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Publisher's Summary

With such compelling and provocative novels as Red Planet Blues, FlashForward, and The WWW Trilogy, Robert J. Sawyer has proven himself to be "a writer of boundless confidence and bold scientific extrapolation" (The New York Times). Now, the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author explores the thin line between good and evil that every human being is capable of crossing....

Experimental psychologist Jim Marchuk has developed a flawless technique for identifying the previously undetected psychopaths lurking everywhere in society. But while being cross-examined about his breakthrough in court, Jim is shocked to discover that he has lost his memories of six months of his life from 20 years previously - a dark time during which he himself committed heinous acts.

Jim is reunited with Kayla Huron, his forgotten girlfriend from his lost period and now a quantum physicist who has made a stunning discovery about the nature of human consciousness. As a rising tide of violence and hate sweeps across the globe, the psychologist and the physicist combine forces in a race against time to see if they can do the impossible - change human nature - before the entire world descends into darkness.

©2016 Robert J. Sawyer (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

What the critics say

"Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Sawyer's latest work is a fast-moving, mind-stretching exploration of the nature of personality and consciousness; it balances esoteric speculation with action and character." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant from start to finish

Every one of his books is based on some reality or possibility posed simply by listening to the news or reading scientific advances. This one I listened to twice. While I hope there is little truth in this one it appears that so much of the world news could be dropped directly into this story without set up or change.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Authentic story

Sawyer did a wonderful job of integrating some established scientific facts into a sci-fi story. The interplay of depictions of real-life Canadian artifacts, imaginary scientific inventions, and unthinkable political development capture brings the reader right into the whirlpool of unfolding series of emotional events. The story provides an unusual angle to our understanding of right and wrong and allows to reexamine our own beliefs and perceptions.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Sublime Story

This was one of the best books that I have ever read; right up there with Carl Sagan and Arthur c. Clark's work as well as today's News Headlines as one review stated . But the best thing for me was that it was based in Canada rather thàn the USA or Europe. Lots of Canadian writers do not do that; really enjoyed the reading too. This book is really worth listening too. I highly recommend it.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Very Interesting Premise

Very interesting story and well narrated. Of all the books I have read and listened to, it is the first one set in my humble city. I was so drawn into the story and its various accurately described settings, I felt I might run into the main characters at any time. Caught my attention from the first paragraph. Over and over I wondered what I would do if faced with the same issues experienced by the characters. Three very small pet peeves: it's Pem-bin-a Highway not Pem-bee-na Highway; in Winnipeg we call it Tim's or Timmy's not Tim Hortons; and we order Pizza, not a pie. Otherwise, great listen!

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Truly terrible

A ridiculous premise,
Awful, monstrous, unbelievable characters.
Pretty much everything about this book is bad.
The hi-light of this book was that characters talk about going to Tim hortons instead of Starbucks.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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If only it were true - cool quantum application

Very well thought through, entertaining story on how quantum physics can save the world! I love science based fiction, and have only a superficial understanding of quantum physics. Now I have to figure out how much of this story is science and how much is fiction.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Save yourself a credit and pass this one by

Not very believable characters and very weak plot line. Filled with irrelevant detail that doesn't add to the story.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Keith
  • 2016-03-21

Discombobulated, but interesting

The plot of Sawyer's latest near-future SF novel is not exactly built on a sturdy framework (to wit: if it were scaffolding, it would sway in high northerly winds) but there is enough science (quantum states of neuron tubules), characterization (dude loses his memory of doing something BAD) and warnings of overreach by an aggressive American government to give any Canadian pause.

The overall idea, that our consciousness is a result of electrons being entangled in these little pockets inside your neurons, really is fascinating, and the scientists (Hammeroff, Chalmers) are real, live, living human beings who've done some credible and amazing research in this area.

Sawyer uses these ideas to explain the various levels of psychopathy that we see in everyday people, from people who have none at all (you know, folks who don't kick dogs) to egomaniacal narcissists (who probably do kick dogs). Sawyer describes these different types of people well. And the novel isn't bad. It really isn't. It's just... all over the place. It's worth a read... or a listen... but if you're looking for a classic, hero's-journey story arc, this ain't it.

Side note to narrators everywhere (not just Scott Aiello): Do NOT try to mimic Southern accents. You will get it wrong. You got it wrong in this reading, and to be honest, none of you get it right. If you're from the South, you know what I mean. Just don't even try.

Other than that, good book.
Peace and hair grease.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Andreas Henriksson
  • 2016-04-13

Philofun in a nutshell

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I actually caught myself considering which friends to recommend this book to. On the one hand, I considered those with an academic interest in neuroscience, psychology and society. But then again, some of the novel's premises are really speculative and not based on science, and I suspect some of my scientifically inclined friends would have difficulties looking beyond those faults. Perhaps this is more for those of us who like to speculate more freely about human nature and society; we, the philosophers and private thinkers.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

The book reads very well and is difficult to pause. It would have been easy to consume in one sitting, if the opportunity had materialised.

Any additional comments?

This is a novel that uses speculative neuroscience and psychology to pose interesting questions about human nature and society. It is one of those books that are difficult to talk about without dropping spoilers.

Of course, if one were to evaluate the scientific "basis" of the novel, it would be found wanting at best. But this is not science, it is entertainment and - I guess philofun would be an apt neologism; having fun with philosophical speculation.

Sawyer is getting better. I have read some earlier novels of his and this is an enhancement without doubt. I would argue Sawyer has particular problems with characterisations; his protagonists tend towards the generic. These tendencies are present in this novel as well, but at the same time Sawyer has succeeded in making the protagonists' personalities part of the plot itself. He is turning his weakness into a strength.

Overall very good story and narration. The ending tends towards the phantasmagorical in my opinion; it is interesting, but not quite as satisfactory as I would have liked. Still, a strong four stars book.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • chapmaan
  • 2016-05-17

Thought Provoking

I read a lot of negative reviews about this book before I decided to give it a go. In the end, many of the points made were indeed verified. But, disagreeing with a character's, or even the author's, life view does not mean I cannot enjoy a story. The utilitarian world view, like all world views, has some good points and some not so good. If I were only to read books that neatly matched my own views about life - well lets just say I'd have a large number of unused credits.

I don't always agree with Sawyer, but he writes good books and his heart is in the right place. Quantum Night was a thought provoking story. So much so that I'll be thinking about the premise long after I've forgotten the story.

The idea that there is a large number of people operating without any real substance or depth to their personality, no inner voice as Sawyer puts it, is hard to ignore. I've been looking at people and situations with a tinted view since listening to this book and it would explain an awful lot. So would a significantly larger number of psychopaths for that matter.

If you enjoy Sawyer's books, give this one a go. You might find you learn a bit about yourself and your fellow humans.

Or maybe you'll just appreciate an intelligent and interesting story.

Depends................

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • 2017-12-28

Loved the start, hated the end.

First half of the book is really good, and it lays out a fascinating thought experiment. The second half felt rushed and just... bad.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Friendofthesky
  • 2017-02-08

Really enjoyed

I really enjoyed this book. the storyline kept me thinking about it when I wasn't listening to it and the narrator was great.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • M. Ganske
  • 2016-06-04

Sawyer doing what he does best

This is a fascinating near-future sci-fi story. Sawyer is one of those rare authors in the genre that tackles complex issues in a way that feels even handed and fair. This book, like his best, bases a lot of the concepts off of cutting edge research which gives the entire novel an additional weight and believability. This is also the perfect book to listen to during this insane presidential election since it references a lot of research done on authoritarianism and the psychopathy of political figures.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Mara
  • 2016-05-03

Another great thought experiment

What made the experience of listening to Quantum Night the most enjoyable?

I like how Sawyer thinks and enjoy his books even when I disagree with the way he is turning and flipping ideas - maybe I like it more because I've been arguing with the ideas since the book started.

I think this book really turns a mirror on who we think we are and how we treat others because we assume they are not like us - the idea of tribes and 'the others' that are not like us and how we treat them because we think less of them.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

While I think Scott Aiello was a good voice for the main character Jim, he really needed some guidance on pronunciation - Regina, Assiniboia, Saskatchewan...maybe ask someone who has actually been there because being a native of Saskatchewan the mispronunciations started to grate...a lot!

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

My only negative reaction to this book was some of the simplistic reactions that characters have to major events - a foreign power annexing Canada would illicit a stronger response, and a quantum shift would not simply solve the major world problems - see Brave New World - CWC's cannot be counted on to be morally superior or smarter than the rest of humanity....see I'm still arguing with the book.

Any additional comments?

Oh, and Robert...why in hell would you drive through Regina to get to Saskatoon from Winnipeg??

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Hassan
  • 2016-04-17

From 5 Stars to ZERO

I like Robert. J. Sawyer's work, the WWW trilogy and other work of his was done very well, and the story was enjoyable... But I have been less enjoying his work lately... I thought that this book might be good, and when I got it and started listening to it I thought "Great start, this book is going to be awesome"... But by the end of the book I just wanted to delete it and never think about it ever again...

The plot was stupid, I thought the story is going in a certain path, but all the sudden it changed to something completely different.... I'm going to explain things here, so if you want to still go ahead and buy it, then don't read the following:

In this world, a psychologist figured out that there a 3 type of humans, let's call them the dummy ones (robots), the evil ones and the smart good guys. Then at the end of the story, the guy wanted to change the whole population of earth so robots become smart, emil become dummies, and smart become evil...

Honestly this is a stupid story, and I wish I didn't waste my credit .,.. I'm sorry Mr. Sawyer, am not attacking you , I love some of your other work... It just this one wasn't awful... And the sad bit is, that I liked the characters, I really did... But the plot was awful

I you liked Sawyer's other work, then please, don't waste your time listening to this one. Go and read the WWW trilogy, much better work.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Russell
  • 2017-03-30

Great Canadian Science Fiction For All Nations

This is a great listen for the whole world. It is extra special for any Canadian SF fan who will enjoy all the intimate references like the projected future for the current mayor of Calgary. If you have an interest in psychology and know about the Stanley Milgram experiment (check it out with Wikipedia) or the current research on psychopaths, there are a lot of interesting ideas explored in this book.

Our hero will fluctuate between three states of consciousness. He will be a psychopath, a person with a conscience and a psychological zombie. That third state is one of the SF constructs of the book that temptingly explains so much of this world that seems to defy logic for some of us after the upheavals in the last year.

The ideas explored, the moral quandaries, the tense action and an unexpected fate for Canada and the entire world makes this a rip roaring adventure. This is one of those books that is time sensitive since it focuses on the next few years. That is a big plus and adds more meaning if you read it before 2020. Robert Sawyer went out on a limb putting out a book with an expiry date. Make it your next SF experience.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Doug
  • 2016-04-07

A scary good read

Thought provoking and relevant to our times in a way few books ever rise to. This will linger in your thoughts long after you read the last page.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful