Quantum Night

Quantum Night

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
Rate this:
The 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 twenty years previously - a dark time during which he himself committed heinous acts. As a rising tide of violence and hate sweeps across the globe, the psychologist and a 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.
Publisher: Toronto : Viking, ©2016.
ISBN: 9780735233645
Characteristics: x, 351 pages ;,24 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
IndyPL_SteveB Aug 03, 2019

A provocative science fiction novel from a writer who never allows easy answers. Sawyer is exceptional at posing decision questions for which the right answer is never clear, even after his characters make their choices.

Psychologist Jim Marchuk has developed a test for detecting which people are psychopaths. However, Marchuk discovers that he is missing 6 months from his memory, 6 months when it appears that he was temporarily and violently a psychopath himself. He and an old friend discover that there are brain states in which people can become psychopaths, and it appears possible to switch people between states.

So here is the balancing point of the book: Under what circumstances could you change a psychotic to a fully-realized human? Under what circumstances SHOULD you? What if such a change might at the same time change others to psychotics?

The plot and the balancing point is really much more complex than this, with many other characters involved, whose histories and possible futures will affect the science and morals of the central question. If you like to have your assumptions challenged and are curious about the human mind, this will be a book for you.

Feb 18, 2019

The author starts from a unique and fascinating question in contemporary physics and philosophy, asking whether human consciousness can be attributed to quantum states of superposition within human brains. The political jabs at first seem just gratuitous, but eventually take over part of the plot.

Jun 05, 2018

I've read many of Sawyer's books, and loved most of them for the ideas they present, but this book is very weak. The author has never been strong on character development, but the ones here felt more two-dimensional than ever. Much worse though, is that the scientific premise of the plot seems flimsy and uncharacteristically misanthropic. The clear cut division of humans into three cartoonish categories left me frustrated and uneasy. On top of this, the plot is silly, the politics are so transparent as to feel childishly didactic, and the writer doesn't even bother trying to explain the descent into chaos of Canadian cities.

May 01, 2017

The immediate-present Canadian setting was timely and a refreshing change but will quickly date this. I found the psychological aspects intriguing, the quantum physics connection tenuous and the philosophy idealistic. The book begins well with sufficient mystery but the state of the world (primarily Canada and the U.S. in this) descends too rapidly into anarchy and the solution is pretty close to "jiggling the cable". That being said, I think Robert Sawyer approaches Charles Yu in cutting-edge research preparation and I'd read more.

Apr 17, 2017

This story pulls together cutting edge physics, biology, and psychology in a readable way with believable charaters. The dystopia it forecasts has already come about in part, validating the author's take on societies and leaders.

Mar 30, 2017

An interesting idea on how the superposition of different quantum states can lead to the three classes of people. One point I found unclear was why the violence level in the world was increasing midway through the novel. The author seemed to suggest it was vaguely related to the state of quantum entanglement among all humans. This aspect appeared forced into the plot line rather than grow out of it.

Jan 19, 2017

I think Manuel is incorrect in his description of the three personality types. Q1's are nonthinking followers who are neither innately good nor bad. They just follow. Q2's are the psychopaths that have no conscience, and Q3's are the white hats who care about people, have full intelligence and have an applied conscience. The U.S. and Russian leaders whom he describes as Q1's, are actually Q2's.

In Sawyer's world the ratio of these types is 4:2:1 meaning that the majority of the people in the world follow but don't do any thinking and that full thinkers are in the minority. This is long listed for 2017 Canada Reads. My bet is that it will become one of the books that is short-listed and debated.

melwyk Jul 04, 2016

NOT recommended. An overblown, jargony and silly story that classifies people into three states of being -- and of course the main character/author is most evolved, and of course the reader must be too, and thus the other "types" of people are of less value. This is a book that will quickly date itself with its political and pop culture rhetoric.

Jun 03, 2016

This book was an excellent read and the author's theory of how the brain is wired seems very real and believable. I thought wouldn't that explain much of how our world operates and perhaps why people behave as they do? I found myself classifying certain individuals I know. The ending was great. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and have recommended it to others.

Mar 27, 2016

Although the author can't help but inject his political commentary into the novel (his negative (almost dystopian) view of the United States, and to a lesser extent, Canadian conservatives, is pretty hard to ignore), Sawyer skillfully combines philosophy, morality and quantum physics into a truly unique story that is both thrilling and thought-provoking to the point that the reader is tempted to reexamine how their own beliefs and ethics influence their behaviour. The fact that most of the plot takes place in Canada (specifically, the prairies), makes this book a must read for anyone who is Canadian and who loves science-fiction.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at Library

To Top