically engineered to worship another race: the Numen. The relationship between these two races is complex and provides the most morally complicated and nuanced aspect to this story, as well as some of the most beautiful passages in the novel. Kunsken does a good job balancing the narrative with the science; not commonplace in hard science fiction which normally prioritises concept over story. For the most part I had no trouble following along, though from about three quarters in the conceits pile up making the overall direction of the story less clear.All in all, a rewarding read and I look forward to reading more work by him in the future.
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  • Elisa
    January 1, 1970
    This is the story of a heist in space. It follows the usual formula: guy puts together a team, each member is quirky and has a different set of skills that makes them valuable to the operation, they plan, something goes wrong, they improvise, there are turns, twists, someone double-crosses everybody, the heist succeeds, or not… But if the setup is familiar, the setting is wildly original. The quirky team includes Homo Quantus, a new kind of being that can manipulate the universe in ways that has This is the story of a heist in space. It follows the usual formula: guy puts together a team, each member is quirky and has a different set of skills that makes them valuable to the operation, they plan, something goes wrong, they improvise, there are turns, twists, someone double-crosses everybody, the heist succeeds, or not… But if the setup is familiar, the setting is wildly original. The quirky team includes Homo Quantus, a new kind of being that can manipulate the universe in ways that has never been done before, an AI called Saint Matthew, a “puppet” which is a species engineered by mankind and, my favorite, a guy from a species known as “mongrels” which are basically manatees. Why could I not get into this novel if it’s so original and well written? I have to say it’s not the book, but me. I enjoy science fiction but this is HARD science fiction with a heavy emphasis on the science. Many explanations went over my head. There are long philosophical conversations that had my attention wandering and eventually I lost the thread of the plot and then all became confusing. Some parts are very suspenseful and I enjoyed them, but mostly I fear that I’m the wrong kind of reader for this. If you like hard science fiction, this is undoubtedly an excellent novel. If you’re just a casual fan, maybe it won’t work so well for you. I chose to read this book and all opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. Thank you, NetGalley/ Rebellion Publishing!
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  • Nadja Miller
    January 1, 1970
    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 fightingArjona 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 fightingArjona 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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  • Seth Kennedy
    January 1, 1970
    I read this a serial in Analog Science Fiction and Fact. Kunsken brings to life a remarkably complex and fleshed out hard science fiction universe. I found the story and world both to be fascinatingly realized. It's a con-job story, something I've always enjoyed (when done well), and it has the classic elements, a proposal for a heist, gathering a team of specialists who can help carry it off and then the job itself. Kunsken does a good job fleshing out the various players (including several who I read this a serial in Analog Science Fiction and Fact. Kunsken brings to life a remarkably complex and fleshed out hard science fiction universe. I found the story and world both to be fascinatingly realized. It's a con-job story, something I've always enjoyed (when done well), and it has the classic elements, a proposal for a heist, gathering a team of specialists who can help carry it off and then the job itself. Kunsken does a good job fleshing out the various players (including several who are genetically modified offshoots of humanity with rather alien perspectives), and different parts of the story are told from their perspectives. There's a great mix of humor, sentiment and seriously messed up theology. Pacing in the set up scenes and in the active bits of the heist is also quite solid. I think the only minor flaw is that on character's plot issue/crisis is kind of forgotten/smoothed over, but it doesn't really detract from the story as a whole. I recommend it.
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  • Wayne Santos
    January 1, 1970
    The Quantum Magician is a thoroughly enjoyable, hard SF heist that romps to an explosive finish. Kunsken's dense prose pushes hard on quantum theory, and isn't afraid to shy away from some detailed world building, so people looking lighter, breezier tales might not do so well with this one.For people willing to invest, especially if there's any basic familiarity with some quantum theory concepts, Kunsken creates an ambitiously realized world. It's hard to know where the hard science and the fict The Quantum Magician is a thoroughly enjoyable, hard SF heist that romps to an explosive finish. Kunsken's dense prose pushes hard on quantum theory, and isn't afraid to shy away from some detailed world building, so people looking lighter, breezier tales might not do so well with this one.For people willing to invest, especially if there's any basic familiarity with some quantum theory concepts, Kunsken creates an ambitiously realized world. It's hard to know where the hard science and the fiction cross, and the pace of the heist keeps ratcheting up until it screams to finish. The characters are varied and unique, and I loved, in particular, Marie and Stills, and any interactions between the two. Kunsken creates a satisfying, self-contained story that still leaves enough open for the promised sequels, though considering how much damage he's done in just the first book alone, it's going to be entertaining to see how he follows up on this.
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  • Kavya
    January 1, 1970
    The Quantum Magician is a heist story, where the con is to get 12 military ships across 320 light years via a heavily protected wormhole. To achieve this, the mastermind is Bel, a human variation with Quantum computing capabilities, and his team of geniuses and other human variants. The book had a slow start and a slightly weak end, but the team's interactions and the energy of the action once the heist starts is compelling, as well as the uniquely quantum nature of the con, which was explained The Quantum Magician is a heist story, where the con is to get 12 military ships across 320 light years via a heavily protected wormhole. To achieve this, the mastermind is Bel, a human variation with Quantum computing capabilities, and his team of geniuses and other human variants. The book had a slow start and a slightly weak end, but the team's interactions and the energy of the action once the heist starts is compelling, as well as the uniquely quantum nature of the con, which was explained pretty clearly too. The most compelling things about this novel are probably the lives imagined for the various genetic sub species of humans - horror inducing in the puppets and Numens, and sympathetic swagger in the Mongrels, I felt the Homo Quantus themselves were a bit too monk like for my tastes, but I appreciate how their unique nature tied in to the plot. A decent caper all in all. 3.5 stars
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