A young American scientist thinks he has discovered a way to actually DO quantum computing which is hundreds of times faster than regular stuff. Very handy to the spy-biz. But he really doesn’t want to sell the idea and machine or compromise them to anyone or any entity. He’s a firm believer in open-technology. Too bad, the CIA finds out about it and they become QED’s only customer while Schultz continues to develop it.
Meanwhile, China is not ignorant of developments and has been wanting to get ahold of quantum computing, too. It “changes everything” in the world of digital anything from spying to medicine to travel and education – everything.
The Quantum Spy
by David Ignatius
2017 / 336 pages
read by Edoardo Ballerini – 10h 55
rating – A+++ / techno-spy
Not too far into the game, one Chinese spy dies revealing his secret diaries when he does. This gives the CIA a lot of information but …
One result is that a rather new CIA agent, and our “number one” character, Harris Chang, of Chinese descent and an ex-army officer, visits the hotel room of Chinese computer scientist Dr. Ma Yubo at a conference in Singapore, hoping to recruit him. It doesn’t work but the CIA isn’t convinced that Chang has not been compromised. And Chang gets to thinking while other people are doing pretty much what they want to – spies, counter-spies, double agents, moles, recruits, and a few who only want to cover their ass. Women are vital – powerful – devious. And the globe-trotting characters visit exotic places at the drop of a hat giving us settings like Singapore, Richmond Virginia, Bejing, Mexico, Vancouver, and Amsterdam.
Even with talk of quantum computing this is, for the most part, a conventional spy novel as there really isn’t much to say about the science. Building a big one is still in the developmental stages but more than just speculative – there is a machine which has huge potential. What we have at the moment is pretty much in the league of a quantum calculator.
So the basics of the book are those of a very good spy novel – nicely drawn major characters, well done dialogue, great twists to the plot – and it almost might even be a bit literary because there are themes outside of the usual spy biz which are explored – themes of racism and patriotism and loyalty. (I won’t go so far as to actually say it’s literary, though – it’s just that the ideas put it at a higher level than most genre spy novels which I enjoy once in a great while.)