Highlights from The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

The Quantum Thief was a very stimulating read. Make no mistake. However far off the events in this book may seem, Rajaniemi manages to evoke concepts and create language for issues that we are already dealing with.

The All-Defector. The thing that never cooperates and gets away with it.

summons the combat autism the pellegrini built into her. It enfolds her like a cool blanket, turns the world into vectors and gravity wells.

There is always a way out. You are never in a prison unless you think you are.

That’s why its task is to turn this matter into another Prison, to increase the purity of the Universe. This is what their Father the Engineer-of-Souls thought them to love. This is the way the world is made right.

The pirates worm their way into the victim’s confidence, chipping away at their gevulot until they have enough to do a brute-force attack on their mind.

Isidore feels around with his gevulot sense – an Oubliette citizen’s acute awareness of privacy settings in the intelligent matter all around.

Sending brain-to-brain messages directly through a quantum teleportation channel seems like a dirty, invasive way to communicate compared to Oubliette co-remembering. The latter is much more subtle: embedding messages in the recipient’s exomemory so that information is recalled rather than received.

But today, he is there in person, to kill an old friend.

The shops that you find only once,

The tall, intricate buildings, like belle époque Paris without the burden of gravity,

Almost no one hides beneath a full gevulot privacy screen here. This is the Avenue: you are supposed to flaunt it.

What happens there is remembered by everybody, accessible to everyone.

For a time, a group of parkroullers follows us, mistaking our race for some urban game, the kids bounce off walls and make somersaults across gaps between rooftops, the oversized wheels sticking to every surface.

In a shifting city where many places are permanently hidden by gevulot, their job is to figure out how to get you from point A to point B.

He is used to the gevulot handshakes that link names with faces and establish social context.

‘I think she was supposed to be McGonigal,’ says the pointy-eared man. ‘She was putting together a Werewolf game in the back room. But she hadn’t changed her body that much. Lame.’

She has a powerful voice, like a singer. ‘Our zoku is an old one: we can trace our origins back to the pre-Collapse gaming clans.’

‘This is the way things work here. No one has to be a stranger.’

A device that stores Time as quantum cash – unforgeable, uncopyable quantum states that have finite lifetimes, counterfeit-proof,

The exomemory stores data – all data – that the Oubliette gathers, the environment, senses, thoughts, everything. The gevulot keeps track of who can access what, in real time. It’s not just one public/private key pair, it’s a crazy nested hierarchy, a tree of nodes where each branch can only by unlocked by the root node.

The Martians have a dedicated organ for it.’ I tap my head. ‘A privacy sense. They feel what they are sharing, what is private and what isn’t. They also do something called co-remembering, sharing memories with others just by sharing the appropriate key with them.

The awareness that people he has not shared gevulot with now know who he is and what he has done makes him feel dirty.

Above, the platforms of the city shift and interlock as the city optimises its weight distribution with each step.

For me, it’s memes: brain worms, religion, poetry, Kabbalah, revolutions, Fedorovist philosophy, booze.

The dots – each a Bose-Einstein condensate, charged with energy and quantum logic – become extensions of her mind, like disembodied limbs.

One point every time you say a true thing, with achievements unlocked by actual emotional revelations.

The exomemory is everywhere. Its tiny distributed sensors – in every piece of smart- and dumbmatter – record everything, from events to temperature fluctuations to object movements to thoughts, with access to it controlled only by gevulot. But it has been designed to be write-only, with massive redundancy.

It traps the vasilev into a sandbox and starts cutting; separating higher conscious functions, rewarding and punishing.

A place where everyone owns their own minds, a place where we belong to ourselves.

The Oubliette exomemory does the same thing, stores everything thought, experienced and sensed in a location in the ubiquitous computing machinery around it.

But the bottom line is, the Oubliette is not a place of forgetting. It’s not a privacy heaven. It’s a panopticon

The temptation is there, always, to take on a different form, to escape.

Wake up. Yes, you won, you beat me; you worked it out. But the rest of us, we have bigger things to do. Not just another case, but justice, for everyone.’

Vast machines in the underworld are rumbling, and for a moment it feels like the city is a thin layer of life on the rough skin of some huge creature, stirred by a bee sting, shaking itself.

We hacked the panopticon system. Turned it into the exomemory. Used it to give the power to us.’

Spartan places, with bared-down physics and barely enough detail to stay out of the valleys of the uncanny.

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