the guardian Tue 25 October 2011
There are science fiction novels that impress and those that entertain. All too rarely the two come together, but in this baroque theft caper, Hannu Rajaniemi has pulled it off with aplomb. That this is a first novel makes his achievement all the more notable. Trapped in the endlessly looping reality of the Dilemma Prison, super-thief Jean le Flambeur is offered freedom on condition that he carry out the greatest heist of all, a theft he never quite managed in his previous existence. But first he must steal back the man he once was, his identity and secrets hidden in the roaming Martian city of Oubliette. Set against him is the young art historian detective Isidore and a variety of local law enforcers and power-brokers. Rajaniemi's breathtakingly rich future is at times so densely portrayed that it's easy to feel intimidated by his reach, but the novel never fails to entertain and intrigue. Following in the footsteps of Ray Bradbury, Kim Stanley Robinson and Ian McDonald, once again someone is doing something new and bold with a fictional Mars.