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Quantum Night  By  cover art

Quantum Night

By: Robert. J. Sawyer
Narrated by: Scott Aiello
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Publisher's Summary

With such compelling and provocative novels as Red Planet Blues, FlashForward, and The WWW Trilogy, Robert J. Sawyer has proven himself to be "a writer of boundless confidence and bold scientific extrapolation" (The New York Times). Now, the Hugo and Nebula 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 20 years previously - a dark time during which he himself committed heinous acts.

Jim is reunited with Kayla Huron, his forgotten girlfriend from his lost period and now a quantum physicist who has made a stunning discovery about the nature of human consciousness. As a rising tide of violence and hate sweeps across the globe, the psychologist and the 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.

©2016 Robert J. Sawyer (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Sawyer's latest work is a fast-moving, mind-stretching exploration of the nature of personality and consciousness; it balances esoteric speculation with action and character." ( Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Quantum Night

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

PHILOSOPHICAL ZOMBIE

AURORA AWARD
Hassan is totally right, when he says the plot is stupid and for him that ruined the whole story. That is saying a lot as Hassan loves the majority of what he listens to. I too had much problems with the plot, especially as it escalated in the last couple of hours. I give the book an overall four stars, mostly because of the whole Philosophical Zombie theory.

PHILOSOPHICAL ZOMBIES
In this story 60% of the population is these zombies. This explains why the majority of the population does some of the most stupid things. I believe Sawyer wrote this before Trump was elected, for I can't see how this unashamed Liberal, would not jump on that. He does mention Hitler and explains how he could take over a country. I thought Sawyer made this term up, but it is actually a real theory.

A Lot To Think About
These zombies, don't know they are zombies. They are the people who always follow the crowd, who are predictable in their reactions, who don't seem to have an original thought in their heads. I know of at least two people who come instantly to mind in my life. I know this one guy who I have referred to my wife as cliché man. Every thing this guy says is something you have heard before, every story, every thought and he is always with the popular majority. I have heard him repeat the same story back to me, that I told him months before, as if he was telling me something new. I have seem him in an argument more than once, hear something on tv and he repeats it as if it is his idea. I have also heard him say that he believes he is above the average in intelligence, something that made me laugh inside. Plus isn't that what everyone thinks and isn't that impossible. I also know of a woman who is a teacher in high school, who is much the same. When my wife and I first met her, she seemed very smart, as that is what she kept telling us, but as we got to know her, outside of her subject matter she was totally ignorant. Matter of fact in her own subject matter if it was not something she learned by rote she was clueless. Back to the guy, he has an uncanny ability for knowing all the musical groups and songs from his teenage years. Name any song and he can tell you who wrote it or sang it.

My Own Life
I hope I don't sound like I think I am superior. To be honest I think part of my life, I might have been a Zombie. I think of some of the mindless things I did as a very young youth and I wonder why I did them. Recently I have been remembering my sister getting me up in the morning, feeding me breakfast and me walking to school. For a couple of years I would walk to school and get there hours before anyone else did. I did this day after day and never thought it weird. There is some other stuff I did, that I now think back on as pretty boring stupid stuff that I did over and over, without thinking I was doing anything out of the ordinary. What brought out of this I don't know and maybe you think I still am a zombie. To this day, I believe I suffer, due to my lack of drive and ambition as a child. Now I am ambitious and usually end up being the leader in any group, but have been known to lack empathy. I feel that it is due to a lack of experience as a human. At 59 I am still learning how to be human.

This book made me think more than any book in a long time.

44 people found this helpful

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Obnoxiously self righteous.

This is a story that I imagine professors of freshman philosophy suffer through from their students. It is a fairly childish take on philosophy, science, politics, and human nature. The writing wasn't terrible, so I imagine there is hope for the author and the narration was good, but overall the story is unsatisfying and lacks insight.

27 people found this helpful

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Liberal Good, Me Liberal, Others EEEvil

Sawyer reveals the science supporting the academic liberal consensus which is as Sawyer concludes: All conservatives are various flavors of zombie psychopaths incapable of ANY ethical... much less critical... thought. What's happened Robert? Your subtle veneer as a story teller's become a polemical rant?

This book is insultingly awful even if you agree with Sawyer's ideology (which to a degree I do). This the 5th Sawyer I've listened to, and each of the previous has earned 4 stars. What happened? This piece of propaganda involves people experiencing epiphanies following brain jostling. They become enlightened to discover their bicameral minds abruptly joined and glowing with conscience. A conscience denied to anyone who's unable to connect to progressive truths that form a moral law that's intuitively obvious to only the enlightened.

To all of you who (reflexively) hurl insults at Fox News, Talk Radio or The Wall Street Journal. To those of you certain that the sounds emanating from those sources are the grunts of sub-human cretins - well Sawyer will endlessly (or at least it seems that way) support your, um, reflexes (as opposed to critical thought). Obviously the science is nonsense, but so is a kernel of science underlying every good SciFi text. For example, to get into lots of tales we all accept warp speed right? Of course right.

Heck, this book is a chance for Sawyer to screech, "Liberal Good, Me Liberal, Others EEEvil." If that’s your belief, just chant that mantra, save yourself time and a credit, and pass up this book that only a zombie can enjoy. I'm returning this and striking Robert J. Sawyer from my list of future reads because I don’t believe ideas with which I disagree are “naturally” immoral.

Sawyer no longer writes, he rants. Pity.

23 people found this helpful

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From 5 Stars to ZERO

I like Robert. J. Sawyer's work, the WWW trilogy and other work of his was done very well, and the story was enjoyable... But I have been less enjoying his work lately... I thought that this book might be good, and when I got it and started listening to it I thought "Great start, this book is going to be awesome"... But by the end of the book I just wanted to delete it and never think about it ever again...

The plot was stupid, I thought the story is going in a certain path, but all the sudden it changed to something completely different.... I'm going to explain things here, so if you want to still go ahead and buy it, then don't read the following:

In this world, a psychologist figured out that there a 3 type of humans, let's call them the dummy ones (robots), the evil ones and the smart good guys. Then at the end of the story, the guy wanted to change the whole population of earth so robots become smart, emil become dummies, and smart become evil...

Honestly this is a stupid story, and I wish I didn't waste my credit .,.. I'm sorry Mr. Sawyer, am not attacking you , I love some of your other work... It just this one wasn't awful... And the sad bit is, that I liked the characters, I really did... But the plot was awful

I you liked Sawyer's other work, then please, don't waste your time listening to this one. Go and read the WWW trilogy, much better work.

15 people found this helpful

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Discombobulated, but interesting

The plot of Sawyer's latest near-future SF novel is not exactly built on a sturdy framework (to wit: if it were scaffolding, it would sway in high northerly winds) but there is enough science (quantum states of neuron tubules), characterization (dude loses his memory of doing something BAD) and warnings of overreach by an aggressive American government to give any Canadian pause.

The overall idea, that our consciousness is a result of electrons being entangled in these little pockets inside your neurons, really is fascinating, and the scientists (Hammeroff, Chalmers) are real, live, living human beings who've done some credible and amazing research in this area.

Sawyer uses these ideas to explain the various levels of psychopathy that we see in everyday people, from people who have none at all (you know, folks who don't kick dogs) to egomaniacal narcissists (who probably do kick dogs). Sawyer describes these different types of people well. And the novel isn't bad. It really isn't. It's just... all over the place. It's worth a read... or a listen... but if you're looking for a classic, hero's-journey story arc, this ain't it.

Side note to narrators everywhere (not just Scott Aiello): Do NOT try to mimic Southern accents. You will get it wrong. You got it wrong in this reading, and to be honest, none of you get it right. If you're from the South, you know what I mean. Just don't even try.

Other than that, good book.
Peace and hair grease.

15 people found this helpful

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Started Out Credible

Interesting psychological sci fi that started out credible, degenerated to meh and finished with, 'yeah, right'. Still an entertaining listen and I don't regret buying it.

10 people found this helpful

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Selfrightous and Preachy

What disappointed you about Quantum Night?

Usually I can get past the moral lecture from this author because I have listened to several of his books. But in this book which I was looking forward to he was over the top. The story itself had some good interesting points but really demonizing the US is unfair.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

The ending was fair and had somewhat of a predictable twist.

Did Scott Aiello do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

Scott Aiello was the saving grace for this book.

9 people found this helpful

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I was very disappointed

What disappointed you about Quantum Night?

I have previously read two Sawyer books both of which I very much enjoyed. This book, however, has serious flaws.

First and foremost, it promotes the utilitarian ethics of Peter Singer which proposes that life unworthy should not be allowed to exist. In short, just what Heinrich Himmler believed although Singer and Himmler have somewhat different criteria in determining which life is unworthy. The important similarity is that both Singer and Himmler have taken a good objective look at themselves and have decided that they are of that superior human material that is able to identify subhumans and order their extermination.

Second, our hero is a true believer who abandons his new born son because he is Downs syndrome and abandons his wife because she didn't want to give aforesaid son the chop. Murderers, however, that's another thing. He suffers pangs of conscience that he cannot spare him the death penalty. He has taken his own measure, of course, and determined that he is of that one seventh of species homo sapiens who are truly human and have the duty to decide the fates of the unfortunate six seventh.

Third, the plot is ridiculous. Our hero is forced to act when the American president invades Canada because Canada allows abortion on demand and because the Canucks wouldn't let us build an oil pipeline. I expect this to happen right after Michael Moore becomes the prima ballerina with the Bolshoi Ballet.So if you want to read a book explaining how to make Hitler's favorite apfel strudel then be my guest but if you are offended by self-appointed superior humans ruling the ignorant masses, let this one go by.

I have bought two other Sawyer books that were on my reading list but now I'm not sure I'll read them. I prefer a little less Mein Kampf in my leisure reading.

P.S. For another take on Singer's philosophy, see Dean Koontz' One Door Away From Heaven.

9 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Philofun in a nutshell

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I actually caught myself considering which friends to recommend this book to. On the one hand, I considered those with an academic interest in neuroscience, psychology and society. But then again, some of the novel's premises are really speculative and not based on science, and I suspect some of my scientifically inclined friends would have difficulties looking beyond those faults. Perhaps this is more for those of us who like to speculate more freely about human nature and society; we, the philosophers and private thinkers.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

The book reads very well and is difficult to pause. It would have been easy to consume in one sitting, if the opportunity had materialised.

Any additional comments?

This is a novel that uses speculative neuroscience and psychology to pose interesting questions about human nature and society. It is one of those books that are difficult to talk about without dropping spoilers.

Of course, if one were to evaluate the scientific "basis" of the novel, it would be found wanting at best. But this is not science, it is entertainment and - I guess philofun would be an apt neologism; having fun with philosophical speculation.

Sawyer is getting better. I have read some earlier novels of his and this is an enhancement without doubt. I would argue Sawyer has particular problems with characterisations; his protagonists tend towards the generic. These tendencies are present in this novel as well, but at the same time Sawyer has succeeded in making the protagonists' personalities part of the plot itself. He is turning his weakness into a strength.

Overall very good story and narration. The ending tends towards the phantasmagorical in my opinion; it is interesting, but not quite as satisfactory as I would have liked. Still, a strong four stars book.

7 people found this helpful

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Theoretical Philosophy AND an Good Story...Mostly

I've read many of Sawyer's books and generally enjoy them. This one falls near the top of my rating of Sawyer novels. Sawyer is obviously concerned with the nature of consciousness; it's a theme he has dealt with repeatedly. I found the exploration of levels of consciousness driving people’s behavior fascinating. I even looked up the term philosophical zombie. It’s a real thing—not like Sawyer presents it: In Quantum Night P-Zeds actually exist; whereas in reality, they’re just a philosophical construct. (I hope. But it would explain Donald Trump.)

Quantum Night had the potential to end up more an essay on consciousness, rather than a novel based around a story, but Sawyer never lets this happen. He reveals his ideas through conversations, flashbacks, and actions, rather than intrusive commentary. This is a book about ideas, but plenty happens, and the characters are well-developed.

I have to say, however, that I have some pretty serious issues with the plot in the second half. First, there was the “Well, duh, who didn’t see that coming?” moment. I could forgive that, though. More egregious was a clearly manipulated, eye-roll-inducing plot twist added just for the drama. I wanted to be able to call up Sawyer and say, “You’re better than this!”

Still, even if you only listen to the first half or so and bail when it gets silly, I still recommend Quantum Night just for the interesting ideas. Half of this book is still worth a credit.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Xdresser
  • 05-23-16

Near future setting. Moral dilemmas faced with unconvincing technology

The book starts well with a top psychologist acting as an expert witness at a murder trial involving the death penalty only to discover there is a period of his own life he has no memories of. He traces the problem back to scientific experiments he helped with as a student. There is some serious discussion of the basis of morality but the application of quantum physics to the brain failed to convince me and when it went on to tackle World War Three it lost me altogether.

1 person found this helpful