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The Quantum Garden Book Review

Quick Summary of The Quantum Garden

In The Quantum Garden, Belisarius Arjona and Cassandra Mejía, as members of the homo quantus race, are just like us “normal” homo sapiens — except that they can perceive the quantum universe and have boundless engineered curiosity. Arjona and Mejía had just finished using those quantum talents to help the Sub – Saharan Union inflict an almost impossible military defeat on the mighty Congregate. They used, among other things, two “defective” wormholes that were interlocked in such a way that they were actually time gates.

There’s a problem with embarrassing a mighty star-spanning state. Those states have the resources and will to strike back. As soon as the Congregate learned that Arjona and Mejía were homo quantus, they knew where to strike them to do the most damage: Their home, the Garret. And strike they did, with savage ill will and nuclear weapons.

Now, Arjona and Mejía’s only hope to save their now-dead people is to go back in time. Can they use the wormholes they stole from the Sub – Saharan Union to do that with any precision? Even if they can get their people out of the Garret, then what? The Congregate is one of the most power states in existence. Who can Arjona turn to for help?

Book Information

What I Liked about The Quantum Garden

IMPORTANT: From this point forward, there could be spoilers!

There’s Time Travel?

Let’s get this out of the way: This story is about time travel, and I hate time travel stories. The very thought of them exhausts me. Star Trek has used them to death. They have become predictable, cliche, and unimaginative.

I loved this story.

The Quantum Garden made time travel stories interesting again. The way Derek Künsken wove quantum mechanics into the temporally linked wormholes revolutionized what he could do with the concept. Sure, things like the time-travel grandfather paradox is still there, but now we have quantum entanglement in the mix. It gave the story a solid, hard science fiction backbone that I loved.

The characters were every bit as interesting as they were in the first book, The Quantum Magician. The main character, Belisarius Arjona, is still looking for his place in the world, but this time, he carries a mutation that might be the next evolution of the homo quantus — if they survive. How he deals with that, and how he reacts to what he inflicts on the Hortus quantus, was tragic and dramatic and insightful all at once.

The Quantum Garden Has the Hortus Quantus

Speaking of the Hortus quantus, as a new species, they were a fascinating character. One of the things I love about science fiction is meeting new species in environments that don’t exist on Earth. The Hortus quantus are the embodiment of that concept. Not only is their very biology alien, but their intellect is quantum-based. They are a perfect fit to interact with Arjona.

I really enjoyed Mejía’s character arc. Seeing her confidence blossom and seeing her growth as a tactician were a real treat.

My favorite character, despite how much I like the very concept of the homo quantus, is Vincent Stills. He’s a genetically engineered human of the species homo eridanus. His people live at the bottom of an ocean at about 800 Earth atmospheric pressures. Because he’s aquatic, he is an outstanding pilot. His people refer to themselves as the Tribe of the Mongrel. Their motto is “Piss on every leg. Bit every hand.” And he’s every bit as “gentle” as that motto would suggest! He’s crude, he’s profane, and he’s utterly, utterly honest.

He’s also the source of the most fantastic and satisfying space battle scene I’ve ever read. I don’t want to spoil the impact of the surprise, so I’ll just say that it happened within the time gates and eleven dimension hyperspace. It involved Cassandra’s genius and Stills’ cunning. I haven’t laughed so long for a good while. The moment was the perfect union of character an action. It was just fantastic.

What I Liked Less about The Quantum Garden

The first book, The Quantum Magician, presented a world that was so startlingly complex and interrelated, with politics that were nearly as good as what we got from Dune, that anything that comes after is bound to feel a little less special. The Quantum Garden, with its focus on the Hotrus quantus, goes small where the first book went large. My initial reaction, especially up to the half way point, was to feel a little disappointed.

I lost that feeling entirely by the time I reached the end. It’s okay to narrow the focus, especially when the result is enhanced poignancy. The ending pulled all the threads together in a quiet, intimate way. So what I liked less about The Quantum Garden ended up being a strength after all!

Do I Recommend The Quantum Garden

It’s a time travel story that made me reconsider my preconceptions against time travel stories. Its creativity and its strong characters forced me to change my mind, and that’s happened like three times in ten years.

So yes, I’d recommend this book and its predecessor. I think they’re something special. And I’m really looking forward to the next story about the homo quantus!

Have you read this or the first book? What did you think of them? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!