Monday, February 29, 2016

Quantum Night

Quantum Night by Robert J. Sawyer
Penguin Publishing Group: 3/1/16
eBook review copy; 368 pages
hardcover ISBN-13: 9780425256831

Quantum Night by Robert J. Sawyer is a highly recommended science fiction novel set in the near future - with psychopaths, and philosophical zombies.

Jim Marchuk is a Canadian professor and experimental psychologist at the University of Manitoba who has developed a conclusive procedure to diagnose people as psychopaths. He lends his expertise to testify in a trial and during the trial he learns a disturbing fact about his life. As a result of this information, he discovers that he has lost his memories from six months of his life twenty years ago.

In his search to discover what happened to him during this time period he consults the professor who was his mentor, Menno  Warkentin. He was a subject in an experiment when he was a student that dealt with the nature of consciousness. He also reconnects with Kayla Huron. She was his girlfriend during his lost time. Now she is a quantum physicist who has made startling discoveries about the nature of human consciousness.

Jim and Kayla make some startling discoveries and Jim uncovers what happened in his past. What they are discovering about human consciousness is that there are many more psychopaths and philosophical zombies (humans who lack consciousness but have learned to mimic normal human behaviors, so, basically, they are on autopilot) than previously thought. There are only a few people who are fully aware with a consciousness.

As Jim learns more about what happened to him in the past and current events spiral out of control, Kayla and Jim face some difficult decisions regarding how or if they should use their new knowledge.

Sawyer is an accomplished writer who knows how to give his readers the science they need while keeping the plot flowing. He uses Jim's lectures to his class in-between chapters to help impart information about psychology and ethics that will be used in the novel. The science and research in the novel is based on fact and Sawyer includes a sizable section of further nonfiction reading that influence his plot and the research within the narrative. There are a few things that jump out of reality and are strictly imaginative ways to keep the action moving swiftly along.  

While there is plenty of thought provoking information in Quantum Night, you'll find humor in this novel too as well as plenty of geeky quotes and Star Trek references. There are more than a few shots taken at the USA, but sometimes, I'd have to admit, we have citizens whose actions and words bring that on ourselves. 

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of the Penguin Publishing Group for review purposes.

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