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The Fractal Prince
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The Fractal Prince

Sèrie: Jean le Flambeur (2)

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7782528,103 (3.86)23
A physicist receives mysterious information about how to enable immortality in a city torn by the agendas of "fast ones," shadow players, jinni, and two revolution-minded sisters; while a thief on the edge of reality is aided by a sardonic ship to risk his freedom and find his patron.
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Títol:The Fractal Prince
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Informació de l'obra

The Fractal Prince de Hannu Rajaniemi

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Apunta't a LibraryThing per saber si aquest llibre et pot agradar.

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» Mira també 23 mencions

Anglès (23)  Francès (1)  Finès (1)  Totes les llengües (25)
Es mostren 1-5 de 25 (següent | mostra-les totes)
A worthy sequel, no doubt. Lacked a bit of 'punch' of the first one, though perhaps that is because I, the reader, now knew the universe. ( )
  dcunning11235 | Aug 12, 2023 |
I have no idea what happened but I liked it. ( )
  Vitaly1 | May 28, 2023 |
420
  freixas | Mar 31, 2023 |
Þrælfín framtíðarsaga. Oft erfið aflestrar því vísindaheimur Rajaniemis er ólíkur öllum öðrum vísindaskáldsögum sem ég hef kynnst. En plottið er flott og án efa á heimsmynd hans eftir að hafa áhrif á aðra vísindasagnahöfunda. ( )
  SkuliSael | Apr 28, 2022 |
review of
Hannu Rajaniemi's The Fractal Prince
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - July 9, 2018

Read the full review here: "She takes another step, and is naked.": https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/1047510-she-takes-another-step

Well, well, this has an epigraph from Christian Bök from his Crystallography: "'When we gaze upon a fractal, we must peer at a one-way mirror, unaware of the other mirror, standing somewhere far behind us.'" Bök's work has a rare degree of originaility so quoting him shows great promise.

A character is sucked into a bk in a dream:

"Matjek fixes his eyes on the book and flings it open. The words leap out at him, black insects moving on the yellowed page.

"Among the histories of past peoples a story is told that in the old days in the islands of India and China there was a Sasanian king, a master of armies, guards, servants and retainers, who had two sons, an older and a younger—

"The words swirl. The paper and the letters bulge out, form the shape of a hand, fingers of black and white, reaching out from the book.

"The dust thing coughs and whispers, and something brushes Matjek's shoulder, tickling sharply. He grabs the hand as hard as he can, and the razor edges of the word-fingers cut his palm. But he holds on, and the hand pulls him in, into the suddenly vast sea of language in front of him." - p 3

I seem to have an ongoing love for this type of imagery, for literature in wch varying degrees of narrative have palpable 'reality' 'capable' of engulfing its characters into one level after another. I'm reminded of Lewis Carroll's Alice, I'm reminded of Jasper Fforde's Lost in a Good Book (read my review here: "Mr. & Mrs. Friday Next": https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/579876-mr-mrs-friday-next )

"'I thought you went to school. Don't they teach you about the importance of made-up things?'

"Matjek snorts. 'Only to chitraguptas. The Great Common Task is about reality. Death is real. The enemy is real.'" - p 5

"Chitragupta (Sanskrit: चित्रगुप्त, 'rich in secrets' or 'hidden picture') is a Hindu god assigned with the task of keeping complete records of actions of human beings on the earth. He is god of justice. Upon their death, Chitragupta has the task of deciding heaven or the hell for the humans, depending on their actions on the earth." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chitragupta

Since the Finnish author living in Scotland saw fit to drop in a Hindu myth, I'm going to take the liberty to drop the word "Chitragupta" into the following otherwise straight quote under the assumption that many or even most readers of this review will know enuf to recognize what other proper name is being substituted for:

"Imagine a box, he said. Now put a cat in it. Along with a death machine: a bottle of poison, cyanide, say, connected to a mechanism with a hammer and a single atom of a radioactive element. In the next hour, the atom either decays or not, either triggering or not triggering the hammer. So, in the next hour, the cat is either alive or dead.

"Quantum machanics claims that there is no definite cat in the box, only a ghost, a superposition of a live cat and a dead cat. That is, until we open it and look. A measurement will collapse the system into one state or the other. So goes Chitragupta's thought experiment.

"It is completely wrong, of course. A cat is a macroscopic system, and there is no mysterious intervention by a magical observer needed to make it live or die: just its interaction with the rest of the Universe; a phenomenon called decoherence, provides the collapse into one macrostate. But in the microscopic world — for qubits, quantum-mechanical equivalents of ones and zeroes — the Chitragupta's cat is real." - pp 8-9

Really? The cat in this instance isn't 'real', it's an imaginary thing referred to in a fiction that references a thought experiment, it's a thought experiment about a thought experiment. It's like a dream in wch the observer, the dreamer, perceives something amorphous that the dreamer then 'solidifies' in accordance w/ underlying desires &/or fears. Chitragupta's cat mght go in & out of existence like the Cheshire Cat's body around its smile.

Rajaniemi's fiction is a rich world, full of evocative imagery that I'm not so sure is as meaning-imbued as the science-speak might imply. On the back cover the reader is informed that Rajaniemi "is the holder of several advanced degrees in mathematics and physics" & that Rajaniemi's fictional future is "a Solar System physically reshaped by posthuman intelligences and shot through with ubiquitous IT." Be that as it may, my impression is that much of the 'science' is used 'poetically' & that fractal-this & quantum-that is neither here nor there, that Chitragupta's cat cd just as easily be Chitragupta's hyena.

"She laughs, 'Oh, Jean. You failed, last time. All you were— Oh my, I can't even tell you—Cognitive architectures stolen from the zoku and us alike. Machines made with a sunlifting factory. The perfect disguise. And still you were like a child compared to him, the father of Dragons. And you are telling me you know how to do it now? Oh, my sweetheart, my little price, you are amusing.'" - p 29

No doubt, if I'd read this bk's predecessor, The Quantum Thief, I'd feel more successfuly immersed in the soap opera. But I didn't. So I'm more distanced. Usually when I read I pay reasonably deep attn. In this case I felt more like I was admiring & enjoying the pretty glittering surface but not necessarily sucked into it as a dream.

"She studies the boy with athar vision, gently cupping his face.

"'You have been in the desert again,' Tawaddud chides. The boy twitches, but Tawaddud grips his face firmly. 'Let me see.'

"She takes one of the little jinn bottles from her belt, opens it and lets the software creature out, a cloud of sharp triangles in the athar.

"'I thought I told you not to go there,' she says.

"'A man needs to have a dream, my lady, and the dreams are in the desert,' the boy says.

"'I see you are going to be a poet next. Hold still.' The little jinn eats the wildcode in the boy's frontal lobe. This might hurt a little. But if you don't stay out of the way of the mutalibun, you are not going to be of much use to anyone.'" - p 62

My reviewer's note to myself about the above-quoted passage is "the endless 'atmosphere'" but it did all eventually become less atmospheric & more specifically meaningful. It just took a while.

"When Tawaddud and Sumanguru enter, the rukh swarm notices them. They are everywhere: flying things of different sizes, from tiny sapphire insects to two or three man-ray like gliders who circle near the ceiling. Tawaddud shields her eyes against the storm of wings. Then she barks a Secret Name at them and the swarm disperses and quiets down, becomes a coiling cloud amongst the vegetation." - pp 109-110

My previous understanding of secret names has been more along these lines:

""To give a name is always, like any birth (certificate), to sublimate a singularity and to inform against it, to hand it over to the police. All the police force in the world can be routed by a surname, but even before they know it, a secret computer, at the moment of baptism, will have kept them up to date. —JACQUES DERRIDA" - p vii

"Derrida was a French philosopher born in Algeria, in Northern Africa. I have a vague memory from more than 40 yrs ago of reading that some Africans ("Africans" being probably an excessively sweeping generalization) have the names that people know them by & secret names that shd be known only to them in order to avoid having malicious magic applied against them. Consider the following:

""9. Secret names.—A second inevitable consequence of a similar intrinsic power of the name is the development of the idea of withdrawing the name from the eventually dangerous use that might be made of it, by keeping secret the real names of persons."

"[..]

""This explains the custom of having for the individual an ordinary name, for daily use, and a real name, which he alone knows (or which even has sometimes been given to him at birth by his parents unknown to him). Sometimes this name is given during the first years of life; sometimes it is revealed secretly to the individual, on a fixed occasion, by his parents, the fetish-man, or the priest, or by a priestly college (e.g., on the occasion of entrance upon the duties of diviner, sorcerer, priest, chief, king, etc.). The most frequent case is that of the secret name whispered by the mother in her child's ear on the day of his birth". [..] "He who possesses this secret name will never reveal it to anybody, and in all circumstances his ordinary name will be used".

"- Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics: Mundas-Phyrgians - edited by James Hastings, John Alexander Selbie, Louis Herbert Gray - p 133

"To 'Westerners' (another sweeping generalization) this may seem to be a superstition but I tend to relate the idea to Derrida's police state warning above: the more easily a person is identifiable, the more easily they are controlled.

"[Coincidentally, while I'm writing this review I'm reading Esther Friesner's fantasy novel Majyk by Accident in wch this is written: "["]'Tis said that he who standeth in possession of a Welfie's true name may call himself the creature's master."" (p 106)]"

- ”Imp-Roper”: “Embrace your Inner Impropriety": https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/434743-imp-roper?chapter=1

Hence, I wonder: is Rajaniemi's concept of the Secret Name related to this? Is he evoking a more ceremonial magik sense? Are they the same? In other words, by having the knowledge of anything's name is one simply showing a deeper awareness of that thing/being or is one literally controlling it? When I owned a bookstore I went to take a piss one time & emerged from the toilet room to find a young man about to rob the till. I sd: "Please don't do that, Michael. This bookstore is collectively owned & we're barely surviving." His friend sd: "You know his name?" I sd: "Yes, I've known him since he was a little kid." They both left, the situation was solved peaceably, & I never had any trouble w/ them again. It was my feeling that b/c I saw him as an individual & remembered him, not as a policeman might but more as a friendly sociable person might, it was realized that I wasn't projecting stereotypes. In other words, knowing a name doesn't have to be a control freak thing, it can also be a sociable thing like remembering the name of someone you meet at a party.

The Fractal Prince is an interesting mix of scientific jargon w/ fairy tale atmosphere, a 21st century Arabian Night:

"The girl who loved only monsters walked alone through the narrow streets of the City of the Dead.

"The ghuls looked at her with empty eyes, huddled around the warmth of the server tombs.

"It was instinct that led her to this place, more than anything: looking for a place where the Repentants or Veyraz would not find her. She could pretend to be a ghul, if anyone came. She would be safe here, amongst the dead." - p 122

"Why did he do this? Images of the Alile thing flash through her head. How could he? And why?

"He is the father of body thieves. But he said he would never do it again. Is it because of me? Because we could not be together?

"She can taste him in the story fragments from the qarin's mind. The circle and the square. There was something very strange about it: the bare-bones abstraction, like written by a child. Usually, the forbidden stories of the body thieves are addictive, full of danger and cliffhangers and characters that insert themselves into your head and become you. But this is raw, full of a simple desire, a dreamlike need to find something." - p 133

My reviewer's note for that one was: "The axolotl was taken alive w/ wildcode". Is that what you got out of it? Of course not. The excerpt chosen is out-of-context & presented w/o explication. What the heck, I might as well go further in that direction:

"""All we need are axolotls. A man can't keep live axolotls with him all the time, you know. What we have to do is find an axolotl den and borrow a few. They don't mind. Not a bit. Glad to do it, in fact, as long as they're returned to their den afterward and given a bit of salt."" - p 84

"Now, here's where Blaylock starts to get on rocky turf. I seriously doubt that a Mexican salamander aka a Mexican walking fish, a neotenic salamander, wd take kindly to being taken away & borrowed, salt or no salt so any aspiring magicians out there had better come up with a vegan substitute - & I don't mean platypodes either."

- my review of James P. Blaylock's The Elfin Ship, https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1920169154

"And suddenly the gap is no longer empty. The metacloaks of two large Gun Club zoku ships dissolve, just before they fire. They dwarf even the oblast ship: spheres with linear accelerator tails, several kilometres long. They fire Planck-scale black holes that evaporate in violent Hawking climaxes, converting mountains' worth of matter into energy. What are they doing here?" - pp 137-138

What they're doing in the story seems to be putting a substantial amt of scientific lingo all into one paragraph. The result, for me, is more poetic than it is hard science. I don't object to that, I think it's fun. There's a good chance that for many readers the above seems like good description. For me, it borders on mumbo-jumbo. Let's analyze it a bit shall 'we'?:

Ok, I won't bother to look up "metacloak" since I imagine that's a simple neologism coined by the author meant to evoke a shield of the "Gun Club zoku ships" that must be gotten out of the way before they can attack.

"Gun Club zoku ships" is probably a reference to the way that members of the rock band like to get their sweets, kindof like the row boats full of ice cream that an ice cream parlor near where I grew up sold for birthday parties & other special occasions. Birthday Party? Gun Club? We're getting in deep.

"oblast"?: "an administrative division or region in Russia and the former Soviet Union, and in some of its former constituent republics.": so if you were imagining a spheroid shape, forget it.

"spheres with linear accelerator tails"?!: As the abstract for N. Brown & M. Reiser's "Current losses and equilibrium in RF linear accelerators" explains: "In the conventional design of RF linear accelerators the charged particle bunches are not in thermal equilibrium. With high currents, space charge couples the transverse and longitudinal self forces, leading to emittance growth and halo formation as the beam relaxes toward an equipartitioned state. Particle losses to the walls can occur as a result of halo formation and also through the natural tail on the equilibrium distribution. Particle losses due to either a halo or a tail can cause radioactivity in the conducting channel, inhibiting routine maintenance. The properties of the beam are described in a new design for RF linacs in which the beam is kept in thermal equilibrium, and the current loss rate is found for the tail on the thermal equilibrium distribution." ( https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/505165/ ) Apparently, that problem hasn't been solved yet in the future &/or the radioactivity has been found useful in battle.

"Planck-scale black holes"?!: In the abstract to Michael Florian Wondrak, Piero Nicolini, & Marcus Bleicher 's "Planck scale black holes - Theory vs. observations" the reader is informed that "In this paper we present the status of the physics of Planck scale black holes with particular reference to their conjectured production in particle accelerator experiments at the terascale. After reviewing some open issues of fundamental interactions and introducing the physics in the large extra-dimensional scenario, we present the expected signatures left by a microscopic black hole in a particle detector. The final part of the paper is devoted to the latest experimental bounds on the sought black hole signals." ( https://arxiv.org/abs/1612.08415 ) In other words, even itty-bitty black holes can be a royal pain in the Planck-scale keister.

"Hawking climaxes"?!: In the abstract to T.Banks, A. Dabolkhar, M.R. Douglas, & M. O' Loughlin's "Are Horned Particles the Climax of Hawking Evaporation?" it's hard to tell whether the euphemistic language of auto-eroticism has reached parody or parity: "We investigate the proposal by Callan, Giddings, Harvey and Strominger (CGHS) that two dimensional quantum fluctuations can eliminate the singularities and horizons formed by matter collapsing on the nonsingular extremal black hole of dilaton gravity. We argue that this scenario could in principle resolve all of the paradoxes connected with Hawking evaporation of black holes. However, we show that the generic solution of the model of CGHS is singular. We propose modifications of their model which may allow the scenario to be realized in a consistent manner." ( https://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/9201061 )

Even? or ODD? You decide!!!!! Ahem. Personally, I'll take a plain ole garden variety flying carpet any day. Do you have to use a special vacuum cleaner? & will you get stopped at the Canadian border w/ it if you look MIddle Eastern?

"She steps on the carpet, and Sumanguru follows, swaying slightly. At first it is like standing on the surface of a waterbed. Then her footing becomes firm as the carpet compensates for her weight and invisible hands support her. It is made from expensive utility fog uncorrupted by wildcode. Still, it requires several low-level jinni bound to it, constantly cleaning and updating the athar spells." - pp 147-148

"Athar" is, apparently, a corruption of "Hoover".

"They called it the Chain. A hundred ice spheres laboriously crafted, decorated with bright designs that drew the eye and made you dizzy as you drifted through them. All strung together with unbreakable Jovian q-dot fibres and dancing slowly in the gravity well of the Moon-sized mass they called Pohja. The tertiary structure they modelled after that of a protein, found local minima for the Chain's Lagrangian function so that it would fold itself into intricate shapes, creatures of nyth and flowers and fractals." - p 184

It's always interesting when non-artist authors imagine an art work & put it in a novel in passing. In this case, I'll bet that Rajaniemi didn't know that Christo, Jean-Claude, Lowry Burgess, & Claus Oldenburg already did a piece almost identical to this one called "Chain Store" made out of space junk & funded by NASA & Target.**

"After many twists and turns she finds the singularity in the centre.

"It is a tiny thing, a star floating in a cylindrical room. Its Hawking radiation is so bright it floods her quicksuit. When she approaches it, the suit's outer layers evaporate.

"You should go back, Perhonen shouts in her mind.

"She takes another step, and is naked. The radiation that carries the thoughts of the goddess consumes her. Flesh turns into prayer. She holds up her hands. Her fingers burst into flame. The pain is so intense she has no words for it. And there are no words or thoughts left at all, only burning red—

Read the full review here: "She takes another step, and is naked.": https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/1047510-she-takes-another-step ( )
  tENTATIVELY | Apr 3, 2022 |
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Hannu Rajaniemiautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Kotaki, KekaiAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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His likeness? How can I trace it? I have seen Arsène Lupin a score of times, and each time a different being has stood before me ... or rather the same being under twenty distorted images reflected by as many mirrors ...

Maurice Leblanc, The Arrest of Arsène Lupin
When we gaze upon a fractal, we must peer at a one-way mirror, unaware of the other mirror, standing somewhere far behind us.

Christian Bök, Crystallography
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This is for Tomi, who lives in our stories.
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That night, Matjek sneaks out of his dream to visit the thief again.
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Wikipedia en anglès (3)

A physicist receives mysterious information about how to enable immortality in a city torn by the agendas of "fast ones," shadow players, jinni, and two revolution-minded sisters; while a thief on the edge of reality is aided by a sardonic ship to risk his freedom and find his patron.

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