Hannu Rajaniemi’s Quantum Thief was an unexpected breakthrough – a finnish science fiction author actually storming the bookshelves and kindles of the world.
The story continues in Fractal Prince (see also the wikipedia entry).
The plot is told from multiple viewpoints with two clear protagonists. They, while initially independent, tangle towards the end of the book. Thus the narrative structure is a bit simpler than that of the first volume.
But that simplicity is an illusion. One of the many in this book. The Fractal Prince is packed to the brim with them. The plot is not that complex, but it is resolved in a very complex fashion. Multi-layered virtualities abound, and nothing is explained.
That complexity might actually be a concrete failure in the book. I’m not looking for a full walkthrough, but it would be nice to have a gallery of dramatis personae and a list of concepts spelled out. Preferably in an appendix so as not to clutter the rollercoaster pace of the adventure. Even if no such appendix exists in the book, I wasn’t too surprised to find one at the most probable location.
This book certainly is an adventure. The greatest thief of the solar system is on a mission, and any barriers, virtual, physical or psychological are just obstacles to be entertainingly overcome. But the tools and methods are at times bordering on the incomprehensible, and that sadly saps the entertainment value. There’s less science in the fiction, but that’s only to be expected since half of the storyline happens in a quasi-arabian-nights environment.
Fractal Prince is definitely more complex tale than its predecessor, and makes little sense without it (preferably re-read just before diving into this). The author has at least one more book planned in the series, and I certainly am looking forward to the conclusion. With the knowledge that I’ll have to re-read both earlier volumes before the conclusion to make the most out of it.