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Thursday, March 8th, 2012

The Quantum Thief

Categories: [ Books ]

ISBN: 9780575088894

© Amazon.fr

The disembodied mind of Jean le Flambeur, a famous thief, is forever prisoner and forced to play the Prisoner's Dilemma until he learns to cooperate. One day he is extracted by Mieli (a Sobornost) from the prison and given a new synthetic body made of another kind of material, which is however under Mieli's control. During the escape, a piece of Archon, the replicating, smart material the prison is made of gets trapped into Jean's body. Mieli then takes him to Mars, where he is supposed to steal something on behalf of Mieli's goddess, the pellegrini. Mars is the home of the Oubliette, a city moving on gigantic legs that eternally flighs before the phoboi, dangerous self-replicating weapons that infestate the surface of the planet, left over of the Mars civil war. In the Oubliette, people have a limited lifetime as Nobles, after which their mind is transfered to mechanical bodies and they start a period as Quiets, working to maintain the city, before stating a new Noble/Quiet cycle; time (to live) is the local currency. There is also a global exomemory used by everyone, where personal memories are controlled by private cryptographic keys. In the Oubliette, Jean finds out he used to live there under the name of Pierre Sernine, but has somehow lost his memory. With the help of the technology available to Mieli, he manages to steal one minute of the life of Christian Unruh, a man who became very rich in time and has never gone through the Quiet stage who had decided on the precise time when he would die. A local detective, Isidore Bautrelet, investigates the theft and starts following le Flambeur's trail. After Unruh's body has been transfered to a machine, Jean and Mieli inspect his mind, and discover that it has been tampered with during the transfer, and conjecture that everybody's mind in the Oubliette has been tampered with by the cryptarchs who secretely rule the city. When the news spreads (along with a protection against the security hole made by the cryptarchs), riots start on the street and between the Quiet who keep the city moving forward, and the city stops progressing, in danger of being caught up by the phoboi. Meanwhile, Jean recovers traces of his past, and discovers that he had split hie memories into nine pieces. When he has to decide whether he should recover his past memory and decides not to, the king of the Oubliette (a copy of Jean's mind from before he went to prison) does it for him. The Oubliette actually used to be a prison (a virtual Panopticon) and Jean le Roi was an inmate who, with the other cryptarchs, managed to hack into the panopticon system and use it for getting power over the other inmates. A catastrophe wiped out all traces of their doings, and in time le Roi wiped out the other cryptarchs. They also got help from Zoku refugees, a warrior collective that lost a war against the Sobornost. Le Flambeur and le Roi eventually fight and the piece of the prison in the former's body starts to build a new prison around the latter's mind, while Mieli saves le Flambeur in the nick of time.

[ Posted on March 8th, 2012 at 21:45 | 1 comment | ]

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Read it again.

Comment #1, Matthieu Weber (Finland), September 6th, 2021 at 08:00

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