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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

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