Thursday, November 1, 2018

"The Quantum Magician"

Derek Künsken writes science fiction and fantasy in Gatineau, Québec and tweets from @derekkunsken. In previous incarnations, he did molecular biology experiments, worked with street kids in Honduras and Colombia, and served in the Canadian Foreign Service. His short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s, Analog and BCS, as well as in several year’s best anthologies, and earned him the Asimov's Award. The Quantum Magician is his first novel and is published by Solaris Books in English, by SFWorld in Mandarin, and by Albin-Michel in French (early 2020).

The Quantum Magician has been described as "Ocean's Eleven in space" and is about a genetically-engineered con man who is able to perceive the quantum world. He takes a job to move a dozen advanced warships through the wormhole of an enemy nation, a virtually impossible task, even with the right crew.

Künsken applied the Page 69 Test to The Quantum Magician and reported the following:
I opened the book to page 69, and found the client and the con man arguing, which is pretty representative of the novel. The job, a heist to move some warships across a wormhole, is phenomenally dangerous, and even if Belisarius succeeds for his employer, he'll start a war.
“He looks young enough to be my grandson,” Rudo said to Babedi.

“Mister Arjona broke into the vault of one of the big Plutocracy Banks and stole an experimental AI when he was still a teenager,” Babedi said.

“That wasn’t proven,” Belisarius said. “I wasn’t even charged.”

“He’s also wanted for questioning by the Congregate on suspicion of espionage,” Babedi said. “Congregate defense secrets were compromised.”

“The charges were withdrawn,” Belisarius said. “There was no evidence linking me to anything. I’m free to move through Congregate space.”

“So Mister Arjona has a habit of getting into trouble,” Rudo said.

“He has a habit of getting out of it, which is what we need, ma’am,” Babedi said.

“Just so,” she agreed.

“What will you do on the other side, Major-General?” Belisarius asked quietly. “The Congregate will want what you’ve got. Just like the Puppets.”

“They can try to take it,” she replied. The hum of conversation lowered as officers strained to hear their commanding officer. “A hundred and twenty-five years ago, the Venusian state signed an accord with the Sub-Saharan Union. In the last century, in service and in blood, the Union has paid out its debt.”

“The Congregate owns a lot of real estate in the Epsilon Indi system,” Belisarius said. “Two fortified Axis Mundi wormholes. Battleships bigger and more numerous than your cruisers. And I think they’ve got a dreadnought in system.”

“They do,” Babedi said.

They were going to die. They were all going to die if they faced the Congregate navy, and they needed him to get to a place where they could die.
So this is a weirdly hyper-representative portion of the novel, one that cements the stakes of everything that's come before and establishes what will happen from here on out. I may use this for a reading at a book store in two weeks!
Visit Derek Künsken's website.

--Marshal Zeringue