The Quantum Rose

by Catherine Asaro

Cover image

Series: Skolian Empire #6
Publisher: Tor
Copyright: December 2000
Printing: February 2002
ISBN: 0-812-56883-4
Format: Mass market
Pages: 419

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This is the sixth book in the Skolian Empire series, and while it stands on its own to some degree (particularly at first), I wouldn't recommend reading it without reading the previous books in the series.

I seem to be hitting a patch of decent but not particularly memorable books. Perhaps I should try something really strange, just to liven things up a little.

The Quantum Rose takes a standard SF romance form, and in many ways echoed Catch the Lightning for me, although with a much less proactive heroine. Woman discovered on a backward planet. Falls in love with a visitor from the stars. Discovers that she has some latent ability to help him. Struggles with her feelings. Ends up helping significantly in shaping the next political steps of the universe. Stop me if you've heard this basic plot before.

That being said, it's a reasonably well-executed variation on that plot, with some very nicely done analogies, echoes, and comparisons to quantum mechanics and an appendix laying out the analogy that made me wish I knew more quantum physics. The ongoing story of the Skolian Empire is developed further past the events of Ascendant Sun, although not by all that much, and most of the open plot threads are left open.

I must admit that I like the general pattern of the combined romance and coming of age story, and I'm a long-standing sucker for telepathic love stories. Asaro adds enough of a twist, with a willingness to explore unequal power relationships, a faint touch of the psychology of dominance and submission, and some thoughtful internal analysis of human motivation, to keep me coming back for more.

You've probably read this plot before, but the execution is different enough not to bore. You don't want to read it if you've not already read the previous Skolian Empire novels, so by this point you probably already know whether you'll like it or not.

Followed by Spherical Harmonic.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Reviewed: 2004-02-09

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