Cover Artist: Kekai Kotaki
"Jean le Flambeur, posthuman thief, is out of prison, but still not free. To pay his debts to Oortian warrior Mieli and her mysterious patron the pellegrini, he has to break into the mind of a living god. Planning the ultimate heist takes Jean and Mieli from the haunted city of Sirr on broken Earth to the many-layered virtual realms of the mighty Sobornost. But when the stakes of the pellegrini’s game are revealed, Jean has to decide how far he is willing to go to get the job done."Kekai Kotaki is quickly becoming one of my favorite cover artists. Between The Quantum Thief, The Unremembered, and this gem his work is colorful without being cartoony, evoking a sense of action and adventure without resorting to spaceships or dragons. And anyone who has read the The Quantum Thief knows that's exactly how Rajaniemi operates. He's doesn't slow down, he doesn't explain, and he's not going to apologize.
Rajaniemi's style is difficult to explain. You read it and you like it, but you're not exactly sure what you read or why you like it. At least, not after the first time through. It's complex, peculiar, captivating, and just plain good.
Don't believe me? Have a sample from The Fractal Prince.
Drathdor the zoku elder liked to talk, and it wasn't that hard to gethim to explain what a Box was (without letting on that I had stolenone from their zoku twenty years ago, of course).
Imagine a box, he said. Now put a cat in it. Along with a deathmachine: a bottle of poison, cyanide, say, connected to a mechanismwith a hammer and a single atom of a radioactive element. In thenext hour, the atom either decays or not, either triggering or nottriggering the hammer. So, in the next hour, the cat is either aliveor dead.
Quantum mechanics claims that there is no definite cat in the box,only a ghost, a superposition of a live cat and a dead cat. That is,until we open it and look. A measurement will collapse the system intoone state or the other. So goes Schrödinger's thought experiment.
It is completely wrong, of course. A cat is a macroscopic system,and there is no mysterious intervention by a magical observerneeded to make it live or die: just its interaction with the rest
of the Universe, a phenomenon called decoherence, provides thecollapse into one macrostate. But in the microscopic world --- forqubits, quantum-mechanical equivalents of ones and zeroes --- theSchrödinger's cat is real.
The Box contains trillions of ghost cats. The live cat statesencode information. A mind, even, a living, thinking mind. The Boxqubits have been rotated into a limbo state between nothingness andexistence. The mind inside would not notice anything--- a set ofquantum gates can let it continue thinking, feeling, dreaming. If itstays inside, all is well. But if it tries to get out, any interactionwith the environment will bring the Universe down on it like a ton ofbricks and collapse it into nothingness. Bad kitty, dead kitty.
"So what do you put in a Box like that?'' I asked Drathdor.
"Something very, very dangerous,'' he said.
Elegantly perplexing, no?
The Fractal Prince, the 2nd entry in The Quantum Thief trilogy, will be published on September 4, 2012 by Tor.