Last night and today I read The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaneimi. It was… how can I say this.
I’ve been reading science fiction for a long time. I started reading it somewhere in the single-digit ages, when I began raiding my parents’ shelves for things that looked interesting. I read my way through the entire SF section of the local library. I accumulated several hundred books of my own over the years. Why? I was a junkie, looking for a fix. Looking for the authentic taste of The Future. For that weird crystalline rightness that comes in a rush of new ideas packed densely into each others’ implications. Not that I think any of these books are prophecy about what technology will bring, but there’s some kind of truth about how we’ll use what we invent that’s lurking there under the surface.
When I was young, it was easy to get that rush. Everything was new to me, including all the cliches. But over the years I got jaded. I’d read enough that I’d seen it all; I could see the bones of other books poking up awkwardly through the skin of newer ones I read. Even in new authors that arrived with effusive, luminous praise as Something New.
When Katrina took my whole library away, it was easy to stop reading. I didn’t want to try and build up a new pile of tree-pulp and ink. Over the past few years I’ve started reading e-books again, still hoping for the occasional dose of The Future but knowing I’d probably never find more than tiny fleeting tastes sandwiched in the middle of heavier tomes that went through the same familiar places.
Quantum Thief gave me a massive taste of that. A strong, dense, black liquid dose of The Future. I don’t think I’ve had a taste this strong since… oh, let’s say 1991, when Swanwyck’s “Stations of the Tide” came out. There were things in that book that dug deep under the bottom of my conscious mind and rearranged something essential in me. And I think Rajaniemi’s book may have done the same. Time will tell. I think I’ll have to read it again soon.
and if you haven’t read any Swanwyck he’s eminently worth reading; he was one of the last people to regularly provide THAT FIX. Suggestions: Stations of the Tide, Vaccum Flowers, Iron Dragon’s Daughter and its semi-sequel Dragons of Babylon.)