The Fractal Prince
Books are magic: the only kind of magic that we know of in this universe. By “magic”, I mean, literally: the ability to act on reality by manipulating symbols that describe this reality. Cervantes, Borges, Terry Pratchett knew that books were magic; all those who wrote about stories, about reading and inventing stories, knew it. The Fractal Prince demonstrates that Hannu Rajaniemi knows it too.
The Fractal Prince is the brilliant sequel to the Quantum Thief, second novel in a planned trilogy. The plot revolves around the master thief and conman Jean le Flambeur – flambeur being a French name for the ones who live the high-life, spending lots of money, fast, in exciting and dangerous gambles. It is set in a distant future, where mind uploading is a common technology that has dramatically reshaped the solar system. Most of Earth and of the inner planets are under the control of the Founders, a gang of replicated personæ whose goal is to get rid of the matter boundaries and to build an information paradise for themselves. Their immense computational and technological power has made them, literally, gods – the gods of the virtual realities (the virs) that they have created. But they have antagonists: the Zoku, who have evolved from our contemporary gaming guilds, and the Oortians, who live in the outer boundaries of the system, trying to preserve their enhanced humanity in the cold depths of space.
In this world Jean le Flambeur is a mixture of Loki and Arsène Lupin. In the first novel Jean was in search of his past; in this one, the stakes are not so easily discovered. Let me just say that this is a novel about seductive lies, and pretty well aware that, as a novel, it’s a seductive lie itself. In that world where the frontiers between software and hardware have been disturbed, there are stories that come alive; when hardware and software melt, any sufficiently advanced form of meta-narration is indistinguishable from magic. There are, like in a lost and found manuscript, stories within stories, virs within virs, deceptions within deceptions, lies within lies. Read it and be abducted.