The Fractal Prince is the second book in Rajaniemi’s brilliant post-humanist trilogy, following on from the Quantum Thief. In TQT our protagonist Jean Le Flambeur is trapped in a Dilemma prison after attempting to break into the mind of the Maelstrom. He’s rescued by Mieli (an Oortian – by adoption) in her spidership Perhonen (who is AWESOME btw – there’s so much I had to cut from the video as it was aaaaaaggggeees long). They’ve been sent by Josephine Pellegrini, another like the Maelstrom, a super being who can control matter and energy – all the people in these books can do amazing stuff, it is post-humanist, but these super beings and others like them (forinstance the Zoku) take it way further. The pellegrini is offering Jean (who is also her ex) his freedom if he’ll attempt to break into the Maelstrom’s mind again and succeed. So he goes to Mars to find his memories and ends up in a hell of a mess, utterly failing in his task and leaving with only the knowledge that he needs to go to Earth and a memory box like a Chinese puzzle box. Roll on The Fractal Prince.
TFP had a dual storyline intially, we follow the continuing adventures of Jean and Miele, trying to break into the memory box and fending off Hunter attacks (not very well as it happens) and on Earth we follow the story of Tawaddud, who is a very special storyteller and the black sheep of her family. She tries to get back into the good graces of her father (a member of the government) and in doing so eventually ends up unknowingly mixed up with Jean as he seeks what he needs to complete his task in the desert outside her city, and trying to solve a murder that is far more sinister than it appears. This is a busy book just as much as TQT was, but remains far more anchored together, never losing control of its ideas as TQT did halfway through – that is to say the story was slightly swamped by the ideas in the final third of TQT, but it was still brilliant.
I failed to mention in the video (or rather I did but I had to cut that section as it was spoilery and long-winded) how the books focus on differing themes (to my mind anyway). TQT is all about memory and how it builds self, how it can fool you, how it can be manipulated, lost, found, distorted and used against you. In TFP the focus is on the power of stories, it has story within stories and stories as barter and stories of the past as the things that define and yet do not define you. It’s just an extra little thing to love about these complex books, they burst with concepts and ideas, both science fictional and intellectual/philosophical. Most of the science fictional ideas are easy to understand in context. Some are less so, but all worth the time it takes to situate yourself in these incredible worlds. I could not recommend this series more (I’ll be reviewing The Causal Angel next week, once I’ve finished – thus far I love it!).
You can buy this book in the UK here
And in the US here