Celebrate Derek Künsken’s First Trilogy, The Quantum Evolution

Celebrate Derek Künsken’s First Trilogy, The Quantum Evolution

The Quantum Evolution trilogy by Derek Künsken (Solaris; 2018, 2019, and 2021). Covers by Justin Adams

You lot know that every time one of our authors publishes a novel, we celebrate with dinner at the Black Gate rooftop headquarters in downtown Chicago. And you’re also aware that every time an author completes a trilogy, we bake a cake. So what do we do when a Black Gate author completes a trilogy, as our own Derek Künsken just did with the release of The Quantum War, the third novel in The Quantum Evolution?

Why, it’s cake for dinner, of course. In fact, it’s cake and bubbly for everyone! Have a drink on us to join in the celebration*!

(*Conditions apply. Must be 21 years old. Offer not valid outside the continental United States. Or anywhere that serves bubbly.)

Back covers for The Quantum Evolution trilogy

We’re always thrilled when one of our staff makes it big in the competitive world of modern science fiction publishing. But we’re especially pleased to see Derek hit the big time with the huge success of The Quantum Evolution trilogy. His first contribution to Black Gate was more than a decade ago, when his short story “The Gifts of Li Tzu-Ch’eng” apeared in issue 15. He became our regular Saturday evening blogger in 2013, producing hundreds of articles on diverse topics such as web comics, Alan Moore, Star Trek, New York ComicCon, Percy Jackson, Science Fiction in China, and much more.

The first novel in the trilogy, The Quantum Magician, was published by Solaris on October 2, 2018. In his Black Gate review Brandon Crilly said,

The worldbuilding here is intricate, compelling and absolutely fascinating. From the moment concepts were introduced I wanted to know more, especially the different subsets of humanity that Künsken presents, each the product of generations of genetic manipulation…. The core plot is a con game perpetrated by a team of ragtag scoundrels, trying to sneak a flotilla of warships through a wormhole controlled by another government… Künsken does an amazing job of presenting a bunch of quirky protagonists who play off each other well…

Much as I rooted for protagonist Belisarius (who would be the Danny Ocean of these scoundrels) and his partner/love interest Cassandra (who I suppose is Tess and Rusty from Ocean’s Eleven combined), the secondary characters stole the spotlight for me, particularly AI-on-a-religious-mission Saint Matthew and the creepily dangerous Scarecrow hunting these scoundrels down.

The Quantum Magician was nominated for the BSFA, Aurora, and Sunburst awards, and for the Locus Award for Best First Novel. Shortly after the release of the third volume in October, Sci Fi Mind called the series “One of the Best of this century,” saying

Derek Künsken’s The Quantum War, the third book in The Quantum Evolution series, continues the stories that blend exciting space adventure with probing speculations on the philosophical and religious implications of altering human evolution. At the heart of these novels, set in the 26th century, are new human species, especially the Homo quantus, endowed with prodigious mental powers….

In the previous novels… Bel pulls off a con to help the Southern Union, a small rebellious system with the Venus-based Congregate Empire, to achieve a military breakthrough. Then he worked with them again to go back in time to alter the Union’s own development and help them secure an important advantage….

The Congregate was so enraged by the Southern Union’s success, thanks to Bel’s efforts, that they attacked and destroyed the home world of the Homo quantus. Bel and Cassandra managed to evacuate most of its few thousand people, but 155 were captured by the Congregate to become the subjects of cruel experiments… So it becomes Bel’s new mission to devise his most elaborate con yet to rescue the remaining Homo quantus from the heart of Congregate power, the intelligence headquarters on Venus. To do this he reassembles his old crew. There is the irascible AI who imagines himself to be Saint Matthew, appearing as a stylized painted or sculptured head of the saint, while carrying out prodigious feats of reprogramming to infiltrate the most secure Congregate systems….

Aside from keeping a complex story moving smoothly to its exciting conclusion, Künsken is especially skillful in elaborating the novel scientific breakthroughs that drive much of the story… I was also struck by how deeply ideas about redemption and religion are woven into the story of The Quantum War. Saint Matthew, though an eccentric AI, has not only a strong conscience but places the actions he and his allies take into a religious context as well as an ethical one…

The Quantum War and the whole series (there is a fourth book planned) is richly rewarding and exciting to read. Every page is dense with invention, compelling human drama and wild adventure. The characters are both unpredictable and unforgettable. The Quantum Evolution series is for me one of the best of this century.

Here’s the publishing details for the entire series. Links will take you to our earlier coverage.

The Quantum Magician (475 pages, $11.99 paperback/$6.99 ebook, October 2, 2018)
The Quantum Garden (396 pages, $11.99 paperback/$6.99 ebook, October 15, 2019)
The Quantum War (426 pages, $14.99 paperback/$6.99 ebook, October 14, 2021)

All three books were published by Solaris, with covers by Justin Adams.

See all our recent coverage of the latest releases by Black Gate authors and artists here.

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Brad Guy

I first read The Quantum Magician as serialized in Analog, 2018. I haven’t yet read The Quantum Garden nor The Quantum War, but I’m looking forward to it. A fourth book, House of Styx, was also serialized in Analog in 2021.


highly recommend this series

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