The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi… aka “Beam me up, Scotty!”

The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi… aka “Beam me up, Scotty!”

Let’s face it, science-fiction writers bluff a LOT. With the reader, with their characters, sometimes with the whole universe and other times even with themselves. This novel, however, reached a whole new level (practically invented it), because this author has bluffed his way through the entire story. And I’m not just saying that because its protagonist is an almost omnipotent thief.

The first couple of chapters are fantastic. The prison and what the thief goes through inside it are described perfectly and yes, the whole thing gets you hooked. Unfortunately, after the first couple of chapters, the book turns into an anime script (with very few exceptions).

This would have been a pretty fun read if not for several lethal facts:

*Grown-ups with, literally, centuries of life experience are acting like a bunch of moody, angsty teenagers. I get the eccentricity is some cases, but this is almost ridiculous. I expected huge egos, limitless power and almost omniscience… and I got huge egos, cheap tricks and almost no one having any kind of control over anything.

**Something that was quite disturbing and unforgivable for me… and, I should think, for any female individual reading this book: the sex scene… which the author tries to gloss over by repeating several times that no, Mieli was not present during the important bits because her mind wasn’t actually connected to her own body (consent, anyone?), so it was actually ok… no, no dear author, it really wasn’t…

***The showdown – much like the entire book, come to think of it – is so choked on terminology (one that is never quite explained, mind you) that you can barely understand what the hell is going on. It is one giant linguistic/phraseologic chaos… featuring lethal particle beams, computer viruses… and honest-to-God sword-wielding pixies straight out of a “Magical Girl” game/anime…

Recommended to: people who like lasers, conspiracy theories (although the storytelling fell quite a bit short in the build-up), explosions and anime!!!

Still, the book gets two stars (on Goodreads) because I liked the ship (though I understand that it gets destroyed at some point in the future, so there’s that…), the time beggars scene and because the whole thing wasn’t boring. The pacing was pretty well done and while there will be groaning in annoyance and LOTS of eye-rolling, there won’t be any sighs of boredom or keeping one’s eyelids open with toothpicks.

The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy a.k.a. “Am I really reading a Julia Quinn novel?”

The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy a.k.a. “Am I really reading a Julia Quinn novel?”

Lately, Ms. Quinn has been writing rather bland books… but this one was actually kind of insulting. Which is new for her… and hopefully a situation not to be repeated.

You probably already know the premises: a peer of some kind comes down to London to hunt for a bride in two weeks or less. (Hmm, somebody, somewhere should really write a reality show scenario on this.) Anyway, he finds the pale redhead (based on the previous descriptions of Iris, I’d have expected her to be a really washed blonde, but not a redhead, and how are redheads fading away exactly? That kind of melanin would have entailed at least similar eyebrows and maybe some freckles… so how and where to is she fading exactly?!) to be adequate to his tastes and requirements, kisses her in a awfully brutish way, in order to compromise her and whisks her away to his far, far, FAR away home.

I had so many issues with this book, after just a hundred pages or so, it wasn’t even funny anymore.

First of all, how can Iris still stand the creature after that really, really botched kiss (to be read “assault”) that compromised her? Secondly, how can her parents/aunts/clan force her to marry the cretin? After all, she was caught “kissing” him by one of her own aunts, who is supposedly able to keep her mouth shut. They were never seen by anyone else, so how would the gossip actually start? And even if the gossip did start, Iris was already on her way to becoming a spinster, so why would the entire thing have caused her to be shunned by society, even provided that her aunt could really not keep quiet? And don’t even get me started on the parents…

Moving on. As their trip north began, so did the questions. Why isn’t he poorer? After all, he’s only a “Sir” and up to that moment it had been hinted that he might have only wanted her for her dowry, even if there was really not much of it… Why is he so well-known (where was he going since the innkeepers know him, but the whole of London doesn’t) and, of course, since this IS supposedly, a romance novel, why isn’t he banging his wife? Then, for about fifty pages, as we get to the house and the ties start binding, I entered a serious state of denial. I saw the disaster coming, but I still refused to believe it.

no… No… NO! This kind of plot CANNOT exist in a Julia Quinn novel! She’s not Jo Beverly! She’s not Virginia Henley! Noooooo!!!!!

Alas, it did exist.

Never before have I witnessed such a slap in the face of womanhood (because we can’t even talk about feminism here); no, actually I have noticed this before, back when I was trying to survive through some Company of Rogues novels.

I cannot even begin to describe the complete disappointment I felt not only with the book and the characters, but with the author as well. Ms. Quinn! I started reading historical romances thanks to you! I managed to escape the crappiness of reality at times, thanks to you and other authors like yourself, authors I discovered because I liked your novels so much! What have you done!?!?

The Last Theorem…

The Last Theorem…

…or the lesson editors and even writers everywhere should learn when it comes to smashing the very different styles of two or more authors (regardless of their individual talent) and squeezing them in the same story. You want different takes on the same facts? Ask for short stories revolving around the same idea and compile an anthology. Did no one ever learn anything from the disaster that is the Dune series post Frank Herbert?

In case you did not know, this novel was co-written by Sir Arthur C. Clarke (towards the end of his life) and Frederick Pohl, another science-fiction giant. Sadly, it was also quite a confusing jumble. The book had no linear plot, no climax and a really foggy conclusion, that came out of a different galaxy.

The book features a young mathematician who, after several trials of life (some of which are really shocking and painful even to read), comes to solve Fermat’s famous theorem (hence the title) and becomes famous, marries a beautiful woman and somehow ends up living the high life, in a rather stark contrast to his childhood and teenage years.

I’ve had several rather big issues with this book. The first is the idyllic life Ranjit ends up living. No PTSD resulting from what seems to be at least a year of torture? No remaining feelings for his teenage crush/love? And how does said crush end up being in such a high position at such a young age? I got that his daddy was a big shot, but nobody ends up working for the dark side of the UN at twenty…

We are continuously led to believe that Ranjit holds the key to some big future events and we are finally shown a LOT of funky aliens… Further on, we are regaled with the story of Ranjit’s life (most of which is not even connected to his mathematics anymore, but with daily family events and international politics)… and we wait for the aliens to finally get to Earth… and wait… and wait… and wait some more… and when they finally get here, they almost commit suicide because one Grand Galactic (the US, Russia and/or China of the Universe) counters their previous orders to destroy the human civilization, after having noticed the latest high-tech weapon and reaching the conclusion that humans finally got smart enough to use weapons that do not cause mass murder, but rather economic and technological destruction… which, in the actual world, would eventually lead to some kind of mass murder… As I said, this is a rather confusing novel, with several parallel plot lines which are never given an adequate conclusion.

In the end, Ranjit does not seem to actually have anything to do with the actual intergalactic events, other than the fact that the Americans wanted him for some kind of work… which is never detailed… but is supposedly relates to the Silent Thunder project… but why? What was supposed to be his actual contribution? What was so special about him (other than the fact that he has solved Fermat’s theorem and was handy with numbers…)?

In the end, his children seem to be more involved in the grand scheme of things. His daughter had more to add to the plot (by winning a round of funky Olympics and then, by chance, ending up the image employed by the MANY kinds of aliens for communicating with the human kind), as well as his son (a character for whom I had so many hopes), but their parts got cut short in the end. His wife could have also played a bigger part, but (while I am pleased with the social status analysis concerning Myra’s role as a woman, scientist and mother) she ends up doing little more than being continuously suspicious of the higher powers’ good intentions and limits herself to reading AI-related articles, instead of writing them herself.

The first part is far better than the rest of the book and I can actually see Sir Clarke writing it down. Although strange, it has depth and continuity. But the style soon cracks down and the novel turns into said jumble. Now, I understand the circumstances surrounding the writing process of this novel, but that is no excuse for the actual lack of editing. True, my translated edition definitely added to my poor opinion, but not as much as I would like to believe.