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Hannu Rajaniemi on his Quantum Thief Trilogy

Hannu Rajaniemi is a Ph. D. in string theory and fellow SU alumni best known  for his popular science fiction trilogy The Quantum Thief [Jean Le Flambeur]. His work has risen to prominence both because of its own merits but also because of the legend surrounding his signing up with a major book publisher. Rajaniemi has been suggested numerous times as a strong guest-candidate for my Singularity 1 on 1 podcast and I am extremely happy to have had the opportunity to finally fulfill those requests.

I have to admit that I enjoyed immensely reading Hannu’s Jean Le Flambeur trilogy and took that as an excuse to interview him on a variety of topics for over 90 min. During our conversation with Rajaniemi we cover: his math background, writing passion and entrepreneurial ventures; ethics, science and science fiction; the Higgs Boson, the multiverse and other cosmological models; the definition of science fiction and the distinction between sci fi and fantasy; the importance of “constraints and suffering” for creativity; how he sold the Quantum Thief trilogy to a major publisher; tips and tools for novice sci fi writers; determinism, free will and the quest for self-knowledge; his take on transhumanism and the technological singularity

As always you can listen to or download the audio file above or scroll down and watch the video interview in full.

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The Quantum Thief Book Trailer:

Who is Hannu Rajaniemi?

Hannu Rajaniemi is the author of science fiction novels The Quantum Thief (Jean Le Flambeur), The Fractal Prince and The Causal Angel, as well as several short stories. He holds a Ph.D. in string theory from the University of Edinburgh and co-founded a mathematics company whose clients included the UK Ministry of Defence and the European Space Agency. Currently, he divides his time between writing fiction and working as a co-founder at Helix Nanotechnologies, a biotechnology startup.

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  • Hi Nikola

    I must protest!

    The fact that we can “change direction” and improve ourselves etc etc, is not good evidence for the view that we have free will.

    It just means that our brains can change our values – based, perhaps, on new learning.

  • Also see …


    … on free will

  • I am an aspiring science fiction novelist and have been embracing his advice of reading widely and writing short stories.

    The challenge I have is that I hear lots of authors say you should always write 500 or 1000 words a day. I almost never write 500 words a day because I feel like that would just be vomiting crap out on a page… My habit is writing for the 1st working hour of the day, usually I produce 200-300 words of stuff that I’m proud of and can publish on my blog. Is it ok to go at this slow pace or should I really shoot for 500 words a day?

    Here’s my most recent short story if anyone’s interested http://www.limitlessmindset.com/blog/fiction/

  • Hannu Rajaniemi

    Hi Jonathan,

    The key thing is that all writers are different … I think 500-1000 words/day is the rate that authors hit when actively working on a novel, not necessarily every single day. Personally, I have a very long gestation period for any story, and then write a first draft very quickly (in terms of putting words on paper, the first drafts of all three Quantum Thief books took about 6-8 weeks each). Other writers do genuinely churn out wordage every day — this is characteristic of writers who write to explore and discover and then distill what works.

    So if slow and steady works for you, then by all means stick with it. 300 words a day is 90,000 words a year even if you have Sundays off — that’s a novel! If you can stick to that routine I think you will do very well indeed.

    all the best,

    — Hannu

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