Friday, September 17, 2021

 Find Out How Much I Enjoyed My Stroll Through
The Quantum Garden - By Derek Künsken

The Quantum Garden

Having thoroughly enjoyed The Quantum Magician, I was keen to discover how Derek Künsken would follow it up in The Quantum Garden. And I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

Here’s what the cover reveals:


Days ago, Belisarius pulled off the most audacious con job in history. He’s rich, he’s back with the love of his life, and he has the Time Gates, the most valuable things in existence. Nothing could spoil this… except the utter destruction of his people and their world. To save them, he has to make a new deal with the boss he just double-crossed, travel back in time and work his quantum magic once again. If he can avoid detection, dodge paradox and stay ahead of the eerie, relentless Scarecrow, he might just get back to his own time alive.


This is one of those stories where the blurb does its job. It provides a hint – just a taster, mind – of what’s to come. And oh boy, when the main course hits you, it’s well worth the wait.

Now, I should point out straight away that this follow-up story isn’t about the con. It’s about facing the consequences of your actions. As such, it has a different flavor entirely to our first outing. Especially when you remember those consequences are triggered after rubbing the wrong peoples’ noses in the dirty. Yes, it’s payback time. And as Belisarius discovers, the cost is exceedingly high. So high, in fact, that he witnesses the eradication of the homo quantus as a species.

And that’s only the beginning of the reprisals, because he also finds himself marked as galactic enemy #1 and the top of a hate list that will bring tears to your eyes.

So what is he to do?

Well, don’t forget he has the time gates. But how to unravel a mess of gargantuan proportions without compromising the timeline and history itself, AND while simultaneously avoiding highly trained assassins who will commit any atrocity to see you dead?

In an amazingly structured and entertaining manner. That’s how.

And I’ve got to say I was most impressed.

Künsken relies heavily on the principles of theoretical physics to make his story arc work. Fortunately he does so in a remarkably uncomplicated way that keeps this adventure extremely entertaining. A significant feat, especially when you realize his main character, Belisarius Arjona, isn’t out to con anyone. Oh no. This is a lesson about facing consequences. About morality. About duty and honor, and putting personal vendettas aside for the greater good. About accepting responsibility for your actions and moving on and trying to make the best of the situation. (You’ll see just how deeply those threads run as you read the story). There are some remarkable surprises and OMG moments that will keep you guessing right down to the end.

The Quantum Garden. A profoundly entertaining trip down ‘possible’ memory lanes. 

Amazon Review

Friday, September 3, 2021

 Find Out What Secrets I Learned From. . .

The Quantum Magician

The Quantum Magician

I was drawn to The Quantum Magician after the author – Derek Künsken – was highlighted in one of the articles over at Black Gate Fantasy. And seeing as Black Gate has a good nose for quality sci-fi and fantasy, I thought I’d give it a try.

Here’s the cover blurb:


Belisarius is a Homo quantus, engineered with impossible insight. But his gift is also a curse an uncontrollable, even suicidal drive to know, to understand. Genetically flawed, he leaves his people to find a different life, and ends up becoming the galaxy's greatest con man and thief. 

But the jobs are getting too easy and his extraordinary brain is chafing at the neglect. When a client offers him untold wealth to move a squadron of secret warships across an enemy wormhole, Belisarius jumps at it. Now he must embrace his true nature to pull off the job, alongside a crew of extraordinary men and women.

If he succeeds, he could trigger an interstellar war... or the next step in human evolution.


Okay, so what have we got?

One of the best depictions of a future human society that has gone to extremes in adapting to the colonization of deep space, that’s what.

We have homo eridanus – the tribe of the mongrel – who have been genetically altered to survive the crushing depths of alien oceans; homo pupa, literal puppet-sized people biochemically hard-wired to revere their creators, the Numen; homo quantus, those whose brains and nervous systems have been adapted to delve into the secrets of multidimensional reality; sentient AIs with their own agendas. And they’re all packed into a disjointed civilization dependent upon the Axis Mundi, an artificial wormhole system that makes traveling around the galaxy possible. The trouble is, those wormholes are ancient, designed and built by the forerunners who ceased to exist millennia ago. Nobody really knows how they work, much less understand the technology involved. And it’s all under the control of a loosely tied conglomeration of interstellar banks and corporations who are only interested in making a profit. The thing is, the Venusian Congregate think they run the show. They have the biggest, best and most heavily armed warships after all. And if anyone steps out of line, there are always the Scarecrows. (Think of a unit comprised of superhuman assets who are an unholy blending of the Obsidian Order/the Gestapo/Grammaton Clerics/Section 31/Assassins Creed, etc – and you’ll be on the right track)

Into the mix comes Belisarius Arjona, a misfit homo quantus who never really fitted into the niche his people find themselves in. When he’s asked to help transport a fleet of decrepit warships from one side of known space to the other, he doesn’t really see the challenge in it. Until he learns the truth, that is. For while these warships might be out of date – having been lost for decades – their crews have made an incredible discovery. One they don’t want to share. One that could change the balance of power throughout the galaxy. And they need to use the Axis Mundis without that secret being exposed.

What follows is an ambitiously complex, nifty little tale of misdirection, sleight of hand, the foibles of human – and inhuman – nature, and outright betrayal, all wrapped up with a leading cast of characters who are as flawed and damaged as they are quirkily brilliant. And what Künsken lacks in detailed imagery of the actual worlds in which the story is set, he more than makes up for in energy, action, and storytelling.

I loved it, especially the frictional camaraderie that builds between each of the main characters as they play off each other’s limitations and weaknesses. Without realizing, that helps them bond to each other, forming an alliance hard to beat. . .

Or does it?

 Yes, treachery abounds in this spellbinding tale of deception and double-dealing. And nobody is above suspicion.

Amazon Review