Book Review: The Quantum Magician by Derek Kunsken


Author: Derek Kunsken

Title: The Quantum Magician

Publisher: Rebellion

Date: 2018

Synopsis: Belisarius is a Homo quantus, engineered with impossible insight. But his gift is also a curse—an uncontrollable, even suicidal drive t know, to understand. 

Genetically flawed, he leaves his people to find a different life, and ends up becoming the galaxy’s greatest con man and thief. But the jobs are getting too easy and his extraordinary brain is chafing at the neglect.

When a client offers him untold wealth to move a squadron of secret warships across an enemy wormhole, Belisarius jumps at it. Now he must embrace his true nature to pull off the job, alongside a crew of extraordinary men and women.

If he succeeds, he could trigger an interstellar war…or the next step in human evolution. 

The Quantum Magician 1

There are times, now and again, when I wish I wasn’t so stubborn.

There are times when I wish I could bring myself to put down a book I’m not enjoying rather than being determined to see it through.

This was one of those times. Unfortunately, I stuck with it, adamant I was going to see The Quantum Magician through to the end.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m certain there was an intricate world, complex characters and deep yet meaningful relationships present.

I just had no idea what they were.

Information overload

There was just too much science. Which, for a science-fiction book, may be the most ironic sentence I’ve ever written.

But seriously, it was overwhelming, confusing and stopped me from engaging with the plot and the characters. I’m all for knowledge to be inserted into a book, but it should be a subtle art; woven into the plot in such a way you don’t notice it. Otherwise, surely it is just exposition? Or an author showing off what they know?


I stayed with this book, however, because the writing was good quality. There were some complex characters in there, flawed with the potential to grow. Their relationships with one another developed and twisted, with truth, lies and love woven into bonds of friendship.

There were some high speed chases and deep questions about religion. Characters won. Characters lost. And characters were broken along the way.

What if I’m the tool by which He actually ensouls machines? That would certainly force us to redefine the role of humanity in His plan. Imagine if humanity was just scaffolding for the creation and ensoulment of machines.

Plot (I think…)

The big issue is that I had no idea about the plot. I’m certain there was a heist taking place, because that’s the premise of the entire book. I don’t know what said heist was – I can perhaps guess at it in a nutshell, but if I’m right, how did it take an entire book just for that one thing?

There were certain scenes that I literally cannot tell you what purpose they served other than allowing the reader into a character’s head. If they fitted in with the con, I don’t know how. Why plant a load of explosives under ice then, as far as I’m aware, they were never detonated? Or, perhaps, they were and I never realised? Either way, I think that rests my case about my understanding of the plot.

With no working knowledge of quantum mechanics (I’m not even certain it was quantum mechanics…it was quantum something, which I might have just interpreted because of the title), I had no idea what the breakthroughs were that the characters were experiencing. I didn’t know what they wanted, what they were searching for, and without knowing what makes a character tick, you lose any empathetic connection with them.

I know there was quality there in this book. But, personally, for me? It was effort to read this, feeling like I was forcing myself through a science book rather than being able to indulge in a story that was conquering time and space while making everyone look the other way.

A disappointing read: I’ve never felt so lost in a book before.

Goodreads |Amazon


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12 thoughts on “Book Review: The Quantum Magician by Derek Kunsken

  1. Oh no, sorry to hear this one wasn’t for you! I’m usually quite good with putting down books I’m really not enjoying. I read 3 chapters of The Girl On the Train and got fed up with it! The last book I really hated was Eleanor Oliphant but because of all the hype, I really wanted to see what happened at the end. Queue anticlimax!


  2. Yes. All of this and yes. I’m into fantasy but was looking to ease myself into a scifi/fantasy. I saw the title and was like “Ah I am familiar with magicians and quantum will be the science part. PERFECT!” Same problems as you. Occasionally I’d catch a meaningful exchange or comprehend 2 pages and ride that high for like 20 pages. I actually read other books while reading this to keep from overloading. It took 3 books. Sweet sweet validation. THANK YOU.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, thank you so much!! It’s so nice knowing that I’m not the only one who was completely bemused by this one – I started to think that maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind while reading it – but it’s great to know it wasn’t just me. Thank YOU – glad to know I wasn’t the only one totally lost for 90% of the book!


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