Quantum Night

Robert J. Sawyer


I read Quantum Night when it was new, back in early 2016. And while a key part of the premise doesn’t add up, I keep thinking back to it.

It links human cruelty, psychopathy, and mob behavior to the nature of consciousness and quantum entanglement, mostly focusing on the main characters but playing out against a global crisis brought on by a rising tide of xenophobia.

There’s an ultra-conservative US President who makes grandiose statements. A rising trend of anti-immigrant murders. A war launched by Putin.

Through all this, the main characters are investigating their own dark pasts, trying to figure out what caused them to change for the better… and ultimately, can we reboot humanity?

Spoilers (Concept)

The idea of consciousness being a 2-bit quantum state – 00=unconscious, 01=flocking behavior, 10=psychopath, 11=full consciousness with a conscience – is intriguing, and works for the sake of the story, but…

  1. It seems to me that flocking mechanics can’t explain the wide range of human behavior, especially for 4/7 of the world’s population.
  2. While “sheeple” isn’t used in the book (as far as I remember), it’s a premise that even the non-psychopaths of the world could use to justify treating people like animals, since, well, chances are they’re not really conscious people, right?