Title: Quantum Night
Author: Robert J. Sawyer
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥
I picked this book from the Canada Reads 2017 longlist for a couple of reasons. First, I thought I had never read anything by Robert J. Sawyer but I had been meaning to. Well, I found out that I did in fact read something by him, which was the WWW trilogy a few years ago. I remember really enjoying that trilogy, and that’s probably why I had it in my head that I wanted to read more by the same author.
The second reason why I chose this book was for the theme of psychopathy. Well, even though psychopaths and the identification of them was a main theme of the book, this isn’t really the kind of psycho story I would normally go for. Now I know.
But after all, I finished this book with mixed feelings. I voted 4 stars on Goodreads, so I enjoyed it well enough. It was an interesting story, and it brought up some thought-provoking ideas. The main character of the story is a psychologist who has come up with an accurate way to identify psychopaths. Then he and some quantum physicists realize they have the technology to switch people from being mindless “philosophers’ zombies” through to psychopaths, then through to “quicks,” the most intelligent and feeling group of them all.
This is all very well and interesting, and even if it’s a bit deeply technical and nerdy in some parts, I did enjoy reading the story. But the last few chapters of the book are where my mixed feelings really started.
Suddenly, we have a US president who decides it’s necessary to occupy Canada. Then, Russia realizes it has the perfect strategic location to go on the offensive against the US. And then our researcher friends realize that they have the technology in their hands to SAVE THE WORLD! All they have to do is possibly sacrifice one person and…
Well, I didn’t really buy that part about switching everyone in the whole world. But, you know, I thought the thing about the narcissistic president in the US was kind of interesting. Since this book was published in early 2016, I wonder how much Sawyer knew about Trump’s run for presidency at the time he was writing it…because some of that stuff seems like it could come eerily true.
For the US-Canada-Russia war stuff, I can kind of see why the Canada Reads people might have chosen to include this book on their longlist. As far as thing being a book that “Canada needs to read right now”? I don’t think so. Even though I enjoyed the geeky science-y parts, I think it’s something that a lot of “average” people would get tired of pretty quickly.
So overall, I found this to be an enjoyable read, even if the climax and the ending left me with mixed feelings. But I don’t believe it’s a book for all Canadians right now, and I doubt it’s going to get onto the shortlist.