Wiki/Glossary for The Quantum Thief / The Fractal Prince / Jean le Flambeur

Wiki/Glossary, a copy of the deleted Wikipedia page. I’m afraid there’s no Wiki-like ability for you to edit this, but if you leave a comment with an addition/change/suggestion, I will add it! And while you’re at it, you could try my Science Fiction page.



Agoras, similar to their Greek namesake, are public places in the Oubliette where gevulot is overridden. Thus, anyone who is in an agora can be seen by everyone in the vicinity, even by persons outside of the agora. This makes agoras popular places to meet people.

Beanstalk station

Visitors to the Oubliette pass through the beanstalk station or spaceport. They arrive by means of the beanstalk, which appears to be a space elevator.

Dilemma Prison

Dilemma Prisons are built and maintained by Archons, who are the creation of the Engineer-of-Souls. Prisoners there are condemned to play a perpetual game of iterated prisoner’s dilemma, in which defection is shooting the occupier of an adjacent cell. Prisons are seeded with copies of the prisoners’ gogols, as well as other gogols, such as warminds, and the composition of the prison population evolves, depending on the results of each round of prisoner’s dilemma, according to rules similar to <a
href=”” title=”Conway’s Game of Life”>Conway’s Game of Life. To spice things up, prisoners may be presented with more elaborate scenarios of defection and cooperation, besides the above-mentioned default scenario.

Moving Cities

Mars has been settled but all settlements are on mobile platforms in order to escape the ravage of the phoboi plague.


The Oubliette is a Moving City of Mars and the location where most of the action in the novel takes place. The Oubliette society is characterized by the use of exomemory, gevulot, and Time as a currency. Visitors to the Oubliette are given a temporary gevulot shell to access exomemory and gevulot, and a temporary Watch to keep Time.

Zoku colony

The zoku colony is in the Dust District, which is on the outskirts of the Oubliette. It resembles a dome. The Sino-Japanese word zoku means tribe, clan, or family.


Biot feed

A biot feed is a telepathic system that feeds the biological sensory information that one person generates to another. This information is usually experienced in the form of a muffled background sensation by the latter.

Combat autism

A method Mieli uses in fighting, possibly a computer program running in her brain. The combat autism enhances certain brain functions by suppressing other brain functions to focus Mieli’s mental abilities on the fight.


The exomemory in the Oubliette is the public memory of the Oubliette. Anyone in the Oubliette can look up the exomemory to obtain information by ‘blinking: note the apostrophe in front of “b”, which denotes the Oubliette-specific action of blinking to access information from the exomemory. Possibly derived from “web link”, along the same lines whereby “web log” became blog.


Gevulot (Hebrew for “borders”) is a privacy protocol used in the Oubliette. It is a system that allows people in the Oubliette, both citizens and visitors alike, to set the desired level of privacy in every social encounter, to share memories and to access the exomemory. People can obscure themselves from being
seen by others if they are hidden behind a gevulot “fog”. However, this effect is only apparent, as analog recording devices, like cameras, can still capture images of people behind gevulot. Gevulot is physically implemented using a wearable shell, which visitors to the Oubliette are given upon entry.


Q-objects are objects made out of q-dots, an ubiquitous and versatile material. The q-dots can function as weapons, sensors, building materials, fabrics, etc.


Gogols can qupt each other using the quptlink. The quptlink functions like a telepathic messaging network and appears to be mediated by neutrinos. Almost everyone can qupt, but in the Oubliette, gevulot is preferred.


A spimescape is a virtual reality environment. A spimescape is populated by objects called spimes. The name may be a reference to the notion, proposed by Bruce Sterling, of a spime, an object that can be tracked in space and time throughout the lifetime of the object.


The currency of the Oubliette is Time, which is used to pay for goods and services, as well as the privilege to have children. The currency is stored in a Watch and appears to be made of a material that can encode quantum states. The amount of Time citizens have in their Watches determines how long they have before they enter the Quiet.

Visitors have to purchase a temporary citizenship and Watch upon arrival, but when their Time is used up, they do not enter the Quiet. Instead, they are put into a state of suspended animation and reanimated only after their deportation from the Oubliette.

The Quiet

The Quiet is the state in which all citizens of the Oubliette must eventually enter at some point. When citizens enter the Quiet, their gogols are assigned by the city computer to the Quiets, machines that help run the Oubliette, while their bodies are collected by the Resurrection Men and kept in

storage for their return from the Quiet. Early entry into the Quiet can be voluntarily chosen or imposed as a sanction by the courts.


In the Oubliette, every person, citizen or visitor, has a Watch, which keeps the Time that the person still has. The Watch also contains a private encryption key that is required to ‘blink exomemory and use gevulot.

Utility fog

A utility fog (originally proposed by J. Storrs Hall) is a hypothetical dispersed collection of tiny self-reconfiguring modular robots that can replicate a physical structure.


Apart from the Oubliette, most humans have undergone mind uploads and can easily have their minds transferred between bodies, while <a
href=”” title=”Artificial intelligence”>artificial intelligence has advanced to a point where artificial minds are almost indistinguishable from uploaded ones. Gogols (likely in reference to the Nikolai Gogol novel, Dead Souls are used to refer to these sentient entities, which may be likened to souls or minds. They are also similar to <a
href=”” title=”Software”>software, as gogols can be cloned and transferred between bodies. A character offers the Oubliette-centric view that the concept of a gogol as “a dead soul, the uploaded mind of a human being, enslaved to carry out tasks, [is] anathema to anyone from the Oubliette.”


The Oubliette

The Oubliette is the only baseline human nation left in the solar system. The citizens of the Oubliette were originally slaves whose minds were used as the control processes in machines for terraforming Mars. They rebelled against their enslavers and founded a new state based on the freedom and privacy of individual
minds. The Oubliette is governed by the Voice, a composite of the unconscious beliefs of all Oubliette citizens.

The Tzaddikim

The Tzaddikim (from Hebrew Tzadik, “righteous one”) are anonymous crime-fighters and investigators in the Oubliette, sometimes described as vigilantes and sometimes as police.

The phoboi

The phoboi are dangerous self-replicating machines left over from the Martian civil war; they infest the surface of Mars and make it necessary for cities like the Oubliette to keep moving to avoid being overrun by them.

The Sobornost

The Sobornost (etymology) are a posthuman upload <a
href=”” title=”Collective”>collective. Their main guberniya appears to be in Venus, but they appear to have control over many parts of the solar system. Gogols of the Sobornost place great importance on a common mission, the Great Common Task, which appears to be the uploading of all sentient minds in the solar system. (This may be based on the “Common Task” in the writings of title=”Nikolai Fedorovich Fedorov”>Nikolai Fedorovich Fedorov, who is referenced several times in the novel: the resurrection of the dead through science.) It is implied that the Sobornost is controlled by the Founders, the original creators of the collective who have made millions of copies of themselves, giving them access to the combined computational abilities of their many copies. The combined copies of the founders are called copyclans. Individuals other than the founders uploaded into the Sobornost become slaves to the copyclans, and are used to maintain the computational processes of the Sobornost.

Gogol pirates

Gogol pirates extract gogols from people without prior consent. Gogol pirates have many ways to steal a gogol, the simplest being an optogenetic method, but the gevulot in the Oubliette presents a barrier to such crude methods. Gogol pirates are servants of the Sobornost, and upload their stolen gogols into the collective.

The zoku

The zoku are a faction of posthuman warriors. As with the Sobornost, each member of the zoku is a composite of many minds. However, it is implied that the minds that make up the different members of the zoku have more equality compared to the Sobornost. The zoku are descended from members of MMORPG guilds, and their culture reflects these origins. They are warriors and mercenaries, and are primarily motivated by the desire to find new challenges and improve themselves through conflict. They dismiss people who believe in actual causes and movements as “meme zombies.” The zoku fought a war against the Sobornost called the protocol war, which they lost. Some of them originally lived on Jupiter, but after losing the war they sought asylum on the Oubliette on Mars in order to recover.



They are control the Sobornost by virtue of being the founders, as their name implies. Each Founder has created innumerable copies, called gogols, to enhance the Founder’s computational abilities. The original copy of the Founder is called the Prime. The combined copies of the Founders are called copyclans.

Joséphine Pellegrini

A Founder of the Sobornost, taking the form of a middle aged woman. She assists Jean le Flambeur in escaping from the Dilemma Prison, so that he can steal a Schrodinger’s Box for her. When Jean le Flambeur and Mieli flee with the Box, she uses the Hunter to find them.


Under the employ of Josephine Pelligrini. She owns the ship Perhonen, and accompanies Jean le Flambeur, acting as Pelligrini’s tool to control Flambeur.

4 thoughts on “Wiki/Glossary for The Quantum Thief / The Fractal Prince / Jean le Flambeur

  1. Pingback: Jean le Flambeur Series, The Quantum Thief Book 1 Reviewed | Joe's Geek Fest

  2. Tracy Johnson on

    Thanks — as one reads the story, most of these concepts are learned in an organic sort of way; but it’s nice to see a definition in black and white. I would like to see a para on the titular (ooh, I got to use that word) character Jean Le Flambeau, and the Gentleman/Raymonde, and Paul, and Pixil.

    • The titular character! Our protagonist. As I understand, Flambeur is modeled on the idea of a ‘gentleman-thief’. I’d have to re-read the books to do justice to any descriptions I write. But! I just ordered the third book (late I know) so maybe I can rustle up something eh?

  3. oparisy on

    Nice, spoiler-free listing… Excepted for Joséphine Pellegrini’s description which reveals significant plot details!

    • Karan on

      That was copied from the Wiki page. Those are the barest outlines so perhaps it’s not too bad? It could be useful for someone who’s trying to place the character in context. Hm.

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