The Prize-Winning Washington Post Columnist and Popular Spy Novelist’s New Book is All About Quantum Computing, and It Hits a Little Too Close to Home

I’ve written about quantum computing and security risk before. I’ve written about China, Sweden, and other nations pouring development funds into the field. I’ve also written about the fear mongering around this new technology, and discussed the possibility that the United States is falling behind in the quantum race. But I’m no David Ignatius. None of my posts hold a candle to his new book, The Quantum Spy.

Here’s the publisher’s summary:

A hyper-fast quantum computer is the digital equivalent of a nuclear bomb; whoever possesses one will be able to shred any encryption and break any code in existence. The winner of the race to build the world’s first quantum machine will attain global dominance for generations to come. The question is, who will cross the finish line first: the U.S. or China?

Is art imitating life? Is life imitating art? Either way, I’m going to cut to the chase and recommend that everyone who can read get a copy of this book from Audible or their favorite reseller. Cause it’s awesome.

And Then Hold the World Ransom for . . . One Billion Dollars!

Throughout the narrative, Ignatius nails everything from how the CIA works to the global race for quantum supremacy. I listened to the book on Audible, and it really held my interest. (Which is saying something, because I’m part squirrel.) Great character development pairs well with a fairly factual discussion of quantum computing technology. I mean, you could nitpick, but I think Ignatius did an excellent job of working the technical content into a suspenseful thriller.

I do have one piece of feedback for the author. The book opens with a Chinese-backed venture fund offering to buy a Seattle-based quantum startup for (best Dr. Evil voice, now) . . . one billion dollars. Instead of taking the offer, the founder writes a letter to the CIA. When I read that, I actually laughed out loud. Now, I love my country and might, under the circumstances in the book, consider doing something similar. But it took me, and I’m guessing other entrepreneurs, out of the mood the book was trying to establish. I thought, “99% of startup founders would not think twice about a billion dollars, no matter what.” It’s a ridiculous number most founders would take on the spot. If they wouldn’t, their investors would.

That minor criticism aside, I’d like to speak directly to Mr. Ignatius for a moment. David, when you sell the movie rights and the studio is casting what I think could be an awesome summer blockbuster, hit me up. I’m already practicing my shy geek founder.